Teaching writing effectively to elementary students is vital so students can write with ease and flair.
As teachers, we are often not taught how to teach writing.
Consequently, many of us find this task of teaching writing to students ineffective, boring, or particularly challenging.
Teaching Writing Effectively By Modeling
The first step in teaching writing effectively is to explicitly teach students how to write.
We need to model the writing task ourselves. And needless to say, writing expectations need to be clear at the outset.
So what are these writing expectations?
Here are a few:
- Writing for a targeted audience.
- Implementing the structural components as a cohesive whole.
- Crafting effective writing techniques.
- Using figurative language devices as per the genre.
- Adopting an appropriate style and tone.
Why model the Writing Process?
We often drill students on the different stages of the writing process and expect students to adhere to the structure of the required genre.
But how often do we actually model the writing process from start to finish?
If we model each stage of the writing process explicitly, students will get first-hand knowledge of how it’s done. They will be set up for success at the outset.
Teaching Writing Effectively With Technology
Students are more interested in their learning when it centers around technology – after all, it’s the digital age.
Now, we can capitalize on this interest by making writing digital.
This will no doubt appease a handful of those who find writing simply boring.
Google Slides is the perfect free interactive platform.
Students can read and even highlight the structural components of a mentor text on the screen.
The Flexibility of Digital Writing
Students can type out their responses in pre-formatted text boxes and even editing is a piece of cake.
They can turn in their writing assignments via Google Classroom.
Perhaps there won’t be much cause for concern that writing is boring given this medium.
I personally like to open the assignment on an Ipad in pdf mode. I then use the digital pencil to annotate and write my feedback.
Undoubtedly, the use of technology has the power of teaching writing effectively.
Using the Strategy of Chunking
We often expect students to write on a given prompt from start to finish. No wonder, they often find writing overwhelming.
If we teach chunks of the writing process in isolation, this would bring about better results.
If students use a graphic organizer to plan out the structure of their essay, it would lend direction as they write.
Focusing on one structural component of the genre at a time would enable students to familiarize themselves with the skills involved.
Students could practice writing just the introduction on several writing prompts. They would learn that after the hook, comes the opinion followed by the thesis statement in an opinion essay.
Or a sizzling start is followed by a backfill when it comes to writing a narrative.
This method of teaching students how to write by chunking will no doubt facilitate an effective approach to teaching writing.
Ban the Boring
When I personally reflected on the means to do away with boredom in writing, I started designing my units on the Narrative, Opinion, and Non-fiction (Biography) genres using a different approach.
I envisioned the entire process from start to finish.
And being an avid advocate of interpreting the abstract, set about designing lessons accordingly.
I designed from a student writer’s perspective,
How would I begin?
Where would I start?
And so I decided to write mentor texts and have most of my writing lessons revolve around them.
Teaching my students how to write also involved lessons that featured the use of Cornell-style guided notes.
Students wrote their guided notes as they viewed the PowerPoint presentations.
This mode of lesson delivery, I found was effective because it resulted in students being alert and actively engaged.
Teaching my students how to write effectively also involved displaying anchor charts in the classroom as an invaluable point of reference.
Moreover, the combination of interactive notebook templates and interactive printables also sought to motivate the most reluctant of writers.
Students also found Scavenger Hunts fun and informative when getting acquainted with the techniques.
In the writing unit on sizzling starts in a narrative, students learned all the different interesting ways to start rather than the boring opener of, ‘one day…’ or ‘once upon a time..’.
Needless to say, the integration with QR codes made writing all the more fun!
How to scaffold writing?
To assess the application of writing skills taught during the year, I like to give my students a writing prompt to write on via a flipbook.
This is work in progress and students love seeing how the parts of a flipbook get completed.
Besides it makes a very eye-catching bulletin board display too.
Students self-edit and peer-edit to see where they can improve.
They use the checklists depending upon the genre under study.
Bottom line, in order to teach writing effectively to elementary students, I learned to make use of a variety of resources to lend novelty and gauge students’ interest.
Teaching Writing Effectively Is Work In Progress
The art of teaching writing to our students is no doubt challenging.
It’s one that still requires much trial and error, much creation, and shaping of teaching techniques.
We can however make writing for ALL our students interesting, liberating, and fun!
Writing Effectively From A Point of View – Freebie
Teaching students to write from a point of view is imperative in the context of any writing genre.
Try out this writing freebie with your students.