22 Ways for Remarkably Faster Persuasive Writing Grading for Teachers

Faster grading for teachers can turn essay grading from dread to celebration.  It should be a celebration.  We get to see our students grow as writers after all the time and effort we spent.  We should be able to enjoy reading their work, rather than freighting over the grade we have to give them.  The last time I was grading essays I felt like the judge with all the power and my students were at my mercy.  I think with a few tweaks to the grading process we can change grading for teachers so it’s more enjoyable and less work.

Essay Grading for Teachers

I have never met a teacher who got a stack of essays to grade and was excited about it.  Even some of the best teachers I have worked with knew that grading was going to take them massive amounts of time.   A particular teacher I am thinking of would read the essay one time just to read it and then again grade it.  She wouldn’t even mark every error.  She would mark it a couple of times on the page and then skip that error for the rest of the essay.  She knew it would be devastating for students to see too many marks on their papers.

Easier Grading for Teachers

Over your teaching career, I’m sure you’ve come up with a few hacks for grading that have made it faster, easier, and more enjoyable.  What are some of the things you’ve done while grading essays to improve the process?  I’d love to hear your ideas and story in the comments.

What is the Key to Persuasive Writing Grading for Teachers?

Persuasive writing is one of the most fun types of writing to teach because there are so many conversations and activities to go with it.  Hopefully, we can make it one of the most fun types of writing to grade too.  Having a great grading system is a great way to improve persuasive writing grading for teachers.  A teacher’s grading system can speed up the process and make it more enjoyable.  

My goal is to help you start to formulate a system that works for you.  Pick the tips that you like the best from everything I share here and try them out.  Some you’ll love and some just won’t work for you.  I have narrowed these tips down to the ones that I think will work best for persuasive writing. 

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Easier Persuasive Writing Grading for Teachers

I have categorized these tips to try to lessen the overwhelm of ideas and help you find what you need.  Making grading for teachers easier and faster is possible.  Before you read these tips think about what systems you already have in place.  What’s working well for you and what’s not?  What parts of grading are just too much and what do you enjoy a bit more?  Write down everything you can think of to help you analyze it.  Once you know a little bit about what you are already doing in your classroom you will be able to try new things and make changes more easily.

Persuasive Essay Grading for Teachers Before the Final Draft

You can start the grading process before your students turn in their final draft.  With a little bit of strategy, you can get ahead of the grading game.  Let’s talk about how you can get ahead of grading.

  1. Offer Choices 

Offer your students choices about what topics, projects, or partners they work with.  When you let students have some choice about their work they can choose things they are passionate about and tend to work harder.  Passion is especially important in persuasive writing.  

  1. Grade a Few Paragraphs While Students are Editing

Most teachers conduct writing conferences while their students write.  When you are having conferences mark up your students’ papers with comments, or have them mark them up.  Then when it’s time to correct compare their drafts to the final draft.  If they’ve made changes then they deserve some credit for fixing their work.  And since you already read some of the paragraphs and provided comments you don’t have to spend as much time correcting them.  If you see the same mistakes as their drafts you can call them out on it by reminding them you talked about it in the draft but the same mistakes are there.

  1. Have Students Write a List of Corrections

Before your students turn in their final draft, have them make a list of the corrections they made between the first draft and the final draft.  I wouldn’t ask them to get super specific.  I wouldn’t want my students to tell me every spelling error they fix, but I would want them to tell me they fixed 23 spelling errors.  When your students write a correction list near the end of the assignment you can also ask them individually if it’s still ready to turn in. If some of your students say it’s not ready give them one more night.  You won’t be able to correct them all that day anyway.  

I constantly explain to my gymnasts how to fix a skill.  I don’t just say straight legs more power.  I give them details about getting their hips flat, lifting their feet all the way, and making sure their ankles get to the bars not their knees.  At first, they don’t understand.  Then they start to see their errors.  It’s when they can pick out and fix their own errors that they make progress and get skills.  Writing is the same.

  1. Students Grade Themselves

If you handed out a rubric to your students have them grade themselves using the rubric.  I would be sure to have them do it in black pen so you can mark it in a brighter color.  When students evaluate their own work they might notice they didn’t complete the assignment fully.  Again, I would ask my students if it is still ready to turn in.  If it’s not then I would give them one more night to finish their work.    So much learning can happen in this process if you let go and let it.

Planning for Grading for Teachers

Grading persuasive writing or any writing takes time.  In order to create that time it’s going to take some planning.  These planning tips can help you find more time for grading that isn’t your personal time.

  1. Use Movies Strategically for Grading Essays

If you ever show movies in your classroom then pull out your calendar ahead of time.  Plan your movie day the day after their big essay is due.  Taking time to plan like this will leave you with extra hours to get the grading done at school.

  1. Plan Essay Due Dates

Pull out your calendar at the beginning of the year and plan your essays and due dates.  I have a whole article about becoming a curriculum mapper if you need some advice.  Knowing that you want your students to write one essay and two poems a month lets you know how much grading you have to do.  If you plan ahead and make sure you aren’t planning too much or too little because the just right amount will make you happier.  Of course, you might adjust this plan to fit your student’s needs, but knowing what’s coming will help.

  1. Grading Essays in Batches

Batching is one of the best secrets of productive businesses.  It simply means that you do like tasks together so that your brain doesn’t have to shift gears. Persuasive essays are pretty straightforward, but make sure you aren’t mixing in grading other assignments too.  If you have your students’ choices then you may want to grade the projects together and the essays together.

  1. Plan When You Will Turn Back Work

Students always want to know when they will get their essays back.  Tell your students they will get their papers back in about a week. Don’t say you will try to get it to them in two days. A week gives you time to grade a little bit each day without a lot of pressure, but it also gives you a deadline to keep you going.  Give yourself time to grade without going crazy.

  1. Don’t Accept Late Work

Don’t accept late work from students without good reason.  There are sicknesses, family emergencies, and students who have IEPs that include extra time from whom you will need to accept late work.  But for the average student who didn’t finish their work on time, don’t accept late work.  At my last school students who turned in late work started with a 50% and they knew it.  If they talked to me BEFORE the due date we might make another plan, but this was the policy.  Parents and students knew it and put in more effort to get their work in on time.

Easier Grading for Teachers Through Self-Preparation

Have you ever sat down to work on lesson plans and grading, but when you look at the clock you realize an hour has gone by and you’ve gotten practically nothing done?  If you are not fully prepared then you will not be able to grade quickly or effectively.  Get yourself in order so you are ready to grade.  Here are some short and sweet tips to help you out.

  1. What to Write With

What kind of pen do you like to grade with?  Make sure you have the one you prefer before you sit down to grade.

  1. When to Grade

What time of day works best for you to grade?  Probably not super late at night when your brain isn’t working.

  1. Comments Bank

Do you have a bank of comments? This is especially helpful for digital grading.  A comments bank can speed up the grading process.

  1. Limit Distractions

Limit the distractions around you.  Take off your Apple Watch, turn off your phone, and don’t sit near the tv.  

  1. Set a Timer

Think realistically about how much time you should need per paper.  Set a timer and don’t linger on every essay.  Try to beat the clock.

  1. Grade Essays First

Let grading essays be the first thing you grade.  We only have so much willpower each day.  Don’t start with grading spelling and use up your willpower.  Grade essays first and then the other stuff.

Faster Grading for Teachers

Marking essays takes a long time but if you adopt one of these systems then marking your students’ essays will be faster.  These systems ask you to stop and write less on each paper.

  1. KeyCode or Comment Code

Have you heard of a key code or comment code?  It’s a paper of the common marks you make on an essay.  Each item might be represented by a letter or number.  When you come across a run-on sentence you write 3 instead of a run-on sentence.  You will be writing fewer comments on each paper.  Some teachers like to use highlighters to help them mark parts more noticeably too.

  1. Grade Digitally

Grade in Google docs or online.  You can copy and paste comments into essays so you are writing less.  Typing is faster than handwriting too.

  1. Mark it Three Times

Don’t repeat the same comment throughout the whole paper.  Mark the first few and then tell the student to check the rest of the paper.  Some teachers have a rule of three.  But pick a number that works for you and stick to it.

  1. A Check Marks the Line

Write a check next to the lines that have a problem and let your students find the problem themselves.  This puts the responsibility on them and makes less work for you.

  1. Use Rubrics Effectively

If you use a rubric or checklist then just circle or underline the errors you see rather than write a comment.

  1. Not Ready to Publish

Return papers that are not ready for publication.  If students hand you a paper that is just a mess return it.  Don’t spend time fixing every error for them.  Tell them it’s not ready for publication and it will be a zero until they fix and resubmit it.  This method will make your grading life easier and give your students more responsibility.

The Best Grading for Teachers

It can take teachers their whole careers to find grading methods that work for them.  Fortunately, teachers can share their incredible grading systems online to make it easier for other teachers.  As you try out some of these systems you are going to need to let go of expectations, perfection, marking everything, and what other teachers might think of you. Let go and grade easily.

  1. Group Projects

Group projects are a great way to reduce the grading load.  If you have students working together in groups you might only need to grade five projects.  On top of that, it’s always quicker to grade projects than it is essays.  Often students learn most of the same skills that they would in essays by creating projects.  In persuasive writing, students will still learn how to research, make a claim, and address counterpoints.

  1. Grade for Content

Persuasive writing is all about the content of what students write more than the mechanics, so let’s grade that.  Students need to connect with the reader, discuss counterpoints, elevate emotions, and convince the reader that they are correct by using logic and addressing counterpoints.  If your students can do these things there is no reason for them to lose more than 10 points for all the spelling and grammar mistakes.  The content is the most important part so grade that part.

  1. Corner Rubric

Having a one-page quick write paper with a rubric in the corner is a great idea.  It helps your students write concisely and reduces grading for you.  Your corner rubric should focus on just a few areas to be graded.

  1. Limit Length

Have you ever had a student who writes on and on assuming that they will get a better grade because they write more pages?  I have.  Their papers tend to be repetitive and boring.  

They are reducing their chance for a better grade because with a longer paper, there will likely be more mistakes.  I like to think of it in terms of gymnastics routines.  Often lower level gymnastics will fulfill the requirements of a routine and that’s it.  Every time they add extra tumbling passes they could lower their score because of form errors.  Writing is very similar.

Limit your students’ essay length so they have to use their space well.  This can reduce droning on and increase thoughtful writing.

  1. Don’t Grade Everything

I hope that the marking tips gave you some ideas about how to make grading easier by marking fewer things.  Let’s take that one step further.  You can completely skip grading some of their practice papers.  Part of learning persuasive writing is practicing a lot.  Let your students practice their persuasive writing without a big grade attached.  

I like the idea of writing five practice papers and if the students complete all five practices then they get a 100 for homework, participation, or practice grade in the grade book.  Doesn’t that sound great?  It helps their grades a little by recognizing their effort and reduces their workload.

  1. Grade One Skill

Just because you have an entire essay in front of you it doesn’t mean you have to grade every single part of it.  Focus on one skill.  For persuasive writing, I like the idea of grading structure, counterarguments, (and content from tip 2).  Imagine if your students writing a strong paper with these three things done well.  I could manage to let go of a few spelling or commas errors if the rest of their paper was well done.

