8 Clever Ways to Get Students Writing More

Incorporating more writing activities in your already packed teaching agenda can be a challenge. This post shares some of the ways I’ve been able to get my students writing more in the classroom!

PLUS grab some FREE writing templates below that can be used in any grade level.

*This post contains affiliate links to Amazon for your convenience. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases, which do not cost any extra for you. Please see theΒ full disclosure here.*

Literacy Instruction for Upper Elementary Teachers

This post is a part of a series on helpful content geared toward literacy instruction in upper elementary classrooms. Here are the other posts to check out once you’ve read all of this post:

Posts with * beside their titles have free downloads available!

Engaging Writing Activites

Over the years, I have found some really clever ways to get students writing more in and outside my classroom!

I set a goal every year to get students more engaged with writing every day.

Writing can be very time-consuming in the classroom, yet we know how critical it is for our students. Many schools adopted Common Core State Standards (CCSS), which includes up to ten writing standards per grade level in elementary and middle school grade levels.

The best thing about these ideas for getting your students writing more is that they can be implemented quickly and easily into your classroom routines.

1–Writing Centers for Students

The first way to get students writing more is to always include creative writing prompts and activities in your literacy centers.

I have always been a huge fan of literacy centers to maximize learning and differentiate instruction in my classrooms. They provide great opportunities for students to write more.

For instance, when I teach students about prepositions and prepositional phrases using these really fun spinners, they write complete sentences using the prepositions. (Click HERE to see my full preposition activity set.)

ways to get your students writing more
Click the image to see more details on this writing center for upper elementary students.

Another example of how I sneak in more creative writing through centers is with my dice-rolling writing games. Students roll the dice for different noun and verb combinations to write sentences and short stories.

The goal of writing in literacy centers is practice and foundation building with writing. Students aren’t expected to dish out full essays or novels! (YET!)

However, this consistent sentence writing through centers gives students the confidence to write longer pieces during whole group lessons.

ways to get your students writing more
My Literacy centers also feature Spin and Write Games. Click the image for more details.

2–Thank You Notes for Writing Practice

Writing thank you notes packs a wonderful two-fold punch in my classroom. For starters, I believe in teaching and practicing gratitude as a way to build a positive, kind classroom community. Giving students on-going chances to say “thank you” through note writing reinforces the importance of being grateful and kind.

Yet it doesn’t stop there!

Writing thank you notes is also another clever way to get students writing more.

For our school’s cafeteria workers, janitors, crossing guards, etc. I would always ask the front office secretary for their birthdays.

Then my students would each write thank-you notes or birthday wishes on thank-you sheets.

We cut the cards out and put them on book rings like these.. I always purchase mine from Amazon because you can get a pack of 100 for usually around $10 or $11.

You can also purchase basic notecards from The Dollar Tree aka The Teacher Mall. πŸ™‚

We also take the time to write thank-you notes to class volunteers, room moms or dads that come to help with field trips or special class events.

The size of the thank-you note isn’t intimidating for your reluctant writers, but are appropriately sized for weekly quick-writes in the classroom.

We would often complete our thank you notes during our morning meeting/morning routines throughout the week.

This is one of my favorite ways to get students writing more!

ways to get your students writing more
This bulletin board writing set is my popular Haiku Poetry writing. Click the image for more details.

3--Bulletin Board Writing with Creative Writing Prompts

Some teachers hate bulletin boards. They are my JAM!! I love displaying student writing on bulletin boards, which is why it’s my third clever way to get students writing more.

These interactive style bulletin boards give students a higher level of ownership and accountability for their writing because my kiddos know that they will have an audience viewing their writing.

So every month in my classroom, we do a creative bulletin board writing activity. Their work stays up all month. Some examples are:

  • December-“Lighting Up Our Class with Kindness” (see the full set here) where students write about kind deeds someone in class displays towards them
  • January-“If I Lived in a Snowglobe” (available HERE in my TpT store) that is such a FUN creative writing activity! This one is always a hit with my students. Plus, other teachers and students have a blast reading the responses students write.
    ways to get your students writing more

And let me tell you, nothing pumps your students’ motivation more than hearing positive reinforcement from peers! [tweetshare tweet=”And let me tell you, nothing pumps your students’ motivation more than hearing positive reinforcement from peers! ” username=”Y7#&09P0^Gqp6Wj(!al6J*#cbD7idME):1:0″]

That keeps them wanting to write more!

4–Emoji-Themed Creative Writing

Another clever way to get your students writing more is to incorporate emojis with their writing prompts. I call it “The Emoji Experience.”

I allow my students to choose an emoji character.

During their pre-writing, they give their emoji character the following:

  • A Name
  • Conflict / Situation
  • Story Details
  • Solution
This writing activity is available in my Teachers Pay Teachers store. You can get more details by CLICKING HERE.

Students in my class love creating mini-stories about each emoji! You can extend this activity by having students use Google Slides to create digital illustrations for their emoji stories.

These illustrations can be easily printed and put on a bulletin beside the final draft of the creative writing story.

Not only are they getting more writing practice, but they are reading and getting practice using technology, which is a win–win!

5-Writing with Grammar Instruction

The goal of grammar instruction should be to help students become stronger writers. Yet, always teaching grammar in isolation apart from writing makes it difficult for students to transfer grammar skills to their actual writing assignments.

I bet we all can think of a student who STILL leaves punctuation marks off his/her sentences or will ace a grammar test, but has horrendous grammar in their writing!

So I infuse my grammar and writing instruction and activities as often as I can. Not only does it strengthen their grammar concepts, but it also gives them another chance to write.

The simplest way to implement this idea is to have students correct their own grammatical errors in their writing by re-writing their work correctly.  Of course, I help them find their grammar mistakes and we practice a lot with this skill. In the end, it is a clever way to get students writing more.

For more ideas on grammar instruction, see this post here on 6 Easy Ways to Teach Grammar.

My students love writing responses on our classroom Twitter Board with Exit Tickets. Click the image for more details.

6-Creative Writing with a Substitute Teacher

The reading coach in me constantly finds ways to build in more read-alouds and think-alouds for learning enrichment. 

Related Post: The BEST Books for Math Read-Alouds Ever!

This includes the days a sub covers my classes! I am really big on leaving sub plans that involve reading.

My Look in a Book Series (click here) is a GREAT resource for book-based sub plans! 

One way that I combine writing with reading when there’s a sub is with the book My Teacher’s Secret Life (click here for the book).

I do not tell my students when I am going to be absent. The sub is instructed to read this book, then students brainstorm where Ms. Marshall could be for the day.

Then they write stories about what MY “secret life” is as a teacher.

You will really get a kick out of your students’ theories on YOUR secret life! This writing activity never gets old because I keep the suspense going about why I was absent. Which keeps their writing on this topic flowing since they want to know so badly!

7-Use Photo Props as Writing Prompts

Another clever way to get your students writing more is to find out-of-the-box writing prompts to inspire their creativity.

Students WILL NOT write if they are bored with the writing activity. In fact, boredom is an engagement killer in the classroom whether you’re writing or not.

Related post: The 7 Habits of Highly BORING Teachers

In my class, for special events, I use photo props and set up picture taking stations. Well, I didn’t want to waste our fun photo props, so I decided to use them as writing prompts.

ways to get your students writing more

My students LOVED it! They took pictures of themselves with the photo props using our class IPads, then wrote creative stories about the pictures and props.

To up the fun factor, even more, I allowed them to upload their stories and pictures to our Seesaw app or our ClassDojo account for parents to see!

8-Writing Mail Center

For years I’ve kept a basic plastic mailbox(like the one pictured below; except mine is black) in my classroom and taught my students how to use it for letter writing. You can encourage your kiddos to write letters to each other and put them in the mailbox. (But I always told them that I would read their letters before “delivering” them!)

Or have your students write you some T-Mail aka Teacher Mail.

Setting up a mail center in your classroom gives endless chances for students to write more!  [tweetshare tweet=”Setting up a mail center in your classroom gives endless chances for students to write more!” username=”Y7#&09P0^Gqp6Wj(!al6J*#cbD7idME):1:0″]

While some may argue that these writing ideas aren’t “rigorous” enough, I want to emphasize again that these ideas are intended for on-going writing practice and CAN be aligned with your curriculum or state writing standards.

The more students are exposed to different ways of writing, the stronger they become overall with writing.

If you would like 16 FREE writing templates to use in your classroom for ANY type of writing assignment, click here for an instant download! –No need to enter an email address for this freebie.

What are some quick and clever ways that you use to get your students writing more?

Let me know in the comment section so that we can transform writing instruction beautifully together!

The Butterfly Teacher
writing ideas for the classroom

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.