Remember when your elementary school child brought home an acrostic poem assignment? You might have helped them complete it for homework. With their first name as the poem’s title, each letter of their name described a quality or an interest unique to them. When sharing the poem, you had probably thought it was clever, cute, and sweet, and rightfully so! Originality and following rubrics are required for writing assignments; however, equally as important is practicing the six steps of good writing: brainstorm, pre-write, draft, revise, edit, and proofread. These six steps of the writing process are required, but many students forget or avoid using them and instead, they begin with the third step – drafting -- overlooking the first two steps as well as the last three. They draft once and say, “I’m done!” Here’s how to correct this error.

To help students easily remember and implement the six writing steps, I tell them to use a memory device or acronym that is similar to an acrostic poem, because its first letters stand for key words. Using an acronym can lead to higher scores on tests, homework, and classroom assignments. To help your student remember the six writing steps at home, here’s a nifty acronym to write vertically on a piece of printer paper: B-GO-DREP

Brainstorm

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Graphic Organizer (Pre-write)

Draft

Revise

Edit

Proofread

Attach the paper to a magnetic whiteboard or a bulletin board mounted on the wall above your student’s desk at home. They will read the acronym B-GO-DREP while working on an assignment and use it to achieve a better grade. You can also write it directly on a whiteboard. Your student should read it daily so they can memorize what it stands for.

Using a web to brainstorm and a graphic organizer to pre-write are the building blocks of a well-organized draft. They are the solid foundation for a strong, well-built house.

Pre-writing organizes the topics, sub-topics, examples, and supportive details.

Another acronym to help your students succeed is the phrase I CAN that stands for:

Completeness

Accuracy

Neatness

Students love to repeat this phrase I CAN because of its superpower effect on their determination, self-discipline and confidence. It’s a superhero formula! These three qualities of completeness, accuracy, and neatness are goals that students must continually strive to achieve with every assignment.

Before an assignment or test is handed in to the teacher, students must check that they’ve followed all the directions and that it’s complete (not incomplete); accuracy means correct information; neatness means the handwritten letters are well formed, readable, and without typos if digital.

Help your student remember what this acronym I CAN stands for in the following way:

On a large-sized index card or on a piece of printer paper, have your student write the acronym using colorful markers and attach it with a magnet to the refrigerator. Here it will be seen throughout the day and night. Most important is that you write the acronym I CAN vertically like this:

I

Complete

Accuracy

Neatness

You can also mount it to a white board or bulletin board above the student’s homework desk where they will read it during homework and study time.

Another familiar acronym students learn in elementary school is COPS, which stands for Capitalization, Organization, Punctuation, and Spelling. Students must execute COPS before handing in their work.

To summarize, visual reminders are one of the best methods to help students practice new lessons, study, and commit essential information to long-term memory. Acronyms are powerful visual tools to achieve these goals. Use them and soon your student will be smiling and saying, “I CAN!”

If you’ve enjoyed reading this article and have any questions, please email them plus any comments and feedback to: emilykbenjamin@gmail.com