How to help middle elementary students love written expression?

September 1, 2023

For some people, the mere mention of the words "written expression" awakens rather unpleasant memories of school. We sometimes hear phrases like "I wasn't a literary person", "I never knew what to write", or "English has never been my thing". However, writing anxiety is not inevitable and can be avoided by developing the pleasure of writing from an early age, starting as early as second grade.

It is imperative to discover a few ways to help children who have recently learned to read and write develop a taste for written expression.

Associate Writing with a Routine

While children typically learn to speak quickly, the writing process often requires more effort and time. French pedagogue Célestin Freinet explains this difference: "The child learns to speak quickly because they don't stop talking, and their mother doesn't stop listening and talking to them either. Likewise, the child would learn to write perfectly if the same indispensable conditions were fulfilled, that is, if the child wrote and read almost constantly, not just for a few minutes a day."

To facilitate this mechanism over time, it can be helpful to establish writing-related rituals in the classroom or at home. This is precisely the mission of Plume: to anchor writing in the daily life of all children in a playful way.

Multiplying Writing Opportunities

The goal is not to overwhelm middle grade students with repetitive writing assignments that may bore them. To ensure that writing remains enjoyable, the writing routine mentioned earlier should be supplemented with a variety of writing exercises.

This can be achieved by keeping a blog, class journal, or even by creating a collection of poetry or writing a book. Don't hesitate to use fun digital tools like Plume App. The main objective is to encourage the child to write frequently without it becoming an evaluation concern for them.

Involving Second Grade Students in the Writing Process

Encouraging involvement in the learning process helps students to become more engaged. This is true for all school subjects, including writing. Here are some ideas to help engage second grade students in the writing process:

  • Voting on writing topics: Sometimes students lack interest in writing because the topic doesn't resonate with them or spark their imagination. In this case, brainstorm several topics beforehand or have students suggest topics, then take a vote to determine the next writing topic. This choice can be very involving for the children. In our application, we try to provide a large number of story starters for children to choose from.
  • Writing in groups: Children naturally enjoy playing together, so why not encourage them to write together? The exquisite corpse is a good example of a writing exercise with several people: one student writes the beginning of a sentence, the next writes another part, and so on. The result is often surprising, funny, and/or touching. These emotions promote the child's emotional memory and therefore their learning. Peer writing groups can also be implemented, giving writing a social scope that can be highly motivating.
  • Embarking on a year-long project: Doing a long-term project can be very interesting and motivating. Consider blogging, keeping a journal, writing a play, or a story.
  • Initiating a designated writing time during the week: Blocking off a specific time for writing each week can be necessary, especially when students are overwhelmed by a multitude of subjects. Institutionalizing this time shows the importance of writing and will encourage students to stick to it. They will become enthusiastic about this creative time and may even ask for more!

Sharing Writing to Go Beyond Assessment

Writing is a complex task for second-grade students. It requires concentration to write diligently, avoid spelling mistakes, and hold the pen properly. Without proper recognition, students can quickly become discouraged.

To encourage progress, it is important to provide support for the student's current and future skills. This support can come from teachers, classmates, and parents. Additionally, enlarging line spacing, change the font for children with specific needs, and increasing text size can help.

Valuing a child's dedication to writing is essential for maintaining motivation. To reinforce and highlight the child's successes, we have developed a positive rewards system. This system provides motivation and reduces the feeling of being overwhelmed.

Sharing a student’s writing recognizes the value of their work and efforts. Finding readers is an effective way to encourage an authorial posture. Printing the child's text is a great way to achieve this. With Plume, a PDF version is available in the student's space, and it can even be used to publish a real book.

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