When students are beginning to write, the writing experience itself should be an important and unforgettable learning experience in their lives. As an educator, I face the challenge of teaching my students how to write and to help them develop a keen interest in writing.
So, I feel compelled to call your attention to help me answer the question: “How to teach writing in elementary school?”
Why should students learn how to write? The answer to this question, as teachers, make us tap the most effective teaching strategies that will make children write.
Basically, writing is one of the fundamental skills that our students need to develop. Aside from the fact, that writing is an essential skill needed in communication, it is basically needed for our learners to succeed in their academic and personal lives.
How is your writing skills instruction? Does it work well with your students?
Perhaps, with your amazing teaching experiences, you have your best share of practices on how to teach writing in elementary school.
Students at this level of education have critical writing experiences. Most of them would say, writing is hard. And, they are right, especially to beginners.
Every teacher is a writer; hence, every student should learn how to write!
Such is my fabulous idea when I teach my young learners how to write. I possess the skill and as a dispenser of life skills, I should do whatever it takes to make my students write with the same intensity when I teach them how to read.
Hello, my dear fellow educators! I am glad that you are here with me again. For today, allow me to dish out my best practices on how to teach writing in elementary school.
I know that each one of us as teachers, whether new or seasoned, has our own best teaching practices which are worth-sharing and emulating.
Why is writing important as a skill?
Teaching our students to become effective writers is part of our challenges as teachers. It demands not only our best strategies and practices but also our patience and determination.
Also, it is a skill that is mastered through continued practice and drills. And, it doesn’t happen overnight. It is developed all throughout their education levels.
Before we get into details on the best practices to teach writing in elementary school, allow me first to share a few enjoinders or factors which I think, will help us in our goal of enabling our students how to write and to learn the writing process effectively.
Factors to Consider to Teach Writing in Elementary School
How is our writing instructional time? Is it sufficient to make our students develop essential writing skills? For one thing, there is a sense of urgency that our students should learn how to write because they have to express their thoughts and ideas in a comprehensible manner.
In my class, I see to it that my students spend adequate time writing. For me, the time element is very necessary as our learners really need enough time during school days to practice writing. I even encourage them to practice writing at home by giving them homework as reinforcement to the skills they already learned.
As teachers, it is our responsibility to provide students with a productive and positive learning environment. Giving instructions and letting my students follow and write shouldn’t be enough. Evidently, a positive learning environment will increase a student’s performance and participation.
If they are confident to participate, they are eager to share their ideas and put them into writing. They should not be afraid to tell us their difficulties especially in writing. The secret is to have open communication with our learners. It is a way of maintaining good connections with our students so they will do their best to improve themselves.
I take this matter seriously to help my students learn the flexibility in effective writing. Hence, I make myself literally visible during the writing time. I am there to assist and observe how they do the process and make the necessary corrections and follow-up.
In my view, it isn’t enough that my learners can construct sentences. I want them to construct grammatically correct sentences! I teach my students to write also to make them think. Writing is thinking and organizing ideas, and that is actually one of the most important reasons to teach students to write.
I love to teach my students to write in a “thinking manner”. The more they know how to organize their thoughts, the more they think, the better writers they can become!
Most importantly, I keep in mind that criticisms will not help at all and that positive feedback to each student should come into view.
As we all know, proper motivation in any instructional avenues highly affects our students’ performance. How to motivate my students to write? With this thought, I could hear you asking. Simply, my students should be inspired to write to a full extent.
My students should learn how to write effectively. Hence, I make the writing instruction personal so students will get in touch with themselves more.
According to Leonard Cohen, “The more personal you get, the more universal the application.” The more my students are encouraged to write about a specific thing or person, the more they get excited. Their personal thoughts wander about and they begin to write.
I motivate myself too. I know that my journey with my students towards their writing career is not as easy as it seems. Each one of them is a complete package of differences. And, I know it.
Therefore, I confront these challenges with an open mind and flexible schemes. My students ought to love writing and to enjoy the process.
Setting High Expectations
In my personal view, my students are expected to possess effective writing skills. It’s part of my high expectations for them. Hence, they have to achieve something all throughout the year. It is a strong foundation for them to strive hard to achieve their academic and personal goals.
I set the daily challenge constructively so my students extend amazing efforts to achieve desired learning outcomes. Developing their writing skills is one of my teaching goals and so, I set this as one of my best expectations.
I expect my students to translate their thoughts into writing and it should happen. As the school year ends, it’s one of the important aspects that I’m going to evaluate. How far have my students gone into writing?
It’s my strong belief that my students are able to achieve something despite their individual circumstances. Moreover, my high expectations for writing help my students make personal adjustments and decisions in different classroom activities.
