Writing Coaches help students:

  • write competently
  • think critically
  • express themselves confidently

WRITING COACH PROGRAMS GOING STATE-WIDE!

Thanks to a two-year grant from the Steele-Reese Foundation, WCM will soon begin serving students in the Bitterroot Valley. We start this fall in the Stevensville Public Schools and will add another school district in 2017. Ultimately, we hope to create an independent county-wide writing coach program for all seven public school districts in Ravalli County.  

Volunteers are needed! If you live in Ravalli County and are interested in becoming a writing coach, please contact us at  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Whitefish, Montana is also beginning a writing coach program based on the Missoula model in the Whitefish Public Schools. If you are interested in volunteering as a writing coach in Whitefish, please contact Brian Schott at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Writing Coaches of Montana is a community organization that provides trained volunteer writing coaches to public high school and middle school classrooms in Missoula County, Montana. By conferencing individually with every student on school writing assignments requiring critical thinking and revision, we seek to prepare all students to become confident, competent writers. Our writing coaches work...

  • with every student in the classroom, regardless of ability,
  • providing more than 3,400 one-on-one writing conference annually in content areas across the curriculum,
  • with students in three MCPS District #1 high schools (Big Sky, Sentinel, and Hellgate) and in three MCPS middle schools (C.S. Porter, Meadow Hill, and Washington), in the "feeder" middle schools of Bonner, Clinton, and Lolo, and now in the Stevensville middle and high schools.  

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Not only did productivity increase, but more important, your coaches personalized the writing process--the students were writing for their coaches!--Nancy Thibo, Big Sky High School English Teacher

Are we effective?

Bonner Middle School teacher Jami Fabatz has been an enthusiastic user of writing coaches for several years.  Last year she decided she needed objective data to confirm what she was already observing in her classroom.

Ms. Fabatz contacted the University of Montana for help with a possible study.  In the fall of 2015 a graduate student from UM's English Teaching Program designed a research project to study Ms. Fabatz's 35 8th grade students who had been given the same persuasive writing assignment.  20 students were randomly selected to receive two rounds of coaching from WCM writing coaches; the other students were given assistance from fellow students only. Neither the coaches nor the students were aware of the study.

Two trained readers blindly scored the final papers using an analytic rubric covering five key ares. When scores were compared between the two student groups, the researcher observed that:

  • "...students who receive two rounds of writing coaching through the drafting process perform favorably in a persuasive writing assignment compared to peers who participate in classroom instruction and peer-review alone."
  • top performing students benefited more than low performing students, suggesting that these students are better equipped to internalize and incorporate coach feedback into their writing.

In addition, written feedback from students indicated that uncoached students were most likely to receive help from their peers on lower-order writing skills such as grammar, usage, and mechanics. Students who worked with writing coaches reported benefiting from discussions on the more substantive aspects of writing such as the quality and organization of their ideas.

While this unpublished study is preliminary and relies on a relatively small sample size, it points clearly to the efficacy of our program and the benefits of individualized writing support from trained coaches. We hope that more teachers will open their classrooms to investigations of this kind in the future as part of WCM's ongoing offort to understand and optimize how we support student writing.