Power up writing in your balanced literacy classroom

Helping our students learn to write across the curriculum and across genres is a powerful way to provide lifelong skills. We want to give them confidence and the desire to write. Making the transformation from idea to composition can be intimidating to many students. So how can we make writing a fun learning experience?  Powerful teaching strategies are the answer!

First, any age student can sketch and label. This strategy asks students to sketch something memorable (their room at home, visiting a relative, going to a favorite park, a family gathering).  Ask them to draw the setting (note how this uses reading vocabulary) in as much detail as they can. Then ask them to label the picture with words and phrases (my overstuffed bookshelf, my pet guinea pig, orange blanket, tire swing in tree, etc.).  Ask them to study the picture…what story do they want to tell about it? Use the words and phrases to help get the writing rolling!

Second, have fun with genres by having buddies write about the same topic, different genre. For instance, a pair of students could be given the topic, “the Super Bowl.” Students then choose to write a short story using either nonfiction, fiction, or poetry. In the nonfiction story they could write what might be a real story (such as a news report) about a football game. In the fiction they might give a football player a super power such as jumping over many other players. In the poetry they might select meaningful words about the competition to express ideas and emotions about the game.  The pairs of students can compare how the same topic, but different genres, changes how it was written. Practice this approach with the whole class with a topic such as “my new shoes.” A shared writing lesson could demonstrate the different genres they might select when thinking about topics.

Third, persuade students that persuasive writing is all around us!  Search commercials for students at such sites as iSpot TV’s Kids’ commercials or Top five Super Bowl Ads with Kids . Choose some appropriate ones to show your students. Ask what the commercial writer used to persuade the viewer.  What language was used (they will want to think about the power of words in their own writing). This is a perfect place to double up on your literacy and content instruction. Ask students to choose an informational content book (picture or chapter book) and write a “commercial” to convince other students to read it.  You might even show a few movie trailers of age appropriate movies to demonstrate how we entice the viewer, but don’t give away the best part!

Finding ways to have fun with writing will engage even the most resistant student. Novel approaches, fun topics, peer support, and your excitement about writing will all help students become confident writers!


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