Teaching kids to write and writing with kids is one of the most enjoyable lessons throughout the school day. BUT unfortunately, there are people who aren’t as passionate about writing as I am. In this article we will look at one trait of writing, Ideas. Teaching kids to write and writing with kids begins with great ideas. Too often we see perfect writing that is technically correct BUT oh, so boring. Writing is not boring if it starts out with a great idea that can be explored with specific, colourful words.
There is constant thinking that children have enough experiences to come up with an idea that will delight the reader. This is a myth. As teachers and parents we have to continuously develop the skills that make up the IDEAS trait of writing. One of the best ways of exposing children to new ideas is to read great books to them on a daily basis. However, there is more to this topic than what meets the eye.
One of the biggest mistakes that children make after they choose an idea is that they just write about that idea in a general and uninteresting way. What teaching kids to write and writing with kids needs, is teachers who demonstrate and then model how to search for the diamond in the idea. An idea is too big for the students to manage; it turns on itself and kills the essence of the writing. Digging for the diamonds in an idea can take us on a journey through rocks, stones and soil, until; with excitement we glimpse the sparkle of the jewel and delight in its beauty. The message here is to practice digging for diamonds and practice some more.
A child in Year Three decided to write about a day at the beach. Now, this can become a really boring story if the idea isn’t narrowed and the writing focused .Let loose with his own devices the child wrote about everything that he saw and did at the beach. The family had been to a penthouse, they had been to the beach and also some other adventures. This child’s writing was just words put into sentences. How did we change it? We talked to the class about what they would like to know more about in the writing. Unanimously, they wanted to know more about the penthouse. And so did I.
The focus on the penthouse was elaborated and the details were explored. We were fascinated. This writer told us things that we didn’t know and things that we found really interesting; not only about the pent house but about how the rich live. These were the details. This boring story had become the talk of the classroom. Teaching kids to write and writing with kids is full of excitement.
There is one more thing I need to say, students have to be honoured for the struggle NOT the outcome. As the battles are fought and the struggles are won the writing will improve and the diamonds will shine in their full glory.
Ann Foster is a talented teacher who produces and delivers programs that motivate children to success. Ann has spent thirty years in education and during this time she has been a classroom teacher, learning support teacher and a guidance officer. Her love of children and a passionate love of teaching has been the driving force that has helped children achieve results that seemed beyond their reach.