Some students are naturally interested in writing. They jump right in with no hesitation. Others, oh others. Others procrastinate, avoid, whine, complain and come up with any excuse to avoid writing.
Like with any subject, motivation and interest are the two key factors to get your students excited about writing. Here are three great ideas that can get your students excited about writing:
A good photo prompt almost never fails. The key is getting some of the really wacky photos out there to interest your students. You can use photo prompts in a variety of ways. One option is to put one photo prompt up on a bulletin board or a projector for the whole class to view.
Another option is to use magazine cut outs, (old National Geographics are great!) and keep them in a basket for students to pick from and paste on a writing page to write about. This is a good option for centers or when students have finished an activity early.
In either case, photo prompts get children’s creative juices flowing and ready to write! At the very least, students can start by describing the pictures with their best, most creative adjectives. This often leads to a longer story or explanation of the picture. With some practice, children can get more and more creative with writing about photo prompts.
For inspiration, there’s nothing quite like a good example. By studying what an author is and seeing some of their work, many students become motivated to try for themselves. Norman Birdwell, author of the Clifford series, is one great example since he hadn’t intended to be an author himself before he made his first big break. He had wanted to be an illustrator, but was turned down several times before a publisher suggested he write his own story about one of his drawings. Thanks to that suggestion, Clifford was born. Birdwell often commented that he wasn’t often the art teacher’s favorite at school and that he wasn’t really good at writing either. This sort of author study shows students that anyone can write a good story if they try.
Of course, it’s important to pick books and authors that are at an appropriate level for your students. Try to notice your student’s interests and do author studies on books and series that they enjoy.
Linking to the author studies, students can be given a special notebook that’s their “author’s notebook”. Whether its stapled or bound, what’s important is the excitement and specialness that’s communicated about the notebook. Students should learn that authors may often make notes about things they observe or ideas that might turn into a story later. Students can imitate authors by keeping their very own special “author’s notebooks.” This encourages students to practice writing, even if in small bits, so that when it comes time to write a narrative, story or essay, they have some ideas to draw from. Students can also be encouraged to make sketches in the notebook, write character descriptions, setting ideas, etc. depending on what you’re studying.
These three ideas can help you reach some of your less interested writers perk up and enjoy creative writing. Once they’ve shown interest, it is so much easier to get them to write and enjoy writing activities. What are some of your best writing activities?