Power Up Writing in Your Classroom
Helping our students learn to write across the curriculum and across genres is a powerful way to provide lifelong skills. We want to give them confidence and the desire to write. But making the transformation from idea to composition can be intimidating to many students. So how can we make writing a fun learning experience? Powerful teaching strategies are the answer! Here are three things you can try tomorrow.
Sketch and Label
This strategy is a great springboard to get the creative juices flowing. First, have students sketch something memorable (their room at home, visiting a relative, going to a favorite park, a family gathering). Instruct them to draw the setting (note how this uses reading vocabulary) in as much detail as they can. Then ask them to label the picture with words and phrases (my overstuffed bookshelf, my pet guinea pig, orange blanket, etc.). Ask them to study the picture…what story do they want to tell about it? Students and use the words and phrases to help get the writing rolling!
Pair It Up
This strategy allows students to have fun with genres by using a classmate to write about the same topic, each focusing on a different genre. For example, a pair of students could be given the topic, “the Super Bowl.” Students then choose to write a short story using either nonfiction, fiction, or poetry. In the nonfiction story, they could write what might be a real story (such as a news report) about the football game. In the fiction version, they might give a football player a super power such as jumping over many other players. In the poem, they might select meaningful words about the competition to express ideas about the game. The students then compare how the same topic, but in different genres, changes how it was written. Start by practicing this approach with the whole class using a topic such as “my new shoes.” A shared writing lesson can demonstrate the fun this strategy provides in thinking about topics.
Share with students that persuasive writing is all around us! You can bring in advertisements, editorials from the newspaper, or search CommercialsforKids and choose some appropriate for your students. As a class, discuss what the commercial writer (or advertiser or editorial writer) used to persuade the viewer. This is a perfect place to double up on your literacy and content instruction. Then have students choose an informational content book (picture or chapter book) and write a “commercial” to convince other students to read it. You might even show a few movie trailers of age-appropriate movies to demonstrate how we entice the viewer, but don’t give away the best part!
Finding ways to have fun with writing will engage even the most resistant writers. Novel approaches, fun topics, peer support, and your excitement about writing will all help students become confident writers!