Final Grading for Teachers

Now take your favorite tips and make a system that works for you.  Having a clear system that you don’t have to think about is going to save you tons of time in the long run.  Create the system now and reap the rewards in a few months or years.  Grading can be a time to celebrate what your students accomplished, rather than a time to dread the work you have to do.

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 by 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.

5 Awesome Ways to Make Any Classroom Activity Exciting

When kids are engaged and excited about learning they retain more.  So much of school is repetitive which means teachers are constantly trying to come up with ways to engage students better.  To put it eloquently we are trying to put an extraordinary twist on ordinary activities.

Routine Classroom Activity

I love routines.  Patterns and habits make life easier to accomplish what we need to do.  If a boring routine will get the job done and it’s something I have time to implement easily I am in.  I don’t need more excitement than solving the latest upper elementary drama with a heart-to-heart conversation.

Students Want More Than the Usual Classroom Activity.

Our students don’t feel the same way.  They want anything that is fun and different from a usual classroom activity.  There has to be an efficient way to get the necessary lessons done and put an interesting twist on them.  Isn’t that why interactive notebooks took off?   They are ordinary learning with a slight twist.

What Does it Mean to Put a Twist on a Classroom Activity?

A twist on a classroom activity is when the teacher makes the lesson slightly different and unexpected from usual activities.  Putting a twist on a classroom activity can be simple and just slightly different or it can be a big change from the usual lesson.  

It can be a challenge to think of creative ways to flip a classroom upside down.  The truth is something you will think of an amazing idea and other times it will be a slight twist.

7 Ways to Put a Twist on Any Classroom Activity

To engage our students we need to make school more interesting than it used to be.  Our students are bombarded with entertainment everywhere because technology is readily available.  It’s time to get creative and start putting a twist on more classroom activities.  Here are seven ways you can put a twist on almost any classroom activity.  Think about the learning goal and your group of students as you decide which to use.

Who They Work With Classroom Activity Twists

Students love working with other students.  It’s fun to work together and collaborate.  They have someone they can trust to ask questions and check their work.  Much of their grade is based on individual ability, but in real life, they will need to work with others constantly.  Not only will it make your job as a teacher easier, but they will gain life skills too.


Partner work is nothing new, but try offering it on an assignment you normally wouldn’t.  The great thing about partner work is that you can decide if they choose, you choose or it will be random.  You can have them work with one partner for a few minutes and then switch to a new partner.  Get creative with how you want to use partner work.


Breaking your students into small groups give you less to grade and students more people to bounce ideas off of.  In some of my projects, I like to have students work individually to start and then bring them together as a group.  They could also start together and then finish a project alone. Think about creative ways to group kids differently than you usually have.  

Other Grades 

Talk to some of the other grades in your school and see if you can figure out a way for your students to work with theirs.  Students love meeting up with other grades because it’s nice a break from the usual.  If you can think of one project that students can partner with another grade then you are golden.  

  • Help with research
  • Share a story
  • Read a book
  • History project
  • Science experiment
  • Math tutors

Community Volunteers

Bring in people from outside the school to work with your students.  There are lots of ways that you could go about bringing extra adults to your classroom.  They could come in to help with a project you usually do or you could plan an extra project to involve them.  Here are a few quick ideas. (Always be sure to check with your principal when you want to bring visitors to the school.)

  • Once we took our students to bake at a local restaurant as part of their preparations for a tea party that went with a book.  
  • Mystery readers can be someone from the local community
  • First responders love to visit schools and talk with students
  • You could also just have a day where you have a few volunteers come into to play games with your class.

Audience Classroom Activity Twists

The teacher is usually the audience for student work.  That’s not the best motivation to get students to work hard.   It’s time to start to try to provide our students with a bigger audience.  When students have a real audience to create for they work harder, are more engaged, and learn more too.  It simply makes their work more meaningful when there are more people to share it with.

A new audience also helps students practice for real life.  They will have to communicate their ideas in effective and interesting ways.  The more practice they get from different types of audiences the better.    

Read this article for more ideas on sharing student work. Here are a few other audiences to consider.

  • Other Grades
  • Parents
  • Experts in the Field
  • School or City Officials
  • Internet Audience (with school permission)
  • Anyone You Can Think Of

Use Projects to Twist a Classroom Activity 

Worksheets are boring.  Writing and grading papers is boring.  Projects are fun, interesting, and engaging, and teach many of the same skills.  I am not saying that we can get rid of all essays or worksheets, but think about the number of papers kids write compared to the number of projects.   Is it about even?  In our modern world, I think kids need to be just as good at creating projects as they are at writing papers.  Take a look at your plan for the year and see if you need to up the number of projects you do.  

Also, think about the type of project you assign.  Posters and slide shows are overused.  Do a search online, brainstorm, or check out my Choice Board Ideas lesson. 

Use Real World Problems to Add a Twist to a Classroom Activity 

Problem-Based Learn is when students work through real-world open-ended problems.  They take on a task or project and work on it from start to finish.  Often these problems and solutions can impact their communities too.  

A popular example of this is starting a school garden.  Students need to calculate the space needed, pick plants, price materials, and create a care schedule.  Then along the way, students realize their disable classmate will have trouble helping plants so they need to create raised beds.  This problem means they need to find a builder, make new measurements, make building plans, and pay for materials.  Then students can also figure out what to do with the food grown.  Should the cafeteria use it, for a homeless shelter, or should they sell it to buy new recess equipment?  

Real-world problems engage students because they know it will be more than a grade on a report card. 

Social Media Classroom Activity Twists

I must proceed this section by saying you must be extremely careful when you use social media and internet activities with your students.  It can be very effective, but you must be vigilant and have permission.  It can also be effective to assign mock social activities.

I heard about a teacher who records part of his classes to post on YouTube and the parents love it.  They get to see their children in class including how they interact, what their learning, and the activities that are going on.  So often students tell their parents’ school was fine, but this teacher posts so parents know a whole lot more and other teachers can learn from him too.  

You can create real or fake social media accounts, posts, videos, or podcasts.  Students love to put social media out into the world and when they are going to get a good grade for it that’s even better.  Think about creative ways you can incorporate social media projects into your curriculum, even if it is just for a grade.

Video Games Classroom Activity Twists

One teacher I worked with loved to try to engage her students by having them make the setting of a story in Minecraft.  She set rules and guidelines to ensure the project was completed.  The kids love the opportunity to use a video game to complete school work.  It took them time and effort to create the setting but they were all in.  If you know the video games or other things your students love see if you can turn them into a twist on classroom activity.

Classroom Activity Twists When Students Choose

What if we asked our students what they wanted to do to show what they know?  We reserve the right to veto anything, but giving them a voice and choice is powerful.  My one suggestion would be to take all of their ideas before vetoing anything.  This helps to ensure that students share, their ideas can inspire ideas that work for everyone, and it’s nice. 

You Can Make a Classroom Activity with a Twist

Teachers are smart, creative, and funny.  Teachers can engage students with creative ideas that make teaching more fun and engaging.  Start trying out some of these twists to help transform your classroom.

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 by 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.

10 Clever Tips for Building Relationships with Students Quickly

You probably need clever tips for building relationships with students quickly because it’s the first day of school with 25 names to learn and relationships to build.  The hardest part is that we do need to build meaningful relationships quickly because we are the most powerful tools in our classrooms.  It’s a task to build relationships with our students because we have so many other things that we need to do.

I Needed Tips for Building Relationships with Students

During my first school year as a classroom teacher, I was overwhelmed, to say the least.  I was student-teaching and running a classroom.  It was so hard to get to know the students because I was trying to be an awesome teacher, assigning too much work, and completing my student teaching.  

Learning Tips for Building Relationships with Students

Now that I’ve been through it I wish I had slowed down and taken my time getting to know my students better.  The connection you make with each student is the most important thing that you can do as a teacher.  Take your time to slow down and get to know them in a real way.  

What is Building Relationships?

When we build relationships with our students we are trying to make a social connection.  In teaching we want it to be a working relationship that is beneficial to everyone.  In teaching that usually means that the student will listen to us and we can teach them. A few ideas for you

  • Honest Communication
  • People Skills
  • Respect and Appreciate Others
  • Accept Support and Be Supportive
  • Be Positive

More Tips for Building Relationships with Students

20 Relationship-Building Activities for Kids

The Importance of Strong Relationships

6 Easy Ways to Build Relationships with Your Students

Tips for Building Relationships with Students

As busy teachers, we need practical tips for building relationships with students quickly.  Some great ideas that will help us get to know our students that are both fun and have some academic value.  It doesn’t have to be complex and it should be enjoyable.  Not only will your students listen and learn better when you have a good relationship, but you’ll enjoy teaching more too.

Tips for Building Relationships with Students by Skipping the Student Surveys

Student surveys are a great idea.  Students answer lots of questions, think about themselves, and practice writing.  It all sounds great until you have piles of surveys to read.  There are surveys about them, ELA, math, and maybe even one for science or history.  That’s way too much paper to read through.  

Skip the surveys if you know you won’t actually have time to read through them and absorb all that valuable information.  It would be more beneficial and practical to have a short half-page survey that you can actually look over.

Tips for Building Relationships with Students Using Games

Games always liven up a classroom.  However, when you are trying to build relationships with your students let that be the priority.  Don’t worry about using games with academic value, pick ones that you can play with your students and have a chance to talk to them.  

If you want to use games to do two things then you can use 16 Fun and Simple Classroom Activities for Team Building.   You probably can’t participate in these activities as easily, but it will help you get to know your students.

Tips for Building Relationships with Students Through Time Together

Here are two simple activities that you can do with your students to get to know them better.  Be willing to let go of the academic rush to spend time with your students.  

First, you can write together.  Create a story in a small group, or have each student add a sentence to the story.  It can be a silly activity that helps you get to know your students better.

The second activity is starting a lunch club.  Lunch club can be a fun time to have with students and take a break from work.  You can simply chat, play games, make it a book club, or homework help.  I love the idea of breaking students into groups based on what they need.  If you have a few students who always struggle with homework you can have some small group time to chat about it and make it fun.  As their needs change then their groups can change too.

Tips for Building Relationships with Students with Brag Time

Brag time just means that students can talk about themselves.  It’s a chance for them to share and be proud of the things they’ve done.  There are a few ways you can go about brag time.  

I have had classrooms that have a student of the week each week.  We had students fill out posters that told all about them.  Then they share it with the class all.  It’s a challenge in preparedness, public speaking, and social skills.  The kids were all excited for their turn to present to the class.

Show and Tell is a classic activity that we reserve for little kids, but big kids like the show and tell too.  Big kids probably have more to show.  They might be creating videos, leveling up in sports, or learning new things on their own. It’s fun to have a whole bunch of positive attention.  

Tips for Building Relationships with Students Through Culturally Responsive Teaching

Culturally responsive teaching is when you embrace the cultures, characteristics, experiences, and perspectives in your classroom to form a better community.  Students learn about themselves and each other to help them embrace each other.  When I was in grad school I created a culturally responsive unit that I still teach with.  The unit walks students through several lessons and can be taught in any order.

