The image attached to this post really has nothing to do with the post. I was looking for something animated that looked real and this picture popped up and I thought it was cool!
No matter our age, we’ve all got experiences that others don’t. We also have experiences in common, obviously.
My point: it’s possible to write about things we’ve never experienced, but we tend to write with more authority when we include details from our own lives.
To teach this, it’s best to do some modeling. With older students, you don’t have to model as much, but you also don’t want to overwhelm them with too much writing on their own all at once.
I’m sure you already have strong parameters in your classroom, but you may want to reiterate what is and is not appropriate.
Ask a student to share their best memory or ask what they did over the weekend. If you want, you can have each of your students write a paragraph answering that prompt.
Once you have a story (and I suggest having it typed up and – if possible – on a smart board), have the students decide on a character and which parts of the story they want to keep and which details they want to change. As a class, retell the story a few different ways. Have each student rewrite the story using their own changes and tell them: they can use their own experiences to tell the story!
You may have to work one-on-one with some students, and many of your younger writers might not be able to think up the story and write it at the same time. Even some of your older students may struggle with this.
I think what some teachers need to remember is this: not all of our students are writers. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have them write, but it does mean we may sometimes want to make accommodations.
For instance, many classrooms now have iPads or tables. Our older students almost all carry cell phones. Why not utilize these tools? Students can use the voice record tool and speak their story. Then you’ve got a copy. After that, they can listen to their recording and write it down as they listen.
Some computers even have story-writing software where you speak and it transposes what you say. Of course, smart phones have the same capabilities. It’s just a bit more complicated to get on the computer. The biggest issue with these tools is that they don’t input punctuation without writers stating them.
Practice makes success.
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