JANUARY 29, 2020
Easy Ways to Rebuild Writing Enthusiasm
Sponsored post by Time4Writing.com
Anxiety and avoidance of writing are common for students (and even for many adults). Students returning from break may be even more reluctant to start writing lessons again. You may need to ease students back into more traditional academic writing by starting with less traditional writing experiences. During these times, students may need shorter, more open-ended writing opportunities that ignite their creativity. After all, a sentence is a sentence! Here are some ideas to just get them writing again:
Making Writing Topics More Fun
While all writing doesn’t have to be “fun,” students do need to have experiences with writing that they enjoy. They need to know that writing has many purposes and that some can even be the basis for hobbies. Once their exciting ideas are written down, then students can focus on revising.
- Silly Writing Prompts: Providing silly writing prompts may seem elementary (in both senses of the word), but middle schoolers may also get into writing about what it would be like to have four arms or a pet dragon-cat. Allowing them to use humor and their imaginations is motivating for students (and reading their work is enjoyable for everyone else as well!).
- Unusual Story Elements: Challenging students to write stories containing unusual elements can be fun and a great way to work on the connection of thoughts. Lists can be made and tied to rolls of a die (e.g., 1=pink elephant, 2=magic pen). While late elementary and middle school students can write stories based on their rolls, early elementary students can practice pre-writing skills by verbally connecting two or three of the items in a story. For older students, writing experiences can be designed that require elements based on the senses (i.e., the feel of seaweed or the smell of gym socks). Activities like these can help develop flexible thinking in addition to writing skills.
Letting Students Write about What They Know
It can be good to encourage your students to write outside of their comfort zones, but right after a break might not be a good time to push those boundaries.
- Description: Students can practice writing skills and improve their use of adjectives by describing the settings and characters they know. Elementary students can write about a favorite toy, while middle and high schoolers can describe sports heroes or video game environments. Once their ideas are on the page, students can then be asked to find the most specific words they can in order to really bring their descriptions alive.
- Expansion: Students can also build on the books, movies, and video games they explore when on their own. Elementary students and middle schoolers can write alternate endings to cartoons or movies; while high school students can be pushed to write more developed fan fiction that merges their own ideas with the characters, settings, and plots of established books, movies, or video games.
Helping Students Learn about Themselves
Students are also more motivated to do those things that seem relevant to them. Brief writing exercises can be designed that can be a mechanism to help your students learn about themselves and a way to help them learn important life skills while practicing writing skills.
- Goal Setting: Even fairly young students can begin to learn SMART goal setting by teaching them about the components of good goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant/Realistic, and Time-Bound) and then working with them to write goals for themselves. As it is the beginning of a new year, the exercise is timely; but it also allows for brief writing practice that can target word choice. Elementary students can focus on the writing of a sentence while middle and high school students can expand their goals to include how they plan to achieve them.
- Journaling: Students can also learn the benefit of journaling by writing short segments daily. Reflecting on one’s experiences and thoughts through journaling can have many personal rewards. Of significance here is the consistent practice of writing. Young students can focus on retelling what they did during the weekend or the previous day (which they love to share) while middle and high school students can be asked to reflect more deeply.
Opening Up the Possibilities
When students are reluctant to write is when flexibility is most important. Providing choices can be the single most important change to writing lessons when students are reluctant. Students are more motivated when they can choose topics, but they can also be challenged to write from different perspectives (e.g., as a pet dog, a teacher, or a tree in the park), write to new audiences (e.g., their parents, a friend, a superhero), or write in alternate formats (e.g., a script for a video, a memo, or a rap song).
Once your students get over that initial writing hump after break, more academic topics and skill practice can be reintroduced. Remember that Time4Writing offers a variety of online courses for every grade level to help bolster writing skills, and don’t forget to throw in a creative and fun writing experience every so often to keep writing lessons engaging!
Time4Writing offers 8-week online writing courses for students in elementary, middle, and high school. Each interactive course is led by a certified writing teacher who gives prompt and personalized feedback on all assignments. Courses can be accessed 24/7 from any device with an internet connection and come with a 14-day money-back guarantee.