It’s always a great feeling knowing that you’re teaching writing skills that your students will use for the rest of their lives - a few might even become successful authors later in life!
Some of our students have a tendency to create an entire block of writing and proudly declare that they’ve finished their work. Yet, we discover that they’ve not quite followed the writing process and their work is a bit underdeveloped.
The best way to streamline the writing process and ensure your students understand and carry out every step is by having them use the writing process to create their own pieces of work and providing them with helpful writing and editing checklists.
The next questions that likely comes to mind after you decide that your students could use comprehensive writing and editing checklists are: How do I know which ones are best for my students? Should I write my own checklists? What needs to be included? Relax, we are here to help with free writing and editing checklists and worksheets.
Free Printable Writing Checklists by Grade Level
Understanding the Writing Process
The first step to creating a more streamlined approach to writing for your elementary school kids is discussing the writing process with them. It’s a fantastic way of rapidly assessing their understanding of the subject and the reasons for the writing process.
There are some questions you can ask your students to determine where their understanding lies regarding a step-by-step writing process.
You should ask questions such as, “How does the writing process work?” to review the sequence of steps. Once you have gathered information on where your students’ understanding of the writing process lies, there are five sequential steps you should follow with your class.
Step 1: Brainstorming and Prewriting
Sometimes it can feel tempting just to give your students - especially if they have a few years of experience with writing - free-reign on the entire process and see what amazing things their minds come up with. However, without some direction on what they will be writing, ideas could become jumbled and your students may become frustrated and quickly lose the desire to continue writing.
Because of this, a structured approach to coming up with ideas for their writing and creating a rough outline for their work comes in handy.
Checklist for brainstorming:
- Find which topic the writing will be about
- Discover more specific areas that the topic will cover
- Start thinking about main ideas and themes for your writing
- Start thinking about characters (who are they and what do they act like)
- Where is the setting of your story
You can have your students brainstorm ideas for their writing individually, as a group or you can facilitate a brainstorming session as a class using the steps below:
- Demonstrate the different ways they can brainstorm, like writing lists or using pictures on a mood board.
- Choose one subject most memorable to you from the list your students have compiled.
- Have your students determine the main idea of their writing and theme.
- Give your students a worksheet like the ones we have below to help them keep their ideas organized.
Free Printable Brainstorming Worksheets
Brainstorming Worksheet for Kindergartners and First Graders
Brainstorming Worksheet for Second and Third Graders
Brainstorming Worksheet for Fourth and Fifth Graders
After your students land on their topic, they can start hashing out their writing on paper. The prewriting stage is their time to be free and just put what is in their heads into writing. They may end up using all, some or a little bit of the information they put down during the prewriting stage.
Checklist for prewriting:
- Get initial ideas down on paper and start thinking about the organization of the writing.
- Create character lists and roles in the story.
- Cluster similar ideas by highlighting them using colored pens or highlighters.
There are several strategies used for prewriting that we have outlined for you but the goal is the same no matter which you choose. Choose one of these prewriting strategies to present to your students or have them choose their own method.
- Free writing
- Clustering similar ideas
- Writing questions and trying to answer them
We do suggest setting a time limit for prewriting and reminding your students that this time is used to write down their ideas and start thinking about what they really want to include in their piece. If you do not set a time limit, your students may start on their first drafts before you get a chance to teach them about first drafts.
Step 2: First Drafts
The great thing about drafting is there’s no pressure on students to create a polished version of their story in the first attempt. The idea is you give your elementary students creative freedom to write down the details of their chosen topic.
Encourage your students to write down a clear sequence of events in their story. That means there should be beginning, middle and end sections to their writing. What is the best way of getting them to achieve that goal, you might be asking yourself?
One way is by thinking about the subject aloud and the story’s sequence of events. Teaching your students such a process will help them process their stories in their heads and work with smaller, more manageable chunks of information.
First drafts are also when your students start to craft the world they are writing about. If the piece of writing is fictional, encourage them to paint a picture for the reader using their words.
Remember: the last thing you want to do is dissuade them from writing or lose focus and engagement on the task at hand.
