Do you have to use a certain writing curriculum? Does it happen to be a little dull and boring for you and your students? I totally get it! I’ve been in your shoes and I know how frustrating it can be. I want to share a few tips that helped me to make my writing curriculum more engaging.
Having a great writing curriculum is so helpful. It can save you time and make your lessons more effective and fun for your students.
However, we are often stuck with whatever curriculum our district has picked for us.
But here is the honest truth…
Break it Up into Mini Lessons
Some of the most popular writing curriculums out there have daily lessons that are 15 pages long. That’s not mini!
A mini lesson should take no more than 10-15 minutes to teach.
Mini lessons are magical!
A mini lesson forces you to really decide what part of the lesson is the most important. Delivering mini lessons means that the teacher must talk less and this gives students more time to write.
Mini lessons are more engaging since our students naturally have short attention spans. The longer you talk, the more time they have to day dream and play with their partner’s shoes.
Plus, mini lessons are SO MUCH easier for the teacher to prep. And that makes you happy! When you are happy, you are more engaging to listen to.
So grab your curriculum and do some planning.
- What lessons can be cut out completly?
- What lessons can significantly be shortened?
- What lessons need to be broken into two separate days?
Give Students Lots of Choice
Giving students more choice will significantly improve their buy in and engagement. Everything is more fun when you have choices!
No matter what curriculum you must use there are a couple simple ways to offer choice:
- Let students choose their writing utensil. It might sound crazy, but there is no reason to force students to use the traditional yellow pencil. Keep some special utensils that students are only allowed to use during writing workshop. This can include mechanical pencils, smelly pencils, and colorful pens.
- Let students choose where their writing spot will be. Students shouldn’t be forced to write at their desk. Let them write anywhere that is comfortable to them. This might be on the floor with a clipboard, on a beanbag chair, or at a table.
There is one more thing that I like to let my students choose. I admit that this may not be a possibility with every writing curriculum out there. But if you can swing it… let students choose the topic of their writing!
I know that may sound scary. There is a certain amount of security that comes with telling students that they must write a report about a president or that they must write an essay about their favorite book.
The quickest way to make writing boring is to force kids to write about something that they are not interested in.
We are all more excited and produce better results when we get to work on things that we are passionate about. So let kids write reports about the invention of the video game system. Allow students to write the essay about why they should be allowed to have their own room.
Provide Share Time Daily
Writers write because they want to share their thoughts and stories. When students know that their writing will be enjoyed by others, they work harder and get more excited.
End every writing workshop with 3-5 minutes of share time.
I am NOT talking about an author’s chair where one student each day gets to read their entire story to the class. That is boring to every other person in the class and students are sharing only once per month or so. That’s not enough.
Instead, have students share daily with their shoulder partner. Rather than having them share their entire story, have them share just one part that relates to that day’s lesson.
For example, if the mini lesson was about revising your lead be more interesting- during share time, ask students to share just their lead.
This is super quick and gives everyone the opportunity to share often. No matter what writing curriculum you use, you can certainly incorporate more sharing.
Keep reminding yourself that your teaching style and your excitement about the lessons will always matter more than the curriculum! You are the magic ingredient.
Would you like to learn more valuable tips to make it easier to teach writing in your classroom? Good news! I have created an online professional development course called Not So Wimpy Writing Masterclass.
The Masterclass is a step-by-step course that will simplify your writing instruction and dramatically increase the success of your students.
The course will be available in June. Be certain to get on the waitlist so that you don’t miss out. This course is only offered once each year!
Have a Not So Wimpy day,