  1. Ethnic Identity

Students learn about their own ethnic background.  They talk to their parents and see what makes them who they are and where they come from.

  1. Special Moments Brown Bag

This is a book-based lesson.  Students read a book about a woman who is losing her memory and a boy who wants to help.  He brings her special objects.  Students fill a brown bag with five of their own special objects or pictures. Students present their objects to the class.  Then students can write a whole story based on one of the objects

  1. Only One

This lesson is based on a book.  After reading the story students try to figure out how they are unique from others in the class.  The goal is that students embrace each other’s differences.

  1. Family Tree

Students investigate and build their family tree.  They use the technical marking and information from their parents to go as far back as they want or time allows

  1. I Am

I Am is a poetry lesson in which students think about everything they’ve learned about themselves and put it into a free verse poem.  I like to start the poem with lots of detail and get short and fast at the end.

You can find the Culturally Responsive Teaching Unit in my TpT store or pick individual lessons you’d like to use.

The Most Import of the Tips for Building Relationships with Students 

Enjoy taking time to get to know your students because your investment in them early on will pay off later in the year.  They are each unique individuals who can be intelligent, emotional, thoughtful, and challenging.  Find out what makes them tick so you teach them better.

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 by 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.

16 Fun and Simple Classroom Activities for Team Building

Building a strong classroom community can help your students work as a team, get along, solve their own problems, value each other, and shape your classroom’s and school’s culture.  The time you spend helping your students get to know and trust each other is invaluable.  The question is how to do it while tackling all of the other things that must be done.

Camp Full of Classroom Activities for Team Building

At the last school, I worked at almost the whole school, grades 3-12, and went up to a camp in Vermont for team-building activities.  The high schoolers went up on a Saturday morning and stayed until Wednesday.  The elementary and middle school students went up on a Monday and left on Friday.  

The whole purpose of the camp was to work on becoming a team as a school and class.  The kids had chores, games, free time, group work, and a long hike.  They learned survival skills, nature, and how to work together.

Commitment to Classroom Activities for Team Building

The headmaster had gone to the camp as a child himself.  He saw immense value in the time students spent there.  The students knew it was important because they got out of school for the week.  It takes a huge commitment from the headmaster to go to this camp every year.

What are Classroom Activities for Team Building

Classroom activities for team building are fun activities that help students bond, work together, communicate, and value each other.  There are so many options for what activities could work to help build a strong classroom community.  

 These activities range from simple, complex, and easy prep, to long shopping lists, short, long, classic, and questionable.  I’ve tried to include mostly simple activities.  Parents are a great resource to help you plan and gather materials for team building. 

More Ideas for Classroom Activities for Team Building

15 Fun Team Building Activities and Trust Games for the Classroom

30 Creative Team Building Activities for Kids

21 Team Building Activities for Students

17 Team Building Activities for Elementary Students

When Should You Start Classroom Activities for Team Building?

It’s a great idea to start classroom activities for team building at the beginning of the school year because it gets the year off to a great start.  These activities help students get to know each other better, make new friends, and take risks.  If you start the school year with classroom activities for team building then you will benefit from them all school year.  The positive impact of the time you spent will continue longer.

However, it’s never too late to start team building.  If you start team building later in the school year that’s fine, your students will still benefit.  Team building will help your students grow in confidence, critical thinking, and community.

Classroom Activities for Team Building Games

These games are best for the beginning of the year, but depending on who your group of students are you could use them another time.  Classroom games should be fun, simple, and fast.

Find Someone Who…

This game is a classic game in elementary classrooms.  Usually, each student gets a paper with 25-30 squares.  Each square has a question such as Has Siblings or Travel to Another Country.  Students have to find someone in the class who has done that thing.  They cannot use a person’s name more than once so they talk to everyone in the class.  If you want to have a winner it is the person who fills the most squares.

Venn Diagram Challenge

Pair students up with someone they likely don’t know very well.  The students should record things that are different and similar about themselves.  It’s a great way to help students get to know their classmates better.

Would You Rather?

Would You Rather? has become trendy in classrooms, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.  You may have played versions of this game on Facebook.  Basically, you ask students various questions that can be themed or fun.  A back to school would your rather would probably be something like

Walk or Ride the Bus

Homework or Classwork

Lunch or Recess

Reading or Science

Often we play these games individually and look a the answers of a few other people.  But this game can involve a lot of movement if you ask kids to go to a location and can even be played outdoors.  The whole class gets to know each other better.

Morning Meeting Classroom Activities for Team Building

Many schools have started implementing morning meetings because research has shown building classroom community has a positive effect on academics and behavior.   There is a curriculum you can buy full of morning meeting activities and ideas.  In elementary school, there are four basic parts to morning meetings.





This basic formula can be as formal as you like.  The message is usually left on the board so students know what to do at the start of the day.  The greeting is a fun and hopefully quick way for students to say hi to everyone in the class.  The activity can be a fun community game or challenge.  Finally, students have a chance to share either anything they want or to answer a specific question.  

However you decide to run your morning meeting, I do think it is helpful to have a structure to follow so that your students know how to behave and what to expect.

End of the Day Meeting Classroom Activities for Team Building

The end of the day is crazy in school.  Everyone is trying to write down homework, ask questions, do jobs, and get packed up.  There is a lot going on. The rushed feeling stresses a lot of kids and teachers out.  Imagine if the end of the day didn’t have to be intense and stressful, instead, it could turn into a regular time to check in with students to make sure everyone was doing okay.


This is a simple activity that allows your students to share about their day quickly.  As the last activity each day, they share a good thing about their day (rose) and a bad thing (thorn).   They don’t have to have both, but it gives them a chance to recognize both good and bad feelings and work through them.  

Appreciation, Apology, or Aha

This is an activity that I heard about from some other teachers.  You and your students can share something you appreciated about the day, something they want to apologize for (because we all make mistakes), or an aha moment which would be something they learned or a great idea they formed.  It provides an open and safe space to talk about all of these things.  Be sure that you participate and model how to share.

Wrap-Up Meeting

You could have a wrap-up meeting at the end of the day.  This meeting is not about homework.  It’s an opportunity to give a shout-out to students who did something spectacular, talk about their questions and concerns, and discuss big events coming up on the schedule.  There isn’t really a limit to what you can talk about, but think about what you want this meeting to mean to students.  Do you want it to be a to-do list?  Or do you want your wrap-up meeting to inspire your students and help them connect more?  When you think about the goal of the meeting it will help you decide on topics and structure.

Classroom Activities for Team Building

Getting students to get up and moving helps them engage, remember, and connect.  Some of these ideas are classics, there is a reason they are still around.  Team building comes from working together to achieve a goal.  In school students are usually graded on an individual basis, which is why we have to help them connect through other activities.  Let’s take a look at these activities.

Hula Hoop Loop

I have done this in classrooms, camps, and gymnastics.  In this game, students stand in a circle and hold hands.  Then you pick a spot where you put a hula hoop on the hands of two students. Students will step through the hoop and try to lift it over their heads to move it around the circle but they can’t let go of each other’s hands.  Take out a stopwatch and see how long it takes your class to move the hoop around the circle and back to the beginning.  Students can try to beat their time.  

You can also turn this into a small competition and have students split into two groups and see who finishes first.  (If you have an odd number of students then have one person go twice or you can join in).

Human Knot

Start in a small circle then have students grab hands with someone across the circle (it has to be two different people).  Next students have to climb over, under, and around each other to untangle the circle.  They cannot let go of the hands they are holding.  When they are untangled they should be in a new circle with different neighbors and some people backward.  There are even times it makes two smaller circles.

Spider Web

Have students sit in a circle.  Then they will toss a ball of yarn or string to their classmates without letting go of the string.  This will make a spider web to make a spider web.  They should use their classmates’ names, and eye contact and they can even tell a funny or embarrassing story if they want or answer a question.   This creates a visual of how the whole class is connected.  

For an even bigger challenge, you can have them untangle the web.  It will take some teamwork to figure it out.

Group Juggle

Group juggle is one of my favorite games.  When I was a paraprofessional in a 3rd-grade classroom the kids played this game every day.  The goal is that students can toss at least three bean bags (we used beanie babies) to everyone in the class, in the same order without dropping one or seeing how few drops they could do.  It was incredibly hard and fun.  They would cheer for each other the whole time.  

As the year progressed the goal became hard with more bean bags and fewer drops.  The kids were very honest about when they dropped a bean bag.  It was okay to make mistakes and they worked as a team toward the goal.

Memory Map

This game is one that sticks out to me from camp.  The counselor laid out a map on the floor upside down.  The students had to silently try to find their way through the map moving one square at a time one person at a time.  Student 1 would pick the first spot and look for a green dot. The student could continue to make picks until they found a red dot. The cards got flipped over again when they hit red. Student 2 would try to remember where the green dot was and try to pick the next green dot.  The cards got flipped over again when they hit red. Student 3 would try to follow the map the others laid out and pick the next green dot.  It continued on until they finished.

This activity took my group a long time but they stayed engaged and felt really accomplished when they did it.   I also liked that they physically moved through the puzzle.  The group is supposed to stay quiet, but if the students are having a hard time it’s okay to adjust the rules.

Hoop Lift

In this activity, you can use a hula hoop or small hoop.  Students have to pick up, put down, and move around holding the hoop all together with one fingertip.  You can decide how much they have to do with their hoop, but it will take some teamwork to do it.  

Cup Stack

Tie some strings to a rubber band.  The number of strings will be the number of people in each group.  As a team, the students must stack some plastic cups using just their rubber bands and strings.  They can try to create a pyramid or another design as a team.

Classroom Activities for Team Building Positive Traits

We have to teach our students academics, but we want them to be kind and caring humans too.  These next two activities will help you nature the type of students you want.

Character Traits

Most classes start out the year with classroom rules.  Teachers try to keep it short and simple or have their students pick the rules.  This is a twist on that idea.  Discuss what kind of character traits you want your students to have like kind humorous, thoughtful, and selfless.  This conversation helps students think about their character and who they want to be.  

Classroom Cause

Decide to support a cause as a classroom.  It could be adopting a gorilla through a zoo, cleaning up trash in the school, or raising money for a cause.   Ask your students what they might like to do.  Supporting a cause greater than themselves can help them grow.

When I was in elementary school I would participate in a church musical.  Part of the fun was the penny race.  The different groups would try to collect the most change.  I loved this challenge and the money went to underprivileged kids.  

Expectations and Assumptions

It’s important that our students know our expectations for the school year.  When we take time out of learning to focus on classroom activities for team building our students get a clear message that community is important.  It also demonstrates our expectations for them.

Don’t assume your students know how to behave.  We often think our students come into the school knowing how they should act in class and how to be part of a community, but we can’t assume they do.  We should start from scratch, show them how to care and connect, to make sure everyone is on the same page.

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 by 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.

How to Plan a Whole Year of Writing Lessons in 6 Easy Steps

Teaching writing should be enjoyable and with a solid plan, it can be.  Planning a whole year of writing lessons can be easy if you approach the task from the right angle.  A simple plan is usually best.

