Q: Can you help me inspire a class of 3rd graders to write? I’d love to promote authorship this year.
A: First of all, what age are third-graders? I’m kidding. No, really? I remember in 3rd grade my teacher would punish us by making us write a sentence a 100 times (Think Bart Simpson), or define 100 words. She also taught us phonics every morning, which is the reason why I don’t sound like I’m from the Backwoods somewhere.
I say that last sentence to say 3rd graders, especially in the digital age, are discovering the wonders of sounds and making music. (Who didn’t take piano lessons or have a friend who took piano lessons when they were around 8?) Why not tie in a lesson about writing their own song (introducing poetry, word rhythms and sentence flow, and talking about language)?
Third-grade kids are starting to understand how they connect with the world around them. Any writing prompts you give should further that exploration. “Write down what you had for lunch yesterday. What do you think an 8-year old had for lunch in Japan? Write a story about eating lunch if you were in Japan/a Japanese student eating lunch here/going to school in Japan/ etc.” (introducing research)
They’re also inquisitive about right and wrong and why we’re supposed to do certain things a certain way. So moral and ethical topics (simple ones) are also good ones to use for writing prompts (their own “lesson-learned” kind of story).
This is also around the time of the simple book report, if I remember correctly. Never forget to connect reading and writing. Good stories don’t just appear; people write them. And you can too, 3rd graders! (Write a story on the same topic about which they read.) Also, writing does not always have to be about story: more now than ever wanna-be journalists and commentators are everywhere, because they have the platform to do it. The book report is the start/exposure of exercising that desire. Also, it’s a good time to talk about ethics in writing.
*Writing Insight: is a Monthly Q&A post on this blog. Have any burning questions about the craft of writing, teaching writing, muses/inspiration or anything writing related? Ask me in the comments below or on Facebook or Twitter (links below).