There are many creative ways out there to move students to want to write, but often it can be difficult to facilitate interactive writing activities.
Writing is such a solitary activity and students can sometimes be very inhibited about their writing abilities or the topic they choose to write about. These are some beneficial tips to facilitate not just writing activities, but great ways to encourage sharing and communicative forums.
Secrets to Facilitating Good Writing
Make Activities Interactive
Often we don’t think of writing as a group activity, but you can easily adapt writing prompts into more interactive activities. Think of ways in which you can have students play off of one another and write spontaneously. One great example is the chain story. Provide one sentence as a jumping off point. It can be anything from something simple like “Gail looked out the classroom window.” to something a bit more creative, “As the moon turned from white to purple, all movement in the world stopped.” The first student in the group writes a sentence to follow the beginning one, and then hands it to the next person in the group to continue the story. You can vary this activity in several ways and take it as far as you would like. Sometimes you may even want to type up each of the finished stories and have students illustrate them and then share with the class as a whole. Thinking up ideas like this one and putting your own spin on it will keep writing fresh and alive for students who might otherwise dread hearing, “and now write about …. for five minutes.”
Provide a Forum for Students to Share
When thinking of writing activities for students, take it one step further and construct ways for them to share their writing. Depending on the level, you can give students weekly or monthly writing assignments that they could spend quite a bit of time on—editing, rewriting, and perfecting. Students may feel more encouraged to work on their writing if they know in advance that they will have a chance to share it. One way to do this is simply have them do some kind of presentation which includes handing out copies of sections or whole writing activities. Another way to do if you have a technologically savvy group is to create a bulletin board on their class website where they can post, read and comment on each other’s writing. You can also do story exchanges, in which a pair of students exchange work and discuss each other’s writing. If you give them time in class to share their writing, you’ll find that it will become more and more natural for them to consult one another.
Try Out Journal Writing
Journaling is an excellent way to facilitate writing, and there is any number of ways you can structure journal activities. You can make it so it is a daily routine to write for five minutes with or without a writing prompt. You could make it a weekly homework assignment and give very pointed prompts that reflect a particular grammar point from the week. You can also leave it more open-ended and assign them X number of writing assignments in a term with journals being collected at one or two specific times in the term. You can work with the students to craft one or more journal entries into something they would like to present to the class. The point of journal keeping can be to keep track of great ideas and good writing. Give students time in class to edit their work and to ask questions about writing in general. This way, even if they are journaling on their own, they are still exposed to some interactive activities around their journal entries. As with any journaling assignment, set all the perimeters ahead of time with your class. Will you correct their grammar or only their spelling? Will you make comments or not? Will there be multiple collection days or is journaling an in-class activity only?
Utilize Peer Correction
The last secret to facilitating writing is to have students spend some time getting used to reading each other’s work, and correcting it. There are several ways to do this so that students don’t feel intimidated about the exercise. One way to take the pressure off is to provide perimeters for the exercise. Some examples are: find X number of mistakes and then offer possible corrections for those errors; find X number of words you would change and then explain why you would change them; find X number of grammar errors and explain how to correct them. These perimeters give students some options and some targeted ways to look over each other’s writing. It really does facilitate a feeling of mutual trust and accomplishment.
The secret to facilitating good writing really is in the sharing.
You will find that the more the students have the opportunity to showcase their work, the more motivated about writing, they will be. They will also learn from each other’s style and creativity which will produce long lasting results!
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