Writing strategies, processes, and dispositions are closely linked with reading
development. Simply put, this component of literacy involves the general writing process from prewriting to publishing,
the thinking tools writers use, and each student's self-efficacy. By exposing students to a variety of genres and
forms through reading and teaching them to "read like writers," we can strengthen students' writing habits and attitudes.
This can lead to the development of the perseverance, commitment, and confidence students need to write well (Biggam
At third grade, these skills include:
and prewriting independently
an understanding of purpose and audience
Writing Attitude Survey
As with reading,
success in writing is also linked to motivation to write, and motivation to write is often dependent on a student's
self-perception of his or her writing ability. Like the Elementary Reading Attitude Survey (ERAS), the Elementary
Writing Survey (EWAS) is also designed to get students to honestly reveal their true feelings about writing.
The EWAS can
assess students' attitudes toward writing. Administered to individuals or entire classes, the EWAS features 28 statements
about writing with four Garfield faces for each statement depicting feelings. Students read the statement (or listen
as the teacher reads) and then circle the angry, mildly upset, slightly happy, or enthusiastic Garfield that matches their
feelings about the statement.
A scoring guide and grade-level specific tables are provided with the survey.
By calculating the number of each type of Garfield, teachers can determine which percentile students are in. Higher
percentiles show that students feel more positively about writing. If a teacher determines that a student has negative
feelings toward writing, he or she can implement interventions to improve the student's motivation and engagement.
To view the EWAS and administration materials, click here.
Conference with Self-Assessment for Writing Process and Strategies
typically occur one-on-one between the student and teacher. During these conferences, teachers ask students about specific
areas of their writing they want help with (crafting a stronger lead, creating suspense, choosing powerful words, etc.).
If students do not come with specific needs, then the teacher looks for one area to work on. The goal is to help students
become better writers (not just correcting that one piece of writing) by teaching students processes and strategies to use
with all future writing.
is an important milestone in third grade. To successfully transition to more independent writing, students must be aware
of their own strengths and needs. Teachers must help students have a clear idea of where to go next as a writer.
Having students complete self-assessment checklists can be helpful starting points for conferences.
Students select "By Myself," "With Help," or
"Not Yet" in response to grade level writing goals. Then, the teacher and student discuss the statements during an individual
conference, celebrate their successes, and set goals for the future. These self-assessments can be readministered (perhaps
each nine weeks) to monitor progress.
To view a sample writing process and strategies self-assessment,
research has led educators to seek a balance between teaching children how to use the writing process, teaching children the
strategies to use during various stages of the process, and teaching children the skills they need to create a successful
piece of writing (Biggam 182). For most students, a well-planned writer's workshop is more than enough to develop
writing skills and foster engagement. For others, though, individual interventions are needed.
who show low motivation to write and/or score poorly on the EWAS often struggle to get started or maintain stamina while writing.
Helping students manage writing time by providing specific deadlines may make a difference.
In our classroom, we use a Writing Deadline
Calendar to monitor our writing progress. At the beginning of each unit of study, we create deadlines together for each
stage of the writing process. Each writing workshop starts by reviewing the calendar and our goals. Students are
held accountable to the deadlines (by missing recess or specials to catch up if needed) and work hard to meet them.
Deadlines occur along the stages of the writing process (for example, all discovery drafts are due on a certain day).
For struggling writers, however, these deadlines aren't specific enough and they feel overwhelmed by the amount of writing
they need to do.
To help these writers, I breakdown each deadline
into smaller steps (often daily). For example, their goals might include completing specific sections of their writing
each day up until the whole class's goal of finishing a discovery draft. Checking off each small part of the larger
goal daily can be very rewarding; moreover, realizing a student is behind before Deadline Day allows time for teachers to
intervene before it's too late.
I created a large poster from a blank calendar template. I laminated this calendar
and write dates and deadlines on it with a dry erase marker. This way, I can use it over and over. View our Writing Deadline Calendar for our "Poem a Day" unit here.
Writing Process Roadmap
evaluating students' self-assessments, important areas of need will become obvious. Some students will need writing interventions
in selecting topics whereas others will need help with revision or editing. For many struggling writers, however, simply
managing the writing process is an obstacle. Creating a writing checklist to help these students remember the steps
of the writing process can make a difference. In our classroom, I post the writing steps on a bulletin board.
As students move through the writing process, they move their "pencil" into an envelope under their writing stage (brainstorming,
planning, drafting, etc.). As students move their pencil, they reread the poster describing the writing stage. I also
give students an outline of this process to keep in their writing folder. For most students, this "writing roadmap"
increases writing engagement and stamina.
View our writing bulletin board here.