I’m Learning To Teach High Schoolers How to Write: Now What?

In every writing class and every blog post and every article I read about teaching writing, there are things that show up consistently: writer’s notebooks and modeling and I cannot stress how important I think that these things truly are.

I know I talk about writer’s notebooks a lot, but I think that they are vital to teaching writing because it gives writers FREEDOM and we all want freedom in school. Students need a chance to write about what interests them or they will forever have a negative attitude about writing. We want our students to feel like we trust them and we want to foster creativity in their minds.

I have had the most luck writing when it comes from prompts and freedom to let it take me in any direction. When I talk about my plan to use this in classrooms, I get a lot of negative feedback because people my age and older, never got a chance to appreciate writing in school because they were forced to write essays and research papers, and that was it. I always tell people who have negative comments about writing notebooks that there is an overwhelming amount of evidence that shows that writing notebooks helps in writing classrooms soon much.

Modeling is another one of my favorite tactics. Students always have a negative mindset when a teacher tells them to do something that they don’t have to do. For example, in gym class when my teacher sat in a chair or on the stage and told us to run sprints, I wanted to sprint over there and kick her. If you don’t need to run, then why do I need to? I feel like the same goes for reading and writing. We should never ask a student to do something that we wouldn’t do and when they see us doing it in class with them, then they will be more willing to hop in and do it. So teachers and future teachers, my advice to you is: when you give students a writing prompt or time to read, read and write with them so that they see you using it, not just telling them to do it. I promise they will appreciate it.

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2 thoughts on “I’m Learning To Teach High Schoolers How to Write: Now What?

  1. I like how you mention that if they see you practicing what you preach, the students will appreciate it. I know that I appreciate those types of things. It ties into the mode of thinking in which you place yourself into the class you’re teaching. Would you like what you are having your students doing? If you perform some of the tasks you assign with the students you are definitely answering that question for yourself!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think it’s so important to write to the prompts we give. I also love having a prompt (even something as simple as “I remember”) to structure a freewrite and get me going. The blank page is really hard for me. A simple prompt is a spark that gets the pen moving. But so many prompts shut down writing rather than open it up. I can’t ever resist looking at lists of writing prompts when they come across my Feedly or Twitter, and I often struggle to imagine how I’d write to something like “Describe a day in the life of your shoe.” Huh? (I will also say that I once had a student choose that prompt off a list I showed them online and wrote a marvelous piece. So… YMMV.)

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