Writing Checklists Cap Saturday, August 28, 1993 3:30:44 PM Homeschool IdeaExchange Item From: Greg M. Reed Subject: Writing Checklists (Cap) To: Homeschool IdeaExchange
Hi, I’m new to this conference. I just thought I’d throw in some “tools” that I’ve found helpful in teaching writing skills. One of the things we want our children to do is to internalize the “rules” of good writing, so that they can step back from their pieces and evaluate them from the perspective of a writer. Revision literally means “Re-seeing” the piece. Often, we emphasize the editing aspect of the writing process too soon. You must have something that works. Most writers define “good writing” in the light of that simple question: does it work? What did you set out to accomplish? Can you say, “I’ve said what I really wanted to say”?
So in light of our objective to teach our children to get in the habit of writing, we really need to teach our children how to be critical readers. That is, until one knows how to read his/her writing from the perspective of asking the right questions and independently changing and adapting and reworking the text, that person will not grow as a writer. I am not saying we shouldn’t teach kids how to “publish” their writing as editors. All I’m saying is that we need to make sure we are teaching them to become critical readers of their own writing and to take ownership of the revision process. (WARNING: some kids who continually get “stuck might need to keep the “critical mind” from judging good or bad writing in their rough stages. As Solomon said, there’s a time for everything.) Here’s a simple little “CONFERENCE GUIDE”:
- What do you like best about this writing? Which parts do you especially like?
- Does the beginning grab your interest? What could be a different way to begin?
- Is the story focused on a specific incident or impression, or has the writer included several stories in one piece?
- Is the story complete? What are some questions that naturally come into your mind about the story, the characters, the place …? Is anything included which you feel should be left out?
- What sensory details are used to ‘put the reader there’? Where are parts where more specific detail are needed to help you picture the scene and the people?
The Proofreader’s Checklist
Proofread the story with each of the points listed below kept in mind. If you answer “NO” to any of the questions, make a note on the draft where the trouble spot is. ¥ Is the story credible, believable? ____ ¥ Is each point in the right context? ____ ¥ Is the use of dialog accurate? ____ ¥ Does the reader know who is speaking? ____ ¥ Are the descriptions crisp and clear? ____ ¥ Are the descriptions as specific as possible? ____ ¥ Does the introduction give the reader important information right away? ____ ¥ Does the story fulfill the promise of the introduction? ____ ¥ Are the reader’s questions answered when they are asked? ____ ¥ Does the story flow gracefully from point to point/ ____ ¥ Can it be read aloud? ____ ¥ Does each paragraph say one thing? ____ ¥ Does every sentence advance the meaning of the story? ____ ¥ Is every sentence a sentence? ____ ¥ Is each word the best word? ____ ¥ Does the punctuation work to make the meaning clear? ____ ¥ Are the nouns concrete whenever possible? ____ ¥ Is there anything that can be make more simple without oversimplifying? ____ ¥ Is there anything that can be cut out? ____ ¥ Is each word spelled correctly? ____
Reader’s Signature _________________________ Date _______
Obviously, there are many ways to structure a revision “checklist.” It is essential for any writer to learn what questions to ask, always in light of the big question, “Does it work?” Depending on the genre, whether it be poetry, expository, or fiction, you can teach your children to step back and get into the habit of demanding revision. Hopefully, these little “revision” tidbits were helpful. I also have genre specific checklists that I have composed for my classes at the Middle School (8th grade).