If your students are struggling to write or they just lack inspiration, maybe it’s time to inject your writing lessons with a little fun. These activities are great for getting students excited about writing and then helping them get the words on the page. How many of them have you tried with your studetns?
Try These 12 Simple Tricks to Make Writing Fun
You don’t have to limit your sticker use to marking a job well done. Use stickers to inspire your students to write while they have fun decorating the page. Gather a variety of stickers – people, animals, places, props, etc. – and cut them into individual pieces. Then throw all the stickers in a bag and shake it up. Let your students choose between three and five stickers (depending on their language level – more stickers for more advanced writers) and then have them incorporate those people or objects into a story of their own creation.
Do It as a Class
Do write communal stories with your ESL students? If not, you should. Working together gets individual creativity flowing, and what we create with others is often far more than we could do ourselves. There are lots of ways to write with other people. Put several notebooks in a writing center. Have one person start a story or start it yourself, and then allow your students to add to a story of their choosing during free learning periods. Have one student choose the characters and another student the conflict, and then have them work together to write the final piece. Have one student write a sentence on a piece of paper and pass it to the person next to him. Then that person adds a sentence. Continue until everyone in class has had a chance to add their own line to the story.
Reading is one of the greatest way to inspire writers in your class. Choose a poem or a short piece of literature to read as a class. Then have students use that selection as a model for their own compositions. They can either follow the structure and style of what you read or just write about the same content. Either way, the great writers will come out among you when you give them great things to read.
Give Creative Inspiration
When you take time and effort to inspire your writers, it is sure to show in their writing. Create a scene, draw a picture, collect interesting photos, or teach them appealing vocabulary. Then ask your students to use what you have prepared as inspiration for their own compositions. If you have never tried setting up a classroom crime scene to inspire your students, you might want to give it a try. Then let your students write and see how the creativity flows.
Let Mistakes Go
Letting students make mistakes and not correcting them may go against the nature of the ESL teacher, but sometimes not saying something is the best policy. When students are overcorrected, they can become discouraged or fearful of writing. Try some freewriting or give your students permission to write freely in a journal. Make sure they know you won’t be correcting for grammar or spelling. Then have students use what they wrote as a starting point for a more formal piece of writing which you will then correct.
Show Them Off
Recognize good writing in your students in front of their peers to inspire the writers among you. You might want to read particularly good writing to the rest of the class (with the author’s permission, of course). Try “publishing” books of your students’ writing and then putting them on display in your classroom. Your bragging might be something as simple as stapling what your students have written to a bulletin board in your class, or displaying them in the hallway of your school. When your students feel proud of what they have written, it will inspire and encourage them to write more.
Give Them Inspiring Tools
Did you ever have a pen that wrote in four different colors? If you had one as a kid, you might have done what just about every other kid did. Write one line with each of the colors and rotate through the page. You can give your students creative inspiration in a writing center of your classroom even if you don’t have four-colored pens for the entire class. On a spare desk, set out several different colors and types of paper with colored pens and pencils. Include pencils and markers that are scented as well. You may find that your students write just so they can use a different type of paper or color pen.
Some students become discouraged when they write because they just can’t get their ideas across. Give them another avenue to communicate by asking them to illustrate their story or nonfiction piece. When students know they can include a picture to share their thoughts, their inability to express exactly what they want in writing becomes less of an obstacle. Your struggling writers know that they can include important information in their picture, and it won’t be a total loss if they can’t find the right words to put their ideas into writing.
Make it Real Life
Some students get frustrated when they are writing for writing’s sake. Help these students by giving them a purpose for what they are writing. Have them write letters, thank you cards, e-mails, or other pieces they will have a use for in real life. If you like, let them “mail” the letters and cards to their classmates in a classroom mail center or through the U.S. mail.
Be a Model
If you want your students to have fun while writing, be sure to model your own writing for them. Let them see you write while they do, and share what you have written with them. Students who write well usually have teachers who write well, also.
Keep a Writer’s Notebook
A writer’s notebook is a great place for your students to collect ideas and get creative. You can direct students to particular exercises in their writer’s notebook or let them come up with the ideas on their own. Then, when it’s time to write, students will have a notebook full of ideas from which they can draw ideas and inspiration.
Have Fun Teaching Writing
The most effective tool you have for bringing fun to writing for your students is to have fun while teaching it. If you appreciate the value of what you are teaching and are enthusiastic about it, your students will be, too.
What are your must share tips for making writing fun?