How often have we heard our students say that writing is boring? It doesn’t have to be so if we instil a passion for it at the outset. Teachers are often not taught how to teach writing, consequently, many of us find this task of teaching students how to write on a particular genre particularly challenging.
Perhaps if we as educators are passionate about teaching writing ourselves, a majority of students will not find writing tedious, time-consuming, and just plain old boring, but on the contrary – fun and interesting.
✏ How to Teach Writing By Modeling
To expect students to write well, we need to explicitly teach them how to write – we need to model the writing task ourselves. After all, how can we expect our students to turn out cohesive rather than boring-to-mark writing assignments when we have not conveyed our expectations in the first place.
- Who is the audience?
- What are the structural components and how do they fit together as a cohesive whole?
- What are the writing techniques and skills that need to be implemented?
- What are some examples of figurative language devices that can be used as per the genre?
- What is the appropriate style and tone?
We often drill students on the different stages of the writing process, adhering to the structure of the required genre, and stressing the importance of using figurative language devices in a piece of writing.
But how often do we actually teach our students how to write or painstakingly model each phase or each device that intricately makes up the cohesive whole?
If each stage of the writing process is modelled explicitly, students will not find writing boring and in fact have a better idea of how to craft out their writing and thus be set up for success at the outset.
✏ How To Teach Writing By Integrating It 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 and teach students how to write 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 where students can read and even highlight the structural components of a mentor text on the screen.
Students can type out their responses in pre-formatted text boxes and even editing is a piece of cake.
No more unsightly ink markings we often see on paper or twirly pieces of rubber hiding between the sheets of a notebook.
If you’ve heard of Google Classroom, then you know that this is the medium through which students turn in their writing assignments and teachers can grade them and return the same with feedback. This is an interactive fun way to teach students how to write on a given genre. 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, then use the digital pencil to annotate and write my feedback.
Saving and sending each student’s work is easy with just the click of a button.
No more running out of ink or having to use a whitener to wipe out the inevitable mistakes arising from futile attempts to mark 30 writing assignments in the least amount of time possible.
✏ How To Teach Writing By Chunking
Often, in our attempt to teach students how to write, we give them a writing prompt and expect them to write from start to finish. No wonder, students often find writing boring.
Just write whatever comes to mind – and that’s precisely what students do.
And then the marking – to say that’s a nightmare is indeed an understatement 😅
If students were shown how to brainstorm, plan and organize their writing ideas prior to writing, this would be worthwhile for both student and teacher.
Using a graphic organizer to plan out the structure of their essay would lend students 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 and facilitate cohesion.
Students could practice writing just the introduction for several writing prompts and know that after the hook, comes the opinion and then the thesis statement in an opinion essay,
or a sizzling start is followed by backfill and then back to the action when it comes to writing a narrative.
This method of teaching students how to write by chunking out writing sections will no doubt ban the boring and make students passionate and interested in writing.
✏ How To Teach Writing To Be Interesting
When I personally reflected on how to teach my students how to write, I started designing my units on the Narrative, Opinion, and Non-fiction (Biography) genre, 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 that they wrote as they viewed PowerPoint presentations.
This mode of lesson delivery, I found was effective because it resulted in students being alert and actively engaged as they followed along while I presented the writing lesson.
Teaching my students how to write effectively also involved displaying anchor charts in the classroom as an invaluable point of reference as they wrote and these were displayed for the genre in question we were focusing on.
Moreover, the combination of interactive notebook templates and interactive printables also sought to motivate the most reluctant of writers.
Teaching my students how to write also involved focusing on one writing skill at a time.
This was extremely beneficial for all students to really get comfortable with the writing process and polish their writing technique at the same time.
Scavenger Hunts were very popular with the class when it came to getting acquainted with the techniques.
Here you will find a lesson we did solely on sizzling starts in a narrative.
Students learned all the different interesting ways to start and not stick to the boring opener of ‘one day…’ or ‘once upon a time..’ for that matter.
Needless to say, the integration with QR codes made writing all the more fun!
And finally, 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 know better than to submit their finished pieces to me as is – they self-edit and peer-edit to see where they can improve using the checklists depending upon the genre under study.
Bottom line, in order to make writing interesting and not plain boring – I learnt to make use of a variety of resources to lend novelty and gauge students’ interest.
✏ Teaching Writing Is Work In Progress
Given that our students are diverse and we need to always cater to differentiation, the art of teaching writing to our students is no doubt challenging – one that still requires much trial and error, much creation and much shaping of teaching techniques.
Interested in browsing a collection of writing units that have been very useful to my students?
In fact, all through the academic year, I use these writing units to teach my students how to write for the yearly state tests (Naplan) each school year.
The results are always amazing and the students, their parents and myself couldn’t be more proud.
With this growing collection of writing units (more to be added), together we can make writing for ALL our students not mundane, monotonous and boring – but interesting, liberating and fun!
Another helpful post to read is how to teach writing using google slides.