How to teach students to be real writers - Tips and tools
Teaching creative writing has always been a difficult task. There are children who love writing and telling stories on their own, but there are also children that need some encouragement and guidance. This used to be even harder in the past, when teachers only had their own imagination at their disposal. However, nowadays, it’s much easier to engage students.
Using educational technologies is the best way to show reluctant students how fun writing can be. There are tools and websites specifically designed to be attractive to children and to appeal to their interests. If you make use of them, you can easily have an active classroom during your creative writing lesson.
5 Tips to encourage students to write
1. Use story prompts
One of the best ways to encourage young writers to write on their own is to give them story prompts. Keep them interesting and somewhat free of your own ideas of what the story should be. This is a great place to implement educational technology. There are plenty of apps, websites and tools that can help your students create fun stories by using images, text and videos. Check out this example from BookWidgets. With the randomness widgets, students create stories depending on the images and words that pop up.
2. Write for and in front of your students
If you want to show your students how important writing is, write in front of them and for them. This is also a good way to teach them that criticism is never bad, but useful and that they shouldn’t be afraid to share their stories. By writing in front of them, you get to teach them elements of style and how to create a good story. They can tell you what they like and dislike your story and correct you if you made a mistake. That will show them that no one is perfect and it teaches them to think critically.
3. Create a workshop environment
Creating a workshop environment can inspire children to be creative. Separate them into groups where each group can choose a skill to work on. Some may like to write fiction while some would rather work on games and puzzles with words. This way all children will love your writing class.
Each group can then get some one-on-one time with the teacher and get their work approved. You can rotate the assignments of each group or change topics that they are writing about. Give them enough time and space, supervise and work with each group separately for a while. There is a possibility of competitions in this environment and numerous opportunities for learning.
Another great thing about a workshop environment is that students with advanced skills can get an opportunity to show them and pick topics and areas to work on that can improve their skills even further and children with less interest for writing can get some help from others and learn from them.
4. Encourage them to create and share at home
A good way to practice writing is always at home. There is more organic inspiration there and children are exposed to various situations. Let them pick their own tops, write a story and share it both at home, in safe online environments and in your classroom. Suggesting that they should keep a journal is also a way to help them realize that writing is something that you can do for fun.
5. Implement free writing
Set a time in your classroom when your students should do free writing. This is a simple but effective exercise of creativity and following their stream of consciousness. This doesn’t have to be shared in front of the classroom but it can inspire them to write more once you propose a topic or give them a prompt. With enough time to explore their imagination, they can easily find what they would love to write about and work on that.
The teacher toolbox to encourage students with writing
Useful Writing Apps
The best thing for writers about having a smartphone is that you can use it to jot down occasional idea or a story on the go. This is a great way to remember those sudden sparks of imagination and creativity. Most of your students will probably own a smartphone, so using these tools for educational purposes is a good idea.
There are some amazing writing apps like:
This writing app is for both iOS and Android and it offers daily prompts and steps to take in order to learn better writing. Once you press ‘start’ it gives you a selection of prompts, and when you pick one, you can start writing. Then it gives you another prompt on location, imagery, characterization, etc. every minute. This is a great tool to use in classroom because there are plenty of great prompts and they can be different for each student.
Write About this is a fantastic writing tool for elementary students available on iOS. It offers a lot of daily prompts, texts and images for your students to use as inspiration in classroom. It’s really well designed and it can help even the reluctant writers enjoy writing more.
This writing app is available on iTunes, in both online and offline mode. It has 600 writing prompts along with 400 scene elements, character traits, sketches, genres etc. Your class will love it because it’s simple, yet it gives them all they need to create a great story.
Websites to encourage creative writing
4. Write About
This great website for teachers helps you find a way to reach students with interesting story prompts and spark their creativity. It has thousands of ideas to write on and it can be customized for your classroom specifically.
5. Story Wars
This writing website lets you create stories in the classroom together. It engages the students because it seems like it’s a game. They get to vote on where they want the story to go. This is not only a fun concept but also a great way to help them learn how a good story flows.
Here you can find all the necessary writing resources that your students might need. It presents you with guides and other websites to visit based on what you want to see. It also has great tips on various aspects of writing.
7. Story Bird
is a great tool offering both visual and narrative aspects to your students. You chose the picture that inspires you the most and use it as a background for your story. This way, you can create picture books, poetry, long-form books etc. The entire website is attractive and it offers courses and lessons on writing as well.
8. Book Creator
Book Creator is a fun and engaging way to present your classroom to new and interesting stories. They can also be a part of the creation team and use text, images and audio to create whatever they feel like creating at the moment. It’s a great tool because students can have their own story written and supported by various media at the end of the class. It’s great tool for storytelling!
This simple, yet effective website gives you great story starters. That first line is usually hardest to write but with this website, students will hardly have that problem again. There is a version of this website designed especially for kids and Scribble, which creates fun games with words.
Useful websites for editing and guidance
This is a great place to find advice and help from other teachers teaching writing. There, you’ll be able to get advice on what worked for teachers in similar situations, learn about more tools etc.
11. Boom Writer
Boom Writer is an excellent help for students in all writing areas. They offer three group writing tools like “storyWriter”, where students learn to write stories, “WordWriter”, where student learn to develop their vocabulary and “ProjectWriter” where students get assignments and work out projects.
12. Via Writing
Via Writing is more like blog that can be used as a writing guide where students would get guidance from accomplished writers and experts on the subject. The blog writes a lot about grammar rules and gives you amazing tips!
Teaching writing is probably one of the most creative jobs out there. And it’s not easy either! You get to work with imaginations of talented students and with those, who would love to improve but they lack the necessary skills. Using technology in education is the best way to incorporate what is familiar to them with what isn’t and make it seem more like a fun game instead of it being a task.
About the author
Brenda Berg is a teacher and an educator who has had a long and fruitful career working in schools, educational workshops and classes. She loves to teach and her main goal is to help students get ahead in their school life and learn easier. Rachel is currently working with Oxessays and in her free time, she loves to connect with other teachers and share her knowledge with them. You can visit her personal blog at Letsgoandlearn.com