The First Time I had to Plan Writing Lessons

The first time I had to plan writing lessons for the whole school year it was overwhelming.  I was trying to look at what I was required to teach, the lessons in the curriculum, and what other teachers on the team did.  So many factors go into planning writing lessons and each pulls us in a different direction which makes it difficult to know know what we can let go of.   

Was My Writing Lessons Plan Good?

I ultimately became so overwhelmed that my writing lessons plan were non-existent, reliant on a boxed curriculum, and lasted too long.  Not being prepared with a plan wasn’t going to help me or my students.  Planning gets easier year after year but teaching also changes every year.  If we have a solid plan for our writing lessons to start with it will be easy to adjust and change it as the year progresses.

What are Writing Lessons for the Whole Year?

Writing lessons for the whole year are your entire curriculum.  Your curriculum doesn’t have to be a boxed curriculum.  The lessons that you decide to teach are your curriculum. The longer you teach the more the writing lessons in your curriculum will become unique and customized to you and your classroom.

It’s helpful to have an overview of the lessons we want to teach over the year even if we change and adjust those lessons depending on your students’ needs.  Flying by the seat of your pants is never the most effective way to teach.  Having a plan and making adjustments to that plan will make the school year more effective.

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5 Easy Steps to Plan a Year of Writing Lessons

Planning a year of writing lessons doesn’t have to be difficult and after you read the rest of this article you will be on your way.  This daunting task will change into a doable one with a little helpful advice. You will need to do a little prep work and then some decision-making to plan your writing lessons for a whole year. This isn’t a do it my way or the highway type of article thought.  I hope you find some helpful tips within my process. 

The First Steps to Planning Writing Lessons 

1. What Writing Lessons and Concepts Do You Need to Teach

There is no way around district requirements and state standards.  These requirements about what teachers teach in the classroom guide much of what we do. It’s important to have this available while planning your writing lessons.

2. Examine the School Calendar Before Deciding on Writing Lessons

We think of school as a Monday-to-Friday gig but there are also a lot of holidays, vacations, and special events that interrupt our “regular” schedule.   Take a calendar and write down these special events so you have a good idea of the actual time you’ll have to teach writing lessons.

3. Look at Your Curriculum If You are Choosing to Use One

Are you going to use a boxed curriculum?  Look at how many lessons they have for each type of writing just so you have an idea.  Look at the table of contents and mark which lessons you want to teach and which ones you think you will skip.  You are allowed to skip writing lessons from a boxed curriculum that won’t help your students learn. This will give you a baseline number of lessons you want to teach.

Before You Pick Writing Lessons Decide How Many Projects of Each Writing Type Students Will Complete

When you are a classroom teacher you get to make most of the decisions about how you will teach your students.  So it’s time to take advantage of that.  How many final drafts will they complete for each type of writing this year?

There are 4 types of writing – narrative, informational (expository), persuasive (opinion/argumentative), and descriptive.   Usually, we see descriptive writing mixed with the other types or focused on it in poetry.  The three major types of writing are narrative, informational, and persuasive.  Pick a reasonable goal for how much you want them to write.  For example, you may want your students to write 3 or 4 narrative pieces over the course of the school year.

I think this is especially important when it comes to grading.  Sometimes we get so caught up in completing every writing lesson that we get to the end of the grading period and our students only have one piece of graded writing.  How awful would it be to have your entire writing grade be based on one final draft?  

Decide How Many Final Drafts Each Quarter Before Choosing Writing Lessons

Now you need to break it down further.  Does your school use quarters, trimesters, or semesters?  Decide how many final drafts your students should complete during each grading period.  Again this should be reasonable. The go-getter in me wants to say that they will complete each type of writing each quarter, but when I consider all the things that stop me from teaching I decided two final drafts each quarter would be great.  As my students become more proficient I might be able to have them write three in the last quarter. 

These goals and timelines are all adjustable because it has to be, but this type of timeline will help you and your students get more writing done. My outline for the year might look something like this.   It’s a quick and simple plan for the major writing assignment my students will complete each quarter.  If you would prefer to write three narrative essays at the beginning of the year that’s fine too.

Quarter 1NarrativeInformational
Quarter 2PersuasiveNarrative
Quarter 3InformationalPersuasive
Quarter 4NarrativeInformationalPersuasive

Picking Writing Lessons for Each Assignment

Every time you teach narrative writing you do not need to teach all the narrative writing lessons.  What if you were asked to pick three to five lessons to teach for narrative writing each time your students did an assignment?  If you teach narrative writing three times during the school year that’s 9-15 lessons.  Don’t try to teach too much during one assignment

Students hate when a writing assignment goes on for weeks on end.  They get bored and lose focus.  Instead, plan the due date, teach a few lessons, and grade based on those lessons, not perfection.

For this step, you don’t need to write an actual lesson plan.  You can look at your boxed curriculum, or write down an idea of what you’d like your students to learn.

Quarter 1NarrativeInformationalPersonal Narrative Due Sept 15Sea Creatures October 15Hook | Pacing | Story ArcHook | Conclusions | Organizing Information
Quarter 2PersuasiveNarrativeBest Pet  Due Nov 12Types of Narratives December 15Hook | 3 Reasons | ConclusionCharacter Development | Setting | Prewriting Activities
Quarter 3InformationalPersuasive
Quarter 4NarrativeInformationalPersuasive

How Will You Include Poetry, Holiday, and Culture in Writing Lesson

Take a look at the calendar and decide when you want to schedule your writing lessons for each assignment.  Personally, I like to try to work on an assignment for about 2 weeks (10 days).  It’s even better if they turn it in midweek because then I can add in some poetry lessons, have a movie day (with more grading time for me), or add in a holiday celebration.  All of these things have benefits for my students like a break from a big assignment, time to learn through poetry, celebrating holidays, or even giving extra time to another part of ELA.  I don’t want to overbook their writing abilities.

Find the Writing Lessons You Want to Use

If you are using a boxed curriculum you probably already have the lessons you want to use. You might have some favorites and some you’d rather skip.  If you are already familiar with the curriculum then you probably know which writing lessons you want to use.  If you are using a new curriculum take a look at the table of contents first to help you narrow down the lessons you’ll use. I have always found boxed curriculums want to have my students write the same paper for a month and that’s way too long.  Pick and choose your lessons if you are going with a boxed curriculum.

If you are writing or downloading your curriculum it’s time to take a look and find what you need.  Do your research and develop your lessons or take a look online for writing lessons that you want to use.  I have a narrative writing curriculum that is almost complete.  You can purchase the whole curriculum or the individual lessons you need.  Information and persuasive writing are the next writing lessons on my list so keep an eye 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 by 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.

7 Types of Powerful Poetry Lessons to Incorporate This School Year

Poetry lessons are my favorite part of teaching writing, but in many classrooms, poetry is forgotten. There are so many other parts of ELA and writing to teach that it can seem difficult to fit in or intimidating to teach.  It can be easy for teachers to incorporate poetry during the entire school year.  Poetry lessons bring value to every classroom.

The First Poetry Lessons I Taught

I started teaching poetry regularly when I was a paraprofessional in a 4th-grade classroom.  The 4th-grade team had made a point to incorporate poetry throughout the year for several years.  At the end of the year, every student would bind a poetry book the old fashion way.  The students wrote great poems over the year, but the benefits were far greater than the final product.

Bringing Poetry Lessons With Me

Teaching poetry was something I brought with me to several other schools.  I had seen the benefits of it and I knew it was valuable, but often forgotten since there is so much pressure on teachers to complete so many other tasks.  But poetry can be a part of teaching the writing skills students need.  We can do both once we plan just a little bit.

What are Poetry Lessons and Their Benefits?

Poetry is when a writer shares their honest thoughts and feelings with the reader in various formats. This is a vague definition because there are so many forms of poetry that with different rules and there is poetry with no rules.  The core of poetry is that the author is honest and truthful about their thoughts and feelings. Here are a few of the benefits of teaching poetry lessons.

Poetry Lessons Build Social/Emotional Skills

Poetry helps students to think about how they feel and connect with the world.  It’s a different kind of thinking than other types of writing.  Students can build social and emotional skills by studying and writing poetry.  Honesty and truth poetry requires involves a lot of self-reflection and empathy.  Along with writing our students can gain some needed social and emotional skills

Poetry Lessons are Short

Most poetry lessons are short which is amazing.  Short lessons mean that you can fit them in during a short week, testing week, or holiday.  Sometimes we don’t want to start a new unit right before a break, but we can teach a poetry lesson and have students finish the assignment in a day or two. 

Short lessons are less intimidating to our students too.  Long lessons that end in long essay can be challenging for students to complete.  It’s nice to give students a break with a short lesson that’s easier but will still teach them a lot.

Poetry Lessons Build Confidence

Struggling writers hate long assignments because they are intimidating, and the students feel like they will fail before they even start.  Every writer can produce great poetry with a little bit of work.  Struggling writers find poetry to be more accessible because it’s short so they put more work into it and do well.  When students start to build writing success by writing poetry, they become open to other types of writing.  It helps them gain the confidence they need to become writers.

Poetry Lessons are Easy to Grade

Poetry lessons are short which means that you don’t have to spend as much time reading pages and pages of writing.  You get to finish grading faster and your students get their work back quicker.  Just because grading takes you a lot less time it doesn’t mean your students are learning less. 

Poetry Lessons Teach Other Writing Skills

Teachers can decide what lesson they want to teach with poetry and then pick a form of poetry to match.  There are so many skills our students can gain through poetry.  The best part is it helps our students focus on one of their learning goals better because there is less going on. 

Poetry Lessons Can Be Seasonal

As students get older, we tend to step away from seasons and holidays but these students still love and value the seasons and holidays.  We don’t need to spend as much time discussing and teaching about them with upper elementary students, but we can celebrate them with poetry.  Holidays are great times for poetry lessons because our students are less focused which means teaching writing skills through short lessons is a great option. 

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Picking Poetry Lessons for Your Classroom

Poetry is a genre of writing that is huge because there are so many different forms of it.  Some forms have many rules, and some forms have no rules.  Every teacher can use poetry throughout the year.  In school, it’s great to introduce our students to several formats because each can serve a different purpose and teach different lessons.  It’s just a matter of finding some forms of poetry that work for you.

Alternatively, I like to think about what skills I want to teach my students and pick a poetry lesson that will support those writing skills.  We can help our students focus on specific skills with poetry.

Here are a few forms of poetry I love to teach my students.  My TpT store is full of poetry lessons including all these forms.

Identity Poetry Lessons

A huge part of poetry is letting students self-reflect and honestly share their feelings. Identity poems allow students to explore who they are through poetry. This isn’t exactly a form of poetry, but more of a topic.  I have several different formats for identity poems that I use with my students.  What always amazes me is that even though I lay out the format and provide examples for my students they have trouble figuring out how to talk about themselves.  Identity poetry lessons are a great way to help students build social and emotional skills.

