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“Teacher, I don’t know what to write.”

Teachers or even parents, do your students or child face constant difficulty coming up with ideas for writing?

One of my students who is fluent in speaking English and an intermediate reader finds writing the hardest to do. He needs ample time to think of his own ideas to write even after brainstorming is done as a class. I would need to give guiding questions to help him expand on his main ideas and he is just one of many other students who struggle with writing. 

If you have read my colleague, Zafirah’s article – 5 tips in guiding students to face the ‘blank page’, here are THREE more suggested ways you can try with your students or child who need fun activities to inspire them to write!

  1. The Relay