After welcoming hundreds of thousands of students and teachers over the last four years, StageofLife.com, a multi-generational, international writing community, compiled 10 recommendations for creating stronger student writers by building writing-centric classrooms and homes, a move to help improve teen writing.
StageofLife.com VP of Education and M.Ed, Rebecca Thiegs, the author behind the Top 10 Tips to Improve Student Writing recommendations, said, “In my 15 years as an English teacher, my students succeeded in writing more when I created a writer-centric landscape where great writing occurred all the time. If I could provide my students with the best situations and suggestions possible to write well, good writing was inevitable.”
The Top 10 Tips to create stronger student writers are as follows:
1) Make journals an integral part of the classroom: Thiegs reports that journals are a place for students to experiment, to be honest, to be messy, to be creative and to practice writing.
2) Use daily Quickwrites: Students write for two to three minutes in response to an outside, short piece introduced by the teacher, e.g. an award-winning poem, a news clip, or book passage. This not only showcases different examples of good writing to the students each day, but helps them take their writing in new directions as they quickly reflect and respond to the outside piece.
3) Give writing choices: With various curriculum requirements and Common Core Language Arts standards to meet, there are still many ways to give students choices for their Language Arts assignments to encourage better and more engaged writing.
4) Give students real-world writing opportunities: Teens need their voices to be heard. Encouraging them to participate in legitimate writing contests, like those found on StageofLife.com, give students an outside venue to share their writing.
5) Teach students to “Mine their own Writing”: During the first draft stage of any writing assignment, Thiegs suggests that students learn to search and find the “energy centers.” These are the best lines or passages in their writing. This technique gets students looking critically to see where their writing is working and where it’s not.
6) Use mentor text examples: Not only from published authors, teens can pick up techniques to improve their writing by reading strong mentor text examples from their peers.
7) Teach students to give better peer feedback: Thiegs emphasized that teachers need to model how best to do peer feedback so students can help each other.
8) Use student conferencing: If the ultimate goal for Language Arts teachers is to help students become better writers, a conference with each writing assignment will accelerate the process. It saves time on grading later as the teacher can address difficulties or trouble spots early in the writing process. It also holds students accountable.
9) Teach revision: Thiegs says, “Revision is not a dirty word (even if students loathe it), and it is an important aspect of the writing process.”
10) Write with your students: Thiegs shared, “If don’t write, only write papers for your grad classes, or only write when you have to, you are missing out on really helping your students to write better. Why? If you don’t understand the struggles of writers, how can you help your students to become better?”
Deeper details, lesson plan ideas, and outside resources to accompany each of the 10 tips above appear on StageofLife.com in the Notes to the Teacher section of its free educational resources menu.
For Language Arts and English Department leaders or school district district administrators, StageofLife.com mapped many of its writing resources, writing contests, and other Language Arts curriculum to the Common Core Language Arts standards.