Posted on 10/18/2016 at 09:57 AM by Blog Experts

Getting students to write it hard, especially the reluctant ones.  And it's our job to bring more writing in throughout the day, besides in writing workshop.  This has always been a hot topic with teachers and I wish there was an easy answer.  I think it's important to figure out why the student isn't writing.  Do they get stuck on a word and just stop after that? Do they not remember what they wanted to write? Do they just not know what to write? Are they worried they are going to be wrong?  There's lots of reasons why students are reluctant, but if you figure out why, then you can try a few strategies. Here are some idea below.  What are some strategies that you've tried?  

Here are some of mine...

Rehearse with the student what they want to write.  Make sure it's their words and you help to correct any grammar issues.  Have them say the first sentence  over and over again until they have it in their head.  (for students that forget what they're writing) 

Teach students to use a practice page- student writes on the right side of a notebook and the left side becomes a practice page.  Students practice or try a word that they aren't so sure how to spell.  Have them underline any words in their writing that they know is not spelled correctly.  (For students to get hung up on correct spelling of words)

When you want a student to write more but they think they are done, ask the student how much more they think they can write by the time you come back and check on them.  Put a dot in the margins of where they think, or maybe what you think they can do.  Then come back and see if they did.  (For students who think they are done writing, when really they're not)

Here's a post from Edutopia on some other ideas.

3 Strategies to Fire Up Hesitant Writers

Taken from: Edutopia
Young writers often feel blocked by the act of writing itself. Use these ideas to help get their thoughts flowing.
By Alexandra Cheshire
November 5, 2013 Updated October 14, 2016


“But Miss Parrish, I can’t think of anything to write!”

Haven’t we all heard similar lines in our classrooms? We see hesitant writers sit with pencils in their hands and paper on their desks, almost as if they’ve been handicapped by the task we have set for them.


How is it that some students have so much to say when talking, but when a pencil is put into their hand they suddenly hesitate, struggle, and have nothing to say? How can we help these hesitant writers eliminate the barrier that suddenly appears when they’re asked to write?

The answer is to have them produce ideas without writing at all. That’s right, the way to get hesitant writers to produce as much writing as they do talking is to have them do exactly that -- talk.

Strategies That Work
1. Student Talks, Teacher Writes

Have your student stand up while you sit at the desk.
Pick up the student’s pencil and say, “You talk, I’ll write.”
This usually catches students off-guard -- it takes them a moment to realize this is a real option.
2. Audio Record It & Then Transcribe It

Identify a way your students can record themselves speaking their essay rather than writing it. This could be a tape recorder, a digital audio recorder, a computer with a microphone, or an audio recording feature on a phone.
Hand the recording device to your student and say, “Step out in the hall and recite your essay using this.”
They can then play the recording back and write down their words.
3. Audio Transcribe It

Pick an app or tool that transcribes speaking as text. Some options: PaperPort Notes, Dragon NaturallySpeaking, Dictation Pro, VoiceTranslator, or the text-to-speech tools that are built into many smartphones. Try one of these on your phone, tablet, or computer.
Tell your students, “Go ahead -- speak your paper.”
After speaking, the students can email themselves the transcribed text and work on the draft from there.
Communication Before Craft
The sooner students (and teachers) see that writing has nothing to do with a pencil, a piece of paper, or a keyboard, and is simply communicating, the sooner they will start making incredible progress. Barriers will come down. The hesitation of putting the pencil on the paper to write will go away. In my view, writing is simply communicating through pencil marks rather than through speech.

Our concern is not whether a student communicates through a pencil and pen, keyboard, chalkboard, audio transcription device, or other means. Our real hope and goal is for individuals to capture their high-quality thoughts and convey them effectively to others. The strategies here break down the barriers between a student’s mind and their audience. These strategies free up thinkers to express their thoughts without the hesitation that makes some students’ minds go blank as they pick up that pen or pencil.

How have you helped students write without putting pen to paper (or pixel to page)?

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