4 ways to get students excited about writing

It can be difficult to get students excited about writing. Growing up, I liked to write. More specifically, though, I liked to write about things I liked. While I could crank out a decent enough essay like the best of them, my real passion was in creative writing. Buried in the depths of my office closet is a box holding over a dozen spiral-bound notebooks and hundreds of loose pieces of paper (all adorned with my middle-to-high-school handwriting) spinning elaborate tales of drama and adventure, mostly inspired by my favorite fantasy novels. A few pieces, though, stand out. There’s the short story I wrote for my honors English class in tenth grade, when we were studying the works of Edgar Allan Poe. My teacher gave us the option to either write an essay comparing the themes in multiple examples of Poe’s work or to demonstrate our understanding of the class material by writing an original short story mimicking Poe’s style. I chose the latter. And I got an A. Looking back at my high school career, I realize how extremely fortunate I was to have English teachers who understood the importance of “leaning in” and getting to know me as a person. The Poe assignment was one of many in which my teachers found ways to tailor writing tasks so that they felt more interesting and relevant. It was their ability to create buy-in on my part that resulted in my not only wanting to write for school but also in my learning to see myself as a writer both inside and outside of the classroom. There’s a great deal of focus in writing instruction on making sure students consider their audience. Just as we want students to know their audience, however, we, as teachers, need to also know our students so that we can empower them to use their writing voices. Here are four tips on how to go about this in your classroom.


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