Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Teaching Elementary Students to Write

Tips for Teaching Writing
Teaching writing in the elementary grades can be tricky, but is important. Improving writing skills will help students succeed both in and out of school.
Teaching writing should be an important part of your day, as learning to write will help students improve their reading, comprehension, and ability to express themselves. Teaching writing should not be difficult. Here are a few suggestions to make the process a little smoother.

Teach the Writing Process
Post the writing process somewhere that the students can see, and teach each step of the process.

Pre-Write: This is the time when ideas are thought up for the writing assignment. Teach this in a whole class lesson and encourage every student to participate. No answer is wrong. If a student throws out an idea that is off topic or ridiculous, challenge the student to explain his rationale instead of simply dismissing the comment.

Rough Draft: This is the opportunity for students to get their thoughts on paper. This is one of the most important steps in the writing process, and if skipped will result in writers block and a general lack of writing. Be sure to focus on this step with every writing assignment regardless of whether the assignment is graded. Emphasize that the writing does not have to be neat, make perfect sense or be spelled correctly.

Edit/Revise: This can be one of the most difficult steps in the process to teach. Using sample paragraphs that have mistakes in them can teach students to find and correct errors. Have a check list displayed for students to go through as they edit their papers. During this time, you should also have writer's conferences where you go over the writing with each student individually, and model how to correct and revise the paper.

Final Draft: This step can be completed on a computer if possible, or simply in good handwriting. Ensure that the students do not rush to complete this step and explain that during the edit/revise stage the paper may be rewritten several times before the final draft is complete.

Author's Chair
Each time you go through the writing process with your students, take time to have an author's chair day where the students can get in front of the class and share their work. Teach students how to critique each work with both a positive and a room from improvement comment. Use this time to talk about how each author can learn from the comments to improve the next writing piece.

Grading Writing Assignments
Before giving a writing assignment, you should come up with a rubric to grade the final draft. Knowing what you are looking for will enable the students to write better, and will provide a framework for your lessons throughout the process. Be sure to teach through each area on your rubric before having the students turn the work in. Remember that student grades are a reflection of how well you taught.

Take time to have your students write each day. The more your students write, the better they will become, but remember to intentionally teach each writing skill. Learn about how to teach writing to students with a writing disability, and how to teach writing to autistic students

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