My writing inquiry question is finally answered. I have came to the conclusion that the only way to make students enjoy writing is to create or seek lively, creative, and innovative writing assignments. Teachers should stay far away from traditional writing assignments, if possible, because it will only make students lag or regret writing. We want students to be happy and energetic when it comes to writing. Students can learn new writing techniques, while having fun doing so at the same time. As one of the articles I found stated, students are lacking in writing because most teachers are not teaching the art of writing; they are teaching writing for the standardized tests. Writing should come from the heart, even if its academic writing. Once students master the art of writing they will enjoy any type of writing. There should not be a such thing as fun and boring writing; all writing can be fun as long as you find a creative way to do it. Teachers should give students choice and strive to make students want to write for their own satisfaction. All students are not going to like writing, but the idea is that you present writing  to your students in a pleasant way that will make them optimistic about doing the writing assignments. Remember, There is always more than one way to do something, for example, instead of having students write a typical research paper have them do a research paper on a blog, which will allow them to add pictures, links, and videos.

Happy Teaching Writing Guys!

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This video is done by Laura Minnigerode, a writing instructor and former teacher. In this video Laura briefly discusses how to teach students about styles of writing by connecting examples with literature and having them imitate various authors. Help children learn different styles of writing with tips from a credentialed teacher in this free video on writing lessons. I hope you enjoy!

This book was recommended to me by a ninth grade highschool teacher. She told me that it is filled with fun writing activities that all her students love. As the front cover states it contains over 180 reproducible prompts and quick writes for middle and high school students. The Writing Teacher’s Activity-a-Day is “based on [the author’s] extensive experience consulting to language arts teachers and school districts across the country” (google books, 2011). I was able to look through the book and I must say that the activities seem as if they would very effective. I would recommend using these activities at times when you cannot come up with your own fun filled writing assignments. A major perk of this book is the activities included are classroom-tested, which means the assignments turned out successful and they may really help your students’ writing.  The Writing Teacher’s Activity-a-Day covers a wide range of content such as key literary and writing terms like allegory, elaboration, irony, personification, propaganda, voice, and more. Take a look at the example worksheet below

stevenmichaelharris.com is an excellent website for teachers that teach writing on any grade level. This site connects you with links on just about everything that has to do with writing for students K-12. Since I am focusing on ways to get students to enjoy writing, I am going to delve into the following link: Using the Web for High School Student-Writers by Ted Nellen, which can be found on the very useful resource site I mentioned above stevenmichaelharris.com. We are in the age of technology and students of today are very technologically savvy. So, what better way to have  students enjoy writing than to have them work on the web? There are better ways, but writing on the web is very relatable to them considering they spend most of their time on facebook and Twitter. Mr. Nellen offers a number of assignments ideas on his page to get students engaged in writing using the internet. Ted Nellen’s website confirms that he is a constructivist, which means he believes that people learn best by doing, so his “classroom is student centered and not teacher centered. Nellen believes that the internet provides the perfect environment for the writing process because the Web transcends desktop publishing and presentation programs” (Nellen, 2011). I initially thought that students were most in control of their writing when they wrote poetry; however, Nellen suggests,”The Web provides a student-writer with complete control over the creation, from inspiration to publication.” I believe this is true because people take a lot of pride in what they publish online (educational wise).  Nellen goes on to say, “Student-writers have a wider audience, a more democratic audience, and a venue for peer review when they use the Internet,” which is true as well. You might consider using the following tools to get what you want from your students–good writing–and to give your students what they want –enjoyable writing assignments:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • WordPress

Look at the tab above titled Writing Activities to find out how I would use these social networking sites.

Below is a brief description of  the assignment that Ted Nellen had his students complete. It is a fun writing project that takes the place of the traditional research paper:

(In Ted’s Own Words)

One such assignment used an editorial written in an online college student magazine which addressed violence in America. After the students read the editorial, they immediately went on a hunt for more information on violence. They used the popular web search engines like Yahoo, WebCrawler, Lycos, Excite, and others to find articles on violence. The students used the editorial as the base for their own essay and then used the Internet resources to augment the editorial. In their research they took it beyond the American borders as they sought information on African female genitalia mutilation, Bosnia, China, South America and other areas of violence around the world. Their essays were well done because of their ability to follow relevant links. The essay they each eventually wrote had hypertext links back to the articles they had read which had given them the ideas they used in their papers. Hypertext adds so much to writing because the reader can immediately access the resource the writer used to verify or to learn more about the topic. It is far superior to the traditional research paper which merely refers to an article I would then have to seek out in a library. It is not a click away. The publishing of the essays brought in a great deal of mail of praise and support. These kudos served as fuel for my students to go on and to continue (Nellen, 2011).

A teacher named Susanne Nobles wrote an interesting article entitled Writing that Excites and Educates: A Class Novel  on how her senior class created a class novel using short stories, one written by each student. Susanne says her students had tons of funs and I can believe it because group writing is always fun! Group writing makes you feel like something you’re apart of something huge. I have always felt so proud of myself when I was apart of a huge group project. Writing a class novel is another way to have students write and experience  a different genre than the original essay. Not only was writing the novel tons of fun but, Nobles taught her students important writing techniques. Nobles says, “[The students] really love writing a novel as a class because of their control over and subsequently their freedom within the assignment.” Nobles says, she only gave  “them only three “rules,” ones that are familiar to them already: they must use the class’s choices of character, setting, and theme. From there, they can take their individual stories wherever they want them to go” (2009). Letting students control their own writing with very little direction really makes them enjoy writing. Once the novels were finished Ms. Nobles states, “The students turn to the table of contents, flip to different stories, and choose other chapters to read. They are their own audience, and they are using their knowledge of short stories to read each others’ writing. Not because I asked them to. I never tell them they have to read the novel; I don’t have to. They read it because they want to. They have fun recalling and applying the complex writing skills they learned by being readers and writers of short stories” (2009). This is what the ultimate goal is: to have students write for their own satisfaction!

Check out the article! Susanne gives very descriptive details and step-by-step directions on how to have students do this assignment and how her students completed this assignment!

Nobles, Susanne. “Writing that Excites and Educates: A Class Novel.” English Journal 99.2 (2009): 25,25-29. ProQuest Education Journals. Web. 20 June 2011.

I found a very useful website entitled Writing Fix and as my title reads, it gives  teachers ideas as well as lessons to help their students fix their writing. How useful is this? A website dedicated to helping people fix their writing. I mean, isn’t this what all writing teachers wish for? The website’s motto is “engaging writing lessons strategically designed to “fix” reluctant writers and writing teachers.”  The site is mainly built on teachers sharing ideas for writing. It is a really good writing tool for future teachers like myself because it has tons of information on how to engage students in writing. Writing Fix further answered my question on how to make writing fun for students by providing me with several ideas. Let’s explore this site:

Firstly, Writing Fix has a list of links on the left side of their webpage, which makes it easy to navigate the site and find whatever it is you want to know as it pertains to writing. The one thing that stuck out for me on this site is their writing genre tab because writing in different genres can be very fun for students. It is different and it keeps students more interested than if they had to continually do the traditional five paragraph essay. In an English classroom students are introduced to various types of writing, especially through literature, Writing Fix asserts that, “In a classroom, students learn that writing takes many forms and has many purposes. The genres of writing should be studied, and students should build portfolios, containing final drafts that demonstrate many purposes and forms of polished writing” (2011). As teachers we must teach our students more than writing a typical essay and this websites shows you how to do just that.  On their writing genre page, Writing Fix “explores, explains, and examines the different genres and demonstrates how experimenting with different genres is beneficial to a writer” (2011). Narrative & Memoir, Creative, Poetry and Business writing among other types of writing are all discussed on this webpage. I am going to give an example/sample for one of the genres below.

  • Narrative- Each student should be able to tell a story effectively. Narrative writing is very easy to do and many students may find it easier to narrate a story or poem than to do any other writing. You could ask students to narrate a particular event in their life; consider the example lesson below.

Teacher Directions

At least a day before writing, tell students they will need to think about how much they’ve changed from a time when they were in a different grade. This can be the difference of just one small grade, or it can be several grades’ span. Ask them to think about small and interesting differences between now and then: differences in personal appearance, favorite foods or TV shows, recess activities, etc.

Challenge them to talk about this topic with friends or family so they can come back to school with many ideas to write about.

You could then have students create a simple graphic organizer no fancy handout needed. Simply have students fold a piece of paper into two columns, writing “Now” and “Then” above each column. Ask them to think of a specific time in their past and to begin writing down things they did or liked that made them different than who they are now. Those ideas go under the “Then” column; as they write down ideas, have them add a description to their “Now” column that shows how it’s different in the present time. (Writing Fix, 2011)

Example of Assignment:

When I Was Five
by Hannah, fifth grade writer

When I was five, I was such a princess. I loved to dress up in fancy clothes. It made me feel superior. Being a five year old child, I always had to have a babysitter. I could not be left alone. At the age of five, I hated to read because I thought it was boring. Even though reading was not my favorite thing to do, I still read little books about Dora the Explorer. These were usually about five pages long.

Now that I am nine, I feel too girly and beautiful when I wear dresses, so now I only wear shorts and pants. Now that I am older, I am much more mature. My parents know that I am responsible and sometimes they leave me home alone. Now that I am nine, I love to read. Reading a book takes me on exciting new adventures. I read long novels that have over 100 pages.

Life has changed a lot since I was five. I am excited about all of the new changes that still lie ahead of me. Read the rest of this entry »

I started out with the question “why might students dislike writing?’ until I realized that what I really wanted to know is: How can teachers help students to enjoy writing?”  The mass of books and research I have found centered on this topic is incredible. Since we (or I) established in the last post why students may not like to write; lets establish ways in which we can make writing fun or enjoyable for students.

I skimmed (and I say skimmed because I did not thoroughly read this book like it deserved to be read)  through a book entitled, Writing to Create Ourselves: New Approaches for Teachers, Students, and Writers and I found some very interesting information. The idea behind this book, in my opinion, is to have students write from their hearts and they will become good writers thus producing good writing. According to the author T.D Allen, A student, writing what he wants to express, is creating his personality because he is discovering who he is and what it is he has to say. In regards to a student writing his thoughts on paper Allen says, “There they are –his uniquely personal experiences and ideas– in permanent form on the paper before him, and they could not have come from anyone else” (16). T.D Allen suggests that a piece of writing is valuable if it or the effort a student has put into  it serves to improve  the author as a human being (16). A question a teacher or a future teacher  may have is:  If we have our students write from the heart how do we judge the worth of their writing? While it is true that you cannot judge a persons feelings, Allen says that we do not need to lower our rhetoric or our standards for grammar, rather determine whether or not our students writing is valuable  and/or is it their best effort. Another question a teacher should consider is: Is this students’ writing unfolding or evolving? Is this piece an improvement from the last piece.

As for writing ideas, Allen suggests doing  then and now exercises, which centers on fingers and senses and gives students practice with writing Imagery or “sensory detail” as Allen says. Here and Now is not a method to produce  finished work and should only be seen as preliminary work. Here and Now is very fun and if it used for any other reasons than having fun with writing it loses its value. Allen says that any student who dreads writing will find this activity fun (17). He also suggests  that teachers should do some of these exercises with students.  Teachers should ignore grammar for these exercises and should expect students writings to be a very rough draft. The main idea is to get the students thoughts down on paper. I have used the Here and Now approach in my 3310 Principles of Writing Instruction and it was fun indeed!