Minds in Bloom is delighted to welcome Sandra, from Mrs. Naufal’s Nook, to the blog today! She’s sharing her tried-and-true tips for encouraging kids to write with “write about” ideas. Enjoy!
As a teacher, I am thrilled to read a good book to a class. I often look for books to which students can relate. Many can be about real-life situations they have encountered, such as biographies or social justice issues, just to name a few. Once the book is read, it goes right into the classroom library for students to read on their own. Along with purchased books, I often have student-generated books in my classroom library. These may include a book of poems written by the class, six-word memoirs with illustrations, joke books, and reports. Students’ work in these cases follows a format with some choice in writing. One thing I noticed was that some students found writing to be a challenge during free writing time. The “I don’t know what to write about” became frequent and left me wondering what to do to support my students, as well as to make them love to write.
I knew they loved fun writing tools, themed pencils, and “wacky” markers. I began placing fun writing paper out, too. These things seemed to generate a spark. I created a writing area, using a tri-fold board, with “write about” books that included writing prompts:
Using library pockets and sign-out cards, students were encouraged to sign out a “write about” book. The book covers were designed and attached to a dollar store notebook. Inside the notebook was a question prompt page to support struggling writers. Additionally, for those who didn’t enjoy writing in the notebook itself, I provided fully lined and half-lined pages for both established and emergent writers. Some students loved to draw pictures or even bring in some of their own experiences to attach to the notebooks.
When students wanted to take the books home to write, I encouraged that, too. The sign up system using the library cards was helpful. I would take a look at the library card in the pocket to see who had the book last. The drawings on the cover were hand drawn and scanned, as well as laminated. This made them more durable. Some of the titles included: Birthdays, Christmas Memories, Dreams, Embarrassing Moments, Field Trips, Friendships, Halloween Costumes, Movie Picks, Must Read Books, Ouches, Pets, Sports, Stuffies, Vacations, Video Games, and Top Three Wishes.
Here’s a list of materials needed to start your own “write about” corner:
- tri-fold display board or bulletin board
- library pockets
- library cards
- dollar store notebooks or DUO-TANGs to add themed paper to
- glue stick
- card stock for covers
- themed pencils
- fun writing tools (markers, gel pens, pencil crayons, etc.)
- large letters for display
- bins to store books
- cups or pencil holders
- small canvas bags in which to take books home
- student-generated books from previous years for inspiration
- stickers or small photos to add to books
- fun foam pieces (optional) to decorate books
Here’s a free download to a popular topic: