Oh, WRITING! You squirrelly, beautiful beast, you! Haha! Don’t get me wrong…I personally LOVE to write, but teaching in elementary classrooms for many years has taught me that a lot of our sweet kiddos just don’t love it as much as I do.
Writing is usually very subjective and students can sometimes struggle to really dedicate the time and focus necessary to make it through the entire process, complete all those important steps, and publish great pieces. So, here are my 4 best tips for helping your young author stay engaged and focused as they continue to practice becoming great writers.
1. ADD IN ART
This is my favorite tip: add some artsy element to their final writing piece! Whether it’s a cute illustration for them to color on top, a craft to put together to attach to their final draft, or even the opportunity to illustrate their writing when they’ve completely finished, a little bit of art can be a great motivator for kids! I would definitely suggest making the art portion the reward for finishing their writing work, meaning they don’t get the opportunity to work on the artsy fun until they’ve completed the writing portion. Having the art part as the final step keeps them working hard to finish their writing in a timely fashion so they can get to the “fun stuff”. Great time management + completed writing assignments + artsy fun = happy students, happy teacher!
Offering your students some choices when it comes to their writing is a great way to help them feel a bit of control over their writing. Sometimes, you might have the freedom to offer your students the choice of what KIND of writing they want to work, such as narrative, expository, friendly letters, etc. But, most often, you’ll probably feel most comfortable sticking to the unit maps and giving your kids a choice about the TOPIC they write about within a certain type of writing.
Consider trying these ideas when giving students writing choices:
Use a writing choice board, like this one.
Allow them to bounce ideas off of a friend or small group and then decide on a topic they feel excited and inspired to write about.
Allowing students to simply pick their own topic whenever possible develops a sense of ownership and pride in them that will naturally motivate them to work hard on their writing pieces.
3. SMALL GOALS
Another way to help students stay focused is to give them a little bit of personal accountability and set small writing goals with them. Working with individuals or even small groups of students to set small goals to reach on their writing journey is a great way for you to do some informal progress monitoring while encouraging your students to use their time and brain power wisely. Knowing they will meet with you each Friday or every other day is an effective way to encourage kids to stay on task and complete their work in a timely manner.
I would structure small goal setting for writing like this:
Meet with each student (or small group) and decide on an attainable goal that they can meet by the time you’ve established that they will meet with you again (Example: You will have your outline for the beginning, middle, and end of your story completed by next Monday to earn a sticker on the chart.).
You AND the student will write down their goal somewhere memorable so they can remember it and you can easily check to see if they’ve met it when you meet again.
Remind students throughout the week to reread their goals and focus on working toward them so you can set a new goal together when you meet again.
Meet with each student (or small group) again at the designated time to review old goals and set new ones for the following week/days. Be prepared to give out LOTS of positive reinforcement to those kids who meet their goals, such as encouraging words, high fives, happy dances, or even stickers or starts on a chart. Kids usually LOVE this kind of attention!
P.s. You WILL have kids who don’t meet their goals each week. When that happens, it’s the perfect opportunity to meet with them individually to talk about why that goal wasn’t met and what they can change this week to meet the goal. Never putting any shame or guilt on a student for not reaching a goal, but encouraging them to change some behaviors to make sure they get there this week is a super teacher win. :)
Setting apart specific times to allow students to share their writing with their friends is a another way to motivate them to get that piece finished! There are a few ways to do this:
Allow students to read their writing piece to the whole class.
Give students the opportunity to read their completed writing to a few people they specifically like spending time with.
Set up opportunities for students to go read their writing to one specific person of their choice, like the principal, their teacher from last year, or an interventionist they totally love.
Some students may totally hate the idea of reading in front of the class, so allowing this idea of “sharing” their writing to be based on what they love and will feel comfortable with gives the opportunity for this strategy to be popular with every author!
And there you have it: my top four ways to make writing enjoyable for kids AND for you!
ADD IN ART
(Grab this freebie to get you started!)
Happy teaching, friends!
P.s. I love love LOVE hearing from you! In the comments below, let me know if any of these strategies motivated your young authors to write like rockstars. :)