Motivating Your Student Writers

Welcome to today’s teacher videos which is about getting your reluctant writers to get those pencils moving!  This series focuses on 3 big picture ideas:  Writing with Visuals, Writing for Meaning, and Writing by Novelty.

Today's video tips all about writing! This series focuses on 3 big picture ideas: Writing with Visuals, Writing for Meaning, and Writing by Novelty.

You can watch both videos in the playlist below – or keep scrolling for the transcript and links to some fo the resources mentioned:

Teaching Writing That is Engaging for Students


“Hi everyone! It’s Charity Preston from the Organized Classroom blog!

Today, we are talking about motivating your student writers.

This was actually a request from someone either at our Facebook fan page or at our blog. Remember, you can always email me directly as well with those suggestions.

So today we’re talking about writing ideas.

I have about 15 ideas.

They pretty much fall into three categories: Writing with Visuals, Writing for Meaning, and Writing with Novelty.

If you can incorporate all of those types of things into your writing lessons, you’re bound to hit your students somewhere along the line and peak their interest in one way or another.

And then you will know that for the next time, whenever they are resistant to writing anything for you, as well.

The first one is writing with visuals:

This one is great I know for me, because I’m a very visual learner.

One thing you could do is take a topic, whatever topic that you want, give it to the students, and give them a bunch of magazines.

Now within the magazines, it’ll be their job to create.

Use just a larger size plain index card (5×7), and have them make a collage that shows what their topic is about.

Then after that, give them an opportunity to write about their collage.

That way they’ll at least have some pictures to go off of, to get them started.

They can’t use the “I don’t know what to write about” line because they have a picture that they’ve created in front of them to help them along the way.

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Ok, the second option is photo prompts.

Most of us have used these before. They are cards with pictures on the one side. And then on the back, they usually have some kind of prompt.

Those are always a good option as well. I probably would even go as far as creating a separate stack of cards for quick writes.

Maybe even build your own by using index cards and mounting questions on construction paper.

Quick writes are super easy to come up with, such as “What are some things you can think of that start with the letter B?” Something that will take them three or four minutes to write as a sponge activity in between things that they are doing in class. You will be able to keep them writing and their brains moving.

The idea is a product that I know I’ve used in my classroom: Books called Draw, Then Write. They are wonderful because it’s a very quick, simple drawing process that you show the students how to draw something new.

Then it comes with a writing prompt. They have to write about their drawing as well.

Some of the novelty included is that they normally don’t get draw during class, which makes it pretty exciting for them.

And the drawings are pretty simple, so they don’t tale much time to create, which leaves plenty of time to focus on the writing prompt.

Alright, on to the next idea! I like this one for both younger and older students. If you have younger children, grab a very simple dot to dot printable. Use it as a math lesson first and go through and connect all the dots together.

Then once they have their picture, you are able to say, “Let’s write about this picture.” It’s fun to see what kind of different stories the students can come up with all based from the same drawing. If you have time afterwards, they can color in that picture as well. A little fine motor action as a bonus.

The next five ideas have to do with writing for meaning. And this one really hits home for me because I think this makes a difference for a lot of your student writers.

One of the first things that I have done in my classroom every year is a star student story with the students in my classroom.

I start the story prepped with 1-2 paragraphs. Then I’ve passed that onto the next star student of the week. At home, through the week with their parents, they get one sheet of paper and they add on to the story that I have started. Then every week that continues and the story gets passed on and on all the way through my entire class of 20, 30 students.

Then, I finish it at the end because I want to make sure that it’s all wrapped up nicely.

At the end of the school year, I create a presentation slide and I place the students’ pictures on the front of it.

Then I edited and typed up the whole story, leaving a spot at the top of each child’s page for each to add an illustration made with a black marker (mainly because it would copy much better from our school copy machine).

They also signed their page with a signature (since they were the author and illustrator of course).

I made copies of the entire story and put them right into folders with brads. I slapped a label on the front of each with the school name, grade level, and school year.

They were then given to each student as an end of the year keepsake gift. Many even had their classmates sign the back folder cover.

I made sure to keep those stories in my class library book baskets, so that from year to year, students could go back and read the prior years’ stories as well. Those are a lot of fun.

How about another writing tip?

Another thing you can do is bring in a basket of real objects. Now, if the students don’t know what the objects are – even better.

Ask the students: “How are you going to write about that?” The kitchen gadgets are my favorite because they are more likely to not know what they are. Things like a nutcracker, an egg slicer, a potato masher, etc.

Don’t tell them what they are and have them write about it and let’s see what they can come up with creatively.

Another category that I think is so important is writing for an audience.

If you have the opportunity to have a school newspaper, here are some great resources that I’ve used.

I’ve actually even created a math newspaper when I just taught math class as well. And the students know they’re going to have an audience because it is going to go out to the parents and their friends in other classes. It will be posted on a class or school district website.

They’re more likely to really care about what they’re going to be putting out there.

Another great way to have some meaning is use Twitter to hook up with another teacher from across the country, across the world and Skype with them regularly.

I’ve been amazed at what I’ve seen on Twitter with teachers working collaboratively together. It’s amazing to me how they’re being able to work with one another and not even be in the same state or the same country.

So you certainly could do that with classrooms as well.

Find a pen pal teacher to work with via Skype and have them have some writing buddies.

That way the students can get face to face time.

If you can’t do Skype or Twitter in your classrooms, another option would be to use a video camera or a flip camera and tape record your students doing their work, and then email it to the other school as well as they’re just some ideas for writing with meaning.

Lots of resources today!

How about some for writing for novelty?

Do you like the old school Mad libs? They even have some for math these days.

This is a lot of fun because it’s math and they can fill in the different blanks to make math problems they need to compute after they finish their funny story.

If you don’t want to buy a resource to do this, there are even some websites online that’ll do it right for you.

Another option is to use cartoons or comic strips to have the students write and fill in the details. And those are super easy to come by. Simply print or cut out a comic strip from the newspaper and then cut it in half. Have students finish it in their own version, making sure it includes some sort of text.

I also love the websites for fractured fairy tales. And I found a really fun one fortune cookie stories as well.

Cootie catchers the kids love to do can also be a wonderful novel way to get kids interested in writing.

You can make your own by grabbing a YouTube video to show you how to make one. It’s been a long time for me.

You could write characters, settings, and plots on the insides and have the students partner up to get one of each and then write a story about it. That could be a lot of fun.

Of course, you can always stick to basic poetry, writing guides, or writing prompts magazines and books.

If you want to integrate it into other subjects, math poetry, that’s always something fun as well.

I love whenever you integrate other subjects, it makes a little bit more interesting.

I hope you enjoyed some of the writing ideas today – make sure to check out some of the links below – and that you’ll be able to use some of the ideas I shared.

Alright, bye!”

Resource Links:

Writing with Visuals~~

Writing for Meaning~~

Writing by Novelty~~

Additional Resources I have used as well~~

Make sure you stop by our Facebook fan page with your ideas and success stories from using these ideas as well!  Or just leave us a comment!



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