What is SRSD?

Self-Regulated Strategy Development (SRSD) 

– integrates all major learning theories: social cognitive, constructivist and behavioral

– offers practical strategies to help students be strategic, engage in purposeful discovery and become independent thinkers

– foregrounds writing as a window into thinking, as well as a way to develop critical thinking

– enables students to  self-regulate so they can write with powerful voice and agency

How does SRSD work?

– uses a 6-stage gradual release framework with meaning-driven instruction

– not a program, but a way to empower the self-regulation students need to be in charge of their literacy lives

– meant to be customized and transformed to integrate with and enhance teachers’ current best practices

– uses delicate balance of scaffolds (only as needed!) that are systematically removed as students gain independence

Learn SRSD:

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Overview of SRSD:

SRSD uses a gradual releases of responsibility model, taught through six stages, combined with emphasis on four main characteristics of self-regulated learning (goal setting, self-instruction, self-management and self-reinforcement) to support writers.

See videos on right for an overview of the key 6 stage model.

Set Climate
  • Design engaging and meaningful tasks that allow for choice and inspire empowerment
  • As an example, Pooja Patel had students write about UN Development goals in “Kids for Change”.

  • In the video on the right, Malala reminds us all that the pen can change the world, as her own experience proves true!
Mine Exemplars & Give Lenses
  • Search together for craft moves and key features used by expert writers
  • Meaning, not form, drives writing in SRSD so focus on message and purpose, then choose forms and craft moves to best convey your message
  • Craft move options and varied, fluid forms help students meet their purposes when writing.
  • In images below, students use TIDE as a lens to understand the fluid parts of a paragraph, including key elements.
  • Form (TIDE) is merely a vehicle to convey meaning
  • Students then un-peel onion layers of craft moves writers use to drive their purposes and create art.
  • In this example, the writing begins with an engaging, voice-rich opening that “opens the door” to the writing, drawing the reader in

Plan & Organize (Flexible Strategies)

Students then begin their journeys to learn about the writing process, and how to continuously fine tune how they will use if for the rest of their writing lives, an ongoing inquiry-driven journey of continuously refinement that never ends.

Instead of just teaching the writing process by immersion and getting started, we step back for a few lessons and explicitly teach students best practices for each step of the writing process.

Teach Planning:

– Discuss importance of planning and why to plan

– Take completed pieces, step back in time and imagine how the writer might have outlined the piece

This launches the exploration in the many ways that writers plan and to begin the work of finding “How can I best plan my writing? What are my options? How will I orchestrate them?”

– How were the ideas structured and organized?

– Have students learn to abstract out varied genre forms, and deeper and deeper levels of craft i.e. vocabulary choices, to figurative language craft moves

Transform your writers attention to grow to “read with a writer’s eye”, noticing craft moves whenever reading.

This task, at the same time, also enables writers to learn about best practices for planning their writing before they actual do write. As they see models of how other writers plan, they learn that most expert writers plan in bullets or cave man talk. This often takes time to learn. Students can critique examples of planners that are overdone, as well as see planners that are just right.

Over planner vs just right

Revise & Edit (Flexible Strategies)

#1 Revise before editing

  • Discuss difference between revision and editing – how revision is more important that editing, at first
  • Focus on ‘message before mechanics’
  • Encourage writers to add and clarify at first, before removing: Most students don’t know how to revise. They change icy to cold because they can spell cold. But what they’ve actually done is edit, and brought down the quality of their writing.
  • Teach ARMS vs CUPS:

#2 Give a set of steps to draw from when revising (not editing checklists)

  • Find TIDE’s parts in my writing. Evaluate the quality of each part against the exemplar
  • Emphasize purpose and meaning at all times when using any aspect of the writing process
  • My topic sentence might differ, but is it as strong as the one in the exemplar? How can I improve it?
  • Give one focus area for students to revise and have students revise for just that

#3 Model, Model, Model!

  • Model revising in front of the class often
  • After students understand revision, have them ‘tap in’ where they cover their ears and proof-read their pieces. This must be required at the end of every piece they write.
  • In sample below, the child wrote this 100% independently – writing POWRE at the top to remind her to do all steps of plan, organize, revise & edit (which she then did!)
  • POWRE should not be followed lockstep, but is a set of strategic thinking processes writers draw from, as needed, driven by purpose and meaning not blindly followed
  • Strategies instruction has a rich and often misunderstood history. Strategies are never to followed blindly or applied in isolation.