My high expectations for my students make them reveal their potentials and improve their skills to achieve excellence in writing. I keep pushing them until they get there. That’s my role and I stick to it!
So, how do my students put together words to convey meaningful thoughts and messages?
How to Teach Writing in Elementary School?
1. Make Writing Part of the Daily Instruction
My daily instruction always includes writing activities. Each day, I always set precious time for my students to write. Through regular practice, my students can accelerate their writing skills. I honestly wish all teachers would make writing part of their daily instruction.
As we all know, writing is crucial and is highly indispensable to our students’ success in the future. Hence, let me take this wonderful opportunity to stress out the importance of checking what our students write. It’s a challenge on our part but for me, it’s never daunting. As a teacher, I don’t like to steal or to deprive my kids of valuable learning through writing. They deserve to learn and to master the skill!
In their younger years in school, I know they’re taught of the basics in writing, from the proper holding of their pencils, tracing lines and letters, and writing letters. And, I know that teachers in the kindergarten do the writing practice exercises daily.
This time, my young learners should know how to gather and compose their thoughts to craft sensible sentences and legible paragraphs. When students write regularly, they tend to improve their writing skills.
I always tell my students to never give up and try their best. As I give immediate feedback, I make them feel that they should not impress me with their words, their persistence to write is quite rewarding for me.
“You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it. That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence.” – Octavia E. Butler
2. Practice Guided Writing
As teachers, we stand as guides in our student’s writing journey. There might be roadblocks along the way, but with our amazing touch os genuine support our students will be able to write well.
For this reason, I make use of writing prompts for my students to follow. Of course, I always consider their abilities and learning levels. I set writing activities accordingly.
There are writing exercises for advanced learners and for average and slow learners. For me, it’s important to recognize their levels to help them along the way. I change activities as they advance.
I make guided writing as an intensive routine at first. This is to make my students ready for the real battle in writing. Doing slowly and introducing writing concepts one step at a time, makes my students don’t hate the daily writing regimen.
3. Exhibit Instructional Writing Scaffolding
My young writes need my exceptional support. Scaffolding means giving them rich writing experiences through instructional conversations and meaningful interactions as they experiment with writing.
The early writing skills of our students should be nurtured and we should respond appropriately to their development.
For elementary students who are just beginning in their writing journey, explicit scaffolding should be given. The writing task itself should not get them discouraged.
As teachers, we are to simplify things to make it easy for our students. We can’t expect them to write well on the first prompting. We need to craft our guided writing lessons that practically support each student’s level towards student’s linguistic and conceptual development.
Organizing writing as part of our daily instruction needs proper scaffolding techniques. It is a systematic way of meeting our students’ writing needs.
With due consideration to their diverse writing capabilities, I carefully consider differentiating writing instruction to bring out the young authors in them. I always believe that my students can perform better and write effectively.
4. Provide Explicit Writing Instruction
I understand that some of my learners really struggle in different writing activities. However, it’s not a reason not to provide them appropriate explicit writing instruction.
Using small-group interaction will help too. I usually make my students interact before they write. This is to expand their experiences and expound their thoughts.
As an example, I asked them to pair up with a classmate and conduct a question and answer activity. This is my getting to know the strategy.
Each will ask questions like likes and dislikes, hobbies, favorite pets, and all personal stuff. Then, they take time to compose their thoughts, prepare their draft before they proceed to write a paragraph.
Christine M. Clark in her Research Paper, notably stated that “the use of explicit writing instruction makes students experience growth in their writing capabilities and develop positive writing attitudes.”
“Start writing no matter what. The water doesn’t flow until the faucet is turned on.” – Louis L’Amour
As teachers, we should open rich writing opportunities for our students. As they begin to scribble their simple thoughts, we should always be their guides when they create their writing world.
5. Make Writing Activities Simple
We all know that writing itself is a complex process. I know that it is a difficult process for it requires cognitive and linguistic skills. So, I use simple writing activities as a head start.
By understanding its complexity, we can offer our young writers simple yet profound writing activities that will help them increase their writing interests
For our young learners, we should craft simple writing activities for them at first. It is to help them develop strong writing skills. In my class, I usually incorporate reading and writing, as these two skills should go hand in hand more oftentimes.
After reading a story, part of the engaging activities is to let my students pick out unfamiliar words from the story. In so doing, I am building their vocabulary skills. They are to write the words in their notebook and study their meanings in the drills.
Then, I introduce phrases using the chosen words. Afterward, I will let them use the phrases to build their sentences. Usually, they are to say something of the story read. What did they understand? How they describe the characters? What important lessons did they learn? How they relate their experiences to the events in the story?
