Stoking the Fires of Young Writers #1

Inspiring students to write when they are not required to do so takes passion and creativity. Here are some ideas that I have used in various age leveled classrooms to get them to write.

I wanted a writing teacher when I was younger because I love the art from a young age. I was always writing stories. I try to be the writing teacher I needed when I was in school. Being a writer myself, I think about what I would do as an adult writer and try to modify that behavior for my students as I teach.

  1. Establish A Writing Community

The right attitude needs to be fostered for students to write. Routines needs to be established along with expectations. The teacher needs to model their own writing to students. The teacher needs to model how to read like a writer. The teacher needs to provide opportunities for publishing and sharing.

2. The Teacher Needs to be A Writer

Teaching writing is a task I have seen many teachers shy away from because they are not confident. You need to think of yourself as a writer – with a “lowercase w” as Ralph Fletcher would say. A writer with a capital W gets a paycheck!

Students must believe you have the knowledge to lead them to become the authors they can become. To do that you need to write. Write in front of them and write beside them. You can truly understand if a child is having trouble with a particular part of a story if you have struggled with the same issues.

I also believe in writing model pieces for your students. I do this before the lesson is taught and then also write again in front of them. This process also helps to find issues with your writing prompts. If you cannot write to the prompt as an adult then most likely the students will have the same issue. It gives you the opportunity to change the prompt before you give it to students!

3. Cultivate the Real Student Writer

I use materials and resources that real writers use – not just teaching resources.  I have used The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, The Pocket Muse by Monica Wood, Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg, and Inner Outings by Charlene Geiss and Claudia Jessup.

Teach writing like it is an experience, not just an assignment. Teach the students like they are authors, not just children. It is important to honor their feelings and imagination while they are young since they seem to lose a lot of creativity as they progress through the grade levels. The spark that is their own voice needs to be respected and seen. Writing is not about formulas and plugging words into it. I do not want to read the same story over and over and your students don’t want to write that either.

A little freedom and trust can produce some amazing pieces from the most unexpected students. I worked with a group of fourth graders that most would call troublesome and they matured into such writers with incredible insight that I was moved to tears. Performance can be a true part of the writing process. They realized they had something to say and worked to make it clear to their audience.

I will share some specific writing activities I have successfully used with students in a later post.

4. Use Mentor Texts

To be a great writer, you have to read. Read aloud and point out what the author did craft wise or just lines you wish you have written yourself. If you are writing a specific genre piece then read books in that genre.

I also model how I use my writer notebook and the students see me carry it around all the time. When I am circulating during writing time and I say to a student, “Oh, I love how you said that. I never thought about it that way before, I am going to write a note about that in my writer’s notebook.” Then I do it right in front of them!

 

Keep writing!

 

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