18 Smart Teaching Hacks to Excite Students About Writing
By the time students reach high school and beyond, they’ve often formed strong opinions about the value of writing. They like it or hate it; it’s “fun” or “boring”; they’re good at it or they “suck” at it. A motivated teacher can change these beliefs and shape students’ lifelong writing habits.
Read on for 18 ways to foster avid, enthusiastic writers in your classroom.
- Establish regular (non-evaluative) writing routines. Giving students daily opportunities to freewrite puts them at ease with the early stages of the writing process. It helps soothe anxiety—while letting them explore their unique voice. Everything improves with frequent, regular practice.
- Assign motivational texts. Have students read resources that give them an optimistic and empowering view of school and writing.
- Model the writing process. You also need to write frequently and often in the classroom. Show students the writing process from brainstorming to final draft—over and over. Show your love of writing.
- Use big ideas. Embed writing activities into academic content that’s interesting and relevant, and that asks big questions.
- Teach concepts in context. Instead of a unit on poetry, try embedding it into a “big idea” unit. Teach concepts as targeted mini-lessons.
- Re-teach concepts on the fly. Reinforce necessary concepts in quick recap sessions.
- Be a cheerleader. Praise improvement, no matter the writer’s level. Show enthusiasm for effort.
- Withhold judgment. Allow students to write about topics of interest, even if they seem “common” or “anti-intellectual.” Good writing can make any topic intellectual.
- Support students in showing themselves. Let students write about personal experiences without censorship. This shows you value their experiential knowledge. (You can, however, exercise discretion and sensitivity in the sharing of this material.)
- Urge students to share expertise. Encourage students to write about areas of competence. Expertise makes for passionate, informed writing, and enthusiasm often overcomes reluctance.
- Promote sharing. Inspire students to share their writing, in class and outside, on a variety of platforms.
- Enlist peer support. Use a system of positive peer support, encouragement, and feedback. Help your students help each other.
- Offer individualized attention. Meet individually with students to offer constructive feedback and strategies for improvement. If that feels overwhelming, streamline it by using feedback notebooks, electronic communications, office hours, etc.
- Read. Watch. Listen. Critique. Don’t rely just on writing to improve writing. Explore and evaluate other forms of the English language; the benefits are innumerable.
- Provide a comfortable space. Few people are comfortable for long when writing at desks, sitting still, being quiet. Make the classroom a dynamic space that inspires creativity.
- Be flexible. Offer various methods and let students choose the ones they like best. Suggest multiple ways of fulfilling assignment expectations.
- Use the spoken word. Have students speak aloud before writing. There are dictation apps to type as the student speaks, and cell phones record for easy playback.
- Promote the use of technology. Students use technology every day. Look for tools that support writing practice. Learn more from our recent post: "Level Up Your Humanities Classroom with Writing Technology."
Lastly, just have fun!
What are some tips and tricks you use to help motivate your reluctant writers?
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