You want to teach students to write, but you don’t know how. Where do you even begin? First, stop thinking about writing as a punishment for detention. Those with eager minds will associate the skill of writing with times they have been punished for misbehaving, and that takes away the fun of it. It’s better to teach writing as an art form rather than a way to get out of trouble. Now, to begin your lessons, remember these:
Let Them Read
You can’t start day one with a dictionary reading to familiarize them with words. Students need to encounter new words themselves and to read them with context, so they can be easily remembered. Each brain works differently and sure, giving them one new word to study will still make them remember it, but they may not learn how to use it properly. There are sentences you see time and again from different authors and guess what? They didn’t learn to use those particular words in that particular order because a dictionary told them to do so.
Instead of a dictionary, give them a reading list. Start them off with easily digestible stories, so they can feel like they can do this. Begin with something too challenging, and they might just lose interest quickly. Once you’ve seen the level of difficulty they can manage, adjust the reading list accordingly.
Give Writing Prompts
The lesson is about writing, so of course, they will have to write after they read. Now, it’s time to see how much they understood from what they just read, and what their opinions are on the issues tackled. Have a list of writing prompt worksheets ready and give them a few topics to cover. You don’t want to overwhelm them with so much to write in one sitting but give them enough to let their ideas flow.
Give them a framework for how much they can write without limiting their creativity. There should be no points against them exploring further than what you told them, granted they are not rambling about one topic to the next. You first have to teach them how to construct paragraphs cohesively; if they learn quickly, let them explore deeper.
There is no single way to teach students how to write. There is, however, one wrong way to do it: by teaching them that one writing style is the way to go. You’re there to teach them and guide them in developing their voice using a pen. You’re not there to develop copycats of one particular style, especially if it’s your own. Let them use sentences in their own way and correct the technical aspects of their work without giving demerits when they didn’t write it as you would. This also goes for opinions.
Let them form their own opinion on a story. It may differ from your own understanding of the topic, but that doesn’t make it wrong. Your children will process information differently, and as their educator, your job is to guide them in forming their own thoughts. Allow them to express their ideas without making them feel like having their own view is wrong.