Student writing with chalk on library floor

How Do You Teach a Student to Write?

It’s that time of the year when fourth grade teachers across the state of Texas are looking through student compositions and are worried, they wonder how their students are going to fare on the STARR test.  They sigh and ask themselves, “How do I teach my students to write?” I know those teachers, I was one of them for 17 years, now I get to look at the situation from the outside, and I have a different perspective about how to teach writing… just write, and write often.
I get questioned all the time about how to teach students to write, and not only just to write, but how to get them to write well.  I secretly smile when asked those questions, all educators know what to do…put the pencil to the paper and let words take over.  Just do it.  Simply stated, students and teachers alike need to be just brave enough to start writing a thought.  Thoughts, will lead to feelings, feelings will translate in to sentences, and pretty soon, you will have paragraphs.
Today in a writing class, I explained to the students that I do not like to always write and I do not always share my writing with others, I am super-critical of myself.  When I write I double, and triple check my spelling searching for errors, I question whether or not my writing is interesting enough for someone to read?  (I am doing this now as I type.)  Students share the same fears that us adults have, it’s hard to put yourself out there to be potentially judged by others.
Remember that the power of the pen is mighty.  As a teacher, I am very cautious about editing and revising student compositions.  I try not to make too many corrections, or suggestions, I want students to understand that I am their teacher, not their judge and jury.  Students are still learning their writing craft.  Children want to share, they talk all the time, as educators, we need to get them to use another form of communication…written communication.
I write these sentiments to offer a “shout out” to my writing friends and colleagues that may be worried about writing and exams, and perfecting the craft.  Writing doesn’t have to be perfect.  The intent of writing is to be expressive.  How do you develop strong writers?  Strong writers are created when they are nurtured, confident, and practiced.  You want to know how to get those students to write well…get those kids to put the pencil to the paper, they will make you proud!
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