Improve Student Writing with these Quick Wins

quick wins to improve student writing

It can be really disheartening to read student writing and feel like your teaching hasn’t been as effective as you wished.

While there are a lot of factors at play when it comes to student achievement, many factors which you aren’t responsible for, the fact is that your effectiveness as a teacher DOES matter.

So, when it seems that something is amiss, how can you quickly improve student writing and get your students back on track? Try this.

Choose 3 of these strategies to improve student writing to cover this week – one per day is ok, and set a check-in task on Friday.

Task 1: Model good writing

Teachers can demonstrate good writing techniques and conventions by providing examples of well-written pieces and sharing their own writing process with the class.

  1. Get a copy of an aspirational worked example. We’ve got Bump It Up Texts for different year levels and text types here or you can find examples from familiar books – just photocopy a page for students to annotate, or take a photo and annotate on your whiteboard.

2. Read through it with your class highlighting text structure, language features, and grammar and punctuation.

3. Model writing a good descriptive sentence, an introductory paragraph, brainstorming different resolutions – whatever your students need, model what it looks like to succeed.

Task 2: Provide regular opportunities for writing

Regular writing practice helps students develop their skills and gain confidence in their abilities. Daily writing prompts are a great way to get students writing purposefully.

  1. Choose an appropriate writing prompt for students to complete a short writing task. If you’re working on narratives, your prompt should also be a narrative prompt. Try our Writing Slides Bundle for different prompts for different text types.
  2. Focus on an element of writing – for example writing a good opinion, concluding paragraph, or a detailed character description.
  3. Include clear success criteria, for instance ‘I can write a satisfying conclusion’.
  4. Make it short – 15 mins max. This is a short sprint to focus on improving one element of a students’ writing – not a marathon.

Task 3: Facilitate Self and Peer feedback

Helping students access specific, constructive feedback on their writing helps them identify areas for improvement and track their progress. You can use rubrics or checklists to provide clear and consistent feedback.

  1. Have writing/success criteria checklists for all writing tasks and make copies of them easily accessible to students (eg takeaways on your learning wall)
  2. Teach students how to annotate texts for success criteria (this is not as complicated as it sounds. For example, highlight noun groups in blue.)
  3. Teach students to give peer feedback.
  4. Ensure that students are given feedback before their check-in task.

End of week Check-in Task and Teacher Feedback

As a teacher, you need to know where your students are at, and what they need to get them to the next level. The best way to do this is reviewing a piece of their writing.

  1. Read through your students short writing prompt task from earlier in the week – take just 1 minute per student.
  2. Use a success criteria checklist if you have one – just tick and flick!
  3. Write 1 thing the student did well
  4. Write 1 thing your student can do to improve – make it actionable and relevant to the success criteria (e.g use varied text connectives)
  5. Finally, and very important – make your teacher feedback available to students to refer back to when they are next writing. They will know what they need to do to improve and integrate it into their writing. You can also take common themes and use this to inform your focus for next week.

Used weekly, this feedback cycle helps to inform your teaching and help students to focus on what really matters in their learning. Try it and let me know the impact it has in your classroom!

Resources to improve student writing