Haiku Poetry Lessons

Haiku poetry is fast and simple with a long history.  Haikus are 3 line poems that pay special attention to syllables.  The syllable pattern per each line is 5-7-5.  Traditionally haikus were written about nature, but now people write haikus about anything.  I think it’s good to have students do both.  I use haikus to teach my students about conciseness, writing about one specific moment, and descriptive language

Ode Poetry Lessons

If you need poetry to glorify or give praise to something then odes are where it’s at.  Think about writing poems about kids’ favorite things, presents, or vacations.  There are three types of odes, but I tend to go with the simplest type of ode.  Decide what topic you want your students to write about.  Then students create stanzas in their poems, rhyming is optional.  I ask my students to use their stanzas like paragraphs, so each stanza gets into specific details about the main topic.  What a great way to practice organization without writing a full paper.

Rhyming Poetry Lessons

Rhyming poetry is when I love to let my students get silly.  Sometimes we write more serious rhyming poems, but rhyming is fun, so I like to make these poems fun.  Most of my rhyming poems use stanzas and are about silly topics like a Class Talent Show.  Students can practice descriptive language, character creation, and organization in rhyming poetry.

Cinquain Poetry Lessons

A cinquain is a five-line poem that originated in France.  The first and last lines are the topic of the poem are synonyms for each other.  The other lines consist of adjects, participle verbs, and descriptive sentence.  This form of poetry allows you to teach about the parts of speech, descriptive language, and being concise.

Onomatopoeia Poetry Lessons

Onomatopoeias are sound words, which means the word’s pronunciation and spelling reflect each other.   Animal noises like meow and action sounds like bang or pop are onomatopoeias.  Bringing onomatopoeias into writing can make it more realistic and engaging.  Practicing incorporating onomatopoeias into writing through poetry can help your students understand it better. I have several onomatopoeia lessons in my TpT store, but my favorite is my Halloween Onomatopoeia lesson.

Acrostic Poetry Lessons

Acrostic poetry is fun, simple, and overused in schools.  Did you know there is a more mature way to teach acrostic poetry?  That’s what all my acrostic poetry lessons do.  Students have a specific topic and they need to provide more detail and description about the topic.  The lines are more complex and give greater room for creativity.   Acrostic poetry is a great way to practice connecting ideas because there are specific letters that must be used, but they should still make sense.

Poetry Lessons All Year Long

Poetry is a powerful and simple way to help our students become better writers.  We can help them grow their confidence and writing skills with short assignments that are easy to complete and easy to grade.  We don’t need to lose teaching time to holidays and short weeks.  We can just teach the writing skills they need differently.  Let’s bring poetry back into our classrooms, more often so that our students can learn from this unique form of writing.

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 by 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.

How to Use Clever Written Assessments to Easily Guide Instruction

Teachers use written assessments to help guide instruction for each unit throughout the school year.  They are a reliable diagnostic tool that can help teachers understand their students’ strengths and weaknesses better.  They are also time-consuming, have lots of work, and overwhelming at the same time.  It can be hard to know how to get a lot of diagnostic value out of written assessments.

My First Experience Grading Written Assessments

As a long-term substitute, I gave my students their beginning-of-the-year written assessments.  They spend so much time writing their stories and then the teachers got to spend hours reviewing them and going to a special meeting to discuss them.  These are all good and helpful ways for a teacher to know how to teach writing better.  However, every paper was the same and all the teachers could predict exactly what they were going to get from the students.  

What the Written Assessments Showed Us

The writing assignment was a list of what students did during their summer vacation rather than a story about the summer or preferably one special part of it.  It inevitably turned into a detailed explanation of breakfast and then a list of what they did first, second, and last.  It was painful to read and grade.  On top of that, I didn’t know exactly what I was looking for or how to evaluate their writing.  Evaluating writing is very different from editing or grading writing.

What are the Types of Written Assessments

Written assessments are a way teachers gather data and information about students’ abilities for teaching and grading.

Formative written assessments are when a teacher takes notes and observations of students’ strengths and weaknesses.  Then the teacher uses the information to adjust and inform instruction.

Summative written assessments are when teachers grade the final draft of the student’s work.  It should still inform instruction in the future, but students will be graded on the final draft they turn in.

Some people like to break these types of assessments up even further.  Let’s look at some other ways to think about it.

Formative Assessments

1. Before Teaching Assessments are when teachers size up students’ abilities, so they know what students already know and don’t know.  These assessments often take place at the beginning of the year or before a new unit.  They provide quick information to help the teacher, but they are not for a grade.

2. Instructional Assessments are when teachers observe students daily to provide feedback, monitor progress, and adjust the daily lesson plans.  Most teachers automatically do this because it’s part of the job, but not everyone thinks of it as an assessment.

Summative Assessment

3. Official Assessments are summative assessments when teachers collect data and closely examine student work for grading and reporting.

Written Assessment Articles

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How I Would Give Written Assessments Now

When I gave my first written assessment, I was doing exactly what the school and teaching team was asking of me.  They have some great ideas in place, but there are things I would change now that I know more about teaching, life, and kids.  Here are some of the aspects of writing we should assess and how to do it.

Suggestions for Written Assessments

Backwards design is when teachers decide what learning goals they want their students to achieve.  Then the teachers plan the assessment and lessons based on the learning goals.  It’s completely logical, but not every teacher does this.  These suggestions for written assessments lean into backwards design to help with written assessments and the lessons along the way.  Some of these are more applicable to units of study and some would be great to implement during the beginning of the year assessment.

  1. Learning Goals

Know what you want your students to be able to do and why.  You can do this by creating learning goals for the task and describing the assignment.  Learning goals require a teacher to go through a series of questions to make sure they are creating a helpful assignment.

·   Why do you want the students to complete the assignment?

·   What should they know?

·   What should they be able to do?

·   Why should they be able to do this skill?

·   How will you know when they reach the learning goal?

·   How will you assess it?

These questions seem a little silly because I feel like as teachers, we answer most of these questions in our minds automatically.  But if we practice critical thinking while creating lessons by answering these questions then our students will get more out of the lessons.  And you can never answer any of these questions by saying the Standards require our students to learn it.

  1. Plan Activities

Every activity we give our students should help push them toward a better understanding of the learning goal.  There shouldn’t be fluff or busy work because there are some big and important things our students need to learn.  Each activity within a unit should help students understand the topic better.

  1. Give Feedback Early

Students need feedback throughout the learning process.  As teachers, we are constantly gathering data and information on how our students are performing and learning.  We must because we change our lessons based on that.  We need to give our students direct and helpful feedback based on our observations early in the learning process to help them correct errors and learn better.  There are a few ways we can give feedback.  

·   We can talk to our students as their working. 

·   We can write on the drafts of their work.  

·   We can have students talk to each other.

Of course, there are some times that you won’t provide feedback like on a formative assessment in which your goal is to see what your students know.

  1. Multiple Planned Opportunities for Feedback Using a Design

As you decide your learning goal and plan lessons be sure that you plan in times for students to receive feedback.  They should have opportunities to get feedback in multiple ways from multiple sources.  It can be easy to skip these valuable feedback sessions because there is just so much to do and teach in a day.  Put it on the calendar, stop everything else and provide feedback.  Provide structure and guidance so students know what to do and multiple opportunities for it to happen.

  1. Clear Expectations

Give your students clear expectations.  Tell your students why they are doing a particular project and what you want them to learn from it.  As a gymnastics coach, I am constantly using drills to teach my gymnasts how to do harder skills.  As I explain the drill, I tell them why they are doing it.  “You are going to do your front handspring over this block so you learn to kick with more power.”  I find that they will work harder on some of the boring drills when they know why they are doing them.

Let your students know how they will be evaluated.  They don’t need a surprise writing assignment when they are going to be graded on it.  They can even help create the evaluation process.

  1. Refrain From Excessive Feedback 

Some students have so many things to fix in their writing that it’s overwhelming.  Think about the specific things you are trying to teach your students with the lesson or unit and focus on having them learn that through your feedback.  If you give them too many things, they won’t be able to focus and will probably become defeated.  Think about your learning goal in feedback before anything else.

  1. Make Suggestions

Try to remember that you are making suggestions about the things you think your students should fix.  Don’t take over their work.  Their paper and work should be open to suggestions, but they should keep control and ownership.

  1. Purposeful Responses

When we respond to our students’ work it can be broken down into two categories.  Be intentional with your responses to student work because it can help or hinder their growth.

Developmental responses allow us to build our student’s confidence and engage them in a discussion about their ideas and writing choices.  Using developmental responses, we can help them learn a particular skill or develop simple drafts into stellar pieces.

Evaluative responses involve more judgment in telling our students what they did right and wrong.  They do need these responses, especially on the final draft of written assessments that we are grading.  However, these responses tend to shut down conversations and halt growth.

Examine the Writing Process as Part of Written Assessments

Every time your students write it’s important to examine the process they went through.  If you are giving a formative assessment you are going to observe to see what students do and don’t do.  You need to see how they went about writing so you can help them improve their writing.  Their process could stop them from being incredible writers.  Look at their ability to…

·  Plan

·  Organize

·  Get their Thoughts on Paper (Are there obstacles?)

·  Spell (Do they check it or look up words?)

·  Reread What They Wrote

·  Share and Talk About Their Work

·  Revise

·  Edit

If your class is working towards a summative assessment, then you are probably teaching them parts of the process every day.  Watch to see what they struggle with.  Reteach and talk about the parts that they need to work on before so they can build a strong process that will get them to become strong writers.

Written Assessment Skills to Evaluate

When I first started looking at student writing I didn’t know what to look for.  I would try to look for the same things as my co-workers, but it was difficult to see what they saw.  I didn’t know exactly what skills I should be looking at in their written assessments.  There are rubrics that can support teachers through the process, but if we have a better understanding of the rubric items that should be included, then we will be able to do a better job grading student work. 

Here are five skills to focus on.  As I write rubrics, I will address each of these 5 skills to ensure that students are constantly learning them. I will usually break down these skills into smaller parts so that nothing is too overwhelming, but by constantly addressing these skills I am ensuring my students will grow as writers and their evaluation will be comparable throughout the year.

  1. Fluency

In writing, fluency is a student’s ability to translate their thoughts into words on a page.  This is a huge skill for both younger and older students.  Younger students are learning about print, experimenting with letters, and spelling.  Upper elementary and middle school students need to learn to write and think for growing periods of time.  They can think and talk about the topics we discuss but have trouble putting their ideas into words.  Older students need to continue to develop this skill as their thoughts become more complex.  It can be hard for them to explain their ideas in a way that others will understand.  This is what we want students to do when they are drafting their papers.  We want them to forget about the rules or perfect work, they just need to get their ideas down on paper.

  1. Content

Content is what students create through their writing.  Content encompasses so many skills and these skills change depending on the type of writing.  It is the originality, organization, and accuracy of their writing.  Their writing must be cohesive by staying on topic, using transition words, and being clear to the reader.  There should also be a clear and logical sequence of a beginning, middle, and end.  Each sentence serves a purpose for existing by having good form and function.  Content is a big area of assessment.

  1. Convention

Convention is what teachers are constantly caught up in grading.  Spelling, grammar, punctuation, capitalization, and legible handwriting are all part of convention.  These are very important but should not be the only thing we consider when we are examining our students’ written assessments.

