Well, here you are again. You just sent your student off to start a writing assignment, and you notice they’re staring at a blank page with their head in their hands and a frown on their face. You ask them what’s wrong, but they just shrug their shoulders and mumble, “I just don’t feel like writing.”
Does this scenario sound familiar?
Writing is a critical skill to teach, but it isn’t always easy to motivate your students to write. That said, there are several practices that you can put in place to make writing really enjoyable for your students. In this blog, we’re sharing some practical ways you can boost your student’s writing motivation even if it isn’t their favorite subject. Read on to learn more!
5 Ways to Maximize Writing Motivation
Wondering how to get your students inspired to write? Consider these five simple tips.
1) Switch Up Your Assignments
Do you have one student who loves creative writing and another who prefers to write nonfiction?
Unfortunately, many writing curriculums are limited to just a few genres, and restricting your students to book reports or five paragraph essays crushes creativity and stifles writing motivation.
Instead, give them a chance to dabble in different genres by varying their writing assignments. Your students won’t always like every type of writing you assign, but they’ll appreciate you mixing things up. Not only will it expose them to a wide range of writing styles, but it will also motivate them more than sticking to the same genre.
Here are a few ideas for writing assignments to try out with your students:
- Have teens try descriptive writing, using vivid sensory details to describe people, places, and objects.
- Invite younger children to use their five senses to write descriptively.
- Play around with expository writing by encouraging students to explain a process, write short reports or biographies, or create their own newspaper complete with articles, opinions, human-interest stories, and comics.
- Teach your student to write a narrative from varying points of view or in a different voice or tense.
- Help them write a description of an imaginary land.
- Teach older teens how to write a well-supported research paper.
- Invite students of all ages to have fun writing poetry, such as a haiku or cinquain poem.
- Throw in an occasional writing prompt just for fun.
2) Provide Freedom of Choice
Not only is it important for students to write in different genres, it’s also important to give them flexibility of choice within those genres. Nothing crushes creativity like saying, “You MUST write about this topic in this way.” If the topic seems irrelevant or uninteresting to them, your student likely won’t feel very enthusiastic about writing.
Now, we’re not saying that writing instruction should be a complete free-for-all where students write whatever they want to. You should still establish parameters for them to work within. But whenever possible, give them some choice. For example, if you’re teaching how to describe a place, let each student choose the place they want to describe rather than making them describe their home. They might pick a sports stadium, coffee shop, mountain cabin, or the moon, but they’ll still be practicing the skill at hand.
Providing structure and guidelines while offering some freedom of choice gives you the best of both worlds. When students have some ownership of what they’re writing, they’re much more likely to enjoy the experience.
3) Choose High-Interest Topics
While giving opportunities for students to pick their own topics is beneficial, we understand that it isn’t always feasible. There will be times when you’ll have to assign a specific topic to write about, but you can do this in a way that doesn’t cause your student to become disengaged.
To maximize writing motivation in these instances, choose a topic that your students are likely to enjoy. Take their interests into account when coming up with an assignment and consider incorporating age-appropriate current events or trends into your instruction (if you’re comfortable with it).
Then, once you’ve assigned a topic, get your students excited to write by letting them share what they already know about it or any relevant experiences that they’ve had. You can also show videos, read articles and mentor texts, or even go on a virtual or in-person field trip for inspiration.
Getting your students hyped up to write about a topic is crucial when you’ve chosen it.
4) Let Them Share Their Writing
Professional writers would probably agree that there’s no greater feeling of pride than what comes from getting to share their work with others. Sharing a piece of work that you’ve poured a lot of time and energy into with people who will appreciate it and offer praise is a great way to stay inspired.
So, don’t let your student’s writing submission stop with you! Come up with ways that you can allow your students to share their finished pieces if they want to. Some examples of how you can accomplish this include:
- Entering a writing contest
- Reading their piece aloud to their classmates or family
- Making a digital newsletter or e-book and sending it to extended family members
- Joining a local writing club and sharing it with other members
- Creating a “class blog page”
It’s important to note that you should never force your student to share their work if they aren’t comfortable, as this could lead to feelings of stress and anxiety regarding writing.
5) Establish a Positive Learning Environment
If you’re wondering how to get students inspired to write, one of the best ways is simply to create a positive environment for them.
Aside from being disinterested in topics, one of the other main reasons students struggle with writing motivation is insecurity. When a student doesn’t feel confident in their abilities and considers themself a bad writer, they probably won’t feel motivated to write. Sharing encouraging words and promoting a growth mindset can make a world of difference.
When editing their writing, always communicate their strengths first and try to keep critiques positive and constructive. Then, gently offer pragmatic suggestions. Writing can make some students feel very vulnerable. A positive attitude really helps to encourage and inspire them to find their voice.
Motivating students to write can be challenging at times, but there are plenty of ways that you can make writing an enjoyable experience. We hope you find these tips helpful for your students!