Student writing groups can be so exciting. Seeing the students’ writing improve as the year goes by, listening to students encourage one another, and reading the creative ideas they dream up is worth every minute of planning and extra time the coordinator puts into it. If you are in charge, and you need more ideas for your group, read on.
- Bring a book and read. This is a student-led activity. Each child brings a book they are reading or they have read. Have a few ready for those who forget. Go around the group and have each student read just the first sentence of their book. Lead them into a discussion about what works best for a strong beginning. You can do the same for endings.
- Free write or “wet ink.” Set a timer for a few minutes and tell students they must write for the entire time. They can write anything. If they feel stuck, they can just write random words, or describe their favorite book, or what they ate for lunch, or anything at all. Just so they write. This is a technique they can do at home, as well, when they don’t know how to get started. Something usually pops into their heads after awhile, and then they’re on their way.
- Assignments. Be careful not to let the group feel like a regular class, but you may decide to give students an assignment each time. It may be something simple, like write at least 100 words by next time. It could be topic-oriented or based on a writing prompt. Make the assignment sound fun and challenging. In fact, it would be a great idea to call it a challenge, not an assignment.
- Drawing. Many writers have a bit of a drawing talent or desire. Either bring in art that could inspire their writing, or have them write something that has a drawing with it. You could talk about picture books, sketches, book cover art, or maps.
- Change the format. If students normally write fantasy, challenge them to try writing non-fiction. If they like to write descriptions of characters, they could try a mystery. Give them ideas, but listing all the genres they like to write. Put them on the board, then list any others they can think of. Poetry, historical fiction, lists, how-to articles, picture books, curriculum, etc. Have them choose one or two different styles and try them in the group or for next time.
Enjoy your group. Watch them grow and stretch themselves as they write throughout the school year.
Question: Do you need help starting a student writing group? What are the obstacles in your way?