Would you share any of your tricks to getting kids excited about writing in class?

The year is winding down and kids are getting antsy (they are high school ELLs):)  I want to try some different writing activities that will motivate them a bit more to write. In ELD, I teach math, science, English, history, and government.  To be honest, they do everything I ask, but I want to find some different techniques that will re-ignite the enthusiasm they displayed on day one (maybe not totally realistic BUT it is worth a shot).  I have used many interactives on www.readwritethink.org as well as engaging PDF printouts, but I want more.  Can anyone help out here?




Tags: EFL, ESL, English, Geography, Math, Science, Social, Studies

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This idea is an oldie, but still a workable one----use the opening line and last line from a few good young adult books. Then ask the students to develop a written piece (story, narrative) with that opening and ending line from the selected novel. It may be nice to pick the opening and ending lines from a few classics and contemporary books for the activity.

Another one that has worked well for my students is a written dialogue between historical figures. They choose two completely different historical figures from two different time periods, and develop a written dialogue based on a topic/issue relevant to both. The kids come up with interesting and controversial choices....i.e. Ghandi in dialogue with Malcolm X, Susan B. Anthony and Hillary Clinton, Hitler and Martin Luther King Jr.. This writing activity can be scaled up or down for the grade level you teach.

We have also done letter-writing, focusing on different business letters. The letter of complaint goes over well as kids usually have a lot to say on this one----they choose a product, service, or company they used in the last 3-4 months and actually develop a business letter to the company, etc. I do teach them how to structure the letter so it is not just a whine session. And, they usually do quite well. They have written to a variety of companies----cable company, movie theater, Netflix, skin care products, etc. We also do complimentary letters so they know how to compose a letter to express appreciation for outstanding service or satisfaction with a product, good or service.

Hope some of this provides a little food for thought. Best wishes for a great rest of the school year!
Hi Denise,

You have given me some fun ideas!

I like the opening and ending lines from a story that they use to create a short story.

Your complaint letter is one that I am sure they can relate to, but more importantly, it could help them with the high school exit examination.

The dialogue idea could be videotaped as they take on roles. Potential here as well!



I always think a good prompt with an area of focus can get kids writing and they can be creative too.

I have use a lot of picture prompts where the kids have to make stuff up to go with the picture.

Example: When we are talking about dialogue, I show a picture of some people and they to make up the conversation. You can make it funny, serious, a debate, a first date, etc.

The kids like that there is not just one right answer, they can be creative, and I am happy because I can check form on a focus area.

I get a lot of pictures from MSN NBC Week in Pictures.

Then I load them on my ipod and attach my ipod to the TV so they can all see the picture.

I have used this for writing a story in slow motion, dialogue, creating Adjective Adjective Noun Combination, Alliteration, Similes, and many other areas.

Good luck.

I really like the news photo idea. Pictures can easily tell a story and since they are tied to the news, they could come to this activity with some background from their geography and government classes. I will have to show the shots from my computer though since iPods are not allowed in classes. I could also send the links in emails to them and with partners, they could develop stories in the lab. Awesome!

Thanks much:)


The drawings in The Mysteries of Harris Burdick are great story starters, as well.
Have you heard of flocabulary? It's a curriculum designed to teach students vocabulary, as well as writing, through rap. They have some free resources and lesson plans on their Web site that might be of some use.



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