Are you looking for easy-to-use advice on how to develop writing skills in students? You are in luck! Below, we explore six simple ways of making writing more fun to teach and to learn. Take a look!
Though most people understand the value of subjects like math and science, language arts are often overlooked. Many students suffer when it comes to writing and have communication skills that are far below their grade levels. Unfortunately, a child’s writing skills (or lack thereof) will follow him or her all throughout life.
See, writing skills aren’t just important when it comes to book reports and standardized tests—they also can make a huge difference when it’s time for students to start working on college essays and resumes as an adult.
With that in mind, we believe it’s important for teachers to take every opportunity they can to help students become better writers. Read on for our top six ways to teach your middle school class how to improve their writing skills.
Six Ways to Improve Writing Skills
1. Read Anything and Everything
Great writing always starts with great reading. If you want to help your students become better writers, the first thing you should do is get them to start reading as much as possible.
Here are just a few of the ways reading helps students improve their writing skills:
- Exposes students to new vocabulary and nuances of language.
- Expands a student’s worldview and teaches him or her about the experiences of others.
- Offers inspiration and promotes imagination and creativity.
Best of all, the benefits are the same no matter what they read—so whether your students are into popular novels, biographies, or comic books, they can benefit from more frequent reading!
2. “Great Artists Steal”
Have you ever heard the saying, “Good artists copy; great artists steal”? There’s some truth here that can truly help your students become better writers.
Now clearly, plagiarism is a terrible thing—and you’ll need to teach your students about the pitfalls of blatant artistic theft. However, deriving inspiration from a piece of writing and learning how to craft your own work in a similar manner is a completely different story. And in fact, it’s what truly sets great artists apart from good ones.
To use this principle in your classroom, ask your students to find a piece of writing they enjoy. Then, have them write something that is inspired by the original source material. They may want to write a sequel, remix the original, or take on a whole new topic but use the author’s style and tone to approach it. The goal here is to take one element of the successful work and then “steal” it by using it as inspiration to make something of their own.
3. Practice Truly Makes Perfect
“Practice makes perfect” may sound like just another cliché, but it’s an adage that couldn’t be truer when it comes to writing! There’s no better way to improve a student’s writing skills than to have him or her write more frequently.
Students will benefit from all types of writing, but one of our favorite ways to promote consistency is to have students practice with daily journal prompts.
Journal writing is particularly special because it gives students the opportunity to explore their own thoughts and ideas in a safe, controlled space. This helps kids become more attuned to themselves while also helping to improve their communication skills through the act of everyday writing.
Improve Writing Skills Prompts
Use these 10 journal prompts to help your students dive into journaling and improve their writing skills:
- Write a reflective essay about your earliest memory. Why do you think it has stuck in your head?
- Choose three key words that describe your parents. Then, explain why those words represent them and how they make you feel.
- What is the most interesting book you’ve ever read? Why did it catch your attention?
- Write about something in the world that baffles you.
- Describe your favorite feeling in the world. Use as much specificity as possible.
- Write about a time when you were surprised by something another person did. What happened? How did you react?
- If you could visit any place or time in the universe, where would you go? Why?
- What is the most difficult thing you’ve ever done? Describe your experience and how you feel when you think about it now.
- What would you do if you knew that you would live forever? How would your life be different?
- Write about an unusual belief or philosophy you have and explain why it makes sense to you.
4. Engage in Different Types of Writing
Once kids are accustomed to writing regularly, you can further hone their skills by having them practice new types of writing. There’s a whole world of creativity out there just waiting to be explored, from short stories to persuasive essays to personal reflections—and your students can benefit from all of it.
You see, some writing skills are transferrable across all genres—things like vocabulary, sentence structure, and clarity are important no matter what you’re writing.
However, other writing skills are a little more nuanced and may only be discovered by trying something new.
For instance, a book report that is heavily based on fact and knowledge doesn’t lend itself to empathy and imagination in the same way that a character study or first-person short story does.
To teach your students about factors like tone, style, and when it’s okay to break the rules, have them practice as many different types of writing as you can—and encourage them to be as creative as they like!
5. Utilize the Senses
Most people don’t think of reading as a very sensory experience—but when it’s done right, it absolutely can be! Great writers know how to paint vivid pictures with their words so that their readers may be transported to completely new places and times without ever leaving their seats.
To help your students learn this valuable, intangible skill, ask them to engage their senses as they write. It’s easy to look out the window and describe what you see, but what about the smell of the fresh spring air? How would you describe that scent?
Similarly, you can easily describe a friend’s personality—but what words would you use to capture the sound of his or her laughter? Or the way it feels to give your friend a hug?
Students who learn how to view everyday things through the lens of their other senses will become better, more observant writers—and their creative skills will improve as a result.
6. Listen to Feedback
Many writers have very personal connections to their work, which can make it tough for them to take feedback into consideration. However, a little constructive criticism can go a long way toward helping your students improve their writing skills.
Ask your students to read one another’s work and then to provide several helpful comments about what works well in the piece and what could stand to be improved. Then, have each student go through his or her paper and revise it based on the feedback received.
All advice is not necessarily good advice, but it is important for students to learn how to take feedback from others and distill it into their own work. Encourage your students to think about each piece of criticism carefully in order to determine whether or not they agree with it. If they don’t agree, they should be able to articulate why—and otherwise, they should try revising based on the suggestion simply to see what happens.
With a little bit of effort and a whole lot of practice, you can easily help your students become better writers by following these simple tips! And when they’re finished, they’ll be better equipped to communicate effectively with others for the rest of their lives.
Improve Writing Skills Resources
- 6 Exercises to improve writing skills
- Teach Writing Skills: 30 NEW Journal Prompts
- How to improve your writing style (Writers Digest)
- Importance of writing skills
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