Literacy, Writing

“Where do I begin?” 10 Strategies to Help Students Start Writing

Nick Bentley – Lead Practitioner

Follow him on Twitter: @NBentleyTweets

Writing an be a key element of lessons across the curriculum, and practitioners working in all sectors often seek to encourage their students to develop confidence when starting writing. What follows, then, are ten practical suggestions for ways we as professionals can encourage young people in their written work.

black ball point pen with brown spiral notebook
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1) Mini Whiteboards

Trying out ideas on a whiteboard before students commit pen to paper can be hugely meaningful – whether through a thought-shower to get ideas down, or planning sentences first.

2) Hot seating

Asking students to respond in-role to key questions can be enjoyable and can inspire all manner of thoughts and ideas about writing. They could do this by role-playing as a writer, mathematician, historical character, or indeed any figure linked into the learning material.

3) Live Marking

Not only can live marking – sitting with students to give them instantaneous feedback – support students to challenge themselves or extend writing that might have taken place, it can also be a quick and workload-friendly way of providing helpful and meaningful feedback for students on their writing.

4) Technology

This can support students if writing on a page can seem daunting. Assistive technology can support students with their writing, whether on a computer, laptop, or other text-capturing device.

ballpen blur close up computer
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5) Modelling

Modelling can allow students to visually see an effective way of writing before they complete it more independently. A prepared model or examples of successfully completed student work can be shared and unpacked with students, live modelling can demonstrate the process of completing writing, and shared modelling can allow students to involve themselves in the process of writing alongside the teacher before conducting it independently.

6) Debating

Not only can debating generate ideas and material before students proceed to complete their writing task, it can also allow students to take a specific positions on concepts or ideas.

orange tennis racket beside green tennis ball
Photo by Ingo Joseph on Pexels.com

 

7) Word Tennis

Before students complete a writing task, they must generate as many words linked to it by playing “Word Tennis” – a physical version of a word association game. Students mime playing tennis, and each time they serve or return the ball they must call out another word linked to the theme of each game.

8) Talking

Having a discussion task with a pair or a small group before writing independently can be a fantastic way of generating ideas or material for students to write about.

9) Writing in-role

Taking on the persona of a character or other individual can provide a way-in to a piece of writing. Students could take on the role of a journalist, scientist, detective, or other individual to support them in having the sense of a “voice” in their writing.

10) Drawing

Sketching out a model, or diagram, or image, before proceeding to break it down or explain it using written language, can be a helpful way into writing.