5 Easy Ways to Turn Elementary Students Into Published Authors

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5 Steps to make students writers
photo credit: Surat Lozowick via photopin cc

It’s a shame how few students enjoy writing. In most cases, the issue is not a true hatred of storytelling or even crafting an essay, as much as it is inexperience and fear.

Young students shy away from sharing their work, because they’re afraid it will be poorly judged by peers. “It’s not very good,” I’ve heard young writers say all too often during my 20 years as a classroom teacher.

The solution to this problem is getting students to write at a very young age — and to make them content curators. In the digital age, this is very easy. Best of all, students will grow to love writing, when they can compose writing electronically and publish it in on social media.

5 ways to turn young students into published authors
  1. Give them a blog — Kids love computers. They have iPods, Kindles and tablets when they’re in preschool, and they want to work on them. As early as first grade, students should have their own blog. There are many great platforms, but I’d recommend Kidblog. It’s designed by educators for teachers, and it’s the most user-friendly blog host you’ll find. I know many teachers who use it with elementary students, and they share fantastic success.
  2. Write everyday — While most elementary teachers have kids writing in first grade, the amount of writing in most cases should be increased. Spend less time on grammar work books or worksheets and have your students write everday. Give them something to read, then ask them to write about it on Kidblog or on a social network. Hmm., social networks for elementary students? Definitely, see number 3.
  3. Let them share on social networks — First graders can use Twitter, Goodreads and many other social networks with proper supervision. Social networks are wonderful for engaging young writers. Storybird is a phenomenal website for writing that is built around pictures (it has a built-in graphics library). Plus, Storybird is a social network; that is, users can comment on stories on the site, creating a conversation about writing. Your students will be thrilled when they become published authors for the world to read.
  4. Never grade writing — For real 21st-century learning, I’d recommend that teachers stop grading their students entirely, but if you’re not ready for this, at least stop grading writing. I know teachers who deduct a point for every minor error on elementary students’ work. This punitive method of evaluation only serves to discourage a love of writing. Instead of points and letter grades, provide detailed narrative feedback. Be descriptive, rather than judgmental. This will eliminate fear.
  5. Share, share, share — The more students share their work and get feedback from peers, parents and other adults (you can easily recruit teachers from around the globe to comment on your students’ work), the more they will feel like published authors. Be sure to tell young writers that once they publish to a blog, Storybird or on another social network that they are legitimate published writers. Their work can be read around the world. They will want to share more and, thus, will write more.

Thanks to Rebecca for suggesting we blog about encouraging young kids to write and to publish on our Top 5 Education Topics You Should Learn This Summer post. Be sure to share your favorite ways to turn elementary students into published authors.

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Mark Barnes is the Founder of Times 10 Publications, which produces the popular Hack Learning Series, The uNseries, and other books from some of education's most reputable teachers and leaders. Barnes presents internationally on assessment, connected education, and Hack Learning. Connect with @markbarnes19 on Twitter.

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