For writing, do this, not this!

Parents often ask how to help with writing. It’s not as black and white as spelling or math. Here are some guidelines.

Bottom line: ask a bunch of questions (not telling your student what to do), and to let the student type everything. Read below for the specifics.

StepDo this!Don’t do this!
PrewritingAsk your student to think about special memories, events, or ideas to include. Ask them to make a list or web. Encourage your student to plan their writing from beginning to end. Prewriting is like a map that tells the writer where to go.Try not to assign topics or say, “Just write about….” Instead, ask questions to prompt thinking.
DraftingThis is the time to write ideas. Continue to ask questions: What happens next? What do you have left to write about? What else could you write? How does it end? Read their writing and ask curious questions. Point out places that are hard to understand, seem to move too fast, or need more details.Don’t type for your student. Let them type their own writing. Don’t suggest entire sentences. Let your student think of what to write. Point out parts that you had a hard time picturing, and ask questions: What did this look like? What did this character say? What else did you learn about this topic? Don’t focus on spelling or editing at this point.
RevisingThis is the time to look at the story again and find ways to make it stronger and better. Ask more questions. Point out places where details are missing. Ask questions about the beginning, middle and the end. Help them notice if they are overusing words or if their sentences are short and choppy. Ask your student to think of parts to remove or add. Which parts are too short? Which parts are missing details?Don’t “fix” the story for your student by adding details or sentences. Just continue to ask questions wherever the writing is too short, hard to understand, off topic, or difficult to read. Ask questions so that your student will see for themselves the areas to improve. Still don’t focus on spelling or editing. This time is for revising ideas, and only the student should be adding new ideas or removing.
EditingHelp your student correct spelling, capitalization and other editing mistakes. Print out the writing and mark mistakes. Or mark the mistakes using the electronic tool we are using.Don’t fix mistakes for your student. Instead, just mark the mistakes. Each student should correct their own mistakes and not have someone else typing their writing. Don’t find all the mistake for your student. Just point out some in the beginning, and then have the student continue to find other errors on their own. The goal is for each student to be able to self-edit.
PublishingThis is the time to add a title. Resolve any leftover comments or suggestions. Help your student think of any ways to make the writing presentable for the reader.Please don’t type, retype, or change the story. Point out areas that the student could correct, if needed.

 

For tech-savvy parents:

  • Have your student share their writing with you at your Google account (don’t have one? Create one! It’s free. Let me know and I’ll show you how).
  • You can add comments like I do and check your student’s progress.

This page last updated October 12, 2017 @ 5:23 pm.