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Check My Writing:

Original Lesson Plan


Original lesson plan, as written,  retrieved from the Ohio Department of Education web site  http://ims.ode.state.oh.us/ODE/IMS/Lessons/Content/Check_My_Writing.doc 


As originally written, this lesson plan addresses the following benchmarks, as determined for the state of Ohio:




Subject Area



Writing Processes



Writing Processes



Writing Processes



Writing Applications



Writing Conventions



Writing Conventions


Lesson Summary:   

Students learn to check and evaluate their letter writing skills using a checklist created during interactive writing sessions. The lesson provides students with criteria for good letter writing and serves as an evaluation tool for teachers and students.


Estimated Duration: Fifteen to 20 minute daily interactive writing sessions for approximately one week.

 Instructional Tip:

Add additional targeted skills to the completed checklist at any time. Some teachers may want their students to master one skill before moving on to the next. The duration of this lesson depends on the time students need to practice and incorporate the skills on the checklist into their own writing. 



·        Observe and take anecdotal notes as students engage in daily independent and interactive letter writing sessions.

·        Gather students’ writing samples (e.g., journals, notes to friends) as evidence of their knowledge of writing processes, applications and conventions.


Scoring Guidelines:

Take anecdotal notes and identify developing writing skills using checklist, Pre-/Post-Assessment, Attachment A. This checklist evaluates individual writing skills such as appropriate spacing, punctuation and capitalization.



·        Observe and record students’ growth in writing skills as they write daily letters.

·        Students use the checklist as a resource for identifying appropriate writing processes, applications and conventions.


Scoring Guidelines:

Use a version of the checklist generated in the classroom or use Pre-/Post-Assessment, Attachment A, to record students’ knowledge of writing processes, applications and conventions. This assessment records students’ writing skills growth. Gather student writing samples (e.g., journals, notes to friends) as evidence, if needed. 


Instructional Procedures:


Instructional Tip:

This lesson is appropriate for late in the year. Previous exposure to letter writing is important. Students check their daily letter writing by using a checklist. A daily letter is a short friendly letter written on chart paper or wipe-off board large enough for all students to see. The kindergarten lesson, Dear Kindergarten, contains additional instruction about daily letter writing.  See the following web site to access The Kindergarten Lesson and Dear Kindergarten


  1. Day One

  2. Display a letter to students.

  3. Read the letter with students.

  4. Tell students they are going to make a checklist. Define checklist as a list of skills good writers need to know when they write daily letters.

  5. Explain format of checklist. For example, “Our checklist will have boxes in front of the sentences so we can check them off,” or “Sometimes a checklist has numbers in front of all the sentences to make it easier to use.” 

  6. Refer to the letter and ask students to identify one thing a good letter writer remembers when writing the daily letter.

  7. Encourage students to respond in complete sentences. (As students start listing skills to include, allow for various responses. No specified order exists for the checklist.)

  8. Choose one student’s response to write as the first item on the checklist. Rephrase the answer, if needed, to encourage good sentence structure and to target specific indicators, such as the following:

·        Put punctuation at the end of your sentences.

·        Write capital letters at the beginning of your sentences.

·        Leave spaces between words.

·        Check to see if the message makes sense.

·        Put in all the parts of a letter.

  1. Lead students to repeat orally the skills so they take ownership of their learning and increase retention of the concepts.

  2. In an interactive writing session, write the sentence on large chart paper or on an interactive whiteboard with a LCD projector. “Share the pen” with students. Control difficulty of individual tasks by allowing students to participate according to their ability levels. Some students can write known letters or sounds; other students can write known words. Some students can supply punctuation or needed spacing. Lead the writing sessions with questions such as,

·        Where do we start writing?

·        Can you leave spaces with your eye, or do we need to use our hands?

·        What kinds of letters start sentences, capitals or lower case?

·        What do we need at the end of our sentences?

  1. Model appropriate writing behaviors until students begin to use them.  

  2. Reread the displayed sentence to practice reading behaviors that focus on appropriate meaning (e.g., Is the sentence the same one we said?) and structure (e.g., Does it make sense?).

