Wednesday, April 27, 2016

"W" is for Writing: 10 Ways to Get Your Students to Enjoy Writing -- The "A, B, C"s for Christian Schools; 26 Topics We Have the Opportunity to Teach Our Students

Writing should be an enjoyable, fun activity -- not a boring, dreadful task that we must do because the book says we must do it.
Here are ten ways I try to make writing fun for my students.
(This was actually a senior's journal page which he had written and then "published".)

 1.  The purpose of writing in journals is not to work on our spelling or grammar-- we do lots of that, but not here.  Our journals are just for writing, and sometimes when the ideas and thoughts are flowing we leave out an "i" or a comma.  That's okay; journal writing is precisely for focusing on getting those ideas to flow and getting them down on paper.  If they write; they get an "A".  (For the younger students I require at least three sentences for third graders, four for fourth graders, etc.)  

2.  By using these composition notebooks for our journals,  the students have their own little book that they've written at the end of the year.   I usually have my students write something in their journals every day.  

3.  We decoupage our journal covers to make them personalized and original.
4.  I often give them easy topics that are not too tedious, such as "describe your favorite meal" or "who is your closest friend and why?" This really helps get the process started and takes away the fear of writing that some students have, unfortunately. 

5.  After a good discussion in history or science, we will write about that.  ("If you were Nory and your family was hungry during the Potato Famine, what would you do to find food to eat?")

6.  Every Friday I give them a fun assignment (often something from Wreck This Journal) like "outline your foot on this page and decorate it" or "tear this page into something interesting".  

7.  I read them passages I've written, or letters I get from former students, or a well-written article I've found so that they can hear others' writing and be inspired (hopefully). 

8.  Every day I read good literature to my students -- usually books which correspond with whatever topic we are studying in history.   My hopes are that listening to good writing will become somewhat internalized and will then appear, in some form or other, on the pages of their journals.  

9.  Every Wednesday I allow them to get an encyclopedia and write and draw about anything interesting they may find in there.  They love this and will ask to do it more often.  

10.  At the end of every quarter we have a "Writer's Circle" instead of English class.  I make coffee cake and hot chocolate, then we all grab our journals (myself included) and sit and read to each other out loud from our journals.  The day or so before this we put sticky notes on our best entries.  (I also put a large "*" on any entries I think are especially good throughout the quarter as I am reading them.)