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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First of all I am impressed with the various subjects you are handling in your class. I cannot imagine a teacher handling math, science, English, history and government. I handled Geometry, advanced algebra and IT related subjects and it gives lot of challenges. Sometime I integrate writing with IT subjects in the form of essay writing. However, before I proceed with this I research some online essay example to have idea on format and structures.
Hi Duff,

I think non-traditional writing activities in the computer lab definitely has potential. I just need to think outside the box to make it happen.

Maybe some creative visualization activities might do the trick:)

BTW, most ELD teachers have to have some background in many content areas because we need to lay a very general academic foundation for the content classes that the students will be entering once they leave our classes. Though I would never qualify to be content teacher in those areas, I do have enough background to introduce the content. Remember my focus is language and I use the content to teach it:)

Thank you:)


Why not try different types of writing?

Towards the end of the year, I show my students how to blog, email, twitter, etc. using netiquette. I teach netiquette as a job-skill and we talk about the different fields and industries which will require the proper use of blogs, email, tweets, etc. The students love getting to play with technologies.

The students also get involved in more contests (especially at the national level). Right now, my 7th and 8th graders are writing scripts for a national public service announcement contest they will be entering next month. Filming begins next week.
I thinking blogging is a great idea. I taught ELL fourth-graders, and blogging motivated them like nothing else I'd seen. (First, though, I started them on Dance Mat Typing -- a total of about 4 hours on this got all of them typing as quickly as they could write.) The key to their blogs was having students comment on each others' blogs and getting family, friends and collegues in other parts of the world to read and comment. When the kids realized they were writing for an audience outside of me, their writing improved drastically, as did their motivation (several students would blog outside of school, on their own time). Also, blogging allows you to integrate other subjects. I used to have students complete their science homework via the blog. There's several sites out there that allow you to create student blogs for free. I used classblogmeister.

I also think writing scripts is a great idea, especially if students are allowed to make movies from their scripts (this helps with their verbal skills as well). I used to have students use the built-in web cams on Macbooks to film movies and then use iMovie to edit them. But if you don't have access to that hardware, your students could use FREE Web-based software like Go!Animate or xtranormal to create their movies.
Hi Laura,

I like your idea here. Since I will have them again as intermediates in August, I could devote some computer time developing their typing and internet skills. After all, only 2 of 12 have computers at home so if they don't get exposure at school, where will they get it?

What blog source do you use for your classroom?

Thank you.



Hi Denise,

A gentle reminder about giving the innovative Nail It Now keyboarding method a "go". In these days of hard economic times and the need to integrate technology with daily “real” class work, typing software programs just are not doing the job. Even Dance Mat takes too long (12 lessons) to learn the letters on the keyboard and correct finger use (between lessons, students have to revert back to bad habit 2-finger typing)

Nail It Now is FAST and students can use "real" activities (blogging is excellent) to practise, ie, they don't practise "locked" in a typing software program. With the aid of removable, adhesive dots covering the keys, students practise by doing ALL their "real" typing work without looking at the keys. You will be amazed at how quickly they achieve automaticity

Denise, it would only take you 35 minutes to try the LEFT side PowerPoint slide presentation at http://www.nailitnow.com.au/typingtutorlicence/everyone/how.html with your class

Nail It Now
I like the blogging idea. I just need to know what blogging sites are safe (and therefore will be approved by my district). Would you know of any?



I recently wrote a blog post about free blogging sites, and I give a run-down of a couple. (Classblogmeister will probably best meet your safety needs.) The post also includes research connecting blogging to increased test scores. It might be of some help to you.
I use a lot of creative writing prompts in my science classes... sometimes they just get bogged down with a lot of the information and creative writing is a great way for them to de-stress and allow their creative juices to flow. Here are some books you might want to check out - they were recommended to me by an English teacher friend. Also, if you get the chance to see David Greenberg for a professional development class, check him out!

Hi Cheska,

I am going to share this information with my ELD science teacher and see if we could do some collaborative creative journaling here:) As an ELD science teacher, he is really using science as a way to teach language. The kids love his class and tell me so CONSTANTLY---but I am not the jealous type:)

I am going to see if the principal can reimburse me for the books you suggested. Two copies each won't break the bank AND from what you say, the kids will like it. Also, the fact that this information comes from a science teacher will be a definite plus!

Thank you!


You are very welcome! I was working on a project this weekend for a grad course, where my teammates and I were researching alternative methods to writing. I did a section on technology, and I recalled that you were also looking for non-traditional writing methods in the computer lab setting. If you have access to a Smartboard, you might like this website: http://www.magneticpoetry.com/kidspoetry/createpoem.cfm?kit=4. It's an interactive magnetic poetry website that you and your colleagues can easily pair with any of the visual and creative writing prompts found in the books listed in my previous post. I'm trying it out this Wednesday, and I have a feeling it's going to be a great hit!

Please keep me posted on your writing adventures! I'd love to hear what you and colleagues end up working with, and how your high school students respond to the new activities. :)
I checked out the books from Amazon. They are not pricey so I should be able to buy them. The science teacher I am coaching liked this idea also.

Thank you:)




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