5 Easy Ways to Improve
Ever feel like you are on a hamster wheel with your students’ writing? You have the students writing, you have the students revising, editing and publishing, but you aren’t seeing much growth in their writing? To be fair, writing instruction is tough. The reality is each individual writer in your classroom needs different instruction to improve, making the task a little daunting, but don’t worry, there are plenty of easy ways to improve writing instruction. These are simple ways to improve your writing instruction right now, today! Keep reading for 5 easy strategies to get your students making strides in their writing all year long!
1. Read, Read, and Read Some More
Believe it or not, reading makes better writing. This simple idea can make all the difference in a student’s writing. When we read, we notice the author’s craft, language, punctuation, vocabulary, and so much more. The more we read, the more we start to emulate the authors we love and become better writers because of it.
Now some of our students are young, so reading aloud is perfect. Modeling as you read aloud to the students to explicitly point out craft and language is huge for students. Point out how the author uses descriptive words and how the authors’ words flow in sentences or how the words make us feel. Challenge students to become like their favorite author in their writing. When students are given a specific focus for writing, it becomes less of a scary process.
Choice is incredibly important when it comes to writing instruction. Children need to be able to write about what they know. Most famous authors do the same! Think about how many authors write about people they have met or places they have been! Share that information with students so their choice can drive their writing. Students can write about vacations, or their favorite foods. Let them tell you all about their weekend or why baseball is better than football. Choice is motivation.
Choice doesn’t only have to be in terms of topics. It can also be a choice in the format they choose to write in. Every student in your room will cringe when you say the word, “essay,” so avoid that word and give choice. Allow them to write a children’s book for their friends. Give options for poetry or Google Slides. Allow students to draw illustrations along with their writing, especially our young ones. The more we peak the interests of students with choice, the easier the process becomes for our little scholars!
3. Time is EVERYTHING!
Carve out a good chunk of time for students to just write. Use a journal, picture prompt, or free writing time to just get students writing! Students really need a solid 20-30 minutes of uninterrupted writing time to begin to get comfortable and confident in their ability to write. If there is never a chance just to get ideas down on the paper, the students feel pressure and lose that motivation and confidence. If writing is always just responding to a question or a text, it takes the fun out of telling stories, and sharing what they love, so give the time to love writing! Time also allows for choice and works well with the workshop model. Time also allows you to conference with students or write beside them modeling what good writers do!
4. Feedback Builds Confidence
When students are given positive feedback, it only builds their confidence. Once the students feel proud of what they have done, they may want to improve it and seek out guidance on how to be a better writer. You know your students best. Choose the best path for feedback, but know it is incredibly powerful. Start small and give students one trait of writing to improve on. It may be as simple as capitalizing letters in the beginning of a sentence, or one sentence to add some descriptive words to make it pop. Overwhelming students with the red pen will most definitely lead them to see themselves as failures in writing. Once the students master one piece of feedback, give them another. Just remember, positive feedback is going to drive their motivation, and once the writing is flowing, you can only improve from there!
5. Ownership and Confidence is HUGE!
Our young students need to feel heard, seen and feel like they are in control once in a while. Writing is one of those times that they can be in the driver’s seat. When you combine the time, choice, and feedback, it will lead to the feeling of ownership and confidence! Once our little authors feel confident and feel a sense of ownership over their writing, they will soar!
Writing instruction isn’t always the easiest task, especially when you have reluctant young writers. Move away from the specific tasks and teaching just the strict process and provide that time to really grow as writers and the classroom will be beaming with pride. Take a deep breath and be confident that the students will become writers!