Tuesday, May 7, 2019

10 Ways to Improve Writing Skills for Elementary Students

Here are 10 ways to improve students' writing skills and increase their overall writing scores too. 

First of all, your students will be doing a lot of writing. They will need somewhere to write it. A notebook or journal is a great place to start. Everyone needs their own writing journal. A notebook or a bunch of paper stapled together, anything works. I've also seen other teachers use 3-ring notebooks that are dedicated to writing only.

I have my students write everything in their journal. By the end of the year, their journals are filled with first drafts, final presentations, notes, lists, sentences, editing marks, anything and everything we did that year. These journals are great to show at conference time too because you can see growth from the first page to the last. Try to make the journals fun by adding color and/or glueing in pictures. The journals are a great place to let students become creative by writing their thoughts or telling a funny story in their own words.  

Here are 10 ideas of what you can do to improve any student's overall writing skill:

1. Write everyday. Rain or shine the writing will be done. It really doesn't matter what they write as long as they are writing. Writing improves sight words which improves reading and comprehension. Don't just save writing for writing time. Write across the curriculum. Writing can include thoughts, lists, or even just a feeling they have about a subject. At the end of the day, have students write three things they learned or have them write something good that happened to them that day. I also start a lot of morning work with writing. Think about how you can incorporate more writing in the day.

2. Write with the students or model writing. If you assign a writing assignment, then you need to do it too. Students need to see what you want. If they see you're doing it and how they are supposed to do it, then they will be eager to get started. When I write in front of students, I make sure I talk to myself out loud for all students to hear. It's almost like using "think aloud" when reading. We ask ourselves questions about the book we are reading. I do the same with writing. I ask myself questions about the topic and tell myself not to forget to indent or begin with a topic sentence. I make sure I reread my sentences to make sure it sounds good and make corrections or add details as I go.  Students will learn when they observe from someone who is knowledgeable about writing, you.   

 3. Share writing with each other. Let students read their writing to the class or you choose a few to share. I also place a basket in my classroom library filled with writings from their classmates. When a student finishes a piece of writing, it is placed in the basket for all to read or they get to read it to the class for all to hear. This makes them feel proud of their work and they do their best work when everyone is reading it. Once I figured out that students liked to read each other's work, I started putting a ton of their writing work in the basket. It seemed to spark some interest in reading, and wanting to finish their writing to get it in the basket. I also display their paragraphs or stories in the hallway for everyone to read. If it's on display, it's ready for all eyes to read like parents, other teachers, and principals!

4. Model how to edit and revise. It's funny when students write a personal narrative or a story and they think they're done. Many students do not think they have to reread their sentences or make any changes to their writing. They have a hard time self-editing. These writing pieces take time to complete and needs to be written a few times to be presentable which they do not like to do. They really struggle fixing their own work or rewriting it to make it presentable. This needs to be practiced and modeled how to do it. At the beginning of the year, I do a ton of editing practice worksheets. By the middle of the year, they do much better at it. The more you practice, the better they get at it. If they practice enough, it will just become automatic and something that's expected of them. 

5. Use technology. A great way to have students shine with writing is to incorporate technology. Students can type their final report so that it looks clean and presentable. These typed reports look great in the basket or up in the hallways too. The computer is also a great place to research information for a report. Taking notes from an encyclopedia online helps with writing. Also If they do not like to write, typing might work. Some students have trouble holding a pencil or their spelling is bad. Typing the words instead of writing might help those students write more and not be intimidated by writing. 

6. Assign a writing assignment each week for homework. If you send homework home, there should always be a writing assignment in it. Choose different writing themes to send home. Do not send the same writing assignment home each week. Mix it up. Write a personal narrative one week, an opinion paragraph the next, and respond to a prompt the following week. Homework will also let parents see what you're working on in class and how their child is writing. Students need to practice writing and writing takes up so much time. Homework is a good place to get more practice in. 

7. Encourage inventive spelling. I have a few students every year that don't want to write because they can't spell. Who cares. Just write. If I encourage inventive spelling, they seem to write more even if they make many mistakes. Mistakes help us learn. For these students, I try to keep my comments to myself if they have misspellings. What I do encourage is the punctuation marks and if it makes sense. That's all I really care about. Spelling will come. The more they write, the more their spelling improves. Keep your spelling lists and lessons focused on high frequency words or word families.   

8. Use writing centers. Writing centers will help bring the creativity to the table and incorporate a variety of writing genres. Writing centers can let students move at their own pace and become creative. Sometimes students need something to do while they are waiting for others to finish. Having some fun writing centers on hand will help keep your early finishers busy. Make writing centers quick and fun. These centers are usually the ones that will go in the basket or hung on the wall. They are also the ones that students seem to be eager to get started on and write like crazy. 

9. Have extra writing paper on hand. Not only do you need a journal to write in but you'll need other paper on hand. For example when we were practicing to write friendly letters, I put premade letter writing paper at a center. Students were encouraged to write friendly letters to their classmates. There were several students who wanted to take some letter writing paper home to write. I said, "What? You want to take this home and write letters?" Hot diggity dog! They wanted to write at home too! Score! Other paper on hand includes graphic organizers or final draft papers. I will also have students glue other papers into their notebooks. They will have to trim their writing paper to fit in the notebook but the extra writing paper adds character and creativity to their journals This will make them eager to work in their writing journal and maybe spark some interest in making a journal at home too!  

10. Let students choose topics to write about. There is nothing worse than having to write about something they don't know about or haven't experienced themselves. When students choose what to write about, they will have more details because they probably know about the subject matter. Yes, sometimes they will need to respond to a prompt that they don't like but at centers or homework can be choices the students pick. You may just get more out of them when they can write what they want. 

These 10 tips will help students improve their writing skills and overall writing scores. You will see a huge difference by the end of the year when you incorporate more writing. Let me know how it goes.

 Writing Resources by TeachersTakeOut
Click the picture on the left to see all my writing resources. I have you covered for homework and writing centers.

Here are some other helpful writing blog posts that I wrote:

Thanks for stopping by!
See you soon,


  1. Sounds great. I extremely like these ideas that work to improve writing skills and other activities. My students also have an incredibly hard time by wrapping their heads around this concept because they can get freaked out during the exam. So for them, I always said to them: Stay Calm and study hard which may motivate them to do more hard work. Thanks for sharing the ways to improve writing skills.

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