How to Get Students to Write More

Informal writing is a fantastic way to get students to write more, and it helps build endurance and excitement for the written word. Here are some ideas and a freebie to get you started. (Blog post by Nouvelle ELA at the Secondary English Coffee Shop)

3 Informal Ways to Get Students to Write More

Hey, y’all! Danielle here, from Nouvelle ELA, and this week, we’re talking about ways to get students to write more.

We all know how important it is to give students opportunities to build their confidence and skills as writers, and we want to equip them with all of the necessary tools. Well, it’s sometimes easy to overlook the easiest tool: informal writing. Informal writing is a fantastic way to get students to write more, and it helps build endurance and excitement for the written word.

Informal writing is a great tool for writers of all skill levels, and it doesn’t have to mean more work for you! In fact, I’ve had a lot of success with not grading informal writing for content, and just letting students use it as good practice.

Today, I want to show you three ideas to get students to write more. These ideas all stem from my experience as a student, and have inspired the way I teach. What does that mean? Well, I wrote a massive amount as a middle school and high school student, so I try to share these same opportunities to get my own students to write more.

Informal writing is a fantastic way to get students to write more, and it helps build endurance and excitement for the written word. Here are three easy ways to get your students to write more and a freebie to get you started. (Blog post from Nouvelle ELA at the Secondary English Coffee Shop)

1. Shared Notebooks (metalogues)


My earliest experiences with a shared notebook was passing one around between our group of friends in middle school. We’d write notes, stories (I’ll admit – some of it was super dorky N*Sync fanfiction!), and personal thoughts on our classes and the day. We’d write during every free moment, and the best part was receiving the notebook to look at what others had written! (And no, this didn’t take away from our classes – we were all good students.)

Recently, I read For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood by Christopher Emdin, and he uses Shared Notebooks in a more intentional way he calls metalogues. He carves out a portion of his class time and has students write and reflect about the lesson in a rotation with their metalogue group. He uses this technique to solidify learned concepts (much like an Exit Slip) and foster classroom community. Students get to write for its primary purpose - communication - and develop skills and fluency in the process.



2. Personal Journals


I have kept a journal since I was eleven, and I remember writing in it several times a week as a teenager and in college. Lately though, I’ve really fallen out of the habit. I decided to make myself a 30-day challenge for October to get back into the groove. I designed the prompts to work in five minutes or less, and I incorporated a lot of “quick wins” for myself, like days where all I had to write was a “high” and a “low” from the day.

Well, this is totally something students can benefit from as well. They need to know that writing uses muscles (mental and physical), and that we need to build those muscles through daily workouts. Informal writing is a great low-risk way to get that workout in! I developed this journaling resource from my own challenges to "workout" daily, and you can try a free week from it. 



You can also visit my TeachersPayTeachers store and grab the full year of my 5-Minute Journal Prompts. These are editable and easy-to-implement, and they'll give your students that daily workout they need.

3. NaNoWriMo


Y’all, it’s November, and that means it’s NaNoWriMo in my life. Every November, writers of every caliber get together from all over the world to celebrate National Novel Writing Month. The premise is simple: write 50,000 words of an original novel in 30 days. You win honor and glory and bragging rights, and you will have done an awesome thing.

I first did NaNoWriMo when I was a freshman in high school, and yes, I finished! (I actually wrote fanfiction, but we won’t talk about that…) I did it completely outside of school and unprompted by my teachers, but I would have LOVED having it be a class thing. Now, I share it with my students and keep my running word count on the top of the white board.

Now, NaNoWriMo is a lot more popular (when I first did it, the website was terrible and didn’t even have a word count!) and there are many variations to make it student-ready for any level. Students can set any word count goal, and the Young Writers Program has a bunch of teacher resources available to you.

Also, you can share awesome Pep Talks with your students from professional writers who have been there and felt the pain and struggle of a first draft. Here’s John Green’s take on NaNoWriMo:



So, I know I’m late to the November game, but you still have time to get some writing in before the winter holidays. Carve out some dedicated writing time, and let your students show you what they can do! I promise, you won't be disappointed. :)

Informal writing is a fantastic way to get students to write more, and it helps build endurance and excitement for the written word. Here are some ideas and a freebie to get you started. (Blog post by Nouvelle ELA at the Secondary English Coffee Shop)


That’s it for me, folks! What are your favorite ways to incorporate informal writing in the classroom? Let us know in comments, or reach out on Instagram at @secondaryenglishcoffeeshop. We LOVE hearing from you!

Here are some other great resources for bringing more writing into your classroom:

Building Stamina and Skill (Blog Post by Room 213)
Video Journal Prompts (Resource by Presto Plans)
Growth Mindset Journal for Teens (Resource by The SuperHERO Teacher)
Career Writing Prompts (Resource by The Classroom Sparrow)
Classroom Community Bellringers (Resource by The Daring English Teacher)




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