On writing, Dr. Seuss once admitted, “I get all my ideas in Switzerland near the Forka Pass. There is a little town called Gletch. I go there on the fourth of August every summer to get my cuckoo clock fixed. While the cuckoo is in the hospital, I wander around and talk to the people in the streets. They are very strange people, and I get my ideas from them.”
Do you need to take your class to Switzerland to teach them how to write? It would be great, but of course not. Surroundings do, however, play a pivotal role in how successful kids become as writers. Here are some key ways to design an inspirational classroom writing space for your students:
1. Keep it simple
Motivational classroom posters and charts often do the opposite for writers. Words and images can be distracting. Design a clean, clear, and comfortable environment for your students. Minimize distractions, and keep the space organized. Allow your students’ thoughts to flow effortlessly by only giving them the tools they need for each piece. Offer a space that accommodates quiet reflection and a place for collaboration, as well as technology. Provide comfortable chairs for thinking and tables that are versatile. An open physical space equals an open, creative mind.
2. Find fun in writing
Writing comes in all shapes and sizes, so find different ways for your students to nurture their craft. Give them choices. Suggest different writing formats and mediums for a single assignment. Let them choose their themes. Give them voices. Encourage collaboration for topics and ideas. Offer peer, community, or authors as mentors for support. Give them words. Students need language to become better writers. Select memorable words and keep a journal for reference when writing. The key is to encourage, promote, and inspire your writers. Find the fun, and you’ll find that your writers are inspired.
3. Publish your authors
Showcasing your students’ writing boosts their confidence and allows them to share ideas. Bulletin boards with self-selected pieces are a great way to do this. Or, string students’ work in the classroom from the ceiling to display. Frame writing pieces to hang on cupboards. Create an author’s wall with clipboards to display and exchange weekly work. Published work is meant for all types of interpretation. Renowned children’s author Cynthia Rylant encourages readers to emphasize the written word. “Take their breath away. Read with the same feeling in your throat as when you first see the ocean after driving hours and hours to get there. Close the final page with the same reverence you feel when you kiss your sleeping child at night…Teach your children to be moved.”
Give your students the right tools so they can write words that move readers.
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