Students learning how to write formally often struggle and become overwhelmed with formulaic essay writing and incorporating all of the necessary components formal essays need. However, this foundation will ensure that they become sound writers in the future, across all content areas. Traditional checklists for editing and revising have been unsuccessful in my classroom, but I found this interactive checklist incredibly useful.
After instructing students on essay terms (into, claim, body, details, conclusion, etc.), and assigning them a formal essay, I have them complete this interactive self assessment, where they not only have to check items off the list (Do you have a claim?) but they also must locate different essay components on their own paper.
This activity works best when you collect this completed FIRST before the final copy is turned in, as the student who take this activity to heart will turn in papers that will have writing all over them-- as they will have located all of the necessary components within their own essay. I have also had students turn in two copies-- a clean copy of their paper for a grade, and then this checklist with items identified directly on their own paper for a separate grade, as it has been incredibly important and helpful in teaching students about writing.
This activity can be easily adapted to have younger students practice paragraph writing.