Regardless of what grade level you teach, writing is a struggle for some, if not many of our students. Some students struggle with forming an idea. Others struggle with writing a thesis statement. Whether it is creatively writing or elaborating on their thinking, students find writing to be challenging. How can you make writing more engaging?
Many students find themselves not enjoying writing. As teachers, we never want writing to become daunting and arduous. Our students often feel uncomfortable writing, especially if they are writing about personal experiences; then, add the creative, imaginative aspect. This equates to writer’s block and resistance of not wanting to write.
I wanted to share with you some very insightful blog posts and sites that can help you effectively make writing more engaging in your classroom. These blog posts and sites can also help the writing process become a little less painful and bring more engaging ideas and activities to help foster this art.
Know Your Writers
This is probably one of the most important lessons I have learned as an ELA teacher over my 19 years of teaching. First and foremost, knowing your writers is like knowing your readers. You have to be aware of the types of writing your students like to write, or they won’t be interested. Sometimes, our students do not have a choice when it comes what type of writing they have to write, but when there are no time constraints and your students have the opportunity to write creatively, this is where choice and writer identity becomes very important. Check out this blog post, Fostering the Writing Identities of Teens in ELA Classrooms.
Learning what type of readers and writers your students are, has the capability of of creating an environments your students are more interested in, as well as learning and exploring.
Paraphrasing & Summarizing
1. Summarizing-Teaching students to summarize a story, novel or chapter is not easy, and they often struggle with this skill. I have used the 25-Words and Done strategy, where the students have to keep their summaries to 25 words or less, but I really LOVE the One Word Summary Activity. from the blog, ELA Brave and True. I can’t wait to try this out!
2. Paraphrasing-Paraphrasing is a skill our students REALLY find difficult. They have a hard time trying to take an idea or author’s words and put it in their own words. Often, they unintentionally end up copying the idea. I have tried the “Trash and Treasure Words” approach; however, Edutopia has a fantastic blog post regarding paraphrasing, and they link a variety of helpful sites that can really help you foster lessons that will help your students correctly paraphrase. I really also love the Academic Phrasebank, and this can be so useful in the classroom to help your students organize their thoughts.
Descriptive & Creative Writing
Are you working on descriptive and creative writing in your classroom? Finding the perfect writing prompts for your students is key, and engaging them in this type of writing involves some searching to find intriguing prompts and ideas.
Here is a wonderful blog post, Descriptive Writing-Strategies for Teaching by Teaching in Room 213. I am also going to include one of my former blog posts, The Art of Creative Writing (Especially for Your Boys). This blog post will link you to some amazing sites with unbelievable writing prompts. Your students will be highly engaged!
Argument & Persuasive Writing
This category of writing is probably the most common one we teach because it is one of the major writing Common Core/New Generation writing standards. Finding interesting articles and activities to peak your students’ interests in writing for argument, can be challenging at times. We want to find a topic that provokes discussion and debate. I found a few resources and websites I think will help you in your classroom when teaching argument writing!
First, check out Common Sense Education. They link to other websites who provide some great activities for your students to help them with their argument writing. Secondly, the New York Times provides some awesome argument writing prompts for students, and the website links to different articles the teacher can use to help introduce the topic.
If you are looking for some new material on how to teach argument writing, check out Cult of Pedagogy’s blog post, A Step-by-Step Plan for Teaching Argumentative Writing.
I hope all of these resources are helpful in your writing journey with your students. If you ever have any questions, please always feel free to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org