Explore simple writing strategies with examples for upper elementary to turn writing time from a daunting task into a positive and rewarding experience for teachers and students.
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Have you ever felt like your students rolled their eyes at mentioning a writing activity? The struggle is real! Many teachers, including myself, have encountered those moments of frustration, wondering how to make a writing activity go from a dreaded assignment into an activity they look forward to doing.
The truth is that writing should be a subject students look forward to, not a chore. In this blog post of simple writing strategies with examples for upper elementary, we’re diving into creative writing strategies you can seamlessly include in your next writing activity to transform those ‘ugh’ into ‘yay’ in your classroom.
Before jumping into my topic for the post, I do want to thank Rachel for inviting me as a guest author on her website. I am Vanessa from Longwing Learning, and I have collaborated with Rachel on past projects. I love to share my tried-and-true writing strategies to make the writing process engaging for you and your students!
With years of teaching under my belt, I have faced the same writing challenges many of you encounter in the classroom. The struggle to make writing enjoyable have led me to create engaging writing activities.
Practical Writing Strategies for Upper Elementary
As an upper elementary teacher, I see many students who don’t enjoy writing. It could be because of past bad experiences or simply not knowing how to move beyond writing simple words or sentences.
That’s why it’s essential to have as many teaching tips in our teacher toolbox to whip them out as needed.
Writing strategies are actions teachers take in a lesson to accomplish the learning task. Examples of writing strategies a teacher can use in the classroom include graphic organizers and planning sheets.
A writing activity is the work the students complete, usually given by a teacher, such as writing a poem or answering a writing prompt.
When teachers combine writing strategies with creative writing activities, they are helping their students become better writers and create a positive attitude towards writing.
Let’s start with four writing strategies you can add to any writing activity.
Fostering a Positive Writing Environment
Making the writing process enjoyable starts with setting up a positive atmosphere in your classroom.
Students who feel excited about writing are more likely to participate in writing tasks actively.
A simple yet effective strategy to foster a positive writing environment is using different supplies besides your traditional number 2 pencil.
Students love using colorful pens or pencils with fun designs in my classroom.
I’ve found immense success by keeping a dedicated container filled with these special writing supplies exclusively for our writing activities.
Moreover, these pens or pencils make their words colorful and allow students to add a personal touch to their work.
When students get to select writing tools based on their preferences, it gives them a feeling of ownership and makes the writing process engaging.
The Power of Choice in Writing Topics
Another effective strategy is giving students the choice to choose their writing topics.
Giving students options in writing activities means they can decide what interests them or what they want to share.
When students have a say in their writing topics, it makes them feel more connected to the work, which can lead to more enthusiasm and participation.
However, sometimes, allowing them to pick a writing prompt is not an option.
Even if the topic is already set, you can let students pick how they want to write about it.
Within this prompt, students can choose their perspective or voice:
Students can select to have a narrative voice: They could write it as if they are a character in a story, making the description more imaginative.
Example: In the magical world of Minecraft, I embarked on a winter adventure like no other! I could feel the icy breeze against my face. The snowy landscape sparkled like diamonds, and I couldn’t resist building a cozy snow fort to protect myself from imaginary monsters.
Students can respond using a personal experience of a place they have visited.
Example: My favorite place for winter is the Bahamas. It is surrounded by crystal clear blue water and dolphins splashing around even during winter!
This way, even with a fixed prompt, students can express themselves uniquely.
I have noticed a shift in attitude towards writing activities when I give them the option to write from different perspectives.
Students feel a personal connection to what they are writing that changes the writing activity into an opportunity to share about themselves.
Add a Drawing Twist
Sometimes, writing assignments can feel challenging, especially when it comes to text-dependent analysis writing activities where students need to cite text evidence. It’s a type of writing that needs practice, and students might find it a bit daunting.
A writing strategy to accompany these writing assignments is adding a drawing twist!
Students have the option to create illustrations to complement their written responses. I take the opportunity to encourage them to include images that reflect the details they’ve read.
The transition it offers makes this activity a hit with my students. Moving from a challenging task to something they find easier provides a welcomed break. It helps them ease into the activity with a creative twist.
Drawing will not only appeal to many students but will also reinforce their understanding of the topic.
It turns a potentially dull writing task into a fun, engaging activity that combines writing and art skills.
One way I provide practice with citing text evidence and explaining their reasoning is by assigning short reading passages with directed drawing.
Making Writing a Collaborative Effort
Allowing students to work together on writing activities creates a positive classroom culture and makes writing less intimidating.
Collaborative writing encourages peer learning where students can share their strengths and help each other overcome challenges.
Our students come to us with different strengths in writing. When our students collaborate, they bring their unique strengths to the table, with some excelling at spelling while others are great at generating ideas.
This collaboration allows them to help one another, and when challenges pop up, they have a supportive buddy system in place.
As great as working together seems, it comes with challenges, like students getting sidetracked with their conversation or one person doing more work.
One way to manage collaborative writing among students is by giving them directed activities.
My favorite guided writing activity to use is for editing and revising.
Students pair up and give each other feedback using the questions in the edit and revise worksheets.
Creating a positive writing environment with fun supplies, letting students choose topics, and promoting collaboration are helpful writing strategies for different learning styles.
Adding drawings, especially for challenging tasks like text-dependent analysis, brings a creative and fun element to any writing activity.
Now, with these writing strategies as part of your teacher toolbox, you can pair them up with any writing activities to have a dynamic and engaging approach to teaching writing in your classroom.
Vanessa is an enthusiastic teacher, always thinking of new ways to help her students develop into confident readers and writers. With over a decade of teaching experience, she now shares literacy strategies with 4th and 5th-grade elementary teachers. You can find her resources in her TeachersPay Teacher Shop. For other writing-related posts, check the links below.
- How to Explain Text Evidence to Boost Writing Skills
- 8 Easy Ways to Use Elaboration Anchor Charts For Teaching Writing
- Lesson Plan Ideas on How to Add Details to Writing
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