How do we get a classroom full of students to write? How do we help them get that idea from their head to the paper? I think that first we need to spark the imagination. We also have to realize that writing and editing are two completely different things.
At home I like to use the kitchen timer. I sit down and just to write what ever comes to my mind for 10 minutes. I don’t even think about spelling or punctuation, I just want to get the ideas down. I want to get my creative juices flowing. When we have that need to be perfect sometimes we don’t get the thoughts down. We can always go back later and edit.
With your students, allowing them that time to not be perfect is important. This might encourage them to use bigger vocabulary words, if they know they won’t immediately be graded down for misspelling something. A little praise for going out of their comfort zone with a bigger vocabulary word, will encourage them to continue stretching that imagination. At a separate time they can learn how to spell it correctly.
I like to remember that when I am writing, it’s not about competing with another person, it’s just about doing the best you can.
Recently I had the opportunity to speak all about this topic with Matthrew Winner, an elementary library media specialist in Elkridge, Maryland. He is the co-founder and content director of All The Wonders, a children’s literature website and more. All The Wonders podcast is posted here.
You can also find details about my annual writing contest in the attached Smore Poster. You can meet all of the amazing companies that sponsor the contest too by clicking on the poster. They will be filling your classrooms with books. I've used Smore because it's made so you can print it out!
I also have my online learning lesson all about this topic that you can use in your classroom.
Many teachers use my contest as a collaborative class project. They put students into writing groups using a Smartboard and incorporate many vocabulary words they are studying.
What Teachers Say About the Writing Contest
"More important than the mechanics of writing, is its composition and style. Sometimes we forget that. Mrs. P's Annual How to be a Famous Writer contest ignites creativity, style, voice and a connection to many genres of books for my students. All readers can write, but my strongest writers are my strongest readers who use mentor texts to emulate structure of text and ways with words in their own unique pieces. Mrs. P connects reading and writing beautifully through her online storytelling, writing prompts and thrilling contests. My students are mesmerized by her Renaissance nature! Thank you, Mrs. P, for keeping writer's workshop alive and well." Heather Garnett Fourth Grade Teacher The Collegiate School Richmond, Virginia
"Dear Mrs. P., Thank you for creating this contest. Writing is my favorite subject to teach, and I set out on this assignment thinking it was going to be a lot of fun as well as educational. However, what I did not realize is how much all of this tied directly into our 2nd grade reading and writing curriculum. You know there is nothing better than practical application of things taught, and I couldn’t have created anything better to model this to my students... Marti Langston Crossroads Elementary O’Fallon, MO"