  3. To reinforce reflective thinking, ask several students what they learned about being good writers. Use the checklist for the daily letter writing or other letter writing experiences immediately.


Day Two

Instructional Tip:

  1. Repeat this part until writing checklist is complete.

  2. Read the daily letter generated by teacher or student.

  3. Ask students to identify a different skill that good letter writers need; refer to the daily letter.

  4. Follow the procedures for interactive writing described in Day One. Focus each lesson on the skill introduced that day. The length of the checklist depends on the number of writing application and convention skills targeted.

  5. Reread the entire checklist and review its purpose for each new skill added (e.g., “We use this checklist to remember what good writers do. If we forget something, we can revise our letter—which means we can change or fix it.”). To promote application and retention of the skills, immediately use the most recently added skill from the checklist in daily letter or other letter writing experiences.


Instructional Tip:

Laminate the completed checklist and add boxes so the students can check their writing. Another option is to write the checklist in a yes/no format, so students can respond to each skill. Post the checklist in the room for reference when students write letters. Reproduce smaller versions of the checklist for use in the writing center or for individual students’ journals. Use the checklist as an assessment tool as well.



Day Three

  1. Ask students to refer to the checklist after sharing the daily letter with the class (e.g., Now students, let’s look at the good writers’ checklist and see if your friend remembered all the things we need to do when we write letters.).

  2. In a large group setting, identify the skills the writer used by checking a box or circling the number of the skill (e.g., Student Name remembered to use spaces. Can you find something else Student Name used on the checklist?).

  3. Celebrate the skills students recall with positive reinforcement like a quick clap or thumbs up.

  4. Prompt students to identify the skills that need revision. 

Instructional Tip:

Revision is difficult for students. Encourage writers to find the skills used correctly and those used incorrectly. Quickly revise the letter, or allow other students may share in the revision process. To maintain a safe, nurturing learning environment, remind students that revision is part of the writing process; it is not a punishment or an opportunity to find fault with or to make fun of others. 

  1. Model and ask several students to comment about how they used the checklist (e.g., Today, we helped Student Name remember to start a sentence with a capital letter. What else did our checklist help us revise?)

  2. Use positive comments to validate student responses about the use of the checklist.

 Differentiated Instructional Support:

  1. Instruction is differentiated according to learner needs, to help all learners either meet the intent of the specified indicator(s) or, if the indicator is already met, to advance beyond the specified indicator(s).

  2. Modify checklist for individual students who may not be ready for several writing skills. Focus on one or two particular skills at a time. Place the modified checklists in students’ journals or writing folders.

  3. Modify checklist for individual students, concentrating on advanced skills of writing. Include using additional punctuation marks or writing sentences that are more descriptive. Add skills to the checklists in the students’ journals or writing folders. 

  4. Use interactive writing so multiple levels of readers and writers can participate. Some students can write known letters/sounds or spaces and punctuation, while other students can write known words. Control the level of difficulty based on students’ knowledge of writing processes, applications and conventions.

  5.  Use checklist in whole group settings until students become familiar with self-assessment/evaluation. Some students may or may not be able to use the checklist independently. Assign checklist “buddies” to help peers evaluate their individual work (journals, writing center).


  1. Use the checklist to evaluate any letters written by or received by students.

  2. Explore various formats of letter writing.

  3. Create a checklist for the publishing/editing process.

  4. Create checklists for other forms of evaluation or accountability, such as morning routines, acceptable behavior or homework.

 Home Connections:

  1. Send letters from the classroom to families, community members and businesses. 

  2. Encourage families to write simple letters to friends and family at home with their children.

  Materials and Resources:

The inclusion of a specific resource in any lesson formulated by the Ohio Department of Education should not be interpreted as an endorsement of that particular resource, or any of its contents, by the Ohio Department of Education. The Ohio Department of Education does not endorse any particular resource.  The Web addresses listed are for a given site’s main page, therefore, it may be necessary to search within that site to find the specific information required for a given lesson. Please note that information published on the Internet changes over time, therefore the links provided may no longer contain the specific information related to a given lesson. Teachers are advised to preview all sites before using them with students.

