Do you have reluctant writers? You know- those students that stare into space the entire time that they are supposed to be writing? Do you have bored writers- students who watch the clock during wring? How about adding some fun to your writer's workshop! I have some simple ideas for you!
1. Let Students Choose Their Own Writing Topic
How many times has a student come bounding up to you to tell you about something that happened to them? They can't wait to tell us their stories! They are excited. Use this excitement to increase the fun in writing, by allowing them to choose the topic of their stories. I teach writing in units. Therefore, I do tell my students that they need to write a personal narrative during that particular unit and an informational report during that unit. However, I let them write about any topic that excites them within that genre.
2. Provide Fun Writing Materials
Do you have a favorite pen? That's a silly question! We are teachers! Obviously we have favorite pens! I personally love Papermate Flair pens. I hate writing with any other utensil. They just make me happy. I want my students to get excited about their writing materials as well. Why do they have to write with a boring yellow pencil? Who made that rule? During writing, I let my kids write with a variety of scented pencils and fun pens. I also provide colorful paper!
3. Allow Students to Choose Where They Write
When I first started teaching, I always had my students write at their desks. I thought that doing so would result in better handwriting. Maybe it did. But I think it also resulted in bored students who produced less writing and writing that was uninspired. I started thinking, "Why should handwriting be a big deal when drafting?" So students were allowed to choose a place to write. Some students took a clipboard and found a spot on the floor. Some students stayed in their own desk, while others
preferred to write at a table. We had to practice the procedures, but overall it was a simple change that led to much happier writers! My only rule is that they write final drafts at a desk or table.
4. Take Writing Outside
Being cooped up does nothing for my students' creativity or their mood! Sometimes they just need a change of scenery. When the weather is nice, we grab clipboards and take our writing outside. We are lucky enough to have a school garden and it is a wonderful place to relax and write. Before you do this, I do recommend checking the school recess schedule. It's hard to write when an entire grade level is running around and yelling! Being outside makes me smile!
5. Play Music While Students Write
Music makes you feel a certain way. Upbeat music makes you want to move and dance. Soothing music relaxes you. Music can be a sign to students. I play classical music while my students write. When the music is on, they know that they must be writing. As soon as I turn it off, they know that it is time to share. The music also creates a relaxed atmosphere that is perfect for thinking, planning and writing! My students think music is fun!
6. Change Up the Way Students Share Writing
Writing is no fun if no one ever sees or hears your stories. Writers write to be heard! For this reason, I make sure to have writers share something everyday. This can be as simple as reading a sentence or paragraph to their partner or more involved like sharing with the entire class. (The bonus is that I am able to get some of those speaking and listening grades taken care of too!) At the end of a unit, students get to publish their work. I like to vary the way that we publish to keep it fun and fresh for students. Some publishing ideas include:
- writing stories on fun papers and illustrating them
- typing stories on computers or other devices
- making a class binder of stories and putting it in the class library
- reading stories to buddies from another grade level
- making videos of our stories
- Throw an author celebration where students share their story while enjoying food and the company of their classmates. (I have a blog post coming soon with ideas for author celebrations!)
I absolutely love this writing unit! It has absolutely everything that a teacher will need to teach, practice and assess writing for eight weeks. It even includes mentor text so that you do not need to go out and buy a bunch of books! There are a dozen anchor charts and lots of student printables in the unit. They go perfectly with the 40 days of lesson plans that I wrote for you! The lessons are super engaging for students and simple to prep for teachers!
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