Writing

5 Surefire Writing Strategies You Can Borrow from Social Media Right Now

Somewhere, someplace… there’s an essay due. And there’s a student (maybe even you!) who is staring at a blank page. Even after all the in-class lessons and maybe even tutoring for writing, the time has come… but the words won’t spring forward. Maybe the essay is due soon, and you need a solution. Maybe you’ve even made an outline and have plenty of research notes, but aren’t sure what to do next.

“Why does this have to be so hard?” You think as you bring up your Facebook or Instagram app and comment on a friend’s post. “Why can’t it be as easy as my social media feed?”

It can beCaptivating Instagram Writing. Whether we’ve noticed it or not, millions of students across the world are writing, each and every day. They’re posting their reviews of their favorite movies, adding their opinions in the comment sections of blogs, even sharing ideas that interest them deeply! Why, it’s a writing revolution!

So if writing on social media comes so naturally, why does our essay have to be so difficult? Is there anything we can learn from all the writing taking place on social media that can make it easier?

Yes! Let’s take a look at some writing strategies borrowed right from the writing habits you use every single day.

1. Consider Your Audience – It’s all about captivating them

It’s probably pretty obvious whenever you post to social media: you’re considering how your friends and family will interpret what you’ve said. But it goes much further than that: you want to capture your audience’s attention, not bore them to tears. The same goes for your essay audience. In many cases, your audience is the same friends and acquaintances (plus your teacher!) that you interact with on social media. What would interest them about your topic? What would convince them about your argument?

2. Build Your Network – Think of citations like a friends list

Whenever you tag a friend in a photo or give them a shout out on a comment, what are you really doing? Drawing attention to how awesome they are and giving them a little credit. Citations and quotations are exactly the same. By including quotes from other authors, you’re showing how your ideas, reasoning, and even your values are supported by people you respect (and who are respected by others). You even give credit by “tagging” the author so your audience can connect with them if they want! Citing your sources is a way to show how vast your intellectual network is. Don’t be afraid to show it off.

3. Share Something You Find Interesting – Connect the dots between facts & ideas

You don’t just post or share anything on your social media network; you share what you find interesting or are passionate about. Once you’ve thought about what will captivate your audience, share with them what you find most fascinating about your subject or topic. Is it weird that the character in the book you’ve read was driven by their past? Have you considered how your topic might impact the world for people your age? This is your chance to tell your readers, more formally, what you think. Connect those dots!

4. Apply Those Filters – Put ideas through a new lens to show multiple perspectives

Just like vintage filters make images look like they’re from another era or a vignette might focus in on one part of a photo, multiple perspectives give you the opportunity to play with ideas exactly like photos. In previous essays, your teacher may even have asked you to respond to possible criticism of your main writing points. Basically, you were considering multiple perspectives on the same topic and highlighting just how different the same topic can be to different people. Well, a neat trick is to use this technique all the time, the same way you would use multiple photo filters on Instagram to make a beautiful collage of images. Analyze your points from different perspectives to fully illuminate it.

5. Add Your Hashtags – Organizing the points you’re making… #awesome

While you can’t use hashtags in your essay (I know, I know!), that doesn’t mean that your main points don’t act in a very similar way. Hashtags come in all shapes and sizes, essentially letting you (and the online world) pull together and organize many photos, videos, and posts. Your essay’s main points are like the hashtags sprinkled throughout your feed. By using them again, you return to and remind your audience of what you find important about your subject. Best of all, your essay will be organized around the central points and ideas that guide your audience through what you’re thinking. Like with our other techniques here, you have the chance to play around and have a little fun, so your writing is a reflection of your own customized voice and thoughts.

If You Give Students Sophisticated Word Choice

hp-009_1zInspired by one of our favorite children’s books, we know if you give students Sophisticated Word Choice, they’ll want to use them in a sentence.
When they use them in a sentence, they learn the power of vivid language.
When they understand the power of vivid language, they’ll want to learn more interesting words.
When they learn more interesting words, they’ll want to make their sentence a Power Sentence.
When they write a Power Sentence, they’ll want to write another.
When they write another, they’ll be amazed at their own abilities.
When they’re amazed at their own abilities, they will want to write more and share it with their peers and families. When they want to write more and share it with their peers and families, they’re ready for the next Level of Writing!

Righting Writing in Middle and High School

3339783Lately, during sessions with middle and high school teachers, one question continues to be asked. “How often do you recommend that students write in my classroom?” Our response, “Daily.”
This might just be one sentence, but still, writing is happening daily, in every class. If you guided students through writing one high quality sentence per day, each week you’d have a powerful paragraph, and each month you’d have a Level 9 piece of sensational writing. Just imagine if you wrote 2 sentences some days… maybe even three! World, watch out!
To be frank, writing across the curriculum isn’t a luxury; it’s a necessity. Writing, Common Core style, is a true team effort. This is not an ELA thing. It’s an every department, every teacher, every student thing. Writing can be time intensive, and at times, we will design it to be in every class, but generally, on a daily basis, writing can be a quick yet powerful task.
Our request of you: make writing a priority, a daily priority. Have high expectations. Use Writing with Design’s Rubrics to explain what those high expectations are. Use the rubric software to track growth (it will happen and it will be amazing!). Model great writing. Guide students through great writing. Work on transitions. Work on sophisticated word choice. Work on closings. In a word, write.
So, let’s get writing. What do you say?

 

Mind Designs are the Roadmaps to Writing Success!

4148522With the summer travel season in full swing, one of the most important items to pack for a road trip is a map.  Whether it’s a paper map or a GPS device, having a plan to reach a destination makes it easier to get there.  Without an accurate map, travelers might struggle to find their way. Whether they have to stop and retrace their route because they realize they are headed in the wrong direction or, even worse, they end up in a different place than they intended, when there’s a destination but no map to get there, road trips become torturous. Planning the route saves time and frustration and ensures travelers get to their intended destination!

Recently, I scored a batch of writing from three classes that illustrated the impact the “roadmaps” in Writing with Design has on the quality of student writing.  What struck me about the classes I analyzed was how much scores improved when students use the Mind Designs, the road maps, to plan their writing.

In two of the classes, I noticed that the writing was unfocused.  Their scores reflected this.  I could see that students struggled to get their ideas on the page because they had no plan. They were lost on their route and many ended up in destinations that were confusing and way off track.  In the third class, student scores were significantly higher.  As I scored this class, I noticed that students were using a Sequence Design to plan their narratives.  Clearly, the teacher had taught students how to use the Design to effectively organize, or map out, their writing.  Their writing was focused, well structured, and on prompt.  Good planning also freed students to be more creative and add more details.

As an independent Writing Analyst for Writing with Design, I can attest to this: Mind Designs give students a roadmap to success in writing!

-Angela
Writing Analyst for Writing with Design

The Power of Post-It Notes

post-it notesTo ensure that students’ writing stays sacred, stays full theirs, when reviewing writing, put any comments for revision or editing on post-it notes or a separate sheet of paper. It’s important to remember as teachers that full ownership of the writing belongs to the student, whether they are 5 or 25. Thus, keeping all suggestions for improvement separate ensures they maintain ownership and the power to enhance their writing.

In addition, having the comments on the post-it, means students must transfer the changes to their paper, keeping them as the active learner and reviser, instead of the passive fixer. In other words, the hand that’s doing the writing is connected to the brain that’s doing the learning. So, give them clues and suggestions as to what changes would improve their writing. However, keep all the comments off the original work.

This small transfer of power and gesture of respect leads students to be tremendously more independent and confident in their writing because they see you, their teacher, as their guide instead of their corrector.

Just How Far We’ve Come

2023999Before spring break, several of my 2nd grade students came up to me and asked for paper to take home. My first thought was that it was so they could draw pictures and color. “No, Mrs. Plescher, we want to write!” Isabella informed me.

In that moment, I felt as though one of my year’s goals had been accomplished. I set out the year, using Writing with Design, to empower my students to be confident, eager writers. Realizing they wanted to spend time over their break thinking and writing showed me just how far they had come since September. The same students who rushed through writing, who were resistant to writing more than two sentences, who often said, “I don’t have anything else to write about,” now had the motivation, desire, and pride to write independently.

Writing is now an integral part of our classroom culture. As a teacher, I used to think, “What can I possibly write about this week?” Now, my students and I often say, “Oooh! Let’s write about that!” several times during each day. From working on sophisticated words to creative titles to strong endings, we have all come so far with writing this year!

 

 

 

A 2nd Grader Wrote THAT?

Just last week, I shared with middle school teachers writings created by a 2nd grade class. The middle school teachers were floored, “2nd graders wrote that?!? It’s better than most of what my 8th graders could do!”

It wasn’t the length that was impressive about the 2nd graders’ work. In fact, their writings were only 2-3 sentences long. What made the writng so impressive?
Two things: sophisticated word choice and sentence structure.
The 2nd grade teacher focuses solely on the quality of writing, not length. Without question, making length the integral foundation of writing sets students up to write more fluff than substance. Length will come naturally when students are ready, when they are confident, when they understand how language works and how to structure incredible sentences.

Top 10 Ideas about Writing I Learned or Had Reaffirmed This Week

  1. Writing with Design allows students’ brilliance to shine.
  2. Mind Designs structure and focus writing in a way nothing else can.4545336
  3. It’s transformative to watch a student gain confidence as a writer during a lesson on how to use search engines to find powerful synonyms.
  4. There is nothing more affirming than hearing 3rd grade boys comment, “This is so cool! Writing is fun!”
  5. Writing with Design gives teachers the confidence and the tools to cultivate incredible writing skills in their students.
  6. Without a doubt, transitions add sophistication to every piece, every time. Indeed!
  7. Narratives are about creating experiences for the reader, not telling the procedural actions (then…and then…and then…).
  8. Posting the Mind Designs students create as they plan their writing  along with the high quality draft is critical to show that great writing doesn’t just happen. It’s planned.It’s reworked. It’s revised.
  9. If the Mind Designs teachers and students created to plan their writing aren’t messy, something still needs to be revised!
  10.  Teachers make all the difference and 30+ % increases in state writing test scores are possible. Just ask Holly. Her story is coming soon. Be prepared to be inspired.

Step Right Up! Strengthening the Muscles in Sentences

POP QUIZ TIME!

What’s the difference between these two sentences:  1. Kids are amazing and creative. vs. 2. Creative kids are amazing thinkers.

A: Sentence 1 is stronger and more sophisticated in structure.
B: Sentence 2 is stronger and more sophisticated in structure.
C: Both sentences are equally as strong and sophisticated.

The correct answer is B: Sentence 2 is stronger and more sophisticated in structure. Why is that the case? It has to do with the muscles of sentences: adjectives.

There’s nothing grammatically wrong with sentence 1: “Kids are amazing and creative.” It’s just there is no power in that sentence structure: noun verb adjective conjunction adjective. Predicate adjectives are weak. They just so happen, however, to be the most natural and common way of speaking and so, by default, writing.

The structure of sentence 2: “Creative kids are amazing thinkers,” is adjective noun verb adjective noun. Now there’s a muscular sentence! Do you hear the power when adjectives precede nouns? Said simply, get rid of predicate adjectives!

It takes deliberate focus and practice for writers of all ages to learn the power of adjective placement. But, when they do, their writing can flex some major muscles!

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