- Starting high school students on smaller, shorter writing assignments can allow them to slowly become comfortable tackling longer pieces, Shawna Kay Williams-Pinnock, a language educator who currently serves as a full-time lecturer at The Mico University College in Jamaica, writes for Edutopia.
- She recommends beginning the process by having students dive deeply into a topic and grow more excited about sharing the details as they learn more. She also believes it’s key to teach students how to use the information they uncovered, from knowing how to cite original material correctly to selecting what to use to make the points they want to emphasize in their work.
- Students should also be encouraged to write in a way that will engage their reader, whether they’re crafting a travel blog, a song, or a movie or music video review. Ideally, too, teachers can help get these assignments published so students can experience the feeling of someone, aside from their teacher, seeing their finished pieces.
For students, honing the ability to write and express themselves is a crucial tool that can serve them well beyond K-12, as they further their education or head into the workplace. Getting students to start writing and become comfortable with it, however, can be a hurdle for some educators.
Finding a way to tap into students' interests or allowing them to write shorter pieces can help. Smaller assignments can seem less overwhelming for some while building their confidence to take on longer writing assignments. And granting students choices in topic and length may help them approach assignments with less trepidation.
Educators may also want to tap popular culture for subject matter options, finding students may warm more toward areas they know well. These avenues can still be tied into curriculum, whether that’s allowing students to create a music video that links to the lesson they’re studying in class or choosing a popular TV show or film and allowing students to write spec scripts, but with a topic linked to the curriculum.
Teachers could also offer shorter writing assignments as one of the options students can pick from a choice board. Further, educators could also make writing assignments required but consider not grading them. In that way, students can finish the work, master something brief without the stress of it affecting their overall standing in class, and potentially end up feeling more capable of tackling something longer — and ideally excited about writing the next time.