What does writing time look like in your classroom? Are your students feverishly writing page after page? That’s great! But if your students watch the clock and count down the minutes until writing is over, then it’s time to add a little fun to your writing block. Here are 8 simple ways to increase writing engagement in your classroom.
Allow Student Choice
Students have a voice, so give them the opportunity to put their ideas and stories onto paper. If you are always dictating what to write about, it sends a message that a student’s thoughts and ideas are not as valuable as yours. My writing block usually started with journal time. Students were free to write and draw about whatever came to mind. After journals we moved into working on a specific genre or writing assignment.
Use Books as Mentor Texts
You know I love any opportunity to share a good book, right? Many students get their story ideas from their everyday lives. Since books are filled with stories, they feed into a child’s imagination. This provides students with new writing ideas and opportunities to explore new genres. Kids love to write in a similar style to the authors they admire. So grab those books and use them to bring excitement into writing!
Introduce New Writing Materials
Even as an adult, I still love new school supplies. There is something so magical about using a freshly sharpened pencil and colorful pens. Guess what? Your students love new supplies, too! You can put out some fancy pencils, highlighters, and scented pens. Add some special writing paper with borders or postcards. Even blank Astrobrights paper is sure to grab their attention! My students also enjoyed using clipboards so they could work somewhere besides their desk.
Add Arts & Crafts
Adding a little bit of art can be a great motivator for kids. Sometimes it was as easy as having students draw and color an illustration to match their writing. Other times, my students created a craft to accompany their piece of writing, or their writing was included as part of the craft. Art and writing pair well together no matter what you choose. These crafts are perfect for the end of the year.
While many students need it to be quiet to focus, music can also help drown out the distractions. Look for songs that help relax your students and keep the volume low to encourage a more focused writing time.
Allow Peer Interactions
Writing does not have to be an independent task all the time. One year I had the chattiest group of second grade writers. Our writing block was right after lunch recess. They had the hardest time transitioning into journal writing. I decided to let them have a focused talk each day for the first 5 minutes after recess. They could tell their neighbor what they ate for lunch, what they did at recess, what their after school plans were, you name it! Once that 5 minutes was up, it was writing time. By allowing this social interaction, it actually increased their ability to focus afterward. Allowing your students to talk with their peers can also be used to brainstorm writing ideas and get feedback.
Share Their Writing
With the exception of a few, most kids love to share their writing. And those who are reluctant to write will have to write something in order to share. Sharing does not have to be done in the same way every day. Sharing might include reading to a partner, a stuffed animal, the whole class, or the principal. It might include putting writing on a bulletin board display or into a class book. You can even take a video of students reading their stories!
Be a Model
When a teacher is excited about writing, that excitement is contagious. Likewise, if a teacher dreads or avoids writing every day, the kids will begin to take on that perception, as well. Do I always feel 100% ready to write? No, and that’s normal. But, I still need to show my students how to work through those feelings and put my thoughts down on paper.
What are some of your favorite ways to increase writing engagement? I’d love to hear them!
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