Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Using Writing Checklists with Pictures

The newest version of Writing Pathways by Lucy Calkins is one of my favorite new resources, at this point, mostly for the new checklists with pictures. If you have any money left for professional resources, I recommend this one. It is $47 well spent. 

So, how have we been using these checklists? 

Many teachers are still using them throughout the units to help focus their teaching points, to remind students of goals they are working on, to challenge students to reach for higher levels, and to scaffold students to learn within their zones of proximal development.

One of our first-grade teachers took my suggestion of enlarging the checklist for first grade opinion writing and she made an anchor chart for her students. How great for her students to have their personal checklists match the anchor chart! The new checklists are divided into the components: structure, development, and conventions. While she made the anchor chart with just the structure skills, you could also make a chart of "Skills Writers Use to Elaborate" or "Conventions You Must Remember!" Because ALL grades now have pictures, these anchor charts could appear in higher grades, scaffolding ELL students and struggling readers. (Truth be told: we ALL like pictures more than print at times!)

In classrooms where I am coaching, I have starting using tripods at student work stations. That way, the charts and teaching points are closer to the students. I have made cards by cutting up the checklists. That way, when I confer with a student and he/she sets a goal, I can support that student with a visual reminder and I know that it is aligned to the grade level standards and coordinates with the unit's teaching points. 

I have made grade level sets of the checklists, coding the cards with the genre (N, I, and O), the grade level, and the category (S for structure, D for development, and C for conventions).

My biggest problem is that I keep leaving my cards behind with students when I am in their classrooms. 

I'd love to hear about other ways people are using the checklists. These are such powerful tools for getting students to develop independence and responsibility for their own learning!


  1. What great ideas. I especially like the tripods. I am supporting several teachers in using the Calkins Units of Study. The visuals look like they make the book worth buying. :)

  2. Thanks for sharing these practical strategies! I think both the anchor chart and the table tripods will help students with writing goals. Great ideas! Susan Verdi