Why giving choice supports reluctant writers.

Effective approaches to motivate and engage reluctant boys in literacy.  Nicole Senn 2012 The Reading Teacher Volume 66 Issue 3

This reading really gave me some insights into areas of my practice that were working for boys and why and also areas that I need to reconsider, think about and possibly change.

Things I do well – offer choice, offer an integrated approach where writing is meaningful, offer a range a reading material and time for free reading.

Things to look at – do I give my boys enough time to move? do I restrict their writing by measuring appropriateness to quickly?  Can I allow more time for drawing and allow time for students to come to writing on their own?

What can I do? – Senn gives a check list of action steps that I like and will implement in my program.  She gives me the reassurance that my choice to ignore some content in creative writing is actually providing my male students with an opportunity to do more and to try more in their writing.

1. Invite male role models into the classroom.

  • Guest readers—Family members (your own or those of

    your students), friends, other staff members

  • Writing mentors—Family members (your own or those of your students), friends, other staff members to teach students about the writing they do in their jobs
  • Male authors and illustrators—Highlight examples in author or genre studies.
    2. Consider your read-aloud selections: Will they be appealing to the boys in your class?

    3. Maintain a balance of fiction and nonfiction in your classroom read-alouds. 4. Assess your classroom library:

  • Is there a reasonable amount of nonfiction about a wide variety of topics?
  • Does your fiction collection contain books with male characters?
  • Do you have books that are part of a series that may help to hook some of your reluctant readers?
  • Is there access to reading material with visual appeal? ❒ Interesting cover art
    ❒ Books with large print/easy-to-read text
    ❒ Photographs or frequent illustrations

    ❒ Magazines, newspapers, comics, graphic novels
    5. Allow the boys (and girls!) in your class to choose what they read and to read with their peers.

    6. Allow your students to choose their own writing topics and formats whenever possible. Encourage them to illustrate their work.

    7. Provide time to share, collaborate on, and celebrate writing.
    8. Incorporate technology whenever possible.
    9. Remember that boys need opportunities for frequent movement.
    10. Keep an eye and ear out for your boys’ humor. Let them be funny, and enjoy it yourself!


Apps to support writing

I have been working with a target group of students and out local RTLit to explore a variety of ways to engage and motivate them during writing time.

We are using Book Creator to record learning and as a tool to write with.  I enjoy using book creator as it allows for students to import photos and videos and record their voice when reading or when getting ideas for writing.  It has been a great motivator for most of our target group and they love to share their books with others.

What I don’t like about Book Creator is that it is a work in progress until published which means that on a bad day, things can be changed and deleted from previous lessons.  We have created some rules around the use of the books, when and where and who can access them.  This then limits their use to time spent with a teacher and takes some of the ownership away from the writer.  I am using it as a type of modelling book with examples of the students work recorded along with anecdotal notes written by me.  The advantage of pen and paper here is that it can be readily accessed by the student without fear of things going missing.

I found this article informative when looking for other options. http://globaldigitalcitizen.org/7-terrific-online-writing-tools-to-inspire-your-students


12 August 2016 – I am revisiting this blog post as I reflect on my teaching of writing in my new room with a different set of students but with two students who I would like to accelerate.  I am looking at what worked from my practice in the past and looking to bring this back into my program successfully.

iPads are a tool, and one that I should use more of in order to motivate and engage reluctant writers.  I have seen it work successfully with book creator with students developing a real care and ownership of their work.  For students who do not normally have work published – due to time, quantity, focus etc. have work ‘published’ in this digital format during each mini lesson.  The can use their need for colour and order at times to produce work to be proud of and want to do more of.

I need to invest the time to teach my newer students how to use the iPad as a tool as the time it takes to teach should payback with an increase in quality of work produced.


Group reading


Empowering students to lead their own discussion about what they have read.  Give students responsibility/leadership/tasks.

Helps to improve comprehension by increasing engagement.

Use cards as prompts to help with confidence in deeper thinking.

Use during reading as well as after reading.



Particularly interested in FORI, fluency orientated reading instruction.

students read the same passage of text throughout the week developing fluency.  Extension tasks, specific focus addressed throughout the week so students have an in depth understanding of what they are reading and can use the text to practice other reading strategies.

Will try with MG and SS groups this week in form of journal contracts, supported by me during reading time.


Sitting down to form letters is important practice but what happens when children do not have the pre-requisites for precise handwriting?

This article, written by an occupational therapist explains the need for students to develop visual perception, visual motor skills, fine motor skills, trunk control skills and shoulder stability in and around learning shape and directionality.

These activities all take little setup and I see that I could incorporate them into a more traditional approach to handwriting with the added bonus of engaging more reluctant workers.  The added bonus would be the transference of these skills to other curriculum areas such as arts and PE.


Freedom to come and go


classrooms open to the outdoors, some students in boxes (classrooms) can become nervous, scared and try to hide.  Let them go and they will come back.  Need an element of danger, risk, teaches them to assess risk and to help each other, create society.  Less individual, egocentric behaviour, more teamwork through necessity.  Noise is normal and appropriate.