Teaching writing to third graders can be frustrating at times, but it’s also fun! I am going to share three simple tips to show you how to teach writing to third graders effectively!
How to Teach Writing to Third Graders: Three Simple Ideas
If you focus on these three things, I promise you will see growth in writing throughout the year! Teaching third graders to write should focus on creativity, grammar, and forming a strong paragraph. With these tips you can do just that!
Use Mentor Texts
Mentor texts are a great way to start a unit. They give students something to go off of and start their creative process.
How does this work?
- Read the mentor text (any picture book) and talk about the writing style through discussion questions.
- Do one or two activities to go with the mentor text to strengthen their understanding of the text and the writing process.
- Start a writing unit/process that focuses on that text.
Example: Read any of the Who Would Win books (highly recommended for the third grade age range). Then, have students research two animals. Then, they write a research essay on Who Would Win between those two animals. Check that unit out here!
Go Through the Writing Process
When thinking about how to teach third graders to write well, the writing process always comes to mind. Explicitly teaching students how to go from creative idea, to rough drafts, to final draft is important.
But how does this look?
- Introduce the prompt through a mentor text. (Psst…see above!)
- Allow students to think creatively about ideas for the prompt. (Brainstorming!)
- Then, have students do a prewrite to take their idea to a format that would fit that paper.
- Rough Draft! Explicitly teach students how to rough draft and not worry about errors until later. ALWAYS do this paper and pencil.
- Editing and Revising. I typically edit one day and revise the next day. During this time, I will work with a small group of students and have the rest of the students editing and revising each other. Using a checklist is a great way to make sure they are looking for the right items!
- Final Draft- Discuss the importance of getting the grammar, sentence structure, spelling, etc., correct during this step.
While you are doing all of this, teach mini-writing lessons. Example: After rough drafts, teach a lesson on descriptive language, and have students go back through their rough draft to add descriptive words.
This typically takes 2 weeks to complete for one prompt.
Focus on One to Two Skills Each Writing Unit
Each time you begin a unit, decide on one or two things you want to focus on. Different skills could be: descriptive language, quotations, paragraph formation, citing research, etc.
The goal is to pick one or two to focus on. Trying to focus on all parts of writing each unit will leave you exhausted and your students will learn nothing.
Then, teach a mini lesson on that skill before they begin their rough draft and again after the rough draft. When editing and revising, you can focus on that skill. Then, while grading the writing, assess that skill.
How to Teach Writing to Third Graders: Bonus Tips
- Add a free write day each week. This keeps students who love to write extra engaged in the process.
- Play a game like Left, Right, Center when it comes to editing and revising. You roll a dice and if it says to pass the paper to the left or right, the students do so. Then, they do the first editing part on the checklist for that paper. If it says to throw it in the center. They move all the papers to the center and go to a new seat and grab a new paper to do the next checklist part. This way they are editing multiple writing samples and they are extra engaged!
- Use holidays to add extra engagement to writing! Ex: My Santa Letter Writing unit found here!
- Add videos to teach and review skills. Here is my favorite set of writing videos!
- Want everything ready to go for you?! I have an entire year’s worth of writing units that are full of lesson plans, writing processes, and more! Check it out here!
Want a free sample to see how the writing process works? Head here to grab that freebie!