Checklist for First Drafts:
- Lay out a clear sequence of events that leads to a conclusion
- Build characters and setting for fictional writing
- Add important details that the reader needs to know
- Do not worry about grammar and spelling yet
Worksheets on Drafting and Story Structure
Kindergarten and First Grade Narrative Writing Story Structure Worksheet
Writing and Introduction Worksheet (Second-Fifth Grade)
Writing a Conclusion Worksheet (Second-Fifth Grade)
Step 3: Second Drafts and Revisions
It is ideal to give some time between writing a first draft and going back to start on a second draft. Not only does giving time between drafts help prevent students from feeling burnt out - writing for 2-3 hours can be a big ask for elementary schoolers and doesn’t make time for other lesson plans - it also allows them to come back to their writing with a fresh pair of eyes.
Give students a couple of days between the first draft writing, the second draft writing and revisions to ensure that they have enough time to marinate on their story.
Teaching your students about revision is crucial as it helps them understand concepts such as strong opening paragraphs to hook their audiences. They should also learn the importance of composing firm conclusions to their work.
Checklist for second drafts and revisions:
- Remove off-topic sections and sentences.
- Remove and replace overused words.
- Add in more detail as needed.
- Improve sentence structure for better, more consistent flow for readers.
- Using transitional words to help readers go from one section of writing to another.
- Ask yourself, “Does this story structure make sense?”.
Worksheets for Second Drafts and Revisions
Kindergarten and First Grade Word Choice Worksheet
Second and Third Grade Word Lists Worksheet
Fourth and Fifth Grade Overused Wordlist
Step 4: Final Drafts and Editing
So far, your students have taken in a lot of information about writing and have done quite a lot of work. Some may be feeling a bit overwhelmed and may start to wonder why they can’t just write the assignment one time and move on.
If your students question this amount of work (and some likely will), tell them that they are essential steps for creating writing that’s at its best for the intended audience. Giving them time between edits and revisions as mentioned above is also critical in ensuring that the work is paced out and broken up.
So, what can you teach your students about the final editing step?
Firstly, it’s important to focus on things like spelling, word choice, punctuation and capitalization. There’s also the all-important checks for subject-verb agreements. Here are some points to emphasize with your students during the editing stage:
- Take your time - don’t rush through your work, as you want to make sure it’s accurate.
- Utilize marking pens and highlighters - highlighters and colored pens are brilliant for calling out words or sections of work that need further revision.
- Second opinion proofreading - have another student read through and proofread your work to check for errors.
Be sure to encourage your students to make all of their final edits at this time. They should read through their writing at least a couple of times and read it out loud to ensure everything is correct.
Checklist for final drafts and edits:
- Review sentence structure again.
- Check spelling and punctuation.
- Add details that may have been missed while working on the second draft.
- Have a partner proofread the work.
Worksheets for Final Drafts
Kindergarten and First Grade Editing Worksheet
Second and Third Grade Final Writing Checklist (Linked above, also)
Fourth and Fifth Grade Final Writing Checklist (Linked above, also)
Step 5: Show Off Your Students’ Work!
The writing and editing process is almost over as this final stage is now all about showing off your students’ work. You can do this the traditional way by having your students read their work out loud to the class or just give them verbal praise for all of their hard work, but why not take it up a notch and transform their writing into a published classbook?
Unlike a simple letter grade or sticker, a published classbook is collaborative. Knowing that their work will appear in print can be a powerful motivational tool that will get your students excited about the writing process.
A published book becomes their well-deserved reward for working so hard on their writing projects. It’s the perfect way to celebrate their writing.
Parents l have the option to purchase copies of your classbook to keep at home as a permanent memento of their child’s hard work.
Leave a comment below and let us know how you teach the writing process to your students. You can also reach out to us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter any time!
Studentreasures provides FREE classbook publishing kits. Creating a classbook is not only a fun activity that teaches students about the writing process, it can also help increase engagement and build their confidence as young writers.
Click here to learn more about how the process works and see how your students can become published authors!