  1. Syntax

Syntax is how students put words together to convey meaning to the reader.  When students are young, they tend to start every sentence the same.  As students get older and learn more, they can use variations in sentence patterns and expand their sentences using adverbs and infinities. Finally, students move on to compound and complex sentences.

  1. Vocabulary

Our students’ vocabulary should be constantly growing to more mature and unique words.  As students read, learn, and talk they will start to move away from overused and simple words and start to make their writing more interesting.  We want to watch how our students’ vocabularies grow. 

Rubrics for Written Assessments

The most important thing a teacher needs to know about the rubrics they use is that they will evaluate the learning goal of the assignment.  Rubrics can be used by genre or be specific to a unit.  What is nice about genre rubrics is that the teacher can use the same rubric over multiple assignments and units and see how a student progresses over the course of the year. 

Rubrics can help teachers make sure they are evaluating key learning points and are consistent with their expectations across the class.  They can help a teacher avoid correcting everything and only commenting on the key points of the rubric, which are directly impacted by the learning goal.

Final Ideas for Written Assessments

Communicating with students and checking to see what they understand can be challenging in a busy classroom.  Here are a couple of quick ideas

Respond to Comments

This is the best idea I have ever heard.  I hate spending time writing all sorts of comments on papers and then students look at the grade and shove the paper in a folder or binder.  I feel like I’ve wasted my time and that my students aren’t learning what they need to know to improve. 

When you hand back an assignment have students take 5 minutes to write a response to the comments you wrote.  It can be questions, concerns, or even justifications.  This process activates student metacognition about their writing.  They start to develop critical thinking skills because they are diving back into their work.  You can even give students one or two points back on their papers if they are working hard the whole time.

Exit Tickets

Exit tickets have become a popular teaching tool.  An exit ticket usually consists of two questions, one which is concrete and directly from the lesson, but the other should be open-ended.  Exit tickets force our students to think about what they learned and practiced during the class period.

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 by using sensory language to describe their school. The step-by-step

10 Joyful and Simple Christmas Writing Activities for 4th through 7th Grade

Christmas writing activities can help you and your students celebrate the holiday while still learning important academic skills.  Christmas is one of the most difficult times of the year to teach because students are so excited about the holidays.  But we need to keep teaching because we know state testing is just around the corner and there is so much material that we need to cover.  The solution is to our problem is Christmas writing activities.  We can teach the skills we need while students celebrate the holiday through writing.

Christmas Writing Activities in My Classrooms

Different schools approach the holidays differently.  One school I worked in was anti-bias, which meant they didn’t celebrate any holidays because they didn’t want to exclude anyone.  Another school I worked in took time to organize a secret friend exchange so that every student got a gift and there was a delicious dessert bar for students to visit.  Most schools I’ve worked in have celebrated the holidays with themed work like Christmas writing activities.  

The Challenge of Christmas Writing Activities

The biggest challenge of Christmas writing activities is learning what your students celebrate to make sure you include everyone.  The best way I have ever done this is through my Culturally Responsive Teaching unit.  Part of this unit is having students explore their family history and culture.  When students explore their history they record their holidays and traditions as part of the unit at the beginning of the year, it lets me know how I should approach holidays for the rest of the year.  It lets me include so many more students by planning ahead, rather than being surprised and having to react at the moment.

Why Celebrate Christmas with Christmas Writing Activities?

Christmas writing activities help us to acknowledge our students’ excitement and celebrate the holiday without stopping academic work.  Our students write better when they write about topics that they are interested in and passionate about.  Rather than telling them to focus on the excitement we can embrace it and put that energy into meaningful writing.

More Christmas Writing Activities

Christmas Writing Activities that Kids Will Love

Christmas Writing Prompts for 3rd, 4th, and 5th Grade

​​December Activities to Keep Students Engaged

10 Christmas Writing Activities

Classroom writing activities can come in many forms and the more ideas you have the better.  It’s unlikely that you will use the exact same activities every year because you have a different group of students every year.   Think about who your students are and what their beliefs are as you pick Christmas writing activities that are right for your classroom.

  1. Haiku About Christmas is Part of Christmas Writing Activities

Haiku poetry originated in Japan.  These poems focused on small moments in time about nature, such as a leaf falling from a tree. They are three lines long, that’s it.  Haikus are most famous for their syllable count of 5-7-5. Writers must use descriptive language and conciseness in haiku poetry.

In our modern world haiku poetry can be about any topic.  They are great for teaching syllables, descriptive language, small moments, and conciseness.  We can have our students write about small, special Christmas moments as they share their holiday traditions with you.  You will be able to teach academic skills while embracing the holiday.  And you get to send home a nice piece of holiday poetry to their families.

  1. Christmas Shape Poetry is Part of Christmas Writing Activities

Shape poetry is exactly what it sounds like.  The poem is written in a shape relevant to the topic. It’s also called concrete poetry.  There are two types of shape poetry.  Outline poems are when the words of the poem fill the shape and drawing poems are when the words create a pencil-like sketch of the shape.

In this poetry lesson, students get to decide if they would like to write an outline or a drawing shape poem.  There are several shape templates to choose from.  It is available in digital and printable, but I would recommend printable for this particular poem. 

  1. Christmas Poem Easy is Part of Christmas Writing Activities

There are so many special and unique sounds during the Christmas holidays.  They infiltrate our senses.  In this Christmas onomatopoeia poetry, students will follow the free verse poem template and writing process to incorporate onomatopoeias into a Christmas Poem of their own. 

First students learn about onomatopoeias and practice identifying and working with them.  Then students use the free verse poetry template to write their own onomatopoeia Christmas Poem Easy.  It’s a great way to celebrate the holiday, learn onomatopoeias, and practice some sensory detail.  

  1. Christmas Acrostic Poem is Part of Christmas Writing Activities

Acrostic poems are the most common type of poem I see teachers write with their students.  They are easy to plan and fast to complete they are a great choice for the busy teacher.  Acrostic poems are when there is a base word (usually written down the left side of the paper) and each line starts with a letter from the base word.

Once students hit 4th grade I like to challenge what they’ve been taught about acrostic poetry.  I trade in the simple acrostic for a more mature version of an acrostic poem.  I ask my students to write full sentences instead of just one or two words.  I also allow them to have their sentences go over several lines of the poem.  The result is a more mature acrostic.  Sometimes they are simply descriptive, while other times students tell stories.

In this acrostic poem, students will write about Christmas.  They can tell a story, share traditions, or imagine something else.  They can practice acrostic poetry while sharing about a topic that is engaging.  

  1. Hanukkah Acrostic is Part of Christmas Writing Activities

Acrostic poems are the most common type of poem I see teachers write with their students.  They are easy to plan and fast to complete they are a great choice for the busy teacher.  Acrostic poems are when there is a base word (usually written down the left side of the paper) and each line starts with a letter from the base word.

Once students hit 4th grade I like to challenge what they’ve been taught about acrostic poetry.  I trade in the simple acrostic for a more mature version of an acrostic poem.  I ask my students to write full sentences instead of just one or two words.  I also allow them to have their sentences go over several lines of the poem.  The result is a more mature acrostic.  Sometimes they are simply descriptive, while other times students tell stories.

This Hanukkah acrostic poem is a great chance for students to practice acrostic poetry while they tell about the history, traditions, and excitement of Hanukkah.  

  1. Christmas Traditions Poem is Part of Christmas Writing Activities

Every family has different traditions at Christmas and this Christmas Traditions Poem is a great way to celebrate them.  Students will use the free verse poetry template to help them count down to Christmas.  Each number of the countdown focuses on a different tradition.  Students will start thinking about the Christmas holiday in a new way once they brainstorm their traditions.  I also love that this poem lets parents see what their child cherishes about the holiday.

  1. Hanukkah Poetry is Part of Christmas Writing Activities

Hanukkah has a rich history full of traditions.  There is actually a countdown to Hanukkah similar to how students count down to Christmas.  Countdown poetry is free verse poetry that gives students a template to follow to make it easier.  While writing this poem students will reflect on the meaning of Hanukkah and the traditions they might follow.  This poem was created in partnership with my Christmas Traditions Poem.  I wanted to make sure that both cultures had the opportunity to celebrate their holiday through poetry.

  1. Countdown to Christmas and Countdown to Hanukkah Bundle is Part of Christmas Writing Activities

Do you have students who celebrate both Christmas and Hanukkah?  Then this bundle is for you.  Our students spend so much time counting down to the Holidays.  This poem takes all of that energy and combines it with their traditions and expectations for the holiday.  You’ll be able to send your students home with a wonderful poem that lets their parents see what they cherish about the holiday season.

  1. Poem for Winter Solstice is Part of Christmas Writing Activities

Diamantes are poems of opposites in which two things are compared through poetry.  A diamante poem is a seven-line poem that uses specific parts of speech in each line.  The first line is the first topic then the next two lines give details about the topic using a specific part of speech.  The next line, number four, can give two details about each topic or tell similarities.  Line 7 is the second topic and the two lines proceeding it give specific details.  Diamante poetry can be a bit of a challenge but our students need to be challenged.  

The winter solstice is the shortest day of the year and right near Christmas.  If you need an alternative to Christmas in your classroom teaching your students about the winter solstice could be a great option.  A comparison poem about the winter solstice is perfect because your students can compare light and dark or summer and winter.  They might think of other comparisons that are related too.

  1. Winter Solstice Poetry is Part of Christmas Writing Activities

This is a winter solstice acrostic.  By the time my students are in 4th grade, I have them write a more mature and complex acrostic with complete sentences that go across multiple lines.  For this lesson in particular I have my students research the winter solstice and then write a poem about it.  There are some great YouTube videos that show the differences between light and dark and how a lit-up world looks.  They are pretty neat to show to students during a winter solstice lesson.

I love having my student research the winter solstice a little bit because they need to know enough to write a poem, but they get to practice research and the writing process.  This assignment is short and easy to grade which makes it perfect for right before winter break. 

Final Tips About Christmas Writing Activities

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 by 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.

5 Powerful Components of Graphic Organizers for Persuasive Essays Proven to Support Writing

Graphic organizers are a powerful writing tool when we teach our students how to use them correctly. But for us to teach our students to use them effectively, we must pick the best graphic organizer for their writing task.  With an overload of graphic organizers out there it can be difficult to find one that works for the assignment or to even know what to look for.

Which Graphic Organizer for Persuasive Essays Should We Use?  

When I started picking writing assignments, I didn’t know what graphic organizer to give my students.  A lot of the teachers in my school didn’t use graphic organizers.  If teachers used them, they would often just put out several choices for their students and leave it up to them.  They didn’t give their students directions on how to use them well or any directions at all.  

Too Many Options for Graphic Organizers for Persuasive Writing Essays

Why do so many teachers give their students graphic organizers without teaching them how to use them?  I think there are so many graphic organizers out there that it’s hard for teachers to know which ones to use for which assignments.  Unless you have a great mentor teacher or research it on your own it can be hard to get started.  This article is meant to help bridge the gap between knowing that we should use graphic organizers and knowing which ones to use.

