10 Tips for Encouraging Reluctant Writers

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May 6, 2021 by
10 Tips for Encouraging Reluctant Writers
School Aids, Inc, Elaine Swart

 Students who struggle with writing have probably been deterred further by the transition to distanced or at-home learning. Though they may feel more discouraged or unmotivated at home, there are plenty of ways you can still promote creative writing skills, whether you’re the student’s teacher or parent! Here are some tips and strategies you can use to encourage reluctant writers!

5 Tips for At-Home Writing

1. Use Open-Ended Prompts
Students who struggle with writing often don’t know what to write about or have difficulty writing about things they aren’t interested in. Use prompts that allow students to write about what they are interested in so that they start to enjoy creative writing. Here are some examples:
  • Describe your ideal day off from school
  • I am proudest of…
  • If you had $20 to buy anything you want, what would you buy and why?
  • What I’m looking forward to most is…
  • If I could go back in time to one moment, I would go…
  • My favorite candy is ______ because ______…

2. Voice Typing in Google Docs
Google Docs has a feature called voice typing, or voice dictation, so that students who struggle with the writing process can more easily tell their story. This tool will help students with the narrative part of their writing and get them started in the process of creative writing.

3. Provide Templates for Students to Follow
Some students struggle with the form or outline of their writing. While creative writing can take many shapes, each assignment students complete at home should be accompanied with a general template or outline for when students get stuck. This can be the different parts of a story, a shape guide for a poem, or just a guide for how to write.

4. Hold One-on-One Conferences or Shared Google Docs
If students need some more one-on-one encouragement, set up separate Zoom meetings to go over the students’ work with them. If they work better individually, you can share a Google Doc with their work on it and make comments, suggestions, and notes.

5. Encourage Shorter Works of Writing
Length can be especially daunting for struggling students. One option is to encourage them to write shorter assignments. Assign several short pieces of writing, such as stories, poems, one-page short responses, etc., and turn them into a portfolio at the end of the year! They can even write one long story, but a few pages or a chapter at a time.

5 Tips for Distance Learning Writing

  1. 1. Group or Partner Writing

    Create a fun breakout room activity for distanced learning by assigning students to write with a partner. Students can collaborate on ideas and switch off writing sentences. This can make the writing process fun and may encourage shy students to enjoy writing when they have a partner to share their ideas with.
  2. 2. Play Mad Libs
    If you’ve ever played mad libs, you know it can really fun to pick random words and see how the story turns out! Do this in distance learning, either as a class or individually. You can also pick 5–10 words that students must use in their writing and see what kind of stories they create on their own!

  3. 3. Rewrite Popular Stories
    To give students somewhere to start, assign each of them a popular story, such as a nursery rhyme, real-life event, etc. and have them rewrite it in their own way. For example, have them rewrite “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” with the roles reversed, or if Goldilocks decided she didn’t want any porridge. Students will have a strong foundation for their writing if they have somewhere to start and can focus on the creativity part rather than the writing. Some other fun stories to rewrite are:

    • The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith

    • Click Clack Moo Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin
  4. 4. Teach All Parts of the Writing Process
    Rather than focusing on the grammatical, editing, or writing aspects of creative writing, guide students through the entire process. Introduce one new skill a day so students have the opportunity to tackle each small component of the writing process without feeling overwhelmed. Begin with:
    • Brainstorm in partners or as a group to help children foster ideas
    • Introduce the concept of a “hook,” or thesis statement (depending on the writing assignment)
    • Drafting: give plenty of time for students to write their body
    • Write a strong conclusion
    • Revise and edit: have students re-read and edit their writing in partners
  5. 5. Picture Writing Prompts
    Use a picture or multiple pictures as story starters, which is especially helpful for students who are visual learners. You can also have students write a story and then illustrate it themselves after they’re done.
10 Tips for Encouraging Reluctant Writers
School Aids, Inc, Elaine Swart May 6, 2021
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