Tips For Giving Elementary Students Effective Feedback on Writing

By Huntington Learning Center

It’s not easy to teach students to be great writers. Practice from grade-to-grade leads to continuous improvement, but one of the simplest ways you can help is by providing clear, useful writing feedback to students as they are developing their abilities. Here are a few suggestions on how to do so:  

Use a rubric. Rubrics are helpful for you and your students because they lay out your expectations for writing assignments and how you will grade them. This lets students know what you are looking for and takes the subjectivity out of your grading criteria. For example, your assignment might ask a student to write about a favorite activity. The rubric should show how students can earn points for essential components of their finished product, including:  

  • The main idea  
  • Organization (a clear beginning, middle and ending) 
  • Use of effective language  
  • Use of vocabulary 
  • Correct grammar  
  • Good sentence structure and correct writing conventions 
  • Flow and readability  

Reinforce best practices. As students move from grade to grade, writing assignments become more complex and difficult, yet many of the basics of good writing remain the same. Even with simple assignments, teach students how to approach writing the right way: step by step! Those steps are:  

  • Determining the purpose of the writing (e.g., giving an opinion, explaining something or sharing an experience or event) 
  • Planning what to write (and doing any research)
  • Creating an outline 
  • Writing a first draft that follows the outline 
  • Getting feedback from a teacher or classmate
  • Editing 
  • Revising
  • Editing again 
  • Proofreading
  • Finalizing 

Give examples of writing that has been edited. Once your students have a grasp on what you are looking for in a writing assignment, try a class activity where you show them examples of feedback on student writing (from a fictional student, of course). Ask them why they think you made certain suggestions to affirm their understanding of how the original writing example was improved by the edit.  

Provide opportunities for revision. Any time you grade a student’s writing, it’s important to give them the opportunity to revise their work based on your feedback. This will help your students reinforce their learning and improve their writing skills. If you’re using a rubric, make sure your students understand how you used it when giving feedback on student writing and how to edit specific parts of their work to improve it.  

Be encouraging. Young writers have a lot to learn, and it’s easy to get discouraged when receiving feedback from a teacher that only marks the mistakes. Students in elementary school are still learning the basics of writing structure and might even be struggling still with things like spelling and using correct grammar. As much as you can, focus on your overarching goal when offering writing feedback to students. Provide comments that encourage students to reflect on the effectiveness of their writing. Be specific with corrections so students know what they need to change. Focus on progress, not perfection.  

Do you have students who need help improving their writing? Huntington can help! We teach students the fundamental writing skills necessary to succeed in school. Refer parents to Huntington at 1-800 CAN LEARN to find out more about how we - can help students become strong, influential writers.