 For the teacher:          chart paper, wipe off board, markers, interactive whiteboard with LCD projector, laminating materials (optional). 

For the students:         paper and writing utensils for writing letters, finished checklist hung in classroom, multiple copies of checklist placed in journals or in writing center. 


capital letter




 Technology Connection:

Use an interactive whiteboard with an LCD projector in place of chart paper for checklist. This allows for easier adaptations and variable sizing for other uses of the checklist.

 Research Connections:

Arter, Judith and Jay McTighe. Scoring Rubricsxe "Rubrics" in the Classroom: Using Performance Criteriaxe "Performance Criteria" for Assessing and Improving Student Performance. Thousand Oaks, CA:  Corwin Press, 2001.

An analytical trait rubricxe "analytical trait rubric" divides a product or performance into essential traits or dimensions so they can be judged separately—one analyzes a product or performance for essential traits. A separate score is provided for each trait.

A holistic rubricxe "Holistic rubrics" works best for the following:

  1. Judging simple products or performances.

  2. Getting a quick snapshot of the overall quality or achievement.

  3. Judging the impact of a product or performance.

Analytical rubrics XE "Analytical rubrics"  address some of the limitations of the holistic rubric. These manage to do the following:


  1. Judge complex performances involving several significant dimensions.

  2. xe "Analytical rubrics" Break performances into traits in order to more readily grasp the components of quality.

  3. Provide more specific feedback to students, parents and teachers.


Brent, Rebecca, & Patricia Anderson. “Developing Children’s Classroom Listening Strategies XE "Listening Strategies" .” The Reading Teacher. pp. 122-126.


Active Listening Strategies XE "Active Listening – Strategies"  such as watching the speaker, focusing to block distractions, visualizing, and taking notes are all useful to children as they work to improve their listening abilities


Calkins, L. M. “When Children Want to Punctuate: Basic Skills Belong in Context.” Language Arts, 57, (1980): 567-73.


Decades of research demonstrate that teaching grammar as a school subject does not improve most students' writing, or even the "correctness" of their writing. What works better is teaching selected aspects of grammar (including sentence variety and style, punctuation, and usage) in the context of students' writing—that is, when they are revising and editing their writing.


For improving editing skills, it is most effective and efficient to teach only the grammatical concepts that are critically needed for editing writing and to teach these concepts and their terms through mini-lessons and writing conferences, particularly while helping students edit their writing.


Clarke, L. K. “Invented Versus Traditional Spelling XE "Invented versus traditional spelling"  XE "Invented versus traditional spelling" \t "See invented spelling"  in First Graders' Writings: Effects on Learning to Spell and Read.” Research in the Teaching of English, 22 (2000): 281-309.


Children who are encouraged to spell words as best they can when they write typically score as well or better on standardized tests of spelling by the end of first grade than children allowed to use only correct spellings in first drafts. Meanwhile, the children encouraged to spell by writing the sounds they hear in words seem to develop word recognition and phonics skills sooner. They also use a greater variety of words in their writing.


Daniels, Harvey, and Marilyn Bizar. Methods That Matter: Six Structures for Best Practice Classrooms. Portland, Maine: Stenhouse Publishers, 2000.


Authentic experiences XE "Authentic experiences"  help students develop real-world knowledge and skills and apply their learning in ways that prepare them for careers and lives beyond school.


Lave, John, and Etienne Wenger. Situated Learning XE "Situated Learning" : Legitimate Peripheral Participation. Cambridge, UK:  Cambridge University Express, 1990.


Learning as it normally occurs is a function of the activity, context XE "context"  and culture XE "culture"  in which it occurs or is situated. Social interaction XE "Social interaction"  is a critical component of situated learning—learners become involved in a “community of practice XE "community of practice" ” which embodies certain beliefs and behaviors to be acquired. As beginners or newcomers move from the periphery of this community to its center, they become more active and engaged within the culture and hence assume the role of expert. Situational learning XE "Situational learning"  is usually unintentional rather than deliberate. 


General Tip:

Gradually introduce the daily letter routine to the students. First, model the procedures and thinking processes to prepare students to take over themselves. As more students become ready to write the letter, become an observer/recorder/facilitator in the activity.