Writing is such an essential skill in life, but I feel like it is often one of the most neglected subjects in schools. I think this is in a large part due to students' aversion to writing. I don't know about you, but for my students, writing was a tough subject. It was often like pulling teeth. But, when I made some changes to how I ran my writing block, it became the favorite part of the day for some of my students. So, if you find that your students (or even you) are dreading writing block, try some of these ideas.
Establish a routine of writing
This seems simple, but I know teachers who thought of writing block as the period they didn't really have to plan much for or as a lesson they could leave out if they were pressed for time. I am guilty of this myself. But, establishing a routine of writing in your class is one of the best things you can do to help your students love it.
Students become writers by actually writing. They need the practice. So, expect your students to write regularly, and plan the time for them to do so! The more they practice, the easier writing will become for them. When writing starts to come more naturally, they will enjoy doing it more.
Writing can be applied to any subject, so use this to your advantage. Have your students write not just during the writing block, but during reading, math, and science block. Have them write about how they solved a problem, or what they observed in an experiment. Have them write about their thoughts on a book or an issue in the news. It is easy to integrate, and it will help your students to see the importance of writing.
Help them see their growth
Writing can be a difficult subject to track growth in, but it is vital for the students to see that they improve. Have the students produce a writing piece at the beginning of the year and use this to show growth in the future writing that they do. Hold regular writing conferences with your students and give them positive feedback. Point out the things they have improved on since the beginning of the year. You can even pull out that first writing sample they wrote and show them how they have grown. This much needed encouragement will give your students the motivation to keep writing.
Play to their interests
Knowing your students and their interests is important not only for building a close classroom community, but also for helping your students to learn. When students are motivated, their reception of the content skyrockets. Let your students write about things that interest them. You can assign topics to the whole class that involve a general interest of the class, or you can have the students perform more self-directed writing tasks.
Reading and writing are intertwined, and when a love of one is developed, a love of the other often follows. The more they read, the more ideas they have to write about. Reading also shows your students how writing should look, so as they read more, the skills will transfer over to their writing.
Carefully choose mentor texts
Mentor texts can be a great tool for developing writing skills in your students, so thoughtfully choose them. The mentor text should not only be well-written and exhibit the writing skill or concept you are teaching, but it should also be engaging. Choose something goofy or funny every once in awhile. Show students that writing can be fun! Giving students an example that they want to work towards will give them something to aspire to.
Let them be creative
Kids are so creative, but they are also so impressionable. It is critical that you help your students to grow their creativity and not to lose it, because if they lose it now, it will be so much harder for them to get it back. Having overly structured writing time can impede this creativity. Give your students time to be creative and write what they want. Maybe this means starting each writing period with a short free write to get your students thinking, or maybe it means giving wacky prompts.
Picture prompts are one fun way to get your students thinking originally. Simply show the students a picture; the more random or uncertain the better. Have them write about it and see what they come up with. Your students will never cease to surprise you.
Another fun activity to encourage creativity is word dump. This will keep your students from saying, "I don't know what to write," or "I can't think of anything!" Have your students pull out their writing journals. You can have them write about a topic you are working on, or you can leave it up to them. Set a timer and have them write for the whole time. During this time they can't stop writing. They write whatever comes to their mind. Remind students that this is just to help them get ideas. It doesn't need to be perfect, in fact, it isn't supposed to be. Once the timer goes off, they put down their pencils. Your students will have written a rough draft without even knowing it. Now, this will be a very rough draft, and a lot of it will probably even get scrapped, but there will be ideas in there that your students can use to fuel their writing.
Provide time for them to share their writing
Sharing is one of the most forgotten steps of the writing process. Along with publishing your work, comes sharing it with others, yet we often neglect to let our students do so. Allowing your students to share their writing with others will help them to take ownership for their work, and if you establish a supportive classroom community, it will help them to keep writing.
Make sure that the expectations for sharing are clear, though. Your students need to know that when people share their work, it is not a time to make fun of them for their writing, it is a time to encourage them and compliment them for what they did well.
Don't force your students to share their work. If you consistently give your students time to share their work, eventually even some of your shy students will want to share. When I regularly provided time for my students to share their writing, it became their favorite part of writing.
Writing can be hard for students, but it can also be hard for teachers. I know that some of you don't feel like you write well, so teaching it is even worse. But, as you invest the time in planning your writing time and acting excited about writing to help your students love it, you will also grow a love for it.
Teachers, I know that you have plenty of great ideas, so tell me, how do you instill a love of writing in your students?
Hi! I'm Mackenzie. Teacher, wife, and Washingtonian. Check out my blog to get ideas and products for your class.
© Mackenzie Allen 2016.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.