I was supposed to be in Cheboygan, MI this month talking to students about writing, but schedules being unruly beasts, I’m not able to be there. Instead, here is a bullet point list of ideas to do with students to encourage them to write.
* End the School Day with Journal Writing
At the end of a school day, each child has endured an adventure, solved the mystery of science, experienced a horror in the lunch room, felt the sting of bullying… the list goes on. Give them time to write about their day. What did they learn? What would they like to forget? What was the highlight of the day? Ten minutes a day of dumping their thoughts on paper could safe a life. I don’t believe I’m stretching the truth there.
* When the students write, so does the Teacher
Model the behavior you want from the students. Are you a homeschooling parent? Do the same.
* Read what you wrote to the class
If the subject matter isn’t entirely private in nature, share what you wrote. Make sure it is light hearted. Although, if there was a difficult moment of the day, write about that, but end it with a VERY positive tone. Modeling positive thinking is good thing!
* There are times to correct grammar and times to just read
Think about it – if every time you spoke someone corrected you, how long would it take before you stopped talking altogether? Imagine a child at a dance being told he was dancing wrong…that’s a wallflower in the making. Sometimes writing is just writing – horrible spelling, grammar, and dialogue and all! The voice can’t always express the heart. That’s the power of art in therapy. Writing can be therapy too, but not if the teacher marks up a student’s heart with the sharp end of a red pen.
* Give students time to share
If you were to look at the notes of a popular public speaker, it’s likely there would be errors. But in public speaking, the notes are not graded, just the delivery. If you have a student who is not a good writer, they are likely a good speaker. Given them an audience. Don’t have time to sit and listen to one student? Give them a video recorder/digital recorder and let them run with it. You’ll be amazed with the growth in that student!
* Share good sentences
When I was a teacher, I made the horrible mistake of reading a student’s work as the ‘bad example’. Yeah, I know – horrible! Never ever read a students entire paper to a class, even if it’s the good example. Instead, pull several well-written sentences from several students papers and post them on a bulletin board (refrigerator for homeschoolers). Even a weak writer can have a great sentence. This boosts self-esteem and will result in stronger writers.
Writing and Editing with Students
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