We know the struggle is real. Getting your class to continuously hone and improve their writing skills is tough. We’ve got your back though. Here are a few practical and simple strategies to improve your class’ writing. Simple to set up and easily implemented in class.
1) Make your classroom a literacy rich environment. This can be done by ensuring your pupils have access to a huge variety of resources. Provide lots of choice of everyday literacy materials. Recipes, menus, signs and maps all work well. Expose them to varying genres such as magazines, books on tape and word games like Boggle. Have literacy-based resources wherever possible. Displays around the class and notepads with easy access to writing tools help.
2) Liven things up a bit, if writing is becoming a drag, make it fun. Let them practice their writing as usual, but brighten it up. Let’s face it, school pencils are boring! Provide bright colours, funky pencils or even scented or glitter pens for handwriting practice and note-taking.
3) Expand your pupils’ concept of audience. Share their work outside the classroom. Celebrate it in assemblies, with parents, on social media or go one step further and share it with people around the world on Pobble. Providing an audience for their writing really makes them think about not only the content but the presentation too. Best of all it provides a real purpose to write.
4) Most people would struggle to write about a subject they had no interest in, so find out what they are in to and build your writing lesson around that. Discovering what it is that the children want to write about can really fire their enthusiasm for writing, even if it’s Minecraft or Pokemon!
5) Provide students with opportunities to give and receive feedback. Letting them peer assess each other’s work is empowering and gives them pride in their learning. These genre tick lists can be used to encourage children to incorporate the different features of particular genres in their writing.
6) Don’t limit writing to lesson times. Having a dedicated writing station with a wide variety of mark making instruments, different sizes/colours of paper and envelopes will promote a culture of writing in the classroom. If they want to write during free time they will have an area for them to do so, ready prepared with all the tools they need.
7) Go back to basics. Start with the essential building blocks that need to be in place in order to help them write with ease and fluency. Re-learn the most important grammar rules, build strong sentences and focus on construction and mechanics, such as punctuation and capitalisation. Bad handwriting habits are easily picked up so a pencil grip refresher can help to improve handwriting.
8) Encourage magpie-ing, brainstorming and note-taking. Revising sentences and errors is all part of the writing process. Children need to understand that the perfect sentence takes time and thought to construct.
9) Healthy competition in the classroom can be great fun and very motivating. Create a weekly writing contest where the winner gains a special prize or role in the classroom (a VIP chair, cushion or cape works well). Have the children vote for their most hardworking peers each week. They’ll strive to up their writing game!
10) Take a class break halfway through a piece of writing. Some children can write too much and get carried away, others trail off and get stuck. Take some time to pause, read things through, discuss and refocus on the end goal. Encourage the kids to make this a habit to boost their productivity.
11) Discuss with your class about using the writing process for a variety of purposes, to describe, to narrate, to inform, or to persuade/analyse. Ensure they have a clear understanding of why and when they would use each style. You can find thousands of real-life examples and model texts on Pobble which a free to access and show your class ‘what a good one looks like’.
12) Let your class see you write or, even better, write with them! Seeing their teacher joining them in the work can emphasize that writing is a worthwhile activity. Respond to and praise their writing as you go. Read more about writing for pleasure here.
13) Use technology to improve literacy. Can they write an email to someone, read a story on the computer or practise their spelling on the iPad? Typing out their writing and using the spell check can highlight any errors in a new way and give them the opportunity to self-assess simply.
14) Encourage parental involvement, consider holding a meeting to discuss strategies and tips for parents or send out a leaflet outlining ideas. Parental involvement will reinforce your message of the importance of good writing. Incentivise free writing at home and school, the more practice they get the better! Read our top tips for parents for supporting their child with writing at home.
15) Create word walls around your classroom, where children can go to select an alternative word to use in their writing. Consider several areas to collect useful vocabulary such as adjectives and adverbs or synonyms. Give the class plenty of opportunities to add to the word walls and magpie from them too.