Motivating students to engage in writing instruction can be tough. Creating goals that they can work towards can often help to set them off on the right path for success. In this blog we take a look at some simple tools and tricks that you can share with your students to help them bring out their inner author.
Sometimes getting started with a piece of writing can be as simple as finding the space and writing medium that you feel comfortable with. For some students they might be most comfortable with a pen and paper at a desk, for others they might prefer to lay on the floor and write on a tablet with a stylus or keyboard. The important thing here is to encourage each student to find the writing space that suits them, and recognize that not every student will excel in the same way, in the same space.
Sometimes students just need a little prompt to get the ideas flowing. For your students who suffer with writer’s block, or just struggle to get going, there’s a couple of strategies you can try. The internet is awash with writing prompts to suit every grade level. Try searching for some and keeping them to hand for when students are tasked with a piece of writing. Some great ones we’ve found include:
Spring Hole has over twenty different generators. They have more generators than you could ever imagine to be story generators. Since they are organized into so many excellent different categories, you can easily find a prompt generator that will suit many students’ needs.
Seventh Sanctum is a writing prompt generator that has been stimulating the minds of writers for years. They have a simple, straight-up writing prompt generator, which will often consist of a quote or a line that would serve well as appearing at the beginning of your story. The wide array of random generators is good for story ideas, but since they do branch into other topics, it’s a good one for students to bookmark.
If you like your students to have more freedom with writing prompts, try a first line generator. It’ll get them started with a gentle nudge, but from there, the rest is up to the individual student and their imagination, they can take the story in any direction they want to, bending the events and forging their own plot.
One for your older students, Story Shack’s writing prompt generator gives you a target word count, a genre, a character, a material, a sentence to implement, and a bonus that’s entirely optional for you to use, this helps Story Shack to strike the balance between structure and freedom. This might seem like a lot of different components to incorporate, but if students approach it the right way, it really challenges them to be more creative.
Encourage working in drafts
Brainstorming, putting ideas down on paper, ensuring the language and thoughts flow and revising for typos and errors are all different steps in the process of writing. Students need to understand that a perfect sentence doesn’t just come out of nowhere, it develops through a back and forth process as the writer writes, reviews and revises his or her text. This is one reason it’s helpful for kids to write on a computer as it saves erasing and allows them to make multiple attempts at getting their thoughts down, until they find the phrasing they want. Word processors also make it more efficient to reorganize longer pieces of writing, to help information flow better.
Incentivise writing at home and school
When students learn to write well they are not just cultivating academic skills, they’re also opening up a new avenue for self-expression. Creative tasks foster positive associations with writing, so kids see it not just as an activity for learning and reporting information at school, but a way of getting their thoughts across. It doesn’t matter who reads what they are writing or even what it is about, it’s just a good idea if it becomes a regular activity. It’s important as educators that we encourage any and every opportunity for writing, as the more kids write, the more they will improve and hone their skills.
Gamify the writing process
Using a combination of gamification, nudge theory, and research around writing bursts, we’ve developed the student experience of WriQ, the “WriQMeter,” which allows students and teachers to measure and track writing fluency in real-time. Students that have added the WriQ extension will be able to track their best and total bursts for that day, while premium licensed students will be able to see their progress over time - weekly, monthly, and annually. The positive nudge notifications encourage students to spend more time writing, to write more words, and to write across different subject areas. Badges and other rewards offer external motivation while burst tracking shows students their progress over time, and gives them the internal motivation to keep improving.
If you’d like to find out more about how WriQ can help you to motivate your students to find their inner writer, whether in the classroom or working from home, check out our WriQ product page. If you haven’t already, download for a free premium trial for 30-days!