Graphic Organizers for Persuasive Essays and the Three Types of Persuasive Writing

There are three types of persuasive writing that our students will practice over their academic careers, but they probably don’t realize that there are three different types.  As our students learn, get older, and grow as writers we teach them opinion writing, then persuasive, then argumentative.  

It’s a natural progression of difficulty because opinion is when they share their ideas and opinions, but aren’t concerned with what the reader thinks.  Persuasive writing is when a writer is talking to a specific person or group to try to get them to agree with them.  The writer uses extreme passion and emotion to try to get the reader to agree with them.  Argumentative writing is more logical.  It presents an argument for both sides using logic, counterarguments, and some passion.  It lets the reader decide after presenting a clear stance and logic.

If you want to read about the differences, you can look at my article Discover this Powerful 3 Part Detailed and Simple Guide to Persuasive Writing Essays.

Graphic organizers are a tool used by teachers to organize research, information, and ideas. It can be helpful to have students research on one graphic organizer or notes page and then use a second one to organize it. It’s a visual version of the information that students have gathered.  Graphic organizers are important in persuasive writing just like they are in narratives and expository writing.

Another Article About Graphic Organizers for Persuasive Essays

The Very Simply Writing Graphic Organizers My Students Use

Why are Graphic Organizers for Persuasive Essays Important

Graphic organizers are one of the most popular teaching tools for writing teachers.  Writing teachers use graphic organizers all the time to help students organize their thoughts in an accessible way, even if the students moan and groan through the whole process.  Students write better with the support of graphic organizers because it takes away the intimidating blank page.  It will be easier for them to get started writing when they have the appropriate graphic for the task.

What teachers need to know is what to look for in good graphic organizers for persuasive essays.  There are just so many options out there that it’s hard to know which ones will help our students write better and learn about writing structure.  Let’s look at some of the key features that you should search for in a great graphic organizer.

Graphic Organizers for Persuasive Essays With Introductions 

It’s so important that a graphic organizer helps your students develop their introductions.  There is more to an introduction than starting the essay.  Here are the key components of an introduction.

  1. Hook

A hook is how the writer captures the attention of the reader.  It’s the way they get the reader to read past the first sentence. There are a few ways that are commonly used to gain the reader’s attention.

·   Question

A rhetorical question that causes the reader to think and imagine the topic can entice them to keep reading.  Once they’ve started putting their thoughts into the topic they have started to invest.

·   Statement

A statement or declaration about what the writer believes can catch the reader’s attention because they may strongly agree or disagree with the writer.  Often a controversial statement is a great way to get the reader to keep reading.

·   Statistic or Fact

If the audience is logical then a statistic or fact might be a great way to open a persuasive essay.  A statistic or fact can automatically make a persuasive essay more creditable.

·   Anecdote

An anecdote or story is a method that lets the persuasive argument become real to the reader right away.  The reader can see the impact of the topic by connecting to a story that brings it to life quickly.

·   Description

Fully describing a topic can provide background information for the reader that they might be missing or visualization of what the topic looks like from the writer’s perspective.  A description can also make the problem come to life for the reader because they can visualize and understand it.

·   Quotation

Using a quotation from a credible and well-known source can make a persuasive argument more powerful.  People love advice and information from famous or well-known trustworthy people.  

2.         Background Information on Topic

If there is important background information on the topic the introduction is a good time to fill the reader in.  You aren’t going to tell them everything in the introduction, but helping the reader find a starting point for the knowledge and information you are going to share can happen in the introduction.

3.         Reason the Reader Should Care

The reader also needs to know why they should care about the topic.  There are times the reader is fully invested in the topic, but there are times the reader is not.  The writer’s job is to let the reader know why they should care and often it is because it will impact them in some way.  How does this topic impact their life or why is it morally the right thing to believe? 

4.         Clearly State Their Opinion in the Thesis 

Finally, the writer needs to clearly state their opinion on the topic in their thesis.  The thesis statement should be straightforward and clear so the reader can’t mistake the writer’s stance.

Graphic Organizers for Persuasive Essays With Reasons 

When a writer is writing a persuasive essay, they state their opinion or argument of what is right or what they want, but they must support their idea.  Usually, in a persuasive essay, a writer supports their idea with three reasons why that idea is right.  It can be more or fewer reasons, but the standard most teachers ask for is three because it provides enough support without making their essays too long.

Each reason must be fully explained.  There are various ways a writer can explain their reasoning, but here are a few ideas to start your students off.


Facts should come from reliable sources that students found during the research phase of persuasive writing.  They can’t use any random fact to prove their point, it must be sound information from a reliable source.

Data or Statistics

Data, statistics, and numbers are a powerful way to prove a point and support their reason.  However, it’s not uncommon for writers to take numbers out of context and manipulate them to prove their point.  As you teach students about using numbers and statistics be sure to teach them how to use the numbers they find in context and honestly.  Nothing will kill their credibility faster and cause them to lose the support of their reader than using numbers incorrectly.  And in contrast, nothing can support their reasoning and gain credibility faster than using statistics and data in context to support their idea.


An anecdote is a short story about a real person or instance related to the topic.  These stories should be true, interesting, and support the writer’s idea.  Anecdotes are powerful tools to develop a writer’s reasons because it helps the reader connect to the topic differently.  Anecdotes are usually most effective if the writer is using statics and facts somewhere for the same reason for their argument.

Graphic Organizers for Persuasive Essays With Counterarguments

For every argument, there is a counterargument or reason that the reader should do or believe something else. When do students need to know how to counterargue? Let’s look at the common core standards for 4th grade through 6th grade. 

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.4.1Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information.CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.5.1Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information.CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.6.1Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence.

Students jump from writing opinion pieces to argumentative pieces.   When you look at each type of writing more closely opinion pieces don’t need to include counterarguments.  Argumentative essays appeal to logic more than anything else.  The reasons to agree with the writer are logical and are supported by facts, data, expert quotes, and evidence.  The writer will often use several counterarguments to present information from both sides.  It’s a big jump from 4th and 5th grade to 6th grade.  

I think we should teach counterarguments as soon as our students can handle them in fourth or fifth grade.  When students learn about counterarguments it makes their writing stronger, with clear evidence and information for the reader.  It also helps them slowly progress from opinion to persuasive to argumentative writing.

Graphic Organizers for Persuasive Essays With Conclusions 

Every essay needs to have a conclusion, or the end is like jumping off a cliff.  The reader needs some closure and direction on what to do next.  Imagine that the reader was convinced and agreed with the writer.  Then the paper ends leaving the reader feeling lost.  Conclusions should do four things.

  1. Restate the Idea

People need to hear ideas, names, and information more than once to remember them.  Your reader may have gotten lost in anecdotes or reasons and forgotten the whole reason the writer wrote the paper.  They need to be reminded of the main idea of the paper very clearly.

  1. Summarize the Reasons

The writer has gone into detail about their reasons for the whole paper.  The writer should still remind the writer about their reasons at the end.  It reminds the reader of the reasons at the beginning and helps to bring all the pieces together.  The writer should keep in mind that this is a quick summary.  When I listen to podcasts, I notice a huge difference in my ability to remember information when it’s summarized again at the end.

  1. Remind People Why They Should Care

Now that the reader has all the information, they need to be reminded why they should care about the topic at all.  How does this issue impact them and their world?  The reader was told at the beginning, but once they have the information and their mind has started to change, they need to be reminded again.

  1. Concluding Statement

Finally, the conclusion should have a statement that wraps everything up.  A reader should never be left in confusion.  This statement should be a strong, powerful, and clear ending to the whole persuasive essay.

Graphic Organizers for Persuasive Essays With a Call to Action

The call to action is often included in the conclusion, but the writer might also sprinkle it throughout the paper.  The call to action is what the writer wants the readers to do.  Once the readers have been convinced to agree with the writer, what’s next?  What should the readers do with their new information and beliefs?  The writer usually calls the readers to do something next.  That’s the point of a persuasive essay – to cause action and change in the world.

Cute Graphic Organizers for Persuasive Essays 

There are a lot of cute graphic organizers for persuasive essays out there.  There are sandwiches, hamburgers, cookies, and other ideas.  Cute is great, but the most important thing is that it helps students write more effectively.

After spending months researching persuasive writing and looking at as many ideas of graphic organizers as I could I have found these are the key components that will help your students write persuasive essays more successfully.  As you choose your graphic organizer keep these ideas in mind.

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.

18 Simple and Fabulous Persuasive Writing Mini Lesson Ideas for Teachers

Persuasive writing is a lot of fun to teach students because they get to talk about topics they are passionate about, convince their readers to agree with them, and write.  Even though persuasive writing is fun to teach there are so many parts to persuasive writing it’s good to have a well-thought-out plan for how you will go about it.   Mini-lessons are a great way to allow your students time to learn quick lessons and write.

Fun Persuasive Writing Mini Lesson Ideas

Analyzing advertising, creating ads, and debates are fun parts of teaching persuasive writing.  Students quickly become engaged in learning about persuasive writing because it brings writing to life in a new way.  Persuasive writing sparks creativity and interest from students in a way that the other types of writing don’t.  I always loved the way my students lit and talked when we started persuasive writing. Enjoy all the fun parts of teaching persuasive writing.

Writing Mini Lesson Ideas Bringing Together Writing and Persuasive Skills

One of the reasons students love persuasive writing is because they get to convince the reader to agree with them.  By fourth grade, students are working on persuading friends and family to do all sorts of things they want.  When students realize they can do this in writing, for school, and get good grades for it they are surprised and engaged. Persuasive writing brings together students’ incredible persuasive skills and writing to help students learn a completely new skill.

What is Persuasive Writing?

Persuasive writing essays are when the writer is trying to convince the reader to agree with them.  The writer wants to be right and to prove that they are, they may blend facts and opinions.  They can also use emotional connections to try to persuade the reader. After the writer has convinced the reader they are right, the writer is trying to get the reader to do something like stop using plastic straws or buy them a puppy.  How they manage to convince the reader to adopt new ways of thinking depends on the technique or combination of techniques the writer decides to use.  There are a lot of tips, methods, and ideas out there, but they all come back to three techniques.

Techniques of persuasive writing are the methods a writer uses to convince the reader to agree with them and do what they want.  Remember there is a slight difference between opinion, persuasive, and argumentative writing.  If you want to read about the differences, you can look at my article Discover this Powerful 3 Part Detailed and Simple Guide to Persuasive Writing Essays.

Articles about Writing Mini Lesson Ideas

Teaching Persuasive Writing…Painlessly

10 Steps to Teach Persuasive Writing 

18 Persuasive Writing Mini Lesson Ideas

It can be hard to know where to start with persuasive writing.  It’s difficult to determine what our students know, how we can engage them, and how many lessons to use.  Then creating the lessons is a whole other challenge.  Here are 17 persuasive writing mini-lesson ideas to simplify the whole process.  Keep an eye on my TpT store [KPN2] too because these lessons will be for sale soon.

Persuasive Mentor Text Writing Mini Lesson Ideas

Mentor texts always have a positive impact on student learning.  Students are still learning what persuasive writing is in the upper elementary grades.  Let them explore and observe mentor texts in small groups or as a class.  See what they can learn just from reading mentor texts.  They might make observations about the type of writing, the language used, transitions, and more.

