“UGH! Do I have to write?!”
I bet you have heard this before! We all have some students who don’t like writing and spend all of their time complaining, napping and staring at the clock.
I lovingly refer to these students as “reluctant writers.”
Most reluctant writers don’t feel confident in their ability to write and they struggle to get engaged in writing.
Over the years I have found several strategies that help my students to get more excited about writing which leads to them writing more. When they write more, they get more confident!
Let Writers Choose Writing Utensils
When I would sit down to grade papers, I generally had a sense of dread. “Yuck, I don’t like grading.” You know what I would do to make it just a little bit more manageable? I’d grab my very favorite purple Papermate Flair pen! (Sometimes I would feel a little wild and use bright pink.)
There is just something comforting about your favorite writing utensil.
So why do we insist that students use yellow #2 pencils for writing? Unless they are doing formal testing, this type of pencil isn’t necessary.
Grab a variety of pencils and pens and keep them in a special container. (Think mechanical pencils, smelly pencils, gel pens, felt pens, etc.) Allow students to use these utensils only during writing workshop.
Bam! Your workshop just got more fun!
Let Writers Choose the Topic
If you want students to get excited about writing, stop telling them what they have to write about.
No one looks forward to spending hours on a research report about a topic that bores them to sleep. (Note: You might love the topic. The topic might be part of your social studies standards. This does not mean that every student in your class wants to write about that topic.)
When students get to choose to write about the things they love and are passionate about, they are going to look forward to writing.
Instead of writing about Abraham Lincoln, maybe they want to write about Paris, horses or the history of video games. All of these topics would still give students the opportunity to learn, practice and master the informational text writing standards!
Give Clear Daily Writing Tasks to Help Reluctant Writers
Give writing tasks? But they don’t like to write!
Generally writing feels overwhelming to them and they aren’t sure where to start.
I used to give directions like this, “Ok, our lesson is over. Go back to your seats and work on your reports.”
Did you notice that I was not very clear and specific about my directions?
Now I give directions like this, “Our lesson is over. Head to your seats and write possible leads for your report using both of the strategies that we learned today.”
So much clearer!
When you give a specific task that directly relates to what you just taught, your reluctant writers will feel more confident.
Give Daily Opportunities to Share
Most writers write so that they can share.
Are your writers able to share every single day? It’s an easy way to make writing time more meaningful
At the end of your writing block, ask students to share something very specific with their shoulder partner. They are not sharing their entire piece, just one specific part.
So if the lesson was about leads, have them share their lead with their partner.
If the lesson was about dialogue, have them share one place that they added dialogue to their story.
This share time should only take 2-5 minutes.
Host Writing Celebrations
Who doesn’t love a celebration?
Making writing an event that students look forward to is all about adding in an element that is out of the usual.
I like to host celebrations once per quarter. This is a special time for my students to share one of their masterpieces.
The celebration is different each quarter. Here are some celebrations that I have done:
- Camping day where everyone lies on sleeping bags and reads their story by flashlight
- Open house where students get to share their writing with family
- Hollywood day where students walk the red carpet and share their story on “stage” with a microphone
- Picnic day where we have lunch or snacks on a blanket on the floor while sharing our stories
These celebrations don’t have to be elaborate. Kids are actually pretty easy to impress!
Want Even More Strategies to Help Reluctant Writers?
I used to dread teaching writing more than I dreaded the 3rd day in a row of indoor recess…with only 2 board games and 1 puzzle for 20 kids…and half of the pieces missing.
THAT is how much I disliked it.
But now, writing is my #1 favorite subject to teach. And it can be your favorite, too.
I created the Not So Wimpy Writing Masterclass to help other teachers learn to love writing as much as I do. The Not So Wimpy Writing Masterclass is an online professional development course for grades 2-5. In this course, you will go from feeling overwhelmed to feeling confident and excited about teaching writing, even with your reluctant writers.
Does your school already have a set writing curriculum? No problem! All of these tips and strategies work with any curriculum.
And you can earn 10 hours of professional development credit. The course only opens once a year. Sign up below to get notified the next time enrollment opens.
I don’t want you to miss out. So if you want to be a more confident writing teacher, put your name on the Waitlist today!
Have a Not So Wimpy day,