Author's Oath: Writing Responsibility


I posted an image on Instagram recently and got a huge response that I wasn't expecting. 

We're all having the same problem, right? I'm glad it's not just me! 

If your students are anything like mine, they can tell you what makes a great sentence. They can tell you that it starts with a capital letter, ends with some type of punctuation, has correct spelling and neat handwriting... but they're not doing that in their own writing. 

So they have the knowledge, and they also have the application skills. If I ask them how their sentence is looking, they can quickly notice and correct their mistakes. 

Apparently, writing with correct conventions hasn't become a habit. I'm not sure if that's related to effort... or what. 

So my thought was that if it's related to effort and motivation, what can I do to make my students care more?

We talked about what it means to be an author and when we will need to use writing in real life (aka ALL THE TIME).

We also talked briefly about work ethic and how their work reflects back on them. I said something along the lines of, "You can tell me that a sentence needs to start with a capital letter. So if I'm hanging your work in the hallway and your sentences don't start with capital letters, what does that say about you and your work ethic?"

Lastly, we talked about the word oath, then we wrote our Author's Oath. 




After students signed the oath, I hung it up on my wall in plain sight. So now when we are working on writing, I constantly remind my students to remember their oath. If students are forgetting aspects of correct writing, I'll just ask them, "Are you following your author's oath?"

I've had a few teachers ask me if the oath is in my store or available anywhere for download. The answer to that is no, and it's not going to be, because you need to write the oath with your students. Kids aren't going to take the oath seriously - or take any responsibility or ownership - if it's someone else's words. They need to come up with it themselves.

Use my picture as a reference if you want, but don't show it to your students! It's only going to be meaningful to them if they create it themselves and feel that sense of ownership and responsibility. 

Hopefully it'll pay off for us!

If you're looking for some resources to help your students become better writers involving grammar, conventions, etc...

  • I use mentor sentences by Jivey and they're amazing! Mentor sentences make such a huge difference in my students' understanding of grammar and writing conventions. See them all here
  • Also, Kim Bearden does a great, interactive punctuation lesson about teaching students to be "Grammar Police." Such a fun way to practice punctuation with your students! See it here
  • I do have a resource of my own that has worked pretty well with my students. My "Missing Punctuation Paragraphs" are paragraphs that are missing punctuation. There are four different levels - involving various types of punctuation - and students have to figure out where to place punctuation and capital letters. You can read more about it on this blog post


Good luck - We've got this! 



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