Kickstarting Writing

This year I am not teaching writing.  Consequently, every time I think about a new post for this blog, I can only think about writing.  Makes sense, right?

My second year of teaching, I had a boy who laid down his head and cried every day for a week when it was time to write because he had nothing to write about.  It took me almost a full two weeks to convince him that maybe, just maybe he had some stories to tell.

That story makes me smile when I think about it, but the truth is "the idea" is terrifying for kids.  Spending time at the beginning of the year teaching kids had to find stories in their own lives is invaluable.

Here are some of my favorite ways to get kids started with writing:

All good stories are good stories because they have strong feelings in them.  Instead of starting off with the idea, have your kids think about feelings instead.  Read more about this lesson here.

Writing is scary. Drawing isn't.  (Except for my drawing.  This is frighteningly awful.)
One of the problems kids have is trying to tell the story of their entire summer or trip to the beach or last school year.  It's simply too big and overwhelming.  A picture helps them narrow that story down to a small moment.  And a post it note keeps that drawing short and sweet.  Read this post to see how I had kids orally rehearse their stories.  Did you like that?  It was fancy talk for I had them use the picture to tell the story to a partner before writing it.  Mention that in your next PD though, and people will think you're really smart.

Let them be boring. 
Yep.  Let them be boring.  You have all year to teach them how to mine great stories from their lives.  Teach them how to turn their boring stories into interesting stories.

I have wished a hundred times that I could remember where I read this quote.  I used it so many times in my classroom because it is The. Truth.

Happy writing!