Since I was a child I always loved writing, so imagine my surprise when I started teaching 4th grade and noticed some of my students didn’t love writing as much as I did! One of my goals as a teacher was to excite kids to write, even if it was just a sentence a day. So I started thinking of ways to motivate each student. This page contains some ideas that teachers have been using for years, some of my ideas, and some really fun ideas I have seen when I travel around the country visiting schools. I hope these tips inspire you to… write now!
Keep a journal
Journals are great, but some kids wonder they should even write in a journal or they think they don’t have time. I like the idea of having a theme. You could use the following themes for you journal:
- The best thing that happened today…
- The funniest thing that happened today…
- The one thing I would change about today…
Using a theme journal means you don’t have to spend a lot time think about what to write about. Whether you write a sentence, a paragraph, or a page, isn’t as important as taking a few minutes to write in it everyday.
That’s right, TAKE BREAKS! Writing is not like eating dinner…you know, when you can’t leave the table until you’re finished. Writing usually happens in phases. Sometimes you have a lot to say and other times, you will be stuck for words. Remember, you can’t force creativity. If you don’t feel like its working or you are stuck, simply put your writing away and do something else… preferably something active that gets the blood flowing. When you come back, you’ll probably have a bunch of new ideas.
Write what you like and know
Sometimes the hardest part of writing is getting started. Even professional authors often stare at the computer screen, wondering where all of their great ideas have gone! Before you start writing, start THINKING! What will you write about? If that’s where you always seem to get stuck, here is some sound advice. Write about what you know or what you like to do. If you are excited about your topic, there’s a good chance your writing will be exciting and your reader will be excited. If you are assigned a topic that doesn’t interest you, think of it as a challenge to find one interesting thing about it!
Remember, your first draft is never your last draft!
We live in a very, very busy world and sometimes it seems silly to write a story over and over again. But as an author, I can tell you that you are never finished after your first copy…you need to keep revising, fixing, and changing. I like to break it into steps. First, I read my story aloud…never silently. When you read it silently, it sounds wonderful inside your head. If you read aloud, you have a better chance of finding your mistakes. As you read aloud, listen carefully. Did you start four sentences with There was or used the words really good over and over? That’s okay, now you can change them. Next, check for mistakes. After you have made your changes and fixed your mistakes get someone else to look it over. Keep in mind, you only have to change what you agree with.
How to find mistakes
Finding mistakes is hard, if you are the author. It seems that your mind knows which words are coming next and your eyes have a hard time keeping up as you proofread. So what are your eyes to do? Pretend they’re keeping up, of course. But that means you’ll miss many mistakes. Luckily, a certain group of people needed to figure out a way to find the mistakes – editors. Here’s the number one piece of advice from editors: to find spelling mistakes, read each line backwards. That’s right, read each line backwards and your brain will not know which word comes next and you’re eyes will have time to look at every word!