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Motivating Reluctant Writers Moving past perceptions, past experiences, and pessimism L’Porshia Orberg SWP 2012

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Motivating Reluctant Writers. Moving past perceptions, past experiences, and pessimism. L’Porshia Orberg SWP 2012. Driving our Focus. What is at the root of reluctance in our students as writers? What are some strategies that we can use to help students get past their roadblocks? - PowerPoint PPT Presentation


Page 1: Motivating Reluctant Writers

Motivating Reluctant WritersMoving past perceptions, past experiences, and pessimism

L’Porshia OrbergSWP 2012

Page 2: Motivating Reluctant Writers

Driving our Focus What is at the root of reluctance in our students as


What are some strategies that we can use to help students get past their roadblocks?

How can we translate these strategies effectively into our own classroom?

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Why should we care? Words hold power. Learning to use them to express ourselves

and communicate effectively is invaluable to the role we play in our classroom, our school, and our community, and our society.

If we open up the world of words, even to our most reluctant writers, then we give them endless opportunities for success.

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Think about a student you have had who just did not like to write…

What were some characteristics that you noticed? These can be behaviors, expressions, verbal

comments, etc.Noticings:

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CCSS Says: For students, writing is a key means of asserting and defending

claims, showing what they know about a subject, and conveying what they have experienced, imagined, thought, and felt. To be college- and career- ready writers, students must take task, purpose, and audience into careful consideration, choosing words, information, structures, and formats deliberately…They must have the flexibility, concentration, and fluency to produce high-quality first- draft text under a tight deadline as well as the capacity to revisit and make improvements to a piece of writing over multiple drafts when circumstances encourage or require it.

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Why do people hate writing?

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Kellie Buis in Reclaiming Reluctant Writers

Most classrooms are places we cannot expect writers to write willingly and well. Reluctant writers do not learn to write willingly through direct teaching – quite often that is what has gotten them into difficulty in the first place. Too much teaching and too many restrictions on their choices for writing can cause them to backslide into boredom and lack of interest or concern for their writing.

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Let’s do an Experiment… Take the piece that you receive and, with your

group, follow the directions as they are listed.

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Student Perception“Oh no, not writing. I hate writing.”

-Robert (11)

All students come to the classroom with their own set of experiences with writing. For the reluctant writer, these experiences have been negative.

Many times, we as the teacher, are to blame. Those of us who have covered the paper in red ink, noting only that which is ‘wrong’, have played a telling role in developed reluctance. Every writing assignment has become a poster of

their weaknesses and failings. –Jeannie Fulbright

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Lack of Stamina“I can think stories in my head but my hand won’t write them down quick enough.” – Kate (11)

Many students have not been taught or trained in the art of extended writing so, for them, writing for 30-45 minutes at a time appears daunting and overwhelming.

It is unrealistic to expect students to do this ‘on demand’ without first building up their stamina.

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No Frame of Reference“I like copying out of a book. I do this at home but I don’t do it in school.”

Becky (11)

Many times we tell students what to do. “Write a fairytale.” “Write a poem.”

Reluctant writers may not innately know what you mean because they have never seen that particular writing in action and don’t know what authentic writing looks like.

“Imagine being in a gallery of oil paintings with an accomplished painter to show you around. The painter might show you things about the painting that you would never see on your own.” (Wondrous Words p.16)

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Missing Confidence and Fear“I don’t have any confidence in my writing because the papers I read by the other students

are so much better than mine.” –Jane (18)

Reluctant writers have spent the majority of their writing career being told (overtly or subtly) that their writing just doesn’t meet the mark.

Their creativity and individuality have been stifled by prior influences in such a way that they feel that they are just not good enough so why should they try?

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Relevance“I don’t finish my stories. I just put ‘The End’ or we have to finish them for homework.

-Marmeet (10)

Reluctance stems from student questioning, “What’s the point?” “What does this have to do with me?” “Why will I ever need this?”

They do not see the benefit their writing has on the world in which they live.

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Strategies to Motivate our Writers:

Teacher Tool Box

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Give them a PURPOSE Students don’t like writing “just because”. They need a focus

and they need to know that their writing is not useless- show them how it matters to them, their audience, and the world around them. (Regina G. Richards “Strategies for Motivating Reluctant Writers”)

“We write for many reasons; to inform, to argue, to complain, to correct, to solve problems, to organize, to praise, to recognize, to make money, to remember, to entertain, to mourn, to articulate emotion, to express imagination, to pass tests, to fulfill assignments, to explore the world and ourselves, and to enjoy life. In short, we write to communicate.” (Kemplar, Adventures in Writing pg.6)

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Conferencing and Feedback Talk with them about their writing! Students value

and need detailed, consistent, and meaningful written and verbal feedback. It should reflect the knowledge, questions, and positive reinforcement of peers and teacher.

“Writing conferences are the backbone of the writing workshop. Good conferences move the teaching of writing from the whole-class carpet gathering to the individual writer’s desk. And what a big move it is.

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Scaffold don’t Dictate! Students learn early on that teacher personalities

are that which ‘fix what is broken’. Students need help, they don’t need us to do it for them. Show them what they can do better, give them strategies that writers use, provide them with a wealth of mentor texts, but do not recreate their work for them.

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Live a Writerly Life Yourself! We cannot expect our students, especially those

with pre-existing reluctance, to do something that we do not do ourselves.

Share your struggles and successes in writing.

Model for them what your take on a genre looks like. “I am no longer afraid to write myself, and have started a

journal, which I intend to share with my new field class next term. I have every intention to model the writing process in front of my students, sharing the process which we all go through in our struggle to write effectively for our audience.” (Motivating Reluctant Creative Writers Rebecca Mitchell, Inquiry Paper, April 2011)

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Promote Interest Allow students to write about things that they truly


Bring in mentor texts that appeal and scaffold student interest.

In order for writing to be intrinsic, we need to help students to discover things which they think are worth writing about.

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How do you see yourself using these strategies in your own classroom?

Name How I might use this…

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A final thought… “Some reluctant writers, no longer wishing to be

regarded for their insights and understandings, minimize their participation as a safeguard. Hoping to remain invisible, they hide their feelings behind bravado or veil them in silence. They become more concerned with the need to shield, rather than share, their ideas. They wear masks to survive. They may be convinced that we know they are failures and need to act the part. They can become hard to like, hard to teach—and probably need us the most.” (Kellie Buis, “Reclaiming Reluctant Writers”)

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Resources Buis, Kellie. Reclaiming Reluctant Writers: How to Encourage Students to

Face Their Fears and Master the Essential Traits of Good Writers. Markham, ON: Pembroke, 2007. Print

Kemplar, Adam U. Adventures in Writing An Introduction to the Writing Process with Readings. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 2003.

Mitchell, Rebecca. Motivating Reluctant Creative Writers. Inquiry Paper. 2011. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.

Ray, Katie Wood. Wondrous Words: Writers and Writing in the Elementary Classroom. Urbana, IL: National Council of Teachers of English, 1999. Print.