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November 7, 2018

7 Best Teacher-Tested Writing Strategies

By Scholastic Editors
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8

    Kids need to develop writing skills beyond LOL and BRB. It's required for their schoolwork, but also essential in most professions. From Striving to Thriving Writers: Strategies That Jump-Start Writing includes 27 writing strategies "designed to improve and integrate writing across the curriculum." Plus, help your students channel their inner author with 7 Keys to Research for Writing Success.

    And straight out of the classroom, read on for some of our favorite tricks from teachers to teach writing techniques to students from preschool to middle school.

    1. Start early childhood students with journal "writing."

    In our preschool, the teachers for the 4-year-olds introduce journal writing. While we refer to it as writing, most children are actually dictating responses that teachers record for them. Each child then illustrates her page, recording through pictures. As the process moves forward, and children grow more sophisticated in their letter/sound understandings, they begin to contribute letters and even words to their journals. Here is a journal response to a teacher’s question, “What makes you happy?”

    Drawing pictures is one thing that makes me happy.

    "Practical Incentives for Early Writers" Elaine Winter, Preschool Director

     

    2. Make writing a visible part of your classroom.

    It is very important to set up your classroom so that it gives support to your budding writers. The physical environment of your room must support the daily writing activities of your students. In kindergarten we use both a Word Wall and a Chunk Chart. My students refer to them all the time. Seeing the words on the word wall makes them become excited about words and understand that words can be used over and over again.

    If you need a great book to help you teach writing in kindergarten, this it the one! Randee Bergen's Teaching Writing in Kindergarten gives teachers a structured approach to daily writing that will help your students become confident and capable writers.

    "How to Inspire Your Kids to Write and Why You Should" Shari Carter, Kindergarten Teacher

     

    3. Introduce an author's chair.

    Every day in my classroom students spend time writing, either by themselves or with partners. Some students illustrate books while others peer edit or meet with me. Every week, we have Writers Workshop, and when a student has finished a story and the illustrations are complete, they present it at Author's Chair. I am pleased to share with you a fun Author's Chair video featuring several of my students. Enjoy!

    "Celebrate Writing and Young Authors!" Nancy Jang, First Grade Teacher

     

    4. Host a Writing Feast.

    During the fall, I host a gathering called The Writing Feast, a celebration that brings all of the third-grade writers together to “feast” on each other's work. I reach out to friends and colleagues to borrow charger plates, fall table covers, and decorations. You'll also need: the student writing pieces, compliment sheet, clipboards, and snacks (optional).

    The tables are set to look like a dinner table. Each student gets their own placement with cups of trail mix at each table setting. There are no chairs at the tables because the students will move around frequently during the celebration. The charger plate is used to display a piece of writing and a compliment sheet for each author. Students rotate around the tables, reading the writing pieces and using the compliment sheet to leave their supportive remarks.

    "Celebrate Budding Authors: The Writing Feast" Juan Gonzalez, Third Grade Teacher

     

    5. Use popular nonfiction as mentor text.

    I told my students that we would be using all of our research to create high-interest nonfiction books. I challenged them to figure out how to teach their readers and have them begging for more. I explained to them that I’d noticed how they huddled around books like the Ripley’s Believe It or Not series and this book about Hurricane Katrina. We quickly realized that while content was important, interest was often driven by the unique formatting or text features in the book. This led to a discussion of how writers of nonfiction make decisions to engage their readers. My students became aware that they currently had lists of facts, and they had to figure out a way to share them in an interesting way. These texts became great mentors for that work.

    "Writing to Teach" Julie Ballew, Fifth Grade Teacher

     

    6. Set the scene for mood writing.

    I explained to my students that the feeling a reader experiences is called mood; that the setting serves many purposes in the development of plot, but for now, we would focus on setting and how it contributes to the development of mood. Their assignment was to use sensory details to describe the same setting that depicts two different moods. I mentioned that there are other ways to create mood, but for now we are focusing on the use of sensory language.

    Before putting pen to paper, we went on a 15-minute field trip on a chilly fall day to use our senses to observe our setting and select a unique detail that others may not notice. Periodically we stopped so they could close their eyes and listen to the sounds of fall. We touched trees. Smelled leaves. Watched our shadows stalking us. They learned to look, touch, taste, hear, and smell autumn.

    We returned to school eager to write. While students wrote two descriptions of the same setting, I played instrumental music. At the end of class, we spent 10 minutes sharing our journal entries. Their writing was engaging and original, not cliché. Students cheered each other on. Motivation skyrocketed.

    "Writing Journals: Exploring Mood" Mary Blow, Sixth Grade Teacher

     

    7. Celebrate work with a writing fair.

    Our annual writing fair is a chance for students to exhibit their published works through a meaningful theme. Each spring our hallways burst with writing, which literally covers every inch of the wall and even hangs from the ceiling. It is a fun and engaging way to show student work and unite the school with a common purpose.  

    "Creative Writing Celebrations: A Writing Fair" Meghan Everette, Kindergarten–Sixth Grade Teacher

     

    More Resources to Teach Writing:

     

    Stella Writes Set

     

    50 Writing Activities for Meeting Higher Standards

     

     

     

    Story-Writing Sandwich Prompts

     

    But How Do You Teach Writing?

     

     

     

    And Furthermore . . .

    For pure incentive and the thrill of going for the gold, don't forget the "Scholastic Art & Writing Awards." And if you are still looking for creative ways to get the creative juices flowing, try this round-up of even more blog posts at "Best of Blogs: Writing Strategies."