Initiate gradual release through modeling “I do, we do and you do”, emphasizing the importance of self-talk in guiding oneself through using the writing process, taking advantage of tools that can help one get started, and saying encouraging words to oneself.

Have students actually write up and use positive self-talk statements.

Some teachers even make songs about self-talk as the example from twitter here shows:

For older students, be creative! They still do need self-talk. Use humor, white boards – even let them play their favorite songs (use earbuds) to get themselves jazzed up and feeling ready to write.

Think Alouds
  • SRSD relies heavily on modeling, often done through think alouds
  • Use an “I do, we do and you do” gradual release
  • Model adaptive self-talk for guiding oneself through using the writing process, and taking advantage of tools along the way
  • Make the invisible, visible by showing the kinds of thoughts writers might have while writing, emphasizing how different writers make choices among best strategies to use to meet one’s purposes, and self-encouragement
  • Show students how another student writing a piece might think about while writing, often going into ‘character’ and acting in the role of ‘student’ while doing these think alouds
  • Have older students take notes and carefully debrief what they saw in the think aloud
  • Remember to model the full complexity of the writing process – don’t oversimplify it!
Collaborative Literacy Practice

In order for gradual release to work, teachers must support students in becoming more self-regulating. This happens all through writing instruction, but especially when teachers also heavily emphasize using positive, encouraging self-talk as they write and coping with the kinds of frustrations all writers face such as sustaining focus or managing writer’s block. Students practice applying more positive self-talk and coping better as they begin to write collaboratively with their teacher and with each other in this routine.

The class might first plan a piece together sharing ideas as well as the new self-talk they are using as they think about writing. Students might write a piece together as well, as a group effort. Next students would write in groups as they begin to launch toward independence.

We have students work on and adjust their self-instruction planners almost daily. Students write about what they will say to encourage themselves, to get started, as they write and what they will do after they write.
Self Instruction Planners

“A strategy that cannot be recalled, cannot be used.” (Powerful Writing Strategies, 2008)

Part of the power of SRSD is in having students memorize or internalize the steps they will follow when they write, especially the mnemonics and strategies they will use to navigate better through the writing process. Yes – they will each use these steps in fluid and individualized ways – but have a flexible routine to follow helps launch writers.

Internalizing these thinking processes happens daily. At the start of each lesson, students might all pair & share the steps of the mnemonic or the steps they will use to write that day from their self-instruction planner. A teacher might toss a ball around the classroom and each student shares steps for writing when he or she catches it.

ball toss

In this video, the teacher creatively supports students in internalizing the mnemonics and steps for the writing process:

After students have internalized the criteria for writing and how to engage in the writing process, then in Stage 5 they practice and receive feedback regularly until they are proficient and the standards set. Students will write daily, receive feedback, work with peers and continue scaffolding until they are able to write independently. Collaborative writes in which students write along with the teacher, volunteering ideas, and seeing their peers share how they make decisions and self-regulate while writing.

Scoring & Goal Setting

Students then begin self-scoring their writing, and tracking their gains in a formative assessment framework. However, scoring is first explicitly taught to the full class. Here a teacher is showing the full class a large poster of a scoring scale as each student scores a piece of writing, to see if they agree on how many points to give each aspect of the piece of writing.

Intro scoring
Next, a second teacher standing by a chart paper of an essay the class wrote together, leads her students in using scales to score this collaborative writing that they did together as a class. In this way, students gain a clear sense of what qualities to include in their writing. This clear understanding of the criteria for strong writing is critical if students are going to set goals for their own writing.

Below is an example from a student who just scored a piece, then entered his score on a sheet that had scores from his prior writes. He beamed with joy at his gains. He nearly doubled the scores he is receiving by this point.

Peer Feedback

Once students can score exemplars and their own writing well, they are ready to give peer feedback.

  • Have students learn social norms before giving peer feedback
  • Let the writer set the goal and focus for the conference