Writing Mini Lesson Ideas to Explain “What is Persuasive Writing?”

It’s important that near the beginning of your persuasive writing unit you take time to define persuasive writing with your students.  They need to know how persuasive writing is different from other types of writing.  Here are a few ideas of how to teach your students what persuasive writing is.

  • Look at mentor texts
  • Compare different types of texts
  • Use a Venn diagram
  • Name that type of writing game
  • Book sort
  • Look at where persuasive writing is used in the real world

Writing Mini Lesson Ideas for Picking Persuasive Topics

Your students need options for what their persuasive topics will be.  You can give a few options, set parameters, or allow students to write about any topic.   Persuasive writing is all about convincing others to believe what you believe, agree with you about what is right, and think about an alternative perspective.  You can challenge older students by having them persuade others when they don’t believe in the topic.  However, for students who are still learning how to write a persuasive essay, must believe passionately in their topic.   

Writing Mini Lesson Ideas for Research Persuasive Topic

Once students pick their topics, they need to research them thoroughly.  I have students research their topics before they declare their stance because sometimes after students research a topic well, they change their stance.  What they believed to be true was incorrect or inaccurate.  Teachers know how to research but students do not.

  • Give Your Students Specific Websites to Use for Research
  • Use a Persuasive Writing Graphic Organizer
  • Watch YouTube Videos
  • Get the Librarian Involved

Writing Mini Lesson Ideas for Thesis Statements

Once their research is done students should decide on which side of the argument they are on.  What position are they taking? What are they going to try to persuade others to believe?

The first thing students need to write is their thesis statement. Their thesis statement should clearly state their opinion on their topic. It must be straightforward and clear to ensure that the readers don’t get confused. Usually, the thesis statement is in the introductory paragraph, but they can write the thesis statement and then go back to write the rest later.  I think it’s easier to write the rest later because then the rest of the essay is clear. 

  • Show your students several examples of thesis statements.
  • Sentence starters could help your students write their thesis statements.
  • Have your students work in small groups to declare a clear thesis statement.

Task, Purpose, and Audience for Persuasive Writing Mini Lesson Ideas

The students know the purpose of their writing is to persuade others.  That is the type of writing they are required to complete. 

Their task is the assignment the teacher has given.  You could ask them to give three clear reasons with evidence.  You might say the opening and closing paragraphs must be engaging and well-planned.  You might require data and statistics.  The task could be the topic of the persuasive essay.  Their task involves the specifics of the assignment you have given them.

Their audience is extremely important.  If students are writing to their peers, they will write differently than if they write to their audience, if their parents.  Vocabulary, sentence structure, and reasoning all change depending on who their audience is.  It’s important to teach students how to identify and write to their audience.

Ethos, Pathos, and Logos as Writing Mini Lesson Ideas

Have you heard of ethos, pathos, and logos?  They are the three modes of persuasion that Aristotle identified long ago.  Persuasive strategies stem from ethos, pathos, and logos.  Ethos is moral persuasion, pathos is emotional persuasion, and logos is logical persuasion.  Many people have broken persuasion into smaller or more specific parts, but they can be traced back to ethos, pathos, and logos.  Teach your students about these ancient terms that still hold true.  They will be better writers for it.  You can read more about ethos, pathos, and logos in my article Discover this Powerful 3 Part Detailed and Simple Guide to Persuasive Writing Essays. 

Persuasive Reasoning Writing Mini Lesson Ideas

By the time you get to this lesson your students should have researched their topic thoroughly.  Now they need to determine the best reasons and arguments they will present to the reader.  Here are some ways to get your student started

  • Organize their reasons and arguments into categories
  • Star the best arguments
  • Have students work in groups to determine their reasons and arguments

Persuasive Writing Mini Lesson Ideas for Adding Counterarguments

As students grow as writers, they will mature beyond to sharing their opinion, then adding strong reasoning, and finally to address counterarguments.  Counterarguments are what the reader or opposing viewpoint might say about the topic and reasons.  Counterarguments are the reason to not agree with the writer.  A strong writer will point out the counterarguments to explain that they have researched and considered these ideas, but still, believe their viewpoint is correct.

Teaching students about counterpoints can be fun and tricky.  Here are a few ideas.

  • Mentor Texts
  • Debates
  • Small Group Discussion
  • Research

Persuasive Writing Mini Lesson Ideas for Organization

Organization is extremely important in persuasive writing.  Sometimes the writer is educating the audience at the same time they are trying to persuade them.  The sequence of reasons should build on each other at the same time as they inform the audience.  Students need to make sure their reasons and evidence all belong in the same paragraph.  Then they need to make sure their paragraphs are in a logical order.

Students tend to dislike arranging and rearranging their work.  I think it’s often because they aren’t sure how to do it.  It can be hard to see how other writers’ ideas build on each other and figure out how to do it themselves.  Here are some ideas you can try in your classroom.

  • Read mentor texts to examine how ideas build on each other.
  • Put their reasons and evidence on sticky notes so they can rearrange easily
  • Use Graphic organizers that support organizing their ideas
  • Discuss their organization with a few partners who know the topic well and some who don’t.

Persuasive Writing Mini Lesson Ideas for Writing Style

Students quickly learn how to write in the first person in narrative writing.  Then we teach students about the third person and formality in expository writing.  However, the second person is a little more complex.  It’s not used as much in school.

Persuasive writing uses all the writing styles.  When students are writing opinion pieces, they use the first person.  Then when students start writing persuasive essays, they can use I or you, first or second person.  Finally, when students start argumentative essays, they should maintain a formal style or third person.  Persuasive writing is a great opportunity to talk about the benefits and purpose of each writing style.

Writing Mini Lesson Ideas on Persuasive Words and Sentence Structure

Persuasive writing has a unique language that is effective for persuading the reader.  Persuasive words and sentences help the reader understand and connect with the topic.  They can make something seem wonderful or awful depending on the description used.  The sentence encourages the reader to think and compare both sides.  A quick Google search will help you find lots of persuasive words and sentence structure.  I like to check the images tab. 

Persuasive language can be really fun to teach, and it practices a lot of description.  You can have students discuss these in small groups, create a quick project, or debate both sides.  Here are a few ideas.

  • Sell a Product
  • Political Ads
  • Environmental Issues
  • Describe a Person
  • Describe a Book or TV Villain

Expanding Persuasive Thoughts Through Writing Mini Lesson Ideas

When a student is passionate about the topic they are writing about it can be easy for them to get stuck on a small portion of the topic.  They can only see their small point of view.  It’s important to teach students how to expand their ideas and thoughts, not just in writing class, but in life. 

Expanding ideas can simply mean that students give more detail and description in their writing to give the reader a clear picture.  It can also mean expanding their topic for greater examination.  The best way for students to do this is by researching thoroughly, but even after the research phase, students can have trouble letting go of their original idea.  Let’s look at how to do it.

  • Create a question starburst so students must dive deeper into research.
  • Small group discussions with people who agree.
  • Small group discussions with people who don’t agree.
  • Interview people who know or are impacted by the topic.
  • Make it a game where students get a topic, and each student has to come up with a question.  See if students can build questions from other people’s questions that dive deeper into the topic.
  • Make students answer the 5W’s for each reason.

Call to Action Persuasive Writing Mini Lesson Ideas

A call to action is a key component of persuasive writing.  Opinion writing is more about sharing the writer’s opinion.  Argumentative writing gives research and data to let the reader decide what is right using logic.  This means that Persuasive writing is where students will want to have a call to action, some argumentative writing might also be.

A call to action is what the writer is asking the reader to do about what they read.  They could ask the reader to do something, stop doing something, or take action beyond themselves.  Here are a few examples.

  • Recycle
  • Stop using plastic straws
  • Write a politician
  • Share the information so more people know

It’s great to be able to write so people will listen and believe you.  It’s incredible to write so people will change or get up and do something about it.  The best way to teach your students a call to action is to have them read some short articles about a topic.  Ask them which one made them want to do something. See if they can find a call to action in the writing.

Persuasive Conclusions Writing Mini Lesson Ideas

The conclusion of a persuasive paper has a standard formula in the academic world. It’s a bit predictable and boring to grade but it works especially as students are still learning persuasive writing.

1. Restate the Thesis

2. Summarize the Reasons

3. Remind the Reader Why They Care

4. Call to Action

5. Strong Closing Sentence

The best way to help students learn how to write a persuasive conclusion is to give them each other’s papers. Have students write the conclusion for 3 to 5 classmates.  This activity gives students lots of practice writing conclusions and it takes the emotion out of the final paragraph of their own writing. 

Sometimes we get too close to our writing and the conclusion is usually the place that suffers the most.  We know the material so well by that point that it is poorly done.  I love the idea of having students practice with their peers’ work.  They can also read the conclusions their peers wrote for them to see if they need to revise parts further or if it’s good.  They can borrow some ideas from the conclusions their peers wrote but should still write their conclusion.

Writing Mini Lesson Ideas Revising Persuasive Writing

Each lesson has allowed your students to revise their work.  They were guided through the entire process of writing a persuasive essay.  Writing can always get better though. 

Revision is when a writer makes sure their writing is clear to the reader.  All confusing or unnecessary parts have been fixed or removed.  But of course, our students’ ideas are clear to them.  Here’s how we can help them see their work better.

  • Peer Editing
  • Examine the Conclusions Their Peers Wrote
  • Fill Out a New Graphic Organizer to Check Their Work
  • Read it Out Loud

Writers should continuously revise their work.  It’s why our students hand in final drafts because there are always more improvements to be made.

Writing Mini Lesson Ideas for Editing Persuasive Essays

Editing is one of the most tedious steps of the writing process.  Fixing the grammar, spelling, punctuation, and capitalization can be overwhelming, especially for the students who need editing the most.  Here are a few ideas on how to edit.

  • Editing in Rounds – Students read the paper several times fixing only one thing each time. For example on the first student check only capitalization.
  • Peer Editing – Students have a peer read their work and give suggestions.
  • Students Read Their Own Paper to a Peer – Reading out loud helps everyone find more errors.
  • Rainbow Editing – Have several students edit each paper, but each student uses a different color and tries to find errors the last person didn’t.

Persuasive Writing Essay Dos and Don’ts

If you have any special rules or things you want students to do or avoid doing, then make it a small mini-lesson.  It’s great to have this at the end of the unit because you have been guiding them the whole time.  It’s almost a recap of what you think is most important and anything extra you want to add.  It’s hard for me to give a list of dos and don’ts because this will be completely different for every teacher.

Persuasive Writing Min Lesson Ideas and Passion

Passion is so important in persuasive writing because it’s easier to argue and persuade for something the writer believes in.  In school students often must write about particular topics, study history and science that the curriculum dictates, perform the pieces that the teacher chooses, or solve the problems laid out on that cute worksheet.  In persuasive writing, it’s important to truly let your students have a voice.  Let them choose the topics, their stance, the arguments, research, and counterpoints.  Let their passion and ideas fill the pages and your students will learn.

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 by 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.