Saturday, November 9, 2019

Writing doesn't have to be boring!

By Teach To Tell
Grades 3-7

One of the most challenging tasks of teaching students to write a particular genre is instilling a passion for it. A majority of students find writing tedious, time-consuming, and just plain old boring.

Teachers too often dread marking work of these 'reluctant' writers. We often go on about drilling students on the different stages of the writing process, adhering to the structure of the required genre, and stressing on the importance of using figurative language devices in a piece of writing, but how often do we actually painstakingly  model each phase or each device that intricately makes up the coherent whole?

When I started designing my units on the Narrative, Opinion, and Non-fiction (Biography) genre, I envisioned the entire process from start to finish, and being an avid advocate of interpreting the abstract, set about designing lessons accordingly. I designed from a student writer's perspective, how would I begin? where would I start? And so I decided to write mentor texts and have most of my lessons revolve around them.

elements of a plot narrative writing
openers and sizzling starts

comparative writing
 ethos pathos logos

This also involved lessons that featured the use of Cornell-style guided notes that students wrote as they viewed PowerPoint presentations. This mode of lesson delivery, I found was effective because it resulted in students being alert and actively engaged as they followed along while I presented the writing lesson.

elements of a plot

I also found that anchor charts displayed in the classroom to be an invaluable point of reference for students as they wrote and these were displayed for the genre in question we were focussing on.

writing to persuade
writing to convince

exposition orientation
rising action and external internal conflict

time line in a biography
factual information in a biography

Moreover the combination of interactive notebook templates and plain old-fashioned sheets also sought to motivate the most reluctant of writers.

writing hook opinion thesis
writing  plot problem characters

opinion writing techniques
 persuasive writing

I also found that focus on one writing skill at a time was extremely beneficial for all students to really get comfortable with the writing process and polish their writing technique at the same time.

Below are the snapshots of a lesson we did solely on sizzling starts in a narrative. Students learned all the different interesting ways to start and not stick to the boring opener of 'one day...' or 'once upon a time..' for that matter.

openers introduction

Needless to say the integration with QR codes made writing all the more fun!

openers introduction
 openers introduction

And finally to assess the application of writing skills taught during the year, I like to give my students a writing prompt to write on via a flipbook. This is work in progress and students love seeing how the parts of a flipbook get completed  - besides it makes a very eye-catching bulletin board display too.

                  factual account

fictional account narrative

persuasive techniques flipbook

Students know better than to submit their finished pieces to me as is - they self-edit and peer-edit to see where they can improve using the checklists below depending upon the genre under study.

text structure introduction body conclusion
 text structure introduction body conclusion

audience text structure dialogue

But for me, the art of teaching writing has still not been mastered - it still remains a very abstract subject, one that still requires much trial and error, much creation and much shaping of teaching techniques. Nevertheless, if you would like to be a part of this teaching and learning curve, then sample the creations while they are in the making and provide constructive feedback. The bundle below is a growing one - that means purchase now and you will get all lifetime updates for free. Now how good is that? Together we can make writing for ALL our students not mundane, monotonous and boring - but liberating and fun!

writing to narrate persuade convince


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