Hello friends. This is Randi coming to you from Teach It With Class. I am going to share with you 4 super easy writing tips that will help make your writing lessons smoother.
All of my tips are easy-peasy and can be put into practice tomorrow!
First a little background information. I’m passionate about writing. I’ve learned so much over the years and I think it’s undeniable that better writers make better readers. I also think teaching writing to this generation and the generations to come is going to be crucial to our future. Our children are growing up in a world of selfies and status updates and it’s more important than ever to bring some substance to the table. Below are 4 tips to help your writing lessons flow.
In my classroom I work hard to make writing one of our favorite times of the day. The goal is to make a relaxing classroom atmosphere where creative juices can flow. It’s also important to make it a safe atmosphere for students to express themselves without feeling pressure or judged. You may be amazed what your students will write if you give them enough time and freedom to write. It’s important they feel safe in your classroom and free to do this. I play relaxing music as soon as students settle in to write and in my current classroom I dim the lights. I have 2 light switches and I turn one off and leave one on. This still gives us plenty of light. You may simply be able to turn some lamps on/off or open/close the blinds.
I know, I know. Paper costs money, copies cost money, you have so much of it sitting in the cabinet…I get it. I promise I do. I have experimented with this for years and the proof is in the student work. When a student writes on a sheet of paper or in a notebook that they can be proud of they will produce a higher quality piece of work. So what can you use instead? 1) I always have lined writing paper copied double sided that can be used for any writing lesson. 2) When a lesson calls for it, I use themed paper with a writing prompt or title already given at the top of the page. 3) I use a writing journal or notebook. It just depends on the lesson/topic and what works best for you. I strongly encourage you to throw out the other stuff!
During writing time my students are actively writing and I am buzzing around the room with post it notes and my big pink eraser. When teaching students to write, my focus is conventions and content. However, sometimes a student can spend way too long trying to spell carnivore. It’s not that they shouldn’t stretch it out and try to write the sounds they hear, they should…but sometimes those struggling writers will just get stuck and STOP. I write carnivore on a post it. Slap it on their desk and just move on. I typically do this for proper nouns and content vocabulary. I don’t do this for sight words, words posted in the room already, or words that can and should be sounded out (with, cheese, blue etc…). I don’t do it for every word or for every student but it helps build confidence in those strugglers.
This may sound harsh but just hear me out. As I said during writing time, I’m buzzing around the room. I am reading what my students are writing out loud next to them as they write. This helps them hear their own words as we listen together for mistakes. If a mistake is found, it’s time to erase and fix our words. Well, have you ever stood next to a student and waited for them to erase their work so they can fix it? It’s pretty much like watching paint dry. As an added bonus, students are often not yet sure of their mistake and they erase the wrong part of their writing. Then you have two things to fix which takes up precious time. The solution is to carry your own teacher eraser (I fancy the big pink ones) and erase it for the student. Quickly guide the student on how to correct the mistake and move on. To make sure each writing lesson doesn’t end in tears, I tell students from the beginning I am doing this to save time. I will be erasing something on everyone's paper at some point. It’s nothing to be sad about. Most students accept this explanation with grace. If you happen to come across a student who doesn’t like it, you don’t have to do it with that student. Plus, if you’re still using the grayish mystery material teacher paper from the cabinet, you have a better chance of erasing the writing without ripping the paper than your beginning writer does.
I could write for days about teaching writing but I'll wrap up for now! I hope you enjoyed my tips and are having a fabulous 4th of July weekend!
The Primary Chalkboard authors have a great month planned for you! Read all about it here and mark your calendars!