    Kids need to develop writing skills beyond LOL and BRB. It's required for their schoolwork, but also essential in most professions. From Striving to Thriving Writers: Strategies That Jump-Start Writing includes 27 writing strategies "designed to improve and integrate writing across the curriculum." Plus, help your students channel their inner author with 7 Keys to Research for Writing Success.

    And straight out of the classroom, read on for some of our favorite tricks from teachers to teach writing techniques to students from preschool to middle school.

    1. Start early childhood students with journal "writing."

    In our preschool, the teachers for the 4-year-olds introduce journal writing. While we refer to it as writing, most children are actually dictating responses that teachers record for them. Each child then illustrates her page, recording through pictures. As the process moves forward, and children grow more sophisticated in their letter/sound understandings, they begin to contribute letters and even words to their journals. Here is a journal response to a teacher’s question, “What makes you happy?”

    Drawing pictures is one thing that makes me happy.

    "Practical Incentives for Early Writers" Elaine Winter, Preschool Director

     

    2. Make writing a visible part of your classroom.

    It is very important to set up your classroom so that it gives support to your budding writers. The physical environment of your room must support the daily writing activities of your students. In kindergarten we use both a Word Wall and a Chunk Chart. My students refer to them all the time. Seeing the words on the word wall makes them become excited about words and understand that words can be used over and over again.

    If you need a great book to help you teach writing in kindergarten, this it the one! Randee Bergen's Teaching Writing in Kindergarten gives teachers a structured approach to daily writing that will help your students become confident and capable writers.

    "How to Inspire Your Kids to Write and Why You Should" Shari Carter, Kindergarten Teacher

     

    3. Introduce an author's chair.

    Every day in my classroom students spend time writing, either by themselves or with partners. Some students illustrate books while others peer edit or meet with me. Every week, we have Writers Workshop, and when a student has finished a story and the illustrations are complete, they present it at Author's Chair. I am pleased to share with you a fun Author's Chair video featuring several of my students. Enjoy!

    "Celebrate Writing and Young Authors!" Nancy Jang, First Grade Teacher

     

    4. Host a Writing Feast.

    During the fall, I host a gathering called The Writing Feast, a celebration that brings all of the third-grade writers together to “feast” on each other's work. I reach out to friends and colleagues to borrow charger plates, fall table covers, and decorations. You'll also need: the student writing pieces, compliment sheet, clipboards, and snacks (optional).

    The tables are set to look like a dinner table. Each student gets their own placement with cups of trail mix at each table setting. There are no chairs at the tables because the students will move around frequently during the celebration. The charger plate is used to display a piece of writing and a compliment sheet for each author. Students rotate around the tables, reading the writing pieces and using the compliment sheet to leave their supportive remarks.

    "Celebrate Budding Authors: The Writing Feast" Juan Gonzalez, Third Grade Teacher

     

    5. Use popular nonfiction as mentor text.

    I told my students that we would be using all of our research to create high-interest nonfiction books. I challenged them to figure out how to teach their readers and have them begging for more. I explained to them that I’d noticed how they huddled around books like the Ripley’s Believe It or Not series and this book about Hurricane Katrina. We quickly realized that while content was important, interest was often driven by the unique formatting or text features in the book. This led to a discussion of how writers of nonfiction make decisions to engage their readers. My students became aware that they currently had lists of facts, and they had to figure out a way to share them in an interesting way. These texts became great mentors for that work.

    "Writing to Teach" Julie Ballew, Fifth Grade Teacher

     

    6. Set the scene for mood writing.

    I explained to my students that the feeling a reader experiences is called mood; that the setting serves many purposes in the development of plot, but for now, we would focus on setting and how it contributes to the development of mood. Their assignment was to use sensory details to describe the same setting that depicts two different moods. I mentioned that there are other ways to create mood, but for now we are focusing on the use of sensory language.

    Before putting pen to paper, we went on a 15-minute field trip on a chilly fall day to use our senses to observe our setting and select a unique detail that others may not notice. Periodically we stopped so they could close their eyes and listen to the sounds of fall. We touched trees. Smelled leaves. Watched our shadows stalking us. They learned to look, touch, taste, hear, and smell autumn.

    We returned to school eager to write. While students wrote two descriptions of the same setting, I played instrumental music. At the end of class, we spent 10 minutes sharing our journal entries. Their writing was engaging and original, not cliché. Students cheered each other on. Motivation skyrocketed.

    "Writing Journals: Exploring Mood" Mary Blow, Sixth Grade Teacher

     

    7. Celebrate work with a writing fair.

    Our annual writing fair is a chance for students to exhibit their published works through a meaningful theme. Each spring our hallways burst with writing, which literally covers every inch of the wall and even hangs from the ceiling. It is a fun and engaging way to show student work and unite the school with a common purpose.  

    "Creative Writing Celebrations: A Writing Fair" Meghan Everette, Kindergarten–Sixth Grade Teacher

     

    More Resources to Teach Writing:

     

    Stella Writes Set

     

    50 Writing Activities for Meeting Higher Standards

     

     

     

    Story-Writing Sandwich Prompts

     

    But How Do You Teach Writing?

     

     

     

    And Furthermore . . .

    For pure incentive and the thrill of going for the gold, don't forget the "Scholastic Art & Writing Awards." And if you are still looking for creative ways to get the creative juices flowing, try this round-up of even more blog posts at "Best of Blogs: Writing Strategies."

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