Writing Motivation

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by hollydoris, Dec 14, 2014.

  1. hollydoris

    hollydoris Rookie

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    Dec 14, 2014

    Hello! It's been awhile since I've posted but I always appreciate the help I get when I do.

    I am wondering if anyone has some tips for helping the students be motivated when it comes to writing. My students do well with being motivated for reading and math thankfully, but with writing I am constantly dealing with students avoiding their work and getting nothing done. It's almost embarrassing to admit how little most of them get done over the course of a 30 minute block...and how little they get done over the course of the week. I set reasonable due dates to try and motivate them to use their time wisely but it doesn't help...some end up wasting so much class time and then just do the whole assignment at home the night before it's due, and others just never do the assignment. I follow a Writer's Workshop format and try to give them fun projects that involve a lot of student choice, but I just can't seem to get them excited about writing and motivated to actually sit down and write! Any suggestions?

    Also, any suggestions on where to find some structure and mini-lessons would be appreciated because we don't have much of a writing curriculum so I do my own research for lessons and it is kind of a lot of work!
     
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  3. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Dec 14, 2014

    What kind of writing are you teaching? Are you in a particular unit of study?
     
  4. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    Dec 14, 2014

    Writer´s workshop has proven to be the best format I have ever used! It really, really motivates the kids to write. If you search online I bet you could find a ton of mini-lessons for writing. We are using a program called ¨Being a Writer¨. I like it fine enough. Of course, I am of the opinion that no program is complete as is. You will always need to supplement and tweak. Look into Lucy Calkins who is really the master of the workshop!
     
  5. hollydoris

    hollydoris Rookie

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    Dec 14, 2014

    We are wrapping up narrative writing and will be moving into journal writing next week.
     
  6. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    I am really starting to think that writing is just really really challenging. There really seems to be much less, "this is easy, the answer is...". Students have to struggle every single time they write. There is no, I know exactly what to write and how to write it, there is just so much thinking and refining that goes into it. Writing is hard.

    This is one reason why I think students are not as motivated by writing. I have seen a severe aversion to writing by GATE students over the years as well.
     
  7. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    No real advice, but my class is the same way. About half of my students can sit for 30 minutes and get nothing done.

    I stopped doing writing workshop because the lack of structure and prompts was like a freedom overload for some of my kids. Pashtun is right, they are used to there being a right answer.

    For my kids, using prompts, sentence stems, and outlines has helped some.
     
  8. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Dec 14, 2014

    I allow my students to make their own choices of topics. As long as your students fulfill the standards, they can have some freedom of how they do so.

    For example, my narrative assignment had three prompts dedicated to the reading they had completed. Another prompt gave them the option of a reflective memoir, which I explained in class as an enrichment. Yet another prompt gave them the freedom to write an original story. That prompt has gotten higher completion and overall engagement than almost any other assignment in my class.
     
  9. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Dec 14, 2014

    I'm not familiar with journal writing as a unit of study. What are your teaching points for this unit? What are you hoping kids to do? Are you using writers notebooks ?
     
  10. hollydoris

    hollydoris Rookie

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    Dec 14, 2014

    I'm not sure about other schools but journal writing is part of the requirements at the school I teach (I'm at a private school, though we do follow Common Core.) My school gives us required projects the kids must complete, but the means of which we get there is up to us. They are learning about the Oregon Trail and must keep a pioneer journal. I have specific prompts for the first five days of the journal, but after that I'm not sure if I should end the project or continue it.

    The project before this the kids had to write a narrative about a character that overcomes a major challenge. They thought it was fun on the first day but after that they struggled majorly with motivation. I do agree with previous posters that writing is just hard! It's so open ended and and it seems fun at first but it's not long until you realize that being open ended actually requires more creativity and problem solving...and that's a lot of work.

    Maybe I should do some mini lessons for a week or so on why writing is important in real life. While I do try to relate things we learn back to real life frequently, I could probably do a better job with it. Has anyone done anything like that to motivate your students?
     
  11. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Dec 14, 2014

    So it seems you are having them writing in content areas given specific prompts. But what are you actually TEACHING about writing? This doesn't fit my understanding and approach to workshop
     
  12. hollydoris

    hollydoris Rookie

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    Dec 14, 2014

    Some are more specific than others, but sometimes yes. We are a PBL school but new to PBL so some things are trial and error. We are given specific things because of our units and the project we are doing within that unit. Our writing it designed to follow our project if that makes sense.

    What would the kids be working on in a traditional writing workshop? Are they allowed to choose what they want to write indefinitely? Surely they are required to write certain things sometimes to meet standards.
     
  13. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    I think she is asking something along the lines of:
    are students supposed to learn to
    1.write good introductions
    2. wirte dialogue
    3. use transition words
    4. conclusions
    5. good paragraph structure
    6. word choices
    ...etc
     
  14. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Even children who know the mechanics of writing may have difficulty summoning up feelings and awareness in order to choose what to write about. I used to take my kids on short silent walks and ask them to find one thing that they noticed. When we got back, they could share what they noticed and tell why they think they noticed that particular item. This led them to make a connection with something in a non-threatening way. Finally, they would write about how they chose the item and how it related to them.

    I think that anything you do to enable children to verbalize their awareness is helpful. However, awareness isn't so easy to come by when kids are rushed around all day from lesson to lesson and special to special.
     
  15. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Right now a segment on 'Mindfulness' is airing on 60 Minutes. That's what writers need.
     
  16. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Within a unit of study, kids are drafting many many pieces in their notebooks. Everyday I teach a skill or strategy, using mentor texts, having kids 'give it a try' in their own writing...so it might be leads, elaboration, using dialog to stretch out a piece, focusing on small moments, showing not telling feelings, etc.then we choose a piece and revise, edit,confer and publish...kids need models, lots of practice, and direct instruction on craft and mechanics. Are you doing this?

    You were offered some advice and resource suggestions some while back when you were first starting WW...have you tried any of those ideas/websites?http://forums.atozteacherstuff.com/showthread.php?t=178363
     
  17. hollydoris

    hollydoris Rookie

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    Dec 15, 2014

    I see what you are asking now, sorry I was confused for a second! Yes I do do minilessons and the topics are decided based upon the need of the students at the time. If I notice they are struggling with transitions, we do a few minilessons on that. If I notice they are struggling with editing, we do some editing practice and revision practice. If they are struggling with topic sentences and hooks, we work on that, etc.

    I have long been looking for a structure to follow when it comes to minilessons (a schedule of sorts for when to teach certain skills) but haven't been able to find anything more than a unit, which I'm sure is because the writing topics in workshop typically center on the needs of that particular group of students, so that is what I have been doing this year.
     
  18. hollydoris

    hollydoris Rookie

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    Also I had forgotten about that thread and it did give me some good reminders of things I wanted to try, so thank you.
     
  19. iteachbx

    iteachbx Enthusiast

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    Dec 19, 2014

    I've always found turning any writing project I'm doing into some sort of a letter writing project really motivates students. Example, we're going to write about a community issue and send a letter to the mayor or we're going to write about a culture and write a letter to a fictional pen pal (or even better- real pen pal)
     
  20. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    Dec 22, 2014

    Again, I would look into doing a workshop approach. I have never seen kids more motivated to write than when using a workshop approach. In a workshop approach students really get choice in what they write (and it could be choices within choices) as well as time to work on a develop a piece. They might need a week or more to work on their writing and that´s ok. The ones who can write more and develop more will. Those who are not as developed writers can write within their abilities. I think if you look into the workshop approach you will find amazing changes and you and your kiddos will LOVE writing time.
     

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