Engaging Writing Lessons for Reluctant Writers
January 23, 2021
Let's face it...classrooms are often filled with reluctant writers. (And if we're being really honest, reluctant teachers of writing). For many students (and teachers) writing is intimidating and often paralyzing.
It makes sense. There's no real formula for "good" writing. There's no equation for putting together an excellent written piece. The pure openness of writing is often what makes it so overwhelming. Students struggle with where to begin and often where to end, and many times, teachers are right there with their students. Teachers also wonder where to begin and where to end their writing instruction. That's why I'm sharing 5 easy ways to help students love writing.
Check out my tried and true ways to make writing FUN. Yes, fun!
Just like everything else in life, the more we work at something the better we get....and the better we get at something the more fun we have! So, it's essential to find lots of ways to get students writing. If we want it to feel fun, then providing students with opportunities to take chances and be creative is the way to go.
I've found that providing a range of writing tasks, lessons, and units keeps writing interesting for students. The variety also gives students more chances to feel successful.
If you're looking for fun ways to get students writing often, you can...
Teaching students about each genre of writing is essential. The best way that I've found to do this is through focused units. When students progress through a structured writing unit that takes them step-by-step through the writing process, they have great success. However, here's the most important part: do NOT make these units excessively long. I've worked with well-meaning teachers who had students writing a personal narrative for a month (or longer). Yikes! Can you imagine how exhausting and boring that must be for students? I've found that the sweet spot for writing units is 2 weeks. Yes...just two weeks from the introduction of the genre to students sharing their work with one another.
There are many benefits to concise and focused units:
- --- Students stay engaged throughout the unit.
- --- Shorter units mean that more units on different genres can be taught all year.
- --- Students have more opportunities to share their writing.
- --- Students grow as a community of writers.
Along with focused (and fairly short) writing units, I've found that mini-lessons are extremely powerful in writing instruction. Rather than overwhelming students with a multitude of things they need to do well while writing, it's much more powerful to select one or two components for students to work on with their writing.
Mini-lessons make writing fun because they make writing more approachable. Students can learn one specific element of writing without feeling like they need to get everything right. I've found that writing mini-lessons help students feel more successful, and that's always fun!
You can use mini-lessons:
- --- During a focused writing unit.
- --- As an introduction or extension to a creative writing lesson.
- --- Along with a piece of literature.
- --- With individual students to address a specific skill.
- --- During writing workshop.
It's true...one of the best ways to make writing more fun is to celebrate reading. Great readers make great writers. I've found that setting aside time to read aloud to students (like during their daily warm-ups), is a wonderful way to talk about writing and what writers do. For instance, while reading a book out loud, I might pause and say, "Wow! Did you all hear that metaphor? So cool!" Making it casual and low-pressure helps students begin to appreciate writing. When they become consumers of great writing, they too become stronger writers.
Some of my favorite books to read out loud to big kids are:
Choices are key to making any task more fun...especially writing. Since writing is often based on one's own experiences and not everyone has the same experiences, giving students choices about what they write about is so important. When students can decide to respond to a prompt that they connect with, the task is instantly more fun.
I like to provide students choices with...
- --- This or That Writing Prompts - This set of 101 prompts lets students decide what they'd like to respond to.
- --- Choice Boards - Writing choice boards like the one is this FREE download are a perfect way to give students choice.
- --- Silly Response Ideas - Give students a choice regarding HOW they respond to a prompt. For instance, they might want to write their response behind their back or on top of their head.
I hope you've found a few ideas to add to your own writing instruction. If you're looking for ways to get students excited about sharing all their writing, check out this idea for hosting a literacy café.
Thanks for stopping by,
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