To make it even simpler, I utilize the multiple-choice kind of assessment before I ask them to write. The choices should model legible sentences.
As they construct their simple sentences, I provide immediate feedback so they will be guided along the way. To best help my young writers, I make use of graphic organizers in presenting ideas. As it happens, I do the best I can to guide them especially when they organize their thoughts.
I consider that most of them are visual learners and by using graphic organizers especially in the prewriting stage, this makes their writing tasks light and easy.
We can make use of First-grade writing activities if we are handling grade 1 students. There are a variety of topics they want to write about. We should let them write to increase their writing appetite in a fun and easy way.
6. Teach Students the ‘Whys’ of Writing
Practically, my students should know why they write and why they should develop the skill. Telling them that writing is indispensable in their everyday lives, is a simple convincing strategy.
Writing is an important skill for students of all ages. It is a practical way of expressing one’s self. My students should understand this piece of thought so they will be determined to write more.
As they write short responses to questions, I am showing them the essence of learning the skill and they need it every day of their lives. Simple short responses like, ‘I like the story’, ‘I love the bear in the story’, ‘To be honest is good’, ‘The rabbit is my favorite character because he is loyal’, really make sense to me.
I also have something to offer for my reluctant writers. However, I am confident about using regular writing practice as my best tool to convince and engage these learners.
They should put their pen to paper for them to get in. I can’t allow them to turn off their writing powers. By making use of fun writing activities, I essentially make these students write.
Writing is not only a valuable tool for communication but also it is one of the practical ways of self-expression. When we ask our students how they feel and ask them to put their answers into writing is one simple example of showing why writing is important.
Hence, students must develop strong writing skills. It is one of the skills needed in the learning process because the scenario doesn’t only require students to read and speak. They need to write, too. Through the use of effective writing practices, students hone their writing skills.
7. Introduce the Writing Process
In kindergarten, young learners are not only taught how to scribble letters and words but most importantly they are made to understand the writing process as well.
Students should be taught the writing process so that they appreciate more our varied instructional strategies. So, they will not wonder why we do it and why we let them do it. Writing involves the following distinct 4 steps:
Prewriting or the planning stage
In this stage, students gather their thoughts. It can be in accordance with the story read or to their personal experiences, or to any learning experiences.
Students have to think before they write. As they do it, we should always be visible to guide them in doing the process through guided instruction.
In my classroom, I usually make use of the think-pair-share strategy so students will discuss important concepts before they write. Through the sharing of ideas, students are able to get information and basic details that they need.
During this stage, students are to organize the ideas they have collected into sentences and paragraphs. They have to think about the topic and expound it.
On my part, before my students proceed to revise their writing output, they have to present it to me first. For me, it’s important to go over their work so they will know which went well and which needed improvement. In this way, I am making myself available to support their writing journey. It doesn’t make them less as students but it adds to their confidence.
For young learners, this is an enjoyable experience for them if we teachers display accommodating attitudes. It is important to show them that we appreciate their writing efforts so they will be more inclined to write.
Once, I already checked my students’ outputs, if time permits, I immediately ask them to edit their original piece of writing. I can feel their excitement when they do the editing.
As we put emphasis on the writing process, we are actually helping our students to write successfully. Our young learners should be taught how to proofread their writing pieces. It encourages independence among our grades 5 and 6 learners and it promotes close instruction to the lower levels.
Our feedback in the revision stage is important in this stage. Somehow, our students should know how to improve their outputs and their writing styles.
It is the final stage of the writing process. More oftentimes, I require my students to submit a handwritten output. It is also a way of refining their penmanship and writing style.
When students submit their work, I have to check it and grade it immediately. I also provide feedback to maintain the connection and to give additional tips for their future writing activities.
And, the best works are to be displayed on the bulletin board. Once their works are returned I have to make general feedback of what went well and what went wrong.
If their writing output is of valuable importance, such as a message to their parents, their best learning experiences, their inspiration, and similar topics, I allow them to post it on their Facebook walls or Tweeter accounts. Grade 6 learners are excited to do it!
As we put emphasis on the writing process, we are actually helping our students to write successfully.
To put it all together…
As we help our students learn how to write, we are making them productive citizens of the world knowing how important writing is in the success of an individual.
By making the writing process engaging and stimulating, students can define their own writing goals. Our dedication as teachers plays an important role to make our students’ writing skills come out and shine!
Therefore, it’s good to share helpful tips and best practices on how to teach our students to become writers. We are excited to know about your most practical and effective instructional writing strategies. Feel free to comment below and be heard!
So, how do you teach writing? What are your engaging ways to get your students writing?