Writing is one of the most important tasks that a student engages in. As such, the development of effective writing skills is an essential aspect of a child’s education. However, it can be difficult to teach students the tools they need to become great writers. Luckily, there are a few instructional strategies that have been proven to work. Researchers at Johns Hopkins School of Education have found that there is demonstrable evidence that certain educational strategies are more effective than others when it comes to teaching writing. These strategies can easily be introduced in the classroom to improve the writing skills of your students.

The Step-By-Step Method

To instill good writing habits in your students, break down the writing process step by step.

Prewriting

This is the first step in the writing process. It is during prewriting that a writer generates and organizes his or her ideas. Key idea generation strategies include brainstorming and free writing. Brainstorming can take any number of forms, including list-making or clustering, wherein a writer will group related ideas together in a web structure. Free writing is when an individual is allowed to write down whatever they are thinking, without the constraints of grammar or logic. In free writing, students are encouraged not to self-edit and to just let their ideas flow freely onto the page. Once they have written for a set amount of time, writers will go back to read over what they have written and see if any themes or ideas jump out at them.

It is important for students to organize their ideas before they begin writing. Outlining is the most common way of organizing thoughts in preparation for writing. It is extremely effective in that a proper outline will provide the scaffolding to a written work, supplying the structure for the finished piece.

Drafting

Now it is time to begin writing. When writing out their ideas, students should focus on clarity. This can be achieved through appropriate word choice. Another element to consider while writing is fluidity. The use of proper transitions will make it easier to read the final piece. Sentence structure is also an important element of fluid text. Too many long sentences makes a piece convoluted while too many short ones may make it choppy. Make sure students understand the appropriate rules when it comes to modifiers and clauses. Remind students that this is just a first draft of their work and will be subject to revisions, so they need not worry or place pressure on themselves. It is more important that students translate all ideas from their outlines into words on paper than to create a perfectly polished piece.

Editing

During the revision process, a writer’s draft is subject to edits from a variety of sources. Teaching appropriate editing strategies is vital to the success of this writing stage. Encourage self-revision, peer-revision and teacher-revision before the completion of a final draft. Teach students to look for ways that word choice could be improved or the organization of the piece could be better. Once a round of revision has been completed, begin proofreading for mistakes in punctuation, capitalization and spelling.

Publishing

The final step for a writer is to publish their work. The best way to have students do this is to organize a reading event. Have students share their work by reading it aloud to the rest of the class. The more of an ‘event’ you make it, the prouder the students will be of their work. You might wish to serve refreshments and invite parents to attend this event. This will show students that all their hard work has paid off and will encourage them to invest in future writing assignments.