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August 31, 2018

6 Ways to Encourage Student Writing

By Scholastic Editors
Grades 3–5, 6–8, 9–12

    This blog post was written by guest contributor, Jackie, fourth grade teacher, TN.

    If you’re looking for free resources to encourage student writing, I have some good news for you. Scholastic is giving away free digital access to all of their magazines for the month of September! While they’re mostly known for current events and informational texts, Scholastic Magazines offer some fantastic writing resources. I’ve included links to all of the resources below, but you’ll need to sign up for free digital access if you want to try them for yourself.

    1. Make It All About Them

    In the age of Instagram and Snapchat, is it any wonder that students love writing about themselves? Getting kids to open up about their lives and feelings is a great way to introduce them to the joy of writing.  Because magazines have so many stories about children and teens, they provide a perfect springboard into autobiographical writing activities. Take, for instance, this writing activity from Choices, Scholastic’s health and social-emotional learning magazine. In it, your students will get to write about the last time they got in trouble. They can discuss all the details about what they did wrong, what they learned, and why they’ll never do it again! Even though this activity is for grades 7–12, it was super easy to adapt for my younger students.

    2.  Encourage Students to Share their Opinions

    Even if many of your students don’t love to write, they probably like to express their opinions. That’s why argument writing can be such a powerful tool. Magazines like Scholastic News feature debate topics that directly relate to students’ lives. They’re ideal for encouraging students to share their thoughts and beliefs. One of my favorites just appeared in the latest issue of Scholastic News for Grade 3:  “Should Classroom Pets Be Banned?” Since our classroom has two hamsters (Orville and Wilbur), I received some pretty passionate responses from my students. Even if you don’t have a cuddly (or scaly) creature in your classroom, you might be surprised by how mature your students can be when discussing what should and shouldn’t be allowed in your classroom!

    3. Enter a Writing Contest

    Good written communication is essential to success in school and life, but many children don’t recognize the value of it. One way to incentivize writing is to challenge your students to enter a writing contest. Scholastic’s ELA magazines host writing contests every month on a wide range of topics. This month, Storyworks, the ELA magazine for grades 4–6, has a contest that asks students to write a journal entry from the perspective of a child during the Galveston Hurricane of 1900. They’re accepting entries until November 1, 2018, so you can still enter your students’ writing here.

    4. Write About a New Content Area

    Writing activities that focus on language arts are easy to find, but we often forget that other content areas are just as ripe for written exploration. Take, for instance, this writing prompt from SuperScience (grades 3–6) which puts a science fiction twist on student writing. In an article entitled “Destination: Mars” students read about what life might be like on the red planet. They’re then asked to imagine that they’re some of the first astronauts to colonize mars. Then they’ll write a journal entry about what a typical Martian day is like. If science isn’t tickling your students’ fancy, you’ll also find great content-area writing prompts in Scholastic Art, Junior Scholastic, Science World, and Upfront magazines.  

    5.  Write Your Way Out of a Sticky Situation

    My students love drama! And I’m not talking Shakespeare. It can be hard to channel student conflicts into something positive. But I’ve found a pretty good way with the Sticky Situation feature from Scholastic News for grade 4. These simple ethical dilemmas ask your students to put themselves in the shoes of another student. I usually read them the dilemma and then have them write a short response about what they’d do in that situation. One Sticky Situation really hit home in our class. In it, a young girl receives a group text with mean photos of her friend. Since something similar happened in our class, my students had a lot to say. But if that one doesn’t suit your needs, you can find a whole bunch of Sticky Situations in the archive on the Scholastic News site.

    6. Write to Reduce Stress

    Sometimes the very act of writing can be stressful for students. But what if you had a writing activity that encouraged students to actually unwind? Research shows that writing about things, especially things we’re thankful for, reduces stress and calms us down. Choices (the life skills magazine I mentioned above) has a great prompt for keeping a gratitude journal. I’ve found that it’s one way to reduce the anxiety that comes along with writing. It also helps to show kids that writing can have benefits beyond impressing your teacher. We can use it to express and relax ourselves!  

    So there you have it. Six ways to use Scholastic Magazines to inspire student writing. Try them for yourself by signing up for a free digital trial. Scholastic is giving away full access for the entire month of September, so you have a whole month to explore all 30 titles.  I’m sure you’ll find all kinds of articles, activities, videos, and writing prompts to use in your classroom. Best of all, it’s every teacher’s favorite price…free!

