I just had my first full day PD for teachers of Reluctant Writers in grade 6-7-8. It was a great workshop, but wait…that was the most boring start to a blog post, ever! Especially a blog about Reluctant Writers. SNORE!!! Are you still even reading? Good for you if you are….I’ll try to make this more interesting now, Drum Roll please……..
The Top 7 Things I Learned About Teaching Reluctant Writers are:
- Pre-Talk : Reluctant writers, and all writers, really, do better if you allow them to talk ideas out first before starting to write. (So you mean those writing prompts first thing in the morning aren’t always the best idea, huh. oops) Allowing students to talk out ideas will give them more to work with when they do start writing.
- Teacher Think Alouds/Modeled Writing: Maybe this was an obvious one to other teachers but it had not occurred to me to actually model my writing process in front of the class LIVE. Yes, LIVE. If you want them to brainstorm: Brainstorm in front of them, live, first. I had always given examples of good writing but I hadn’t actually written in front of them.
- Use Visuals, Music and Other’s Vocabulary: Build-up what the students write by getting them interested with a video/picture on a subject. Music also helps bring out emotions and that can get ideas flowing. Also, allowing students to share their vocabulary (watch this video and write one word on a post-it note to describe it, then put the post-its up for all to see) will allow reluctant writers and other students to see different perspectives on the same topic and give them an instant word wall to work with.
- Allow Team Writing. So often I assign individual writing but the truth is a lot of work (you know, in the real world) is collaborative. Allowing students to write in teams gets them bouncing ideas off each other and takes some of the pressure off.
- Writing Territories: Writing Territories are what we know best. We all have our loves, our passions, things we could talk about for hours. Have students make a list of all those things. Then get them to make more specific topics that are more narrow. For example, going from “I like Hockey” to “I love how I feel when I score a goal” so that they can pull from that when they need inspiration.
- Integrate Technology: Students love using teach and if they use something like padlet or a shared google doc they can see their ideas going up right away. They can share without worrying about everyone looking at them and it doesn’t require a lot of writing. Which brings me to my next point…
- Keep Writing Short & Simple ( at least at first) Start with something easy like a Top 5 List (Ahem) or a Did You Know? So many blogs, magazines and websites already use this format that it will be familiar to them and the students won’t feel overwhelmed. It also allows the flexibility needed to accommodate all levels of writers. From, “Oh Phew! Only 5 sentences!!” to, “Can I write more than a Top 5, Madame, can I make a Top 10 with a paragraph for each point?”