11 Strategies For Getting Your Students To Write
As I do every afternoon, my Little Miss Nearly Two and I take our dog Buffy to the park for a run. Buffy is a border collie who loves to run and chase. My hubby takes Buffy and Miss Nearly Two in the morning and I do the afternoon shift. Meet Buffy below
Anyway, I digress . There’s a bit of a community in the park where we talk to all the other dog owners. The other day I was chatting with a lady who has 2 sons. One of the son’s is a bit of a reluctant writer and as this lady knows I’m a teacher she asked what strategies she could use to assist her son.
Below are 11 strategies you could use to help those reluctant writers, whether they’re the students you teach or for assisting your children.
1. Provide a list of writing prompts
Sometimes when you ask students to begin writing, they have no idea what to write about. I always liked to make time available during the week for my students to complete daily writing. I would provide them with a list of prompts (maybe 3-5 at a time) that they could use to help them begin their writing.
Check out my post, 31 Daily Writing Ideas To Help Kick Start Your Students Writing for some of the prompts that I have used.
2. Make a list
This follows on from the previous point. But rather than you providing the list, you get your students to create their own list/s. Provide a heading as the stimulus, then students jot down their thoughts on the topic. These can just be key words and short sentences that come to mind. These ideas can be used later as a platform for writing. Some examples of topics could be:
- Things I Like/Things I Dislike
- Places I’ve Been
- Favourite Sports
- Foods I Like/Foods I Dislike
3. Record your writing
Sometimes it’s much easier to orally share a story, idea, feelings and thoughts (rather than writing about these things). I have used a tape recorder for students to record their ideas. They have then listened to the recording and written down what was said.
4. Use a graphic organiser
Graphic organisers are a really good way to get students planning what they’re going to write before they actually begin the task of writing. Graphic organisers are a visual representation of the information they would like to include in their writing. Some examples include:
- Venn Diagram – These show relationships between 2 or more things. Venn diagrams are great for showing similarities and differences.
- T-Chart – Explores a topic with opposing views. Examples could include: likes/dislikes, before/after and advantages/disadvantages.
- Y-Chart – Explores a topic through 3 different senses. The most commonly used senses in the y-chart include: ‘looks like’, ‘sounds like’ and ‘feels like’. But you could also add: ‘smells like’ and ‘tastes like’.
- KWL – A way to record student’s knowledge on a topic before you begin and at the end of the topic. K-what students KNOW, W-what students WANT to know and L-what students LEARNED.
- PMI – Used to record different views. P-Plus, M-Minus, I-Interesting. This organiser can be used by students when giving feedback to other students about their work.
5. Pass it on
This is an activity you can use in small groups. It is best to use a template for this to guide how much students write. Each student has a turn to write an introduction. They then pass this on to the next student in the circle. He/she reads the introduction and then writes the middle of the text. Finally with the last pass around the circle, each student reads the introduction and middle and then writes a conclusion. The writing is passed back to the original writer to read and share with the group.
6. Proofreading and editing
Once students have finished writing it is always important to go back through the text to proofread and edit. Some students find this particularly difficult as they have spent a great deal of effort just putting their ideas down on the paper.
I find that it is good to break this down into smaller chunks. Firstly, you may want students to focus just on possible spelling mistakes. Using a highlighter, students can go through and highlight the words that they think are spelled incorrectly. Once students have edited the spelling, you may focus on punctuation. Sometimes by breaking a task down into manageable chunks, students can have more success.
7. Use a word processor and spellchecker
Allow students to type their writing in a word processor (such as Microsoft Word). Teach students how to use the spell checker and grammar checker to assist in editing the writing.
8. Rapid/Rocket writing
The idea behind this is to get students to write down as much information as they can on a topic in a given time, without focusing on fixing spelling, grammar or other mistakes. Provide students with a time limit (such as 5 minutes). This could be the beginning of a series of lessons where you then focus on different parts of the rapid writing, such as cohesion, spelling, punctuation and grammar.
9. Use a framework
Provide students with a framework for their writing, which can be used as a first form of a draft. This is a guided approach that assists in students organising their ideas. Frameworks for different forms of writing could include: recount, report, narrative, explanation and procedure.
10. Visual representation
Depending on the type of writing you are completing, you could get your students to first draw or paint a picture of the idea. This could then be expanded on to write a description of the drawing.
11. Make it purposeful
I have been guilty of this….don’t just set a writing task for your students and not provide a real life context. If you’re looking at how to write a letter, then actually write a letter and send it to someone. If you’re teaching about narratives, why not write a children’s story, publish it and then take it to read to younger students. If you’re learning about how to write a procedure why not make something and then write the procedure for it.
I hope this list has been helpful and given you a few new ideas on how you can get your students writing. What strategies do you use to get your students to write? Please share your comments and thoughts below
Photo Courtesy: Kain Kalju