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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Workshop Wednesday (Writing Motivation)

I am linking up with Jivey at Ideas by Jivey for her Workshop Wednesday!  I love how this linky really gets me reflecting on some of the ways I teach and allows me to get so many great ideas from other bloggers.  Thank you to my BBB, Jivey, for hosting this linky each week!
This week's topic is:
 "How do you keep your writer's motivated to write?"

Here are few tricks that I have up my sleeve...
1.  Focus on Topics Students Can Write About
Fourth graders come from third grade barely writing complete sentences and we have to get them to multi paragraph writing by March!  Yikes!  I really feel that the best way to do this is by writing about topics that they are easy to write about...(Tell me a story about your pet...What did you do over the summer?...Who is your best friend and why?...).  I teach students how to make good introductions, conclusions, organize, use transitions, etc. when writing about topics that interest them!  It is difficult enough to build their writing stamina without trying to make them write about a "difficult topic".  It is amazing how much their writing stamina is built and how comfortable they start to feel about writing within a few months.
Practicing and learning by writing with "easy topics" doesn't mean that we don't practice the types of questions that will be on "THE TEST".
We do.
I just wait until they are very good (well, most of them!) at organizing their writing and then we practice those type of questions using two passages and details within the passages to support their reasoning.  This usually comes around late January or early February.  We also only practice these a couple times a month but really spend time discussing the flow and organization of sample papers.  Students also are rarely given these for homework.  I find that doesn't build the stamina they will need for the big test.  They need a quiet classroom to work where they read both passages without distractions and without relying on a parent's help.
They DO need to practice this before the big day otherwise they are being left so unprepared for what will be before them.  Setting up a multi-paragraph essay about your summer vacation is much different than comparing and contrasting two passages about ambiguous topics and who knows whatever else might be thrown in their direction!

2.  Offer Students Choices and Change Them Up Often
I started using a modified Daily 5 (I use D4) this year and have really stuck to allowing the students choices in all their tasks.  It is amazing how empowering that little change has been!  I blogged about my use of Shared Writing Journals here.
One area I need to improve on is changing out the options more often.  I did recently change out my shared journals and the class has been enthusiastic about getting their hands on the new Shared Writing Journals.  I also offer a different method for writing than the paper/pencil method by offering things like KidBlog.  They love this.
I blogged about KidBlog here.

3.  Model the Writing Process and Your Thinking
This one is SO time consuming.  It is very tempting to show a great example of a written response to the class that has been prepared in advance to save time.  However, I rarely do this because I find the students are not engaged or paying close attention.  Are they really learning about the thinking process that went in to writing that great response?  Not really.
When writing about "My Summer Vacation", I model making my plan (and maybe tell a few personal stories along the way...which they LOVE!) and then I model brainstorming the "just right" introduction, etc.  I write the essay and usually type it from my laptop while it is projected on the SMART board.  Sometimes I have students write the essay with me too.  Then, I always change a sentence or wording somewhere as I write and need to erase to reword.  You should hear the students GROAN when they have to rewrite it!  Then, comes my spiel about how we are constantly revising and editing our writing for flow!  

Check back with Jivey's linky party for other ideas about motivating your students to write!

Don't forget to enter my 500 Follower Giveaway!  Thank you so much for your support:)


  1. I do the same with writing on the spot. It does take some time, but they appreciate seeing me think and yes, even make mistakes (they don't need to know most are planned!!) - thanks for linking up!!

  2. I 100% agree with #1 and #3! (we don't do Daily 5...yet) Modeling is a lengthy process, but I think that's why our kids are successful writers! I do show student samples too, but I try to model some kind of writing every day!
    Head Over Heels For Teaching

  3. Ooooh yeah modeled writing is so important- I don't do it nearly enough because of the time factor! I need to change that!
    I came over to your blog because somehow whenever there is a linky party and I go to comment on other people's posts I'm always the next comment after you!

    Spooky! haha!

    x Serena x
    Magic Mistakes & Mayhem

  4. I loved the idea of whole class writing journals. I have been meaning to set those up for a while! :) Maybe I'll get to it today! And yes, modeling is soooo very important. That has been a big goal for me this year and it has been a game changer for sure! Thanks for sharing. :)
    Brandee @ Creating Lifelong Learners

  5. I have got to keep all of these ideas organized in my head for next year. Shared journals and kidblog are definitely on that list. How will I ever remember all of this!?! I'll do my best though!!! :O)

    Thanks for sharing these ideas!!