Chances are, many of your students dread writing assignments. They might complain that writing is time consuming, challenging and, to some degree, subjectively graded. And those kids are right; writing well is far from easy, but it’s a priceless skill and an integral part of a good education. So what can teachers do to help students feel more confident the next time a writing assignment rolls around? In a word: practice.
Are you familiar with journalist Malcolm Gladwell’s “10,000 Hour Rule”, which he wrote about in Outliers? If not, here it is in a nutshell: No matter the skill you’re developing, it takes about 10,000 hours of practice to become a true master of it. Gladwell cites Mozart, whose first great masterpiece came at least 10 years after he started composing as a child. Even though one school year isn’t enough time to turn your students into the next Shakespeare or Swift, you can get them on the path to increased confidence in their ability, and perhaps help them discover a passion for writing.
For inspiration on adding writing exercises to your class’s routine, here are some ideas from other teachers.
– At Edutopia, veteran teacher and blogger Jeffrey Plaum shares exercises that integrate music into the writing process. Jeffrey’s belief that writing in the classroom can be contemplative and central to character building is quite inspiring as well.
– EduGuide offers some unique prompts for creative writing. My favorite suggests that students imagine they’ve switched lives with another person of their choosing, and then write about their experience in someone else’s shoes.
– Scholastic gives some great advice on how to introduce kids to the art of writing poetry (a topic that is often intimidating to teachers and students, alike).
Teachers, please share your techniques for encouraging students to write more often in your classroom.