Writing is building, but with words. Showing your students how to write gives them the tools to build a strong foundation. Helping them figure out how to write well
is how you help them create castles and skyscrapers and anything else they can imagine. Keeping these key strategies in mind while teaching your elementary school students to be effective writers will help you, in turn, teach them more effectively.
1: Read a Variety of Texts
As T.H. White once advised, “Read. Read everything you can lay hands on!” It’s no secret that reading will help your students improve their writing skills, but when their reading selection is limited, so are the benefits. Reading a wide variety of texts allows your elementary students to see a myriad of writing techniques in action and study how different uses of voice, figurative language and other elements affect the impact of their experience as they read. In short, the more diverse their reading materials, the more strategies and concepts they’ll pick up along the way allowing them to implement, and even experiment with, in their own work.
2: Read Aloud Together
Words are meant to be heard, not just seen. Most kids learn to read by listening to someone read to them, and many adults enjoy listening to audiobooks or podcasts. Listening isn’t just entertaining—it can help improve reading comprehension as well as teach your elementary students about the cadence of different words and sentence structures. Listening to someone read can help them pick up on rhythms and rhymes they may miss when reading silently to themselves, while having your students read aloud is a chance for them to practice correct pronunciation as well as hone critical reading and thinking skills.
3: Encourage Collaboration
Your students have a lot to learn from you—but don’t forget that they can learn a lot from each other, too! When practicing writing or editing, try pairing up students who need a little extra help with the more advanced writers in your class and asking them to peer edit each other’s work. Or, you can ask your elementary students to form small critique groups they’ll work with throughout the school year in order to become more effective writers together. Even professional authors join writer communities and associations in order to keep learning and growing—why not have your students follow their good example and learn a little something about teamwork in the process?
4: Put Writing in Context
To bring out the best in your young writers-in-training, make sure they know the value and benefits of writing beyond getting a good grade or doing well in school. For any given assignment, be sure they know who they’re writing for, and for what purpose. It can even be helpful (and can double as a fantastic reading or research assignment) to explore instances when writing changed someone’s life—or even the world—for the better. Inspirational and informative stories like The Freedom Writers Diary
or Johann Gutenberg and the Amazing Printing Press
help put your lessons into context and motivate your students to write
more effectively and enthusiastically than ever.