Inspiring Reluctant Writers

I teach a lot of boys who are reluctant to write. As the tutor, it’s my job to be flexible and adapt the way I work to suit them. After all, they will write much better if they’re feeling inspired and motivated.

So that’s where I was at recently. One of my pupils hates English – both reading and writing – so I was struggling to come up with something you he might enjoy when he suddenly suggested he might like to try writing an article for a car magazine.

My heart sank. I’d never read a car magazine in my life and it’s not something I’d ever planned to do in the future. I asked my husband what sort of style car magazines are written in. His reply, that if I’d ever heard Jeremy Clarkson speak I’d know what the style was like, made my heart sink further.

And so, with my heart trying to escape through the bottom of my shoes, I flipped over the first page of Car magazine. Sighing deeply I scanned through the first few pages, really not expecting to be inspired. However, within a couple of minutes I was scribbling away in a notebook, and within 10 minutes I had enough ideas to last most of the year, assuming we spend 1-3 weeks on each one.

My plan is to write a complete magazine using as many different writing styles as possible. First of all we’ll have a look together at the editorial and write one of our own in an over-the-top, over-enthusiastic, chatty style. Then we’ll get to work on writing various articles.

Obviously we will need to include a review of a car (opinion piece) and an advert or two (persuasive writing) but we can also include an article about a F1 or rally driver (biography) and one on how to stay safe on the roads (explanation). We can write a comparative text (comparing three cars by the same manufacturer) and a factual piece about a famous or classic car such as the Aston Martin or E-type Jaguar. And of course an article about stunt drivers covers non chronological reports nicely!

We can include some light-hearted styles too: we can do some good descriptions by writing lonely hearts ads for different types of car; we can match cars to celebrities, explaining why they would be suited; write a piece about cars in the movies; write a top 10 fastest/ugliest/whatever of cars and an awards page for the most overpriced, best value for money, car you’d be most embarrassed for your friends to see you driving…. and of course the “letters to the editor” page takes ticks the letter writing box.

If there is still time to spare after fitting all that in, we can write a speech to persuade the Dragons to invest in publishing the magazine.

These are just the ideas I came up with in the first 10 minutes of opening the magazine. I’m sure there are many more to be found so if you think of more ideas I would love you to share them in the comments below.

K is also for… Killers

K is for...By “killers” I mean phrases that kill your writing.
NEVER start your story with “One bright, sunny day”, because about half your class will have started in the same way and your teacher will think, “Oh no! Not another one!” Instead of “One bright, sunny day I went to the park with my friend Ali.” try, “Last Saturday was so sunny it was too hot for football, so Ali and I sat in the shade of the tallest tree in the park and chatted.”

NEVER start your story with “One dark and gloomy night”, because the other half of your class will have done that. Instead, how about, “Not even a glimmer of moonlight broke through the clouds”.

It doesn’t matter how exciting your story has been – if you end it with, “It was all a dream!” your teacher will be bored. After a couple of pages of being chased by vampires, instead of writing:
“Wake up! It’s time for breakfast,” said mom. Thank goodness – it had all been a dream.

How about
“Wake up! It’s time for breakfast,” said mom, smiling to reveal blood-stained fangs.

Dare to be different and your writing will benefit.

Related posts: J is also for…   L is also for….

I is also for… Inspiration

I is for...You never have it when you need it. You know how it is… your teacher says, “Describe it!” You think for a moment, before proudly saying, “Yellow!” and your teacher replies, “How yellow?”

You look around the classroom for something yellow and then in desperation say, “As yellow as this pencil.”

Hmmm. It’s not the best description is it? How about making an inspiration book to help? Find a notebook and write one adjective on each page, then have a look through magazines and cut out pictures for them. Try for 4 or 5 pictures for each one – but remember to ask for permission before cutting up other people’s magazines!
On my “yellow” page I have a daffodil, a canary, a newly-hatched chick, the sun, a buttercup and a banana. Now if someone asks me “how yellow?” I can tell them “buttercup yellow” or “as yellow as the sun.”

Your teacher won’t mind you using your inspirations book in the classroom as long as it is improving the quality of your writing.

Related posts: H is also for ….   J is also for ….

3 cool ways to write with dyslexia that you probably didn’t know! – from TOTKO

I came across this on Twitter today and really enjoyed it so I thought I would share it.

“We’re all about “out of the box” thinking. Sometimes when faced with a problem, the problem isn’t the issue itself but the way we are going about it. Take writing with dyslexia for example. So much of learning support for Dyslexia is about getting you to get the letters right, get your grammar right, and put the comma in the right place. This is of course important, but is it the right starting block for dealing with the issue? Or is it better to build someones confidence by simply getting them to enjoy the process first? For someone with dyslexia writing can be extremely stressful and can often take the pleasure out of writing. When a situation is visited multiple times and each time results in stress and upset, the brain begins to associate the task with those feelings. This creates a sort of 3D memory in our minds to the point that even just the thought of revisiting reading and writing becomes traumatic and bring us out in a cold sweat. With it go the feelings of doubt and low self-esteem, and as we all know; this itself is damaging……”

via 3 cool ways to write with #dyslexia that you probably didn’t know! | TOTKO.

Follow the link above to find out what the 3 cool ways are.

W is for…

W is for…Writing. There are already lots of tips in this A-Z of learning for making your writing better. Have another look at A is for…Adjectives, C is for…Connectives, O is for…Openers, Q is for…Quality and Quantity and V is for…Vocabulary.

However, the best thing you can do to become a good writer, besides practise, is to read. If you haven’t already read R is for…Reading, have a look at that now. When you read, have a notebook next to you and if you find any words or phrases that you like, write them in your notebook.  This will help you to remember them and then you can use them in your own writing. This isn’t cheating (as long as you don’t copy a whole story into your book)!  It’s called being a magpie (because magpies like to take anything they like the look of and use it themselves).  If you tell your teacher that you have started a magpie book they will know exactly what you mean and they will be impressed that you have taken a big step towards improving your writing.

Related posts:  V is for…     X is for….

M