It’s that time of year when the weeks are long, the days are colder (especially if you live where I live), and the students are in their school routine. That routine is great because students understand classroom expectations. That routine can also mean the loss of the excitement of a new year.
All teachers confront the challenges of motivating students to write. While the following tips are not the only correct way to motivate students to write, they are attempts I have used in the high school classroom to get students loving writing while making it fun for them.
How to Motivate Students to Write:
Make it personal
Add a visual and/or kinesthetic element
Publish student work
Have them share (collaborative, competitive)
Write every day (with a creative prompt)
The ideas presented here stem from my work with the National Writing Project, a group with which I am closely associated through my state affiliation. Here are some ideas I have used in my high school classroom to get students to love writing:
Breakdown the Classroom Walls
To make writing personal and to add both a visual and kinesthetic element, I have used Instagram to get students to love writing. When examining purpose, audience, and genre, I had the students choose something concrete in the school that sent a message about our school. Students were asked to take a picture, post it to Instagram (or email it to me if they didn’t have an Instagram account), and write a post about how it represented our school.
This activity gave students choice, got them moving out of the classroom and into the school, and provided them with an engaging activity to write! Students took pictures of our new football stadium and talked about ways that activities support student learning. Students took pictures of classrooms, teachers, and trophy cases and wrote about how each of these spaces, faces, and artifacts impacted their lives.
There was an innate collaborative element because students shared their writing with everyone on their Instagram account, including tagging me as their teacher. This connected students not only to other students at their school, but also to friends who follow them from other cities and communities. There was also an element of publishing their writing by using social media.
Write Every Day: 3 Writing Prompt Examples
Providing students a writing prompt gives them a starting point in their writing, and it is an activity that can provide a seamless entrance into your plan for the day. I usually incorporate this writing activity at the beginning of class. It gets students into their seats and writing about an interesting and engaging topic. Here are some writing prompt examples:
1. Interview: This is a great way to get students to get to know each other.
a. Have each students write 3–5 interview questions.
b. Students will pair up and interview each other.
c. Students will write a “feature article” about the person interviewed. You could include a picture of the student, too!
d. Post around room (this is the publishing factor!).
2. The Super Hero: This is a great way to bring creativity and imagination into the classroom.
a. Have students answer the prompt: If you could be a Super Hero, who would you be and why?
b. Draw it, using at least four different colors.
c. Have students share with classmates.
d. Post drawings and writings in the classroom.
3. The Reading Response: Use this if you want to provide a writing opportunity that is more closely related to your classroom content.
a. Give students a poem, piece of artwork, or picture.
b. Have students title it and write about it.
c. Ask students, what do you see? or what questions you have?
d. Share with classmates
e. Post around the room, especially as the responses tie to your content or essential question for the unit of study.
Writing is fun and students should have many different opportunities to write. Download the WRITE Acronym Poster that reminds you and your students about the writing and how to make it fun every day!
If you have tips on how to motivate students to write, leave a comment!