    This blog post was written by guest contributor, Jackie, fourth grade teacher, TN.

    If you’re looking for free resources to encourage student writing, I have some good news for you. Scholastic is giving away free digital access to all of their magazines for the month of September! While they’re mostly known for current events and informational texts, Scholastic Magazines offer some fantastic writing resources. I’ve included links to all of the resources below, but you’ll need to sign up for free digital access if you want to try them for yourself.

    1. Make It All About Them

    In the age of Instagram and Snapchat, is it any wonder that students love writing about themselves? Getting kids to open up about their lives and feelings is a great way to introduce them to the joy of writing.  Because magazines have so many stories about children and teens, they provide a perfect springboard into autobiographical writing activities. Take, for instance, this writing activity from Choices, Scholastic’s health and social-emotional learning magazine. In it, your students will get to write about the last time they got in trouble. They can discuss all the details about what they did wrong, what they learned, and why they’ll never do it again! Even though this activity is for grades 7–12, it was super easy to adapt for my younger students.

    2.  Encourage Students to Share their Opinions

    Even if many of your students don’t love to write, they probably like to express their opinions. That’s why argument writing can be such a powerful tool. Magazines like Scholastic News feature debate topics that directly relate to students’ lives. They’re ideal for encouraging students to share their thoughts and beliefs. One of my favorites just appeared in the latest issue of Scholastic News for Grade 3:  “Should Classroom Pets Be Banned?” Since our classroom has two hamsters (Orville and Wilbur), I received some pretty passionate responses from my students. Even if you don’t have a cuddly (or scaly) creature in your classroom, you might be surprised by how mature your students can be when discussing what should and shouldn’t be allowed in your classroom!

    3. Enter a Writing Contest

    Good written communication is essential to success in school and life, but many children don’t recognize the value of it. One way to incentivize writing is to challenge your students to enter a writing contest. Scholastic’s ELA magazines host writing contests every month on a wide range of topics. This month, Storyworks, the ELA magazine for grades 4–6, has a contest that asks students to write a journal entry from the perspective of a child during the Galveston Hurricane of 1900. They’re accepting entries until November 1, 2018, so you can still enter your students’ writing here.

    4. Write About a New Content Area

    Writing activities that focus on language arts are easy to find, but we often forget that other content areas are just as ripe for written exploration. Take, for instance, this writing prompt from SuperScience (grades 3–6) which puts a science fiction twist on student writing. In an article entitled “Destination: Mars” students read about what life might be like on the red planet. They’re then asked to imagine that they’re some of the first astronauts to colonize mars. Then they’ll write a journal entry about what a typical Martian day is like. If science isn’t tickling your students’ fancy, you’ll also find great content-area writing prompts in Scholastic Art, Junior Scholastic, Science World, and Upfront magazines.  

    5.  Write Your Way Out of a Sticky Situation

    My students love drama! And I’m not talking Shakespeare. It can be hard to channel student conflicts into something positive. But I’ve found a pretty good way with the Sticky Situation feature from Scholastic News for grade 4. These simple ethical dilemmas ask your students to put themselves in the shoes of another student. I usually read them the dilemma and then have them write a short response about what they’d do in that situation. One Sticky Situation really hit home in our class. In it, a young girl receives a group text with mean photos of her friend. Since something similar happened in our class, my students had a lot to say. But if that one doesn’t suit your needs, you can find a whole bunch of Sticky Situations in the archive on the Scholastic News site.

    6. Write to Reduce Stress

    Sometimes the very act of writing can be stressful for students. But what if you had a writing activity that encouraged students to actually unwind? Research shows that writing about things, especially things we’re thankful for, reduces stress and calms us down. Choices (the life skills magazine I mentioned above) has a great prompt for keeping a gratitude journal. I’ve found that it’s one way to reduce the anxiety that comes along with writing. It also helps to show kids that writing can have benefits beyond impressing your teacher. We can use it to express and relax ourselves!  

    So there you have it. Six ways to use Scholastic Magazines to inspire student writing. Try them for yourself by signing up for a free digital trial. Scholastic is giving away full access for the entire month of September, so you have a whole month to explore all 30 titles.  I’m sure you’ll find all kinds of articles, activities, videos, and writing prompts to use in your classroom. Best of all, it’s every teacher’s favorite price…free!

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