A Simple Way to Motivate Young Writers!

If you are a primary teacher, then you know teaching writing to young children can be HARD.  Writing is an elusive skill for many of our little ones, and they often lack the motivation to persist when it is hard.  I want to share with you a writing activity I do around this time of the year that really helps to motivate my students and get them writing more.

Grab a free writing goal setting bookmark to use with your students.

First off, I want to share a bit about my philosophy about kid writing.

1.  Have them write, write, write and then write some more!  Kids learn by doing.  We start writing at the beginning of the year during the first week - shared writing as a class and independent writing (that may not look a lot like writing initially).

2.  I DO NOT correct conventions at this point.  I don't worry about punctuation.  I don't worry about sprinkling capitals in the middle of words.  I don't worry about invented spelling.  I want them to WRITE.

3. I rarely have them write using an assigned topic.  Students are free to write about whatever they want.  This helps with motivation in a big way.

You might be thinking WHAT are you doing??  These things are fundamental skills for students to learn as writers.  You are right, they are essential skills, but none of these skills matter if they don't write.  First and foremost, I believe kids need to write and by just letting them write I feel like they grow so much more.  The minute I put constraints on their writing they tend to shut down.

Now that I have digressed let's get back to the topic.  In March and early April, I ask my students to take out their journals and take a look at their writing.  I have them go back and read the pieces they wrote at the beginning of the year and then continue to read all of the entries to the current time.  The first a-ha many of them have is that they can't read their own stories that they wrote at the beginning of the year.  They also notice things like there are no periods or that there are capital letters EVERYWHERE.  This is just what I want them to see and leads me our next activity: GOAL SETTING. 

Grab a free writing goal setting bookmark to use with your students.

As a class, we talk about things we have learned throughout the year to improve our writing, and we make a list.  My students take a look at their own journals and the co-constructed list to write their personal goals on the Writing Goals bookmark.  This bookmark stays in their writing folder for reference.

The last step is having students select a piece they wrote in the Fall that they would like to improve.  This step can be kind of tricky if they can't read any of the stories, but with a bit of support, every student was able to choose a piece of writing to work on and improve.

Grab a free writing goal setting bookmark to use with your students.

Grab a free writing goal setting bookmark to use with your students.

This is the result: Students who were not writing at all in the fall are now writing several sentences. Students who wrote a sentence or two are now filling the page.  Students are using conventions and adding detail and thinking about what they want to say.  It is so wonderful to see.  I make a big deal out of it by creating these "before and after" style displays and sharing them with families.

If you are looking for a way to motivate your students as the year is drawing to a close then give this a try.  You can grab my Goal Setting bookmark for FREE by clicking on the picture below.

Grab a free writing goal setting bookmark to use with your students.

Until next time!

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