Teaching writing has always been my favorite part of teaching English. From short stories to essays, I like to provide my students with fun and engaging topics and prompts to help them learn to love writing. However, it seems like every time that it comes time for papers, many students have a hard time thinking of something to write.
Everyone gets writer’s block. It’s not something new, but it something that people have an issue addressing a lot of the time. Sometimes, it can be uncomfortable for students to admit that they are struggling to come up with an idea, or that they have the idea, but just don’t know how to start. So here are three ways to help your students through their writer’s block.
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1. Set up a planning map
A planning map is simply a place where students can put everything that is going on in their head for a writing piece into an organized fashion. This can help students determine what pieces can go together, and still allow you to understand their thinking and help to give a little direction. A planning map can be a web where students put their main ideas in the center and create branches that go off of it with topics for their paper. From there, they can branch out more with examples or related pieces of information. It can also just look like an outline, where students write the main idea at the top and then move down similar to the web. Setting up a planning map and going through several prewriting exercises can help ease students into their writing assignments.
2. Have a class session for brainstorming
Having students work in small groups to help each other think of ideas can be a great help. While some students may already have ideas for things they want to write, it can help those who may not have thought of something. Hearing ideas from other students can make students think “That’s a cool idea! Maybe I could look at something similar, but focus on something different!”
This can also allow for them to have groups who they can peer edit with because they would already understand the other members’ ideas. One class brainstorming exercise I like is having my students complete group brainstorming posters with ideas, quotes, and illustrations. I then display these posters throughout the essay writing process so that my struggling students have a little more assistance.
3. Set up a meeting with the students
In seventh grade, before we could even start on a paper, we had to meet with our English teacher to get our idea approved. I found it to be extremely helpful and made me feel a lot more comfortable to talk to her about my ideas in the future. These meetings are a way for you to know what and how your student is thinking when it comes to writing and allows for more individualization when talking about future pieces. Allowing students to bounce ideas off of you, helps them because they usually already have the idea and can express it talking. The problem they have is writing it down. Once they say what they’re thinking out loud, usually, they realize that they can write it on paper. These meetings also allow you to talk to them about an outline for their writing, which can help with their writing even more.
Helpful Writing Tools for Students: