Last week we talked about skills and tools a student can use to make his writing more interesting. As we continue this series on 10 Stumbling Blocks to Writing, today’s focus turns to a very common writing issue.
Stumbling Block #3
Problem: No motivation to write
Solution: Give kids a wide variety of writing experiences and allow them flexibility to choose topics.
Offer a Varied Writing Diet
Uninteresting or irrelevant topics often produce unmotivated students. One solution? Give your child greater options. Don’t limit him to one kind of writing, like essays or factual reports. Instead, vary his writing diet so he feels more motivated to write!
- Offer experiences with descriptive, informative, and narrative writing. Let him describe people, places, foods, and objects.
- To dabble in expository writing, encourage him to explain a process, write short reports or biographies, or write news articles.
- Teach him to write narratives from varying points of view or in a different voice or tense.
Allow Freedom to Choose Topics
Try give your less-than-motivated student a bit more flexibility of topic choices. Nothing stifles creativity like saying, “You MUST write about THIS.”
I’m not saying your student should run the show. After all, you’re still the teacher! But if you’re teaching a particular kind of writing, such as describing a place, you can give freedom of choice—anything from a baseball stadium to a tea room, from a mountain wilderness to a busy street corner—while remaining within the lesson’s framework. It’s the best of both worlds when you establish some parameters but offer freedom too. When your child feels more “ownership” of the subject matter, you’ll find he’s much more likely to invest himself in the writing.
Tie Writing to Other Subjects
Also, when there’s no motivation to write, consider incorporating writing across the curriculum whenever possible. Instead of teaching writing as a separate subject, writing across the curriculum lets you mesh writing instruction with your study of history, literature, art, music . . . the opportunities are endless.
Write with Delight
And consider delight-directed learning, which allows your student to explore a favorite topic—hobby, sport, historical period, whatever his passion—and write about it in many ways:
- Using vivid description
- Explaining a process (“how-to” composition)
- Writing stories and narratives
- Writing essays and reports
- Developing news articles
The beauty of delight-directed learning? Each writing project focuses on a different aspect of your child’s topic of interest, whether it’s Legos, gardening, horses, or antique guns.
You may grow tired of reading essays, stories, and reports about choosing a helmet, the history of football, Tim Tebow, and “My First Touchdown,” but if it means your student is writing . . . well, rejoice!
If limited writing vocabulary is an issue for your student, check out the next article in the series, Stumbling Block #4.
2009 © Kim Kautzer. All rights reserved.
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If your writing curriculum limits your student’s writing experiences or stifles topic choices, you might want to take a look at WriteShop I for your 6th – 10th grader. Each lesson provides the framework for a particular kind of writing but gives the student options to pick his own topic.
Photos: Doniree Walker and Bradley Gordon, courtesy of Creative Commons.
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