9 Tips on Types of Paper to Help Your Students Write Easier

The types of paper we are going to discuss in this article bring writing back to more than basic.  Of course, you need paper to teach writing, but who would have thought how important it is to have the right paper?  I certainly never expected to be writing about the types of paper that teachers might try to use in writing class, but as I thought about the different topics I could write about in my blog I realized this is an important issue that is often overlooked.  I decided that we should discuss the options you have for types of paper.  

When There Weren’t Many Types of Paper

Back when I was a kid there weren’t many of types of paper I could use to write on and I was a struggling writer.  In fact, I remember that all the kids were given dashed lines paper to learn to write.  You probably remember the paper that showed you the half way point in the line.  It really is a helpful writing tool and I’m glad they had something to help, but there are more options now.

The Types of Paper I Gave Students

As a teacher I have given my students a few more types of paper than I had.  But as I thought about it I realized there are even more options available these days.  In the classroom I have used highlighted paper, different spacing sized paper, and even different colors to support my students.  It’s amazing the options that exist now.  Technology has also come such a long way, that you can make some of these types of paper too.

What are Types of Paper?

There are so many types of paper like photo, computer, or construction.  Then there are the types of paper we think of for school, such as lined, plain, or college ruled.  There are many types of paper that include sizing, colors, or graphics.  Paper seems so simple, but it can help determine how successful our students are in the classroom.  In this article, we are going to talk about the different types of paper available to help support student learning.  

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9 Tips on the Types of Paper

I may not have given a lot of thought about the types of paper students use, but the longer I worked in schools with students of many different learning types the more I realized how important paper can be.  It’s a basic tool that students use in almost every lesson, but we don’t often think about how to differentiate it.

Before you decide on which type of paper is best for your students, test their writing.  I don’t mean a writing assessment, but their literal ability to write words on a page.  What should the average student in your grade be able to do?  Then using that benchmark determine if your students need extra support to work towards that goal during regular classwork.  Yes, some students are messy writers, but what if a simple change in the type of paper they are using could make handwriting easier and better?  Test their writing

  1. Dashed Lines Types of Paper

Dashed lines paper is classic.  It’s one of the original forms of writing support for students and it’s useful.  Dashed line paper is the like lined paper, but the lines students write on have small dashed lines through the middle.  These dashed lines show students the halfway point of the line so it’s easier to visualize where many lowercase letters  may start and where to connect lines to properly form letters.

Dashed line paper is still very useful for students of all different ages depending on what their learning style and needs are.  I think most early elementary classes give all students dashed-line paper to help them learn how to properly form their letters.  However, some students need this support longer than others.  One day students are expected to write without it, but not all students are ready for this step.  It’s important that we keep it available or even require some students to use it so that they can continue to learn the mechanical skills and gain the muscle strength needed to write.

  1. Types of Paper Notebooks

There are so many special types of notebooks now.  You can find notebooks that are bound in all sorts of ways so they don’t get in the way of writing.  They even make lefty notebooks now.  I know lefty students can have trouble keeping their work neat because they hit the binding.  Another challenge for them is that their hand constantly goes over what they just wrote, which can smudge their work.  It’s hard to be a lefty in a world made for righties.  If you have a few alternatives it could be helpful for these students.  You can always make lefty notebooks too.

  1. Various Spacing Types of Paper

How much room is on each line can make a huge difference to students.  Some students need the average lined paper, and it works great for them.  However, there are students who need bigger spaces so they have enough room to write.  Writing is a huge challenge and trying to squish their letters into too small of a space too soon becomes very frustrating.  If you offer your students lined paper that has slightly bigger lines it can make a huge difference for them.  It’s pretty simple to make lines of various spacing if you can’t find it in stores.  You can even reduce the spacing slowly over the year as the student progresses.  

Keep in mind that some students might need college ruled paper too.  If you have students who are ready for smaller spacing then be sure to meet them where they’re at.

  1. Types of Paper Through Skipping Lines 

Having students skip lines is another classic teaching strategy.  When teacher make students skip lines it helps them see their work better because it’s not squished.  It also gives them room to add details and edits to their work.  Sometimes they need to add whole sentences.  All their revision and editing is useless if they can’t read it.  I had one student who was convinced he was done editing when he ran out of room.

Skipping lines helps ensure students will be able to read anything they add to a draft.  A bonus of skipping lines is that students fill up the page faster, which makes them feel productive and accomplished.  Some of the reluctant writers in your class could probably benefit from the sense of accomplishment from filling up a page so quickly.

  1. Types of Paper With Big Margins

This is a trick that I heard from another teacher online and I thought it was genius.  I’m sure there are many teachers who have done this over the years, but it bears repeating for those of us who might not think of it on our own.  Make bigger margins on each page.  This strategy reminds me of notetaking back in college because I would fold my paper to make a big line down almost the middle of the page.  This line helped me use bullet points and keep my work neat and organized.  Yes, even in college I would have been a diagonal writer without lines to keep me organized.  

When you give students large margins it gives them extra room to add to their paper.   Beginning writers often have to add lots of details and revision to sentences and a big margin can give them space to do that.  I have had a student who has said he was out of room to add ideas so he must be done.  I know there are many more students like him out there.  Give them plenty of room.  

Big margins have the same effect of skipping lines, students complete each page more quickly which gives them a feeling of accomplishment.  This can lead to students being more motivated to continue working.

  1. Using The Front Only Types of Paper

Some teachers hate when students write on the back of a piece of paper.  Other teachers see it as wasteful if students don’t use both sides.  Neither is right or wrong, but having a consistent rule can be good because then you know if you should check the back of an essay.  

If you have students stick to the front of paper the biggest academic benefit is they can literally lay out their work in front of them and see the whole paper at once.  Some students are very visual and need to see how the pages connect.  If you have students write on only the front of their pages then they can see how the paper fits together better.

  1. Highlighted Types of Paper

Writing requires a lot of visual coordination.  Students do a lot of work to figure out which line they are on, write neatly across the page, and share their ideas all at once.  One of my first students needed highlighted paper while he wrote.  He absolutely hated writing because it was so hard for him.  He was very creative, had a big vocabulary, great imagination, and reading level high above this grade level, but he hated to write.  Writing was really difficult because of the amount of work it took him to get his ideas down.  However, when he used highlighted paper it made the work easier for him.  It was less fighting and more work.  

The highlight paper was dashed lined paper that highlighted under the dashes.  It made the task of knowing how tall and short to make letters easier.  It was a huge visual tool that made a huge difference for him.

  1. Types of Paper of Different Colors

One student I had had to write on gray paper.  After a doctor visit (I think the eye doctor) we were told that he had a hard time seeing well with how bright white paper was for him.  The contrast between the black letters and white paper made it hard for him to see rather than easier.  The result was copying his papers on gray paper.  Once we did he was able to do his work better.  Part of the struggle was taken away with a simple, but sometimes inconvenient switch of paper color.

Lets think about this in different terms.  Think about when you are driving and the sun glares in your eyes.  You have to slow down, peer ahead with a funny face, and go on high alert to make sure you are driving safe.  You have to focus extra hard to do a task that is normally easy until you turn your car and get the sun out of your eyes. I imagine that this student faced a similar circumstance.  Everyday at school, for every assignment he did he had to focus extra hard.  When we switched the color paper for him it turned his car so he didn’t have to focus so hard all the time.

The other thing I learned from working with him is that different people might need to work on different colors of paper.  It can help them see their work easier, which makes it less frustrating.  

  1. Digital Types of Paper

We live in a modern world and after the Covid 19 Pandemic technology is more present in the classroom than ever before.  Although there are challenges of monitoring students, keeping them on task, and using technology as a support rather than a crutch or answer key it can be very beneficial to students.  We can change the color of paper on the screen, the font, the size, and so much more with technology.  Our students can use voice to text software to help them write if they are able to come up with words but struggle getting them on the page.  Use technology as a support system for your students.

Types of Paper

Paper is so basic to lesson planning that we often overlook how important differentiating it can be.  There are many types of paper available and we should take advantage of all those options.  The best way to find out if different types of paper could benefit your students is to test some out.

Here is Your FREE Prompt for Writing Poetry

I know that you needed a prompt to help kickstart your students’ writing.  Here is an entire lesson for FREE.  My Our School Poem guides students through using sensory language to describe their school. The step-by-step directions guide your class through the writing process with all the necessary worksheets making this the perfect lesson for your classroom.

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