Teaching students to write is hard. It’s abstract, it’s personal, and good writing can look like a million different things. Still, it’s critical we teach writing, especially in a world when communication can happen through abbreviations (SMH), emojis (I remember when it was special to make a smiley on the calculator), and 280 characters (When I was a kid, we only had 140). We all still need to compose an email, though. Everyone still needs to learn how to write.
Reading aloud is a staple of many classrooms. Time, space, money, and energy is devoted to modeling thinking, exposing students to unique and challenging texts, and facilitating discussion about author’s craft and content. Reading aloud works. The studies prove it. Writing aloud, or modeled writing, can be just as beneficial for our students. Therefore, it is critical that we write aloud to expose students to ways of thinking about writing. It is critical we make the process of writing feel safe for students, demonstrating for them the messy process it involves.
Writing aloud can be a staple of the classroom. They work for every subject too. From narratives, to lab reports, to research papers, students can benefit from modeled writing. Take the following steps to begin incorporating the write-aloud in your classroom.
- Dedicate 10-15 minutes a day for writing aloud. This time can be for mini-lessons, embedding quotes, grammar, essays, reports, revisions, and everything in between. Try to write aloud at least 4 times a week.
- Pick one focus area. Writing can be overwhelming, so keep the write-aloud focused on one aspect of writing – the introduction, body paragraph, etc.
- Do not prepare too much ahead of time. Young people need to see how teachers overcome mistakes and failure. Write a rough draft with students just as they would with you.
- Facilitate discussion around writing. Explain what you want to write and why. Ask students for their opinions and take their suggestions into account (yes, even if the suggestion will need to be revised).
- After the write-aloud, have students perform the same task you just demonstrated. Engage them in the same process so they can immediately apply their learning.
Think out loud with your students. That’s it. You will see writing aloud builds habits for them that will make them more effective communicators (with characters to spare). 😉