As a teacher, we’re always looking for different writing strategies to help our students succeed. Each child is set up with their own strengths and weaknesses and it’s up to us as teachers to figure out what teaching writing strategies work best for them! When it comes time to improve writing skills for elementary students, I’m a big believer that writing checklists are one of the critical teaching writing strategies that set kids up for success. Teaching writing strategies is ongoing, and this checklist can be used for all students, allowing them to develop self-help skills and strong writing skills.
The amazing part about a checklist is that is reinforces so many different skills all together. A good checklist contains clear visuals to reinforce each item, sentences (and their structure), it encourages kids to read, turn that reading into action, and gain independent mastery over whatever skills the checklist is about. A writing checklist can also be used for pre writing skills, kindergarten handwriting, teaching writing in Kindergarten, 1st grade writing, 2nd grade writing and so much more. Of all the strategies for successful writing, a checklist is at the top of my list of writing strategies when looking to improve writing skills.
Using upper case letters is the a great first step to BOTH reading and writing skills. It’s a critical part of all writing checklists for Kindergarten, first grade and teaching writing strategies. Upper-case letters help kids identify the beginning of sentences on a page, which is a great pre writing skill and helps to develop strong phonemic awareness strategies.
I love having a word wall in my classroom or at home. I always encourage students to use words that are frequently used in class or have already been learned – so checking the word wall is an important step and this checklist item reinforces that behavior. If a student doesn’t know how to spell a word (and has already checked the word wall) I usually say “sound it out! There are no wrong answers. Sounding out helps with strong development of phonemic awareness skills. Spelling is something that doesn’t need to be stressed at this moment. The word wall becomes an excellent tool for writing help.
Beginning writers often forget to use spaces in between words. This is a great reminder. As a manipulative, which is an excellent way to teach kindergarten handwriting, I use popsicle sticks to show kids the size of the space they need to leave between words. It is very important for developing proper handwriting and improve writing skills.
This is a big one! It’s one of the key basic writing skills and it is important not only because it tells us when a thought is over, but it also helps with developing strong reading skills. When kids read books, they need to learn how different intonations in their voice have an effect on their comprehension of the text. When they learn how to put a period at the end of their sentence (thought), they are gaining comprehension skills as well as learning that a period means the end of a thought. It also completes the structure they are looking for on a page.
I always have students go back and re-read their work. Often, they’ve missed a word or something is out of order. This is very helpful with new writers and especially helpful when students start to write paragraphs, especially for 2nd grade writing. Ask kids to read their sentence out loud and they will often hear their own mistakes and want to correct them.