6th grade Language Arts teacher Terry Atkins shares one strategy he uses to help his students become better writers.
Classroom Writing Tips
Problem: Students are not writing in complete sentences when you give them questions to answer.
Subjects: All classes that ask students to answer questions (in complete sentences).
1. If you give students a set of questions to answer, make it a requirement that they write in complete sentences. Show them how to use the most important information in the questions as part of their responses. As a class, have students tell which part of a sentence needs to be underlined the first time.
Below are a few examples:
a. How did Bud get revenge on the Amos family? Ask them which part of the question needs to be in their answer, and get them to underline it-- How did Bud get revenge on the Amos family? Ask them to change the verb get to got.
b. What were the four things Momma used to always talk to Bud about? Underline-- What were the four things Momma used to always talk to Bud about? Capitalize the _____ and what verb would you use? Were
2. Midway through the assignment, ask them to reread their answers. Remind them that they need to capitalize words that need to be capitalized, they need to use the correct punctuation at the end of sentences.
3. I also require them to name the nouns. Don’t write he, she, it until you have named to noun first. Write Jane…, The students…, The temperature…, The Greeks…., etc.
4. Once you teach them how to do this, take points off if responses are not in complete sentences. OR Give back points if they get their tests back and need the points.
5. Have them reread their responses to make sure words are capitalized and punctuated correctly. As a Gold Finish, have students reread their response to make sure they have edited and revised their responses.
I have seen better responses after spending 5-10 minutes going over this with the class. Some students (in 6th grade) are learning this for the first time. Next year, I will start the year off with this strategy, and push it for about a week.