HOW TO ENGAGE STUDENTS IN THE WRITING PROCESS??
Is this a typical question for you? Do you have a class full of students who don’t want to write? Here are some tips that I found worked for my first graders and me! I’m not an expert, but by the time my students left my first grade classroom, they were writers! Here’s what I did…
NO JUDGEMENT DURING CENTER WRITING TIME
So, the first thing I did was create 5-page writing papers for my students. I sent this home with several parents and asked them to put them together. A parent would cut construction paper in half and lined paper in half. Then they would staple the five lined pages in between the construction paper – which gave students five pages to write their story. If you don’t have time to do lined paper, then blank paper will do as well. I put these in the writing centers, and students could grab whenever they wanted to write a story.
As an incentive, once they became better writers, I would allow students to read their stories at the end of the day. There were a few stipulations, but they always got so much better with time. Another thing that truly helped was that I always had a few really strong writers who created several stories a week. That was a huge bonus, because students started replicating what my stronger writers were doing. Win Win!!
CREATE CLASS BOOKS
When I first started teaching, we would create innovative class books weekly. I would print them on two sheets and make into “big books”. We stopped doing it that way because the books took up a lot of space, but we never stopped making our books, we just made them smaller. Here’s how it worked: We would read a book that we called a “pizza book” (can read over and over again.). Then we would discuss ways we could change the book to make it our own. Example: The Pigeon Books. We made tons of these… Don’t let the Pigeon Write on the Activboard (this is the year we got Activboards). Don’t let the Pigeon paint the Pumpkin (we were doing a contest with pumpkins)… etc. This never got old, and the students got really good at even creating their own without me to guide them. (check out the video below).
Our first class book was always done by me! If you want to check that one out – click HERE! Comes with FREE TEMPLATE.
create crafts to go with the writing
Another thing that I found super helpful is to create a craft that goes along with the writing activity. Students need to have a sense of purpose. Why am I writing this? If they know that you are going to put it out on the bulletin board for all to see, it becomes much more important to spend time on it and create something that is worthy of being published. Outside of my classroom, I had a huge bulletin board, and then I bought strips that I glued on the sides of the bulletin board so that I could publish 24 students’ work. Every month we had something new to share, and I promise you… the students loved seeing other students and teachers checking out and reading their work!
OPEN HOUSE CRAFTIVITY
This was our FIRST writing activity for the school year. It was simple, but students could do it (some with my help). The parents loved it, and it hung proudly in our halls for open house. Students would write four clues about themselves, and parents would have to guess which writing/craft belonged to their child. So cute!!
Our shape booklets were very popular as well. After we hatched chickens, we wrote about it. After we watched our caterpillars turn into butterflies, we journaled about it. We also wrote about how to take care of our pets, and different adventures (fiction or non-fiction). The students loved these – but these were held for special writing activities because it took a little longer to create them because of the cutting out. Many times I would ask 8th graders to come in and help me create these booklets (I was fortunate to be at a k-8th grade school.). But you could always get parents to help!
NEXT LEVEL WRITING
Our Thanksgiving Craftivity was always so much fun because this was our first introduction to “SERIOUS WRITING”. We started with a SLOPPY COPY (rough draft) and then moved on to our final draft. I always told them this was actually a second grade writing activity – so they should be so proud. This one has sheets for each person you are thankful for and why. There’s also blank ones to write about other things. I was always amazed at how far they came with writing in such a short amount of time.