Writing-a learning adventure

I’ve had many teachers ask how I am able to motivate students to write.  The answer?   I love to write.

Think back to your favorite teachers.  What did you enjoy most about his/her class?  Chances are, it was the part or subject your teacher loved teaching the most.  That topic or part of the day the teacher was most passionate about teaching.  It’s contagious.

For me, it is writing.  Writing is challenging and fun.  When students are allowed to choose their own topics and take chances, the classroom is filled with excitement–I call it a learning adventure.

Here are a few thoughts on writing with children.

  • Students have a choice, giving ownership to the writer.

The first couple of weeks of a school year, work hard to explore writing ideas with your students.  Create charts, timelines, and other items they can keep in their notebooks for future reference.  This sets them up for success.  Throughout the year provide more of these ideas (maybe seasonal or thematic) so that there’s always a pool of ideas available.

However, allow them to write on the topics they choose.  Remember, these are just IDEAS–it is crucial for the writer to find ownership of his/her own writing.  Who wants to write about something she doesn’t even care about? 

For me, read-alouds provide plenty of ideas throughout the year that kids can add to their many other choices of writing topics.

  • Write everyday

Set aside time everyday to write.  Create a “workshop” feel to your classroom so that students feel productive.  They may be writing in notebooks or using other resources to check spelling or facts.  They may be peer-editing or conferencing with the teacher.  A daily scheduled writing time conveys the message that this time is important to our learning process.

  • Maintain Structure

Walking into a room to find kids all over the place may seem unorganized.  However, as you begin to listen and observe a well-organized workshop, you’ll find everyone has a task and they are working to complete it. 

As you conference, notice where kids need help.  Certain grammar skill?  Trouble using dictionaries or research tools?  There’s your next lesson plan. 

As you conference, you’ll discover writing styles–strengths and weaknesses, who’s writing just for quantity instead of quality–who loves to write jokes and who loves his pet hamster.  During these workshops, your job is to observe and guide. 

  • Write Yourself

My kids fell in love with writing because I already loved it.  Write with your students.  Share notebook entries, your latest rough draft, or an excerpt from a favorite author that inspired your own writing.  Modeling writing is the key to success.

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