Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Keep 'Em Writing!

It's Wednesday, which means it's time for....

One of my favorite activities of the week is visiting sites of all of the great bloggers who link up with Ideas By Jivey's Workshop Wednesday!  It's almost as if it's just the thing I need to make it through the rest of my week!  :)

This week's topic....How to keep students motivated to write!

As you may know, writing is near and dear to my heart.  It's probably the one subject I get the most excited for every day.  Why?  Because this is one area where I see my students make HUGE growth every year.  They may enter in the fall saying they hate to write, but by the time June rolls around, they are loving it and begging for more writing time.  Yay!

I have found that the easiest way to keep kids motivated is simply to offer them CHOICES.  I'll admit that I have struggled with this through the years.  I wanted to provide the choice, but I was having trouble managing the vast array of writing that was being produced, not to mention making sure that Common Core skills were being mastered.

So my answer this year is to give some parameters to this the form of Writing Bingo Boards. 

I have created two of them so far -- one for Expository writing and one for Opinion/Persuasive writing.

Basically, the way that it works (and you could very easily adjust this for your own students' needs), I tell students that they need to pick a certain amount of Bingo Boxes to complete in a quarter's time. (They do not have to be five in a row like a bingo, but they could.)  I then set due dates -- about 10 days apart -- to make sure that students are pacing themselves and doing a good job.  When the due dates roll around, I conference with the kids (about 3-4 a day) and read over their Bingo Box with them.  They tell me what they feel they did well, what their writing goal was for this piece, and then we set a goal for their next Bingo Box.

As for grading my student's writing....well, that's another story.  I have always had a difficult time putting a letter grade on someone's creative work.  So, I devised a new plan and so far, it is working great and the kids are really into it because it gives them CONTROL of their writing grade.

Writing grades for the report card are figured with three criteria.  I call them the 3 P's:

      Participation = 35% of the grade (Is the student prepared and writing every day?  Is he/she
               staying on task?)
      Progress = 45% of the grade (Is the student setting goals for their writing and working toward
               those goals when they write?)
      Product = 20% of the grade (Did the student produce a nice, well-written piece of writing that is
                his/her best effort?)

As you can see, effort plays the largest part here and effort is sometimes what is lacking the most in a writing classroom.  I have also found that if a student is participating and is making progress, the "product" takes care of itself!  :)

 I am truly amazed at how motivated my kiddos are to write on a regular basis because of these Bingo Boards.  If you would like a copy of the two I have made, just leave me a comment with your e-mail address and I'll send them on over.

Can't wait to check out all of the other Workshop Wednesday ideas!


  1. What a great idea - I have a writing menu that I found on-line but have never taken the time to implement. Thanks for sharing how it works for you. I like that you space the assigments out and give them choice and responsibility.

    Looking From Third to Fourth

  2. I love, love, love the way you grade writing. I am pinning this for next year! I too, hate putting grades on writing, and I think this will solve my problem. :) So glad I read your post! Thanks :)
    Brandee @ Creating Lifelong Learners

  3. What a fantastic idea! I love the idea of the Bingo board with choices. I also lke the way you conference with them at the due dates to set goals for the next piece. I think I could really use this style. Thanks for sharing.

  4. I love the idea of a bingo board! Such a great idea to keep them on topic, but give them a choice. I'd love them!

    :) Kaitlyn
    Smiles and Sunshine

  5. This is a great idea! Students have choice, but you still have control over what they are writing. I would love a copy of your bingo boards, please. I also like the way the grades are weighted. Thanks for sharing!

    Foreman Teaches

  6. I love menus for choice! Thanks for sharing such great ideas! :)

  7. I have started exploring the choice option more too and it was difficult at first. It makes such a difference though! I love your menu!
    Fourth Grade Flipper

  8. I'm going to be really cheeky too and say can I see a larger version of your bingo board so I can see what is on it? This is a brilliant idea!

    x Serena x
    Magic Mistakes & Mayhem

  9. I would love a copy of your bingo boards for writing. My email is

  10. This is such a great idea! Thanks for dropping by my blog. I'm now one of your newest followers too.

  11. These look great! We are looking at doing more menus, so these would work perfectly! I would love a copy...


  12. I love the idea of the bingo boards! I am new to 4th grade this year and am searching blogs for ideas. Thank you so much for offering these!


  13. I am implementing Writer's workshop this year but allowing my students to have free choice Fridays. I would love to look at your bingo board as a more structured way to offer that choice.

  14. I am implementing Writer's workshop this year but allowing my students to have free choice Fridays. I would love to look at your bingo board as a more structured way to offer that choice.

  15. I was searching for a resource exactly like what you have described for my students that have already mastered the art of writing a persusive essay. They need freedom of choice, but also guidelines to work towards a new goal. I especially like how you evaluate the students. Since the choice board is self-paced it needs a grading system that is not just a final grade. Could you please send me a copy? christinajoy87 (at) gmail (dot) com


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