Spark that interest in writing and watch students blossom.
Activities for Writing
Not all students enjoy writing at first, especially because progress is not always easy to see in the first few months in an academic year. As a way to build interest, I plan for several activities during the week to maintain energy around writing. Below are a few examples, but there are a lot more activities in the Writing Activities, Ideas and Teaching document.
Editor-in-Town: This is a wonderful strategy to start getting students to edit work and for students who are starting to move towards beginning level writing. You give each student a paragraph of about five to ten sentences. The student has to first read the text. Then the student has to re-read and correct the work. Students can also give feedback on the text using two positives and two areas of development. You can use an anchor chart to help students edit:
Capital and lower case letter mistakes can be changed by using a double underline for the letter in question
Oval for any words with spelling mistakes
Circle for missing punctuation
Put a question mark for anything that does not make sense
Put a line for verb and the wrong tense
Super Teacher Worksheets (Free Sample)
Mix Up, Fix Up: I came across this on the Bank Street College of Education. You provide students a sentence with the words cut up. The students take the mixed up words and fix it up. Then the students can write the sentence in their books and read it out loud. Ideally, each student has his/her own bag to work on for the few minutes this activity takes place. You can make about 30 – 40 bags with different sentences, so each student can work on a different sentence each time and this way you save time in the long-run. You can support emergent writers by reading the sentence to them with the words in order. Then mix it up and ask the student to put it in order. You can have a master card cue with the sentence if the student needs help to solve the sentence. This should be used only for students on the first or second level of the kindergarten writing progression. Bank Street College of Education has a really helpful article online about teacher actions during writing.
Robot Game: This game is already mentioned in the spelling section, but it deserves another mention. You divide the class into two teams. Each team will get a robot. You can draw the robot on the board with equal number of body parts for each team. You start with one team and ask them to spell a word (I usually give two chances). If the team is correct then they get to erase a part of the robot from the other team. I let the student who spells the word correctly to come up and erase what they want, which creates a lot of fun. If the team is incorrect then I erase a part from their own robot. My students love the robot game! It is a great way to create enthusiasm and learn to spell words.
Jumble Story: The students are provided with a pairing of a character and a setting (e.g. an alien goes to the mall). They have to come up with a story based on this. The teacher can create the pairing or it can be done more randomly by selecting a character and setting from jars. Alternatively, this can also be used as a speaking and listening strategy. You will not believe the fun stories our students come up with. They are brilliant.
Rapid or Rocket Writing or Marathon Writing: This strategy is useful for writer’s block. It is similar to drop everything and read without the reading part. The students have to write as much as possible on a given topic without thinking too much about grammar or spelling. This pushes them to write based on a stream-of-consciousness. I found this on the blog, Monkey Abroad by an ESL teacher named Kevin Cook in China.
Sentence Showdown: You write a jumbled sentence on the board (e.g. cat cute that is so, which should be "that cat is so cute"). Solve one or two examples on your own to model to the students if this is the first time playing the activity. Then split the class into two groups and make a game out of it. Call up a student from each team to write the correct sentence. The team that gets it correct first wins. They can ask for help from their teammates if their first attempt is not correct. The students literally jump out of their seats when playing this game. They love it so much. This idea is also from Kevin Cook's website/blog. This can also be used for basic sentence structure and grammar (e.g. where to add quotation marks, fixing capital letters, how to start or end a sentence), in addition to how to write sentences for a creative story. I recall my students struggled with where to add a setting in a sentence (e.g. at the park or at school). They would place it in the middle of the sentence (e.g. I play at school hide and seek) whereas it should come at the end or the beginning (e.g. I play hide and seek at school). It is wonderful to use a short activity like this one that also impacts the learning outcomes.