Are you having a hard time getting your students to take an interest in writing? Do they seem reluctant or uninspired? I hear ya! Writing can be challenging for some, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s all about finding the right approach and making it fun and engaging. In this post, I will share three strategies I use to get even the most reluctant writers excited about putting pencil to paper. Let’s turn their irksome frowns upside down by turning writing into something that is fun and empowering! Encouraging reluctant writers should not be hard.
Dive into Unique Experiences for Writing
The first thing to do to encourage reluctant writers is to start with something that they are interested in. Kindergarten writers usually have the same topics that they like to think about: pets, family, food, and games. Then, they have their own unique experiences that turn into interest. This is what we want those students to write about. Something that no one else in the class would ever write about. This will allow classmates and others that get a chance to read their writing or hear them read their writing, a chance to be excited and engaged about something.
It does not have to be anything extreme or crazy. If a student takes swim classes when most of the children in the class do not know how to swim, this would be exciting for most of them. Students can share their personal unique stories and adventures through writing. If a student that is showing reluctance to write is always talking and sharing stories, in the middle of their story, I would say “Oh! I’d love for you to write about this so we can share it with everyone.” Continuing to encourage their own experiences will allow them to gain more confidence and want to write, even if they are ready to fully write something that you can read.
Allow reluctant writers to have their own style
Introduce different writing styles in the classroom. I say reluctant writers, but this is good for any student. By style, this can be lists, bullet points, how-to writing, one sentence on a page, writing paper with no illustration space, and so many other things. We teach in ways to touch many students’ learning styles and this should be taken into consideration when teaching writing. Different students have different feelings about the ways to write.
Some students can easily whip out a sentence for you, but when you ask them to write two sentences minimum to go with an illustration, they panic. This can easily be avoided by adjusting their writing paper. They could have a half sheet of paper with enough room for sentences. They will feel accomplished when they have that one sentence to match the illustration.
I have taken away drawing pictures when I had frustrated students taking too long to get finished with their pictures. They have too much attention to the illustration. When it was time to write, they were already mentally drained. Being able to allow each student to have their own style, but still continue to work on the given assignment is a must. I introduce various writing templates in the classroom over the year and they (sometimes I help) choose which paper feels the most comfortable. This eases some of the stress that comes with being a beginner writer.
It can be really exciting to help them develop their writing techniques and find their own writing style. It might be useful to give them a writing template that can guide them in breaking down writing projects into smaller sections, or even just the basic structure of writing composition. At this stage in their writing journey, they don’t have any rules and challenges; only encouragement and praise! Encouraging children could come with little challenges like writing three sentences describing a favorite activity or creating a story about an imaginary world. Inviting the children’s imaginations is key as this will create interest to continue writing!
Use Writing Templates
This is the simplest way to encourage writing. Writing templates in primary grades can easily be the difference between a student never practicing any type of writing to seeing how easy it is and moving on to their own writing. You can use any type of template, but for kindergarten and first grade, I like to use something called Read Write Illustrate. My students are normally much better readers than they are writers and the first thing they do on these is read. This is more than just a writing template. It’s more like a Godsend. It checks for comprehension, works on sentence structure, and allows students to see letter formation, trace words, copy the words and draw a picture to match.
The Read Write Illustrate, RWI, are designed for students to practice reading simple sight words and cvc words. After reading, students will trace the sentence. Then, students will write the sentence. They are able to reread the sentence before working on their picture. The purpose of having space for the picture is to see if they truly comprehended what they read. Once the picture has details and is finished, they move to the checklist at the top of the page.
The checklist is hands down the best thing I added to my writing. It helps students remember what their sentences should look like and takes away any stress from trying to remember. The goal is to get students to eventually independently write. With this, they get the routine down of checking their sentences back. They check if they put a capital letter at the beginning of the sentence, a period at the end, finger spaces between each word, and a picture that includes a setting and characters. It ties everything together, but your students did a little writing. Was it their own thought? No, but if you have a really reluctant writer that enjoys doing this, I call it a win.
Use a Writing Clip Chart
Clip chart? Hear me out. I have mixed feelings about clip charts, but when they are academic and positive, I’m all for it! These are wonderful for reluctant writers to help them focus on one thing at a time. Do you know the saying, “Go slow to go fast later?” This is true about everything if you teach ANY grade, but especially true for primary teachers. A writing clip chart helps to take out all of the tasks of getting to the final writing piece. Students are able to focus on one aspect of the writing process at a time ad when they are ready, they can move on.
Each student is able to work at their own pace. The writing clip chart comes into play when students are writing during writing workshop. They are able to write at any time during the day, but writing workshop time is when we are all focused on writing. During centers, they are allowed to free write and do not need the clip chart. Take a closer look at the writing clip chart.
Over the years, I have used the writing clip chart in a few ways. I also include the steps in their Writing Journal where we keep all of their loose writing papers. This gives them a place to refer without having to get up and move about the room causing distractions. Why is this important for a reluctant writer? The student feels in control of the pace and only moves the clip when they have finished where they are currently.
If you have a reluctant writer in your primary classroom, no worries. There are strategies to help them find their love of writing and start producing pieces that they can be proud of. Try using a clip chart to track progress, having a template for students to follow, or letting them write about their own experiences. Most importantly, let your students work at their own pace so they feel like they are in control. When these strategies fail (and sometimes they will), simply provide encouragement and praise for the effort your student is putting into writing. Ready to get started and help reluctant writers? Grab some resources!
You may also enjoy reading about 6 Tips for a Successful Writing Time.