How to Build Skills and Confidence in Your Young Writer!March 26, 2019
Guest post by Melissa Webb
It was my first year in middle school. My new 6th-grade history teacher was young, energetic, and stylish!
I just knew I would love her.
And as a lifelong teacher-pleaser myself, I quickly set out to produce high-quality assignments and essays sure to impress her.
Imagine my surprise when she handed back an unmarked paper and said, “What a great start, Melissa. You are ready to revise your work. Turn it back in when you’re done.”
Revise my work? Nobody had ever asked me to do that in elementary school.
Throughout my elementary years, all of my teachers loved my devoted effort and timely assignments. And, unless my grade had been recorded in the teacher’s grade book, no one had ever handed something back to me unmarked.
Completely confused, I reread my paper.
“Revise my work?!”
What did that even mean?!
It looked good to me. It looked REALLY good, in fact. I was proud of this assignment.
So, naturally, I stood up and placed it back in the “Finished Work” basket – unchanged.
And the years went by.
I wish I could tell you what happened with that paper or others that followed; but, I have no recollection of the final outcome. From that point forward, I just remember feeling like writing was a bit of a guessing game. I had to guess what my teachers wanted.
By the time I had my own group of 5th graders, I knew I would do things differently when it came time to teach the five steps of writing. And, I did. A mentor teacher of mine had shared a clever acronym she used to guide her students during the revision process of writing.
Did you know there are 5 STEPS in the WRITING PROCESS?
Well, some may argue there are only three while others are diehard believers in sacred seven, but for me, these five have worked well for over two and a half decades.
- Prewriting – Organization of Ideas
- Rough Draft – The Sloppy Copy
- Revision – Checking for Quality Content
- Editing – Proofreading for Style and Grammatical Errors
- Publishing – Sharing with an Audience
My mentor would tell her students to “STAR” their papers before turning them in. And, in just a few moments her children would independently complete the task and turn in work of a higher caliber.
They weren’t confused. They all knew exactly what she expected from them.
What I loved most about this technique was how it empowered her young writers.
Whether she created this method or not I do not know, but it has been free for me to use and it is free for you to use, too!
STEP 1: Grab the printable “freebie” from my website.
STEP 2: Teach your child the acronym.
S – substitute one of your weaker words with a strong one
T – take out something that is making your paragraph sound “wordy”
A – add in a detail or description to give more clarity
R – rearrange things into a logical and sequential order
STEP 3: Practice! Nothing takes the place of consistent practice. I coach homeschooling parents to model the process first. Show your child how you would use this simple revision technique to improve content. Then, ask your child to do the same. Together, conversations will lead to discovery and, low and behold, that “A-HA” moment will shine brightly for both of you.
What a joy it is to watch this happen time and time again!
Before long, as your child finishes up that scientific summary you requested, you’ll simply ask, “Hey, sweetheart, did you STAR your paper?”
Your child will gain a new skill set AND independence. While you, my friend, will gain a few extra moments in your busy day. Win! Win!
It would be an honor to support you and your young writer throughout your writing journey.
Feel free to connect with me, ask questions, and take advantage of the many resources I have to offer.