I am sharing my fondness for the written word as a part of the Superb Writers' Blogathon. In partnership with Grammarly grammar checker, this series is bringing helpful hints to aspiring superb writers all across the world wide web.
Today I am going to answer the following question: How do I help my students to achieve superb writing? Well, as a 3rd grade teacher, my students' writing looks a lot different from an upper level classroom or even a college classroom. My students still struggle with getting their words down on paper. They don't quite understand that writing is a way that they can express themselves, a way that they can be creative. They also are still developing basic writing skills, like learning to write in paragraph form, how to make their writing flow, and even simple things like indenting, etc. As a teacher, my goal is to get my students to enjoy writing time. I want it to be something they LOVE and don't dread. I also want my students to understand the basic steps of writing so that they leave my classroom with a foundation of writing that will help them when they write for the rest of their lives.
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There are five KEY things that I tell my students about writing. I teach these five things to my students and we practice them often. I believe with a basis of these five things, my students will be well on their way to achieving superb writing.
1) Pick a topic that you are passionate about or are interested in.
I feel like I drill this point into my students' heads from the beginning of the school year. If you aren't passionate or interested in what you are writing about, then your writing will be boring and no one will want to read it. If you pick something that interests you, your passion and knowledge will shine through in your writing.
2) Don't EVER skip the brainstorming phase.
My students always seem to race to see who can get finished first. This means that they often try to skip the brainstorming phase when we are writing. I try to give my students several different ways to brainstorm and I let them decide which way they like best. At the beginning of the year we practice brainstorming through concept maps, four square writing, and webs.
|Make it to the bottom of this post and you will find a free download of this brainstorming worksheet. =)|
3) Never forget about authors purpose.
In third grade one of the skills we teach is authors purpose. This is important because it helps us identify why an author wrote a particular story. It is also important to remember authors purpose when you are creating your own piece of writing. Why are you writing a certain piece? To persuade? To inform? To entertain? It is important to know why you are writing and to make sure you remember your purpose through the entire piece.
4) After you've finished writing, go back and add SHIMMER to your sentences.
Younger children often start off with sentences that are similar in length and similar in structure. Because of this, I have my students go back through and add exciting words to their writing. The first few times we write, we do this together. After the students have done this a few times, the process becomes easier and they can do this simple task by themselves.
Ex: I love my dog.
(A student will examine this sentence and decide how to add some shimmer to it.)
Revised sentence: I adore my tiny puppy.
Students really enjoy going back through and adding some flair to their sentences and they are really able to see the difference between their first sentence and their new sentence.
5) Edit AND have a friend edit!
Editing in third grade looks a lot different than the editing I did in college before I turned in a final draft of a paper. Students are taught to go back through their writing to check for spelling, capitalization, and punctuation. They are also taught to make sure they indent in the correct place. (In third grade we also still have to make sure the holes are on the right side of the paper.) As we add concepts and skills throughout the year, we add those items into our editing stage.
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Those five steps are just a few ways that I believe will help my students achieve superb writing!
I hope you have enjoyed reading about writing in my classroom.
What does writing look like in your classroom? I would love to hear about what works with your students and how you help your students achieve superb writing!
If you made it ALL the way to the bottom of this post... click to download a free brainstorming worksheet. My students use this before they begin their writing. First they pick a topic. Next, they must come up with three branches of that topic they want to write about. Finally, they break each subtopic into two additional points they want to talk about. This gives them plenty of ideas of what they want to discuss when they write. =)