Writing for the Web
- Grades: 3–5, 6–8
Motivating students to write is much easier when they are engaged in an authentic writing experience. Students get invested in the process, take pride in their work and learn to accept constructive criticism when they share their work with an audience. Pre-writing, editing, and revising are processes that become obstacles when motivating students to write. Sometimes students are hesitant to write because they feel the editing process removes the ownership of the work. Their love and passion for writing has been replaced by an assigned task to complete. Students need to be engaged and motivated during the writing process. I try to provide as many authentic writing experiences as possible. A writing opportunities sheet (PDF) is in their writing folder and it provides a variety of writing choices, such as news articles, legends, comics, biographies, plays, and much more.
Writing for an Audience
When students know they will share their work with others, they learn to accept positive comments, as well as constructive criticism. My students understand that in order to learn from each other, we must be willing to share our work with each other. This process helps to facilitate the development of pride for one’s work.
Author’s chair occurs every Friday. Students have the opportunity to sit in the teacher’s chair while reading their work to the class and can choose to use the microphone. They may read their published writing, or pieces that are currently in the revision process. Author’s chair offers a way to receive constructive criticism, as well as praise for their written work. Students receive sticky notes with comments from their peers, which are added to their author’s chair log.
Students contribute to a monthly classroom newsletter by acting as reporters and editors. They submit book reviews, movie reviews, current events, and comics. There is also a personal section for students to send personal messages to their families and friends. Students understand that the newsletter will be seen by people beyond the classroom. They welcome the editing process as excitement is generated due to a larger audience viewing the newsletter.
Writing for the World
Once students understand their work is for an audience larger than themselves, they accept the necessity of editing and revising and welcome the process. The largest audience they could prepare for is the Internet. Students enjoy writing for an audience that includes students all over the world.
Writing with Writers
While discussing different genres throughout the year, students will take the online tutorials offered here by Scholastic.com. Below are some examples of how students are introduced to the different writing genres.
During our myths and legends unit, students read a variety of examples, including Mother Earth’s Son. We brainstorm ideas of characters and settings as a whole class. Students also use the Myth Brainstorming Machine as a catalyst to get the writing started. Students print their idea page and use it as a template for their rough draft. After the myth has been edited and revised, students have the opportunity to publish their myth online.
The writing tips are simplified into a checklist that students use when writing a book review. After reading their books during reader’s workshop, students submit a rough draft to be reviewed by our student editing team. Every other week, students are rotated to be part of the online editing team. Rough drafts have to be edited by the team prior to being approved for online publishing.
Students may work in news teams or independently to create a news story. They use the news template (PDF) to create questions for their news article. Once their questions have been generated, students use them as a guide to write their rough draft. After the news team receives their article from the editing team, they will publish it online.
Poetry is a fun area for second language learners because they can express themselves in so many different ways. It is a wonderful tool to use when teaching rhyming or sensory descriptions. Students will choose various objects, and then complete an observation chart (PDF) about them. Then they will write a free verse poem about their objects. After it has been edited for spelling, students may publish their poems online.
Whether students are writing for themselves, or for an audience, it is important that they are allowed to express their creativity in whatever form they choose. Providing opportunities for my students to be imaginative and think outside the box is what makes them feel like they can write anything.