Tips to Get Your Students to LOVE Writing!
For Elementary Aged Students
Do you struggle to get your students to love writing? Are they constantly wanting to be done with writing, telling you that they are finished or that they are too tired and it is too hard? Building writing stamina for students is KEY because they will spend the rest of their lives writing. One way to build writing stamina is to provide many opportunities for students to write about things other than assigned topics or specific academic assignments. This is also a great time for students to practice handwriting improvement and allows creativity to be added into your classroom.
1. Morning Work – Writing Journals
Students come in the morning and know that their first task is to get out their writing journals. At the beginning of the year, I give the students a specific prompt to write about and either have them glue it into their writing journals, or I write it up on the board. Students date the top of their notebook, and know that for 10 minutes they have to do nothing but write. If they run out of things to write about, they can write the same sentence over and over again, however, most students do NOT want to do that, so they get creative quickly. I tell them that they can choose to write to the prompt, or that they can use this time to write about anything they want. After about 10 minutes, I give them the opportunity to either keep writing, share with a buddy, or to add a picture. Until that time, it is silent writing time.
I try to stay removed from this time, besides minor grammar and handwriting tips, so that students learn to love to write. At first, this process is an absolute STRUGGLE. Students will say “I’m done!” after one sentence, but you have to teach them that this ENTIRE time is to be spent writing. I give them two options: copy what you already have or to start a new story on the same page. If students do not write enough, they cannot share or add a picture.
By allowing students to pick the topic for the class, it adds instant engagement for all parties involved and it takes the workload off of you. In order to access different genres, you might provide a sentence starter for the prompt such as “Write a story about ______” or “Which is better, ______ or ______? Why?” You can also up the ante by having students include a new vocab word in their journal prompts for the class, and encourage students to embed that vocabulary word somewhere into their writing. If you are struggling to find writing journal prompts, you can snag this resource from my store
2. Shared Class Journals
How many times do you hear “I’m Finished!!!” during your literacy block? My students know that they can always work on their morning writing journals, or that they can grab the shared class journals if they finish something quickly. The shared class journals all focus around various topics. Students know that they have to stay on the topic that the journal is about. They grab one journal, read what all other students have written, and then they get one page to write their own version of the story. It is important to emphasize to students that they need to use their best handwriting and grammar, and to also add a nice picture. Students LOVE this writing center because they are able to write for an audience (their classmates) and because I keep the journals in my class year after year, so students next year will read these and students that have siblings love to find what their siblings have written. It is really important to set these up correctly. For instance, my students know they are only allowed to write in ONE shared journal a day, and that it is never supposed to go into their desk (for fear of it being lost or destroyed). They also have to have a buddy edit the journal for them to make sure they have used their best handwriting and spelling.
There are lots of resources for shared journals on TeachersPayTeachers, but you could also easily make your own with a sharpie and some notebooks from the dollar spot.
3. Friday Letters
Every Friday, instead of working on writing journals, my students write me Friday Letters. This is their FAVORITE part about their week, because this is when they get to tell me EVERYTHING they wanted to tell me but didn’t find the time to tell me during the week. Students grab a looseleaf piece of paper and know they can write to me about ANYTHING they want. At first, I give them some sentence starters or topic ideas, but by the end of the first few weeks, students know that they can write anything. One key component to these is the teacher’s response. It is so important to either respond verbally to what they have shared with you, or to write them back. I tell students that I will only write back to letters that are legible, well written and long enough considering the time they were given. Students LOVE this time because they can ask me anything they want, they can tell me antidotes about their week, or they can tell me what is bothering them at home or school that I wouldn’t have previously known. If you need somewhere to start with your students, this is something I highly encourage trying for any age group! You can read more about Friday Letters on my blog post here
If you are looking to implement Friday Letters and need some prompts to get your kids started, try the following:
- Something good that happened this week
- Something bad that happened this week
- The best thing we did at school
- The best thing that happened at home
- What you did last weekend
- What you are doing next weekend
- Something you wish could have been different this week
- Something that was hard at school this week
- Something that happened at recess
- Something you did with your best friend
- Something you like to do after school
- Something you did with your family
- A question you have about school, home or your teacher
I just make this into a little anchor chart that I hang up every Friday, and the kids that are stuck pick a few things to write about.
4. Silly Story Contests
My students engage in a silly story contest every Friday. Throughout the week, students work on a silly story as an “early finisher” option after they finish their other work. In my classroom, it always needs to include our spelling words. But, you can also assign a topic or have students write a silly story about a specific genre. Either way, my students know that on Friday, I will take all of the submissions and we will read the best 3-5 aloud. Then, as a class, we vote on the best silly story. Students LOVE this time, because they don’t often get to just write about anything they want for a purpose and get to be silly. I don’t reward my students with anything, except the glory of being the silly story contest winner, and then I hang their paper up for the entire next week. This provides a great model for students for the following week. I also love this type of writing because students of all writing levels have won. They key of the contest is to make your story silly, but make sure that it makes sense and is not a list!
I hope that you found what you needed in this blog post! If you liked it or have questions, please comment below. Follow my blog for more ideas for your elementary classroom!