Monday, January 13, 2014

A Writing Checklist for Young Students

Johannes Vermeer, A Lady Writing a Letter, 1665
J Vermeer, A Lady Writing a Letter, 1665 (Wikipedia)
by Richard D Boyce

As a relief/substitute teacher, you see many great ideas created by teachers. Here is one such idea.

Items one to nine, below, were on a poster with the title, "Writing Checklist" in a Year Three class classroom.

What follows each item in the checklist below is what I would explain to my class about each item (I have reorganised the original checklist into ideas I feel fit together, e.g. presentation).

1. Have I read my writing? Does my writing have all the ideas I wanted to include?
2. Does my writing make sense? Is the story in the right sequence? Are there any confusing words or phrases?
3. Have I left out any words? You can leave out 'little' words because your mind works faster than you can write.

The next four deal with the presentation, particularly punctuation.

4. Do my sentences begin with a capital letter and end with a full stop?
5. Are there 'talking marks' around words that people say?
6. When I read my writing, do I have a comma or a full stop when I pause?
7. Is it neatly written?

The next two deal with helping to make the reading of your writing more interesting and meaningful.

8. Do I have sentences that begin with 'And', 'Then' or 'But'?  These words do not improve your writing.
9. Do I have interesting sentence beginnings? Have you used phrases containing adjectives and adverbs to help add interest to your writing?

This checklist is clearly a great starting point for Year Three classes in their writing development. However, it is only a start. Below are a number of items that could be added to the checklist as students progress up the school ladder. These are not in any developmental or time order.

10. Does your first paragraph introduce your story well?
11. Does the last paragraph end the story appropriately?
12. Does each paragraph contain only one point/episode of the story?
13. Does the paragraph expand on that point/episode?
14. Does each paragraph follow the correct sequence of the story?
15. Is the tense of the verbs consistent with the story?
16. Does the story flow from paragraph to paragraph?
17. Have words with emotional emphasis been added to enhance the story?

The experienced language teacher might add still more ideas to this 'checklist'. He/she might develop a checklist that expands, year by year, to parallel the development of their students.

Our author wrote many essays during his university and school days. In his early teaching career he taught essay writing in English, History and Geography to High School students.

So he is well versed in essay writing to offer advice. For more information about what to do in your classroom, Rick has produced a website to help teachers. It is

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