When we think of literacy, we tend to think of reading and writing—often with an emphasis on reading. But the skill of writing is essential. Did you know that students spend nearly 60 percent of their instructional time writing on paper? Students who are limited in their ability to write face immediate barriers in their social, academic, and professional lives.
The research is clear—handwriting is a foundational element of literacy that can influence students’ reading, writing, language use, and critical thinking skills. As children develop their writing skills, they naturally become better readers. Compared to reading, writing is also a more active process, according to Elyse Eidman-Aadahl, executive director of the National Writing Project. It helps students be independent thinkers, take ownership of their stories and ideas, and communicate clearly to others.
In our latest webinar, “6 Ways to Engage and Strengthen Young Writers,” our expert instructors will guide educators through six focus areas to foster creative and independent young writers.
1. Draw and write
A wonderful place to start a child's writing journey is with My Book, which helps students formulate ideas for drawing and writing. This is a child’s personal storybook with details about themselves or their creations. Each book is personalized with a child’s own drawing, coloring, and words. Celebrate and display their masterpiece. It is vital that young students build their self-esteem around their creations—both writing and drawing.
2. Remember the genres
As children begin to learn writing skills, we introduce them to three writing genres. Regardless of what writing curriculum, you are teaching in the classroom; it likely includes these three genres: Narrative, information/explanatory, and opinion/persuasive. Our Building Writers student editions offer extra practice for writing skills development and can be easily incorporated into a writing block as independent writing or as whole group practice to meet your students’ varying needs. Students become better, more fluent writers as they write about cross-curricular topics and practice three types of writing styles: narrative, information, and opinion.
3. Provide structured practice
Educators should model appropriate writing first, then gradually decrease the amount of modeling as children share their own ideas, this is where the writing process can be interactive. Eventually, children should create writing with little support, therefore their writing becomes independent. View and download samples of Building Writers sample pages here.
4. Use themes to motivate
Engagement is key to how children learn. When children see their writing as purposeful, they will tend to be more creative with their writing. You can start by suggesting themes that are tied with what you're teaching in other curriculums. Suggest to parents to support their children as they develop their ideas with a motivating theme.
5. Access writing templates
As children get older, they are shown the different parts of the story with words underneath the pictures to create the story. This provides a way to begin the story and children will add sentences to it to complete the story. Make sure the templates are grade-appropriate and provide enough room for children to write, when children have enough room to write, they can begin to write creatively.
6. Encourage creative writing
Creative writing takes time and involves reflection and evaluation. Provide children time to engage fully with motivating themes and activities which in turn will lead to purposeful writing. This will allow children to discuss their interests or something that is motivating to them. Children can think of both books or storytelling to help them with beginning their thought process of creative writing.
These six focus areas are just the start!
Our full, free webinar provides in-depth instructional practices you can immediately put to work in your classroom. This webinar provides strategies to foster creative and independent young writers. Learn the developmental progression of how children progress from drawing to writing letters, words, and sentences to writing independently and creatively. Discover specific and applicable ways to engage young writers in all settings—whether in a classroom, virtual, or hybrid. Additionally, learn how to support families in promoting crucial writing skills outside of the classroom. This integrated approach to writing empowers every educator to help students develop skills that will serve them in the classroom and throughout their lives.