...sharing thoughtful, mentor text-inspired lessons your students will love!
Dealing with the ongoing situation of reluctant and resistant writers is tricky and, frankly, wearing. Students who "don't know what to write about" need nudging towards topics. Giving them a list of topics, or having them generate a list of generic topics are possible ideas. What I've found is that, when writers don't want to write they don't want to write about anything!!! I find no perfect solutions. short of my own persistence, perseverance and patience.
Using a mentor text as a prompt is very effective of course. However, when a writer asks to write about something other than what the mentor text stimulates, I always tell that writer to go for it! WRITE!
Does anyone out there have a fool proof resolution?
I had a discussion this week with my grade 4 class about what they liked about writing. Top two answers- free choice of topics, and our writer's notebooks.
The majority of our writing is free choice, however- we do have some prompted writing that we do all together.
Biggest success with my struggling writers has been with allowing them to write in ANY FORM, and allowing them to write ABOUT ANYTHING they WANT and allowing them to WRITE with a PARTNER. They are begging to write now, they beg to take their notebooks home, they are submitting books they have written to the library to be shared with the larger school community. I would not have seen this enthusiasm or authorship if I had not allowed for free choice, for partner writing or free form. They actually identify themselves as authors. These are really struggling writers I am talking about. Two to three years below grade level. And they love writing.
Some of the forms they have chosen- comics, song lyrics, scripts for plays.
The start of the year is the time for generating lists of topics, for prompting- so they see the possibilities that are out there. I spent a good deal of time doing that at the start of the grade 4 year. I never have a student tell me they don't know what to write about. Another reason for this is regular author's chair, where they have a chance to sign up to share their pieces. This is so inspiring for the other authors.