Teaching  Writing: Start With the Romance

› Romancing Young Writers

These 6 ideas for teaching writing can be used in any classroom - with any subject.  The foundation of a writing framework is to "romance" your students into wanting to write and to love expressing themselves in a variety of forms.

Writing should be a pleasure, for both students and the teacher. Often teachers become so caught up in the mechanics that we forget the writer.  They are both equally important.

We want our students to develop good writing skills, both in form and expression. To do that we have to tap into children's natural love for expressing themselves through words.

4 things beginning writers want

Strategies for Teaching Writing to Children

1. Teach Writers, Not Writing

What happens in your classroom during "writing time" has everything to do with you. Your beliefs, attitudes and biases will show up in every lesson or activity you teach. If you can show and inspire passion for writing, your students will latch onto that.

If teaching writing in your classroom involves mostly pre-fabricated journal responses and story starters, grammar and skills work, and lots of organizers, you have not inspired passion - you have inflated the boredom factor.

Skills, processes and techniques are tools for a writer, but they are not what brings students to write in the first place.

They are tools help children to turn their rich life experiences and imaginations into a piece of work that expresses themselves and their beliefs.

2. Writers Must Connect to Real "Stuff."

  • Children want to write about things that are important to them
  • We should allow our students to feel our approval for their ideas, thoughts, fantasies and issues.
  • The best writing comes from personal experiences
  • If you use creative writing topics, be sure the students can connect to them

3. Primary Writing Must Be A Mixture of Ideas and Techniques

The teacher must constantly model writing, share your ideas, and expose some of your own thoughts to your students.

  • Lots and lots of literature samples read aloud
  • Talking about writing everyday
  • Loads of practice
  • Independently initiated journaling experiences
  • Teacher initiated writing experiences
  • Guided Writing
  • Students working independently, in pairs, small groups and whole class
  • Conferencing with teachers and peers
  • Targeted mini-lessons to improve effective writing skills
  • Many opportunities to share finished and unfinished pieces

4. Writers Must Feel Safe

Your students need to feel safe to explore their ideas and know that you will treat their writing with integrity and respect. If you want them to write, this is one of the key strategies for teaching writing.

  • Kids must feel valued
  • Lower the stress: ideas, thoughts and creativity take precedence over mechanics in the initial stages
  • It is serious work: balance the joy of writing with the discipline it takes to produce a quality final copy (the final step in the Six Trait Writing Process)
  • Provide loads of stimulation (help them see that their experiences provide endless ideas and thoughts that are worthy to write about)
  • Provide plenty of time to write, create and explore words
  • Remove the competition, judgements and restrictive writing pieces that strangle fluent writing
  • Model good writing together through guided writing (do this often!)
  • Always create an avenue to share: this shows the students that you feel what they wrote is important
  • Provide direction that is challenging but feels safe for the students to try - you accomplish this through repeated examples, sharing of writing pieces, and guided writing

5. Romance Your Writers

Just as you want your students to connect their reading to themselves and the world, their writing must be connected to actual experiences.

  • Make something happen to loosen the words inside their heads
  • Realize that many children are lacking sufficient background knowledge to create a piece that is meaningful from a topic you choose
  • Your students need to be overloaded with material they can use before ever putting the pencil to paper
  • Saturate their brains with books, artwork, science, field trips - any experience can lend itself to elementary writing activities
  • Romance = eagerness, comfort and confidence
  • No romance = panic, stalemate, lack of confidence, no risk-taking

6. Remember that Writing is a Process

  • It is not a process that has to be followed in the exact order all the time.
  • Always start with romancing your writers
  • Don't overdo the romance while teaching writing!
  • Sometimes you don't need to go through all the "steps"
  • At times you need to focus on just one step and teach it well
  • Process takes time - one lesson on how to revise a piece is ineffective. It takes time and repetition
  • There is a time and place for skills and mechanics. We need to use these good writing skills to make our writing accessible to others
  • Never expect every piece to be a finished product
  • Always be supportive of their attempts at each stage - if you aren't, they may never try again for you
  • Don't forget that we write to share with others. Allow your students to share often, as their peers opinions often matter more than yours to them

The Common Core is very clear that our students must be expected to use correct grammar and mechanics. And have you looked at what each grade level's standards are? Yikes!

It doesn't have to be hard though. Conquering the Common Core has rubrics for each grade levels writing standards.

These rubrics will guide your teaching in a systematic way and will be used for formative evaluations. Writing prompts included!

2 ebooks (K-2 and 3-5), each priced at under $24.00.  Click here for more information.

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