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5 Teaching Tips to Make Your Students Better Writers

August 11, 2016
Writing can be difficult, even for those who do it regularly, whether it’s for a living or for personal fulfillment. Coming up with a thought-provoking and original piece requires time, patience, and practice to hone the right skills. Teaching writing to others can be just as much of a challenge. This is especially true when we’re passing these skills on to young learners who are still finding their way. However, this is also the perfect opportunity to instill in students a genuine love for writing that can last for the rest of their lives. Here are five tips that will help you to make writing interesting, fun, and rewarding for your students: Tip 1: Start off with pre-writing activities to ease students into the task Before students get started on writing, they should engage in the prewriting process. This applies to every writing endeavor, from the most basic essay to the most complicated doctoral dissertation. Start by writing a draft or a simple outline of your topic—it doesn’t have to contain all of the main points or be too organized. A good way to get the process started with students is through brainstorming activities. There are apps available online, but you can also opt for an old-fashioned classroom brainstorming session. Let students talk about their ideas and prompt them with a few questions to help them develop these ideas. Tip 2: Have students work together in groups Students can be given more freestyle forms of writing once they’ve had more practice. For the moment, guide them with your own prompts or through group activities. Give a few suggestions on how to organize their approach to a given topic, whether it’s something they choose or something you assign to them. Teach them the basic steps to a good paper: research, outlining, writing, and then editing and proofreading. Arranging the class into pairs or groups will not only help students develop their interpersonal skills, it also lets them learn from each other as much as they’re learning from you. Tip 3: Ask students to identify other writers’ main concepts, then apply that skill in reverse Teach students to articulate their big ideas in writing. One of the best activities to develop this skill is summarization. When students summarize a text, they’re breaking down and articulating a writer’s main ideas in their own words. Doing this to others’ ideas will help them to identify and develop their own main ideas when they sit down to write. As a bonus, they’ll be practicing a good study skill, because summarization helps to boost a reader’s retention of the material. Tip 4: Provide timely and constructive feedback Another way to develop students’ writing skills is by providing both positive and constructive feedback. You can combine critiques from yourself and from their peers. Students should understand that their writing may eventually have a wide range of readers, and they should be prepared for positive, neutral, and critical responses to their work. That said, you’ll want to make sure that all feedback, including that of fellow students, is shared in the spirit of helping them to improve their writing. Tip 5: Share the big-picture benefits of writing In order to help students truly understand the importance of writing, explain its benefits in real life, beyond the classroom. Show your students examples of how excellent writing is essential for success in different kinds of careers, as well as examples of how writing can help in developing interpersonal relationships. The Takeaway As teachers, we’re responsible for helping our students learn to be better communicators through writing. While developing students’ writing skills can be challenging, raising young writers is also a great honor for any educator, so don’t miss out on the opportunity.