With their open-ended nature, creative writing projects can be overwhelming for some students. As a result, even the most imaginative assignments are, at times, met with a lack of enthusiasm. Inspire each of your students to channel his or her inner author by creating a nurturing atmosphere in your classroom. Here are three go-to techniques for motivating future Nobel winners!

Personalize Notebooks

All students should have a writer’s notebook, and personalizing it helps kids foster a strong connection. I cover my own notebook with cool pictures and interesting words that give a window into who I am. After sharing my notebook with the class, I give students time to create a personal collage on the cover, using pictures (photographs, cutouts from magazines) or drawings. Ultimately, the images each child uses should tell a story about who he or she is. Without writing a word, my students have just created their first personal narrative. Another way to personalize notebooks: Let kids illustrate their writing with drawings or picture collages. Who knows, you may have the next Jeff Kinney!

Create Ambiance

Is the setting of your prompt dark and dreary? Set the tone by changing the lighting. Are the characters carrying the weight of the world? Are they happy and full of energy? Add music that evokes these emotions. Small changes in ambiance help students write more descriptively by inhabiting their story world. Make sure the music is a support and not a distraction.

Celebrate Their Work

I am always on the lookout for ways to honor the writing that my students have worked so hard on. Here are three ideas that have worked well in the past.

Author’s Café: Have students invite family and staff members to a reading of their published work. In addition to handmade invites, kids can create invitations using Scholastic’s Word Workshop or Evite.com. Fancy invitations add a sense of excitement and formality to the event and are an additional opportunity to exercise language arts skills.

Museum Gallery Walk: Create a visual display of your students’ work. To emulate the feel of a gallery or museum, frame each piece of writing. Then, encourage fellow teachers and students to write positive feedback on Post-it notes and stick them next to each frame.

Class Swap: Pair up with another class to share published writing. In this way, students can get feedback from students other than their classmates and learn the value of an outside perspective.

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Image: Courtesy of Rhonda Stewart