Tag Archives: lanuage arts

Are You Teaching Your Kids to Hate Writing?

24 Apr

In this blog, I spend a lot of time talking about how I try to teach my students to love writing. Just as important, though, is NOT teaching your students to hate writing–something that many teachers, myself included, do accidentally all the time.

Here are three surefire ways to teach your students to hate writing (and some ideas for how to avoid them):

1. Use writing as a punishment. We are all familiar with the image of an Anne-of-Green-Gables-type kid being forced to write “I will not lose my temper” a hundred times on a blackboard. We laugh at the idea, but modern teachers still pull this kind of stunt all the time. Have you ever heard (or said), “If y’all don’t settle down, I’m giving you twice as much homework tonight!” or “Since you all were horrible to the substitute teacher, you all have to write a five-page apology letter to her.”

But here’s my question: Has giving extra writing assignments as punishment ever made a disruptive child sit down, cock their head thoughtfully, and say, “Why golly! You’re so right, teacher! I really should love learning more than I do. I’ll be sure to work hard and care deeply about the quality of my academic papers from here on out”? Classroom rules and consequences are an important part of many well-managed classrooms, but there are plenty of useful consequences that are non-academic, such as lunch detentions or phone calls home, and using these can help your student separate their behavioral consequences from their interest in their schoolwork.

2. Don’t give any feedback. Students thrive on feedback; they love to know what they are doing well and what they need more help with. Without timely, meaningful feedback, writing assignments can feel like writing to a pen pal who never writes you back–draining and pointless.

3. Don’t let your students do creative writing projects. It can be hard to save time for creative projects when we are faced with countless testing requirements, but it is more important now than ever. Writing poetry, stories, and plays inspires students to care about writing (and it also teaches them important skills, as well.) Consider setting aside one day each week for creative projects, or offering creative responses as a more fun alternative to literary essays or multiple choice tests.

What do you do to keep your students excited about writing? Let me know in the comments section!

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