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Developing Strategic Writers through genres has helped our system vertically crystalize writing instruction.  The Purpose Pie and the Writing Strategy Ladder are concepts that students internalize beginning in Kindergarten.  As each genre is introduced, the use of supporting graphic organizers and sentence frames provides a scaffold for students as they develop as writers.  The collaboration has supported both teachers and students in providing consistent, writing instruction aligned to reading. As the English Language Arts Coordinator the collaboration has enhanced my ability to support classroom teachers in the delivery of effective writing instruction.

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Barbara Neslin, ELA Coordinator

 Floyd County, GA

In my work as a literacy coordinator, I worked closely with Dr. Philippakos to improve writing in some of our most culturally diverse district elementary schools. Students in schools where the professional development was implemented consistently improved their performance on state writing writing assessments. Additionally, teachers reported that students felt empowered through using the method, as they now "knew what to do" when they were given a new writing task. Student interviews reported that they enjoyed engaging in the writing process, and even looked forward to revising their work with peers, as it was now clear to them what elements to look for when improving their own writing or when revising with a peer. Both teachers and students reported that they believed using this method made them better writers, and the data from district assessments certainly supported that claim!


                             Dr. Linda Grace, DE

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Writing can be such an overwhelming and cumbersome subject to teach. Through my experience of teaching using Developing Strategic Writers approach a passion and enthusiasm for teaching writing has blossomed within me as an educator. Writing is one of my favorite subjects to teach students as I see the vision and beauty of this approach in combination with other subjects allows the students to feel empowered and truly interested in writing. Through providing an approach that students can connect to reading and use of the systematic approach of the three genres the students engage and work to soar and create more elaborate writing pieces as the year progresses. This approach is successful when you fully embrace the quick, repetitive purposeful approach. The implementation the writing pieces my students have produced over the years has truly blown me away in how well they understand elements of the genres and apply strategies taught through this approach.  This approach works for those struggling writers as well as gives purpose and goal setting aspect for those students that understand the elements to push themselves as writers and experience success and the power writing has to offer. I would highly recommend teaching with developing strategic writers if you are looking to strengthen your approach in instructing writing or want to see an improvement in the young authors you teach! 

Hailey Mathison, Second Grade Teacher


Garden Lakes Elementary began working with Dr. Zoi two years ago on Developing Strategic Writers Through The Genres. This professional development from Dr. Zoi has allowed my teachers to grow as writing teachers as well as students to grow their craft of writing. Dr. Zoi’s coaching, modeling and feedback helped my teachers become more confident and enthusiastic about writing.  As a former first grade teacher and in my 19th year as a school leader this actionable professional development has been a huge game changer for student growth and achievement and our data supports it!


Mary Alcorn, Principal

Garden Lakes Elementary, GA


Tanya Welchel, Principal

Johnson Elementary, GA

Teachers in kindergarten through fifth grade were trained in utilizing the strategies in Developing Strategic Writers by Dr. Zoi Philippakos. The author herself modeled and coached teachers as they learned to implement the process. Due to this thorough support and explanation, teachers and students have learned a common language for both reading and writing. This, in turn, has affected other subject areas such as science and social studies. The focus on writing has supported students in making connections among ideas and content areas in order to view learning as a whole. Common goals, planning, and discussion among teachers have also reinforced the strategies and supported their own growth as learners. As administrators, we observe teachers flourishing as professionals.

Our students are becoming more confident as writers through their developing skills and their ability to use sources to support information and opinions.  Our teachers also exhibit more confidence in their approach to teaching writing across the curriculum. Johnson Elementary has observed student growth in writing over time, with data supporting the development of student achievement through genre benchmarks and state assessments. Developing Strategic Writers has created a framework by which all learning can be affixed for teachers, students, and administrators. 

Dr. Philippakos’s elementary writing program is research based and was adopted by my district in 2015. She personally provided professional development on site and online introducing the research, theory, graphic organizers, exemplars, and "how-to" for each genre separately. She supported teachers in the classroom by modeling live and by giving feedback on videos for coaching. My collaboration with Dr. Philippakos on writing in science solidified my endorsement of her writing program.  I developed NGSS curriculum based prompts and used her program with fidelity when teaching science. I modeled writing, and used teacher think alouds across content areas, I utilized recommended sentence frames and proofreading techniques, and supported my students critical rereading of their work through my modeling and continuous practice. I observed student growth and data we collected confirmed this growth had a lasting effect. My students were able to organize ideas and express their understanding in words in ways they had not been able to do before. Critical thinking skills grew! And I also grew as a teacher of writing in the content areas!

Leona Williams

Forewood Elementary, DE


"Zoi Philippakos ROCKS developing strategic young writers through genre instruction.  The highlights that I found most helpful to me as a kindergarten teacher:

The Writing Purpose Pie  -PIECE of P I E. This strategy has helped students at kindergarten level have a focus for why the author writes  a certain piece. Kindergarten students are introduced to strategies to develop skills that will become second nature to them and be used throughout life.  

The FTAAP and the Writing Strategies Ladder are both strategic teaching tools that have helped students organize their thoughts and processes for reading books and writing.

A huge plus to help from being overwhelmed was that Zoi not only taught and modeled to educators but did so with students. Also, another plus was the fact that this book provides frameworks that set ALL students up for success for genre writing.  As a kindergarten teacher, I had the privilege of watching students that are below grade-level apply the sentence frames to produce a product with a beginning, middle, and end.  

Zoi, there are so many great things that you modeled before us as educators; however, the one big take away for me was by exposing students in kindergarten and at all levels, these strategies and sentence frames have given students success in their writing.  Thank you for exposing me to a way of genre writing that is proven and research based to empower students to become successful in writing using your well developed Strategic Young Writers through Genre Instruction."


Jill Dowling, Patterson Elementary

Kindergarten Teacher, GA

Developing Strategic Young Writers Genre Instruction provides all students with purpose and understanding of the elements of genre writings and the importance of using the steps of writing to produce strong written essays.  I continue to be impressed with the development my second-grade students have experienced.  Based on the data I have collected as a teacher, I have observed that my students demonstrate significant growth as writers throughout the school year.  The lessons are engaging for all students. Student empowerment is demonstrated in the clarity of their written thoughts and strong writing voice as they attend to their written composition while they progress from the planning stages to the finished product. As an educator, I am impressed by how well the students self-evaluate their writing and enthusiastically revise and edit to create a finished product for which they are proud. Developing Strategic Young Writers Genre Instruction is easily applied to writing across the curriculum and produces great student success.  Every year that I have taught the lessons, I am equally impressed how my students are so excited about writing.  They also write at home because they realize how powerful their writing can be.  I have numerous anecdotes shared by parents telling me how their children will use the elements of writing to compose a persuasive essay to their parents at home with hopes of convincing them to see their side of a situation. Parents have even requested how they can use the elements so they can respond in a written rebuttal to their children. Developing Strategic Young Writers Genre Instruction truly prepares our students to be successful communicators to meet the demands of Twenty-First Century Learning.

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Karen M. Picerno, Second Grade Teacher

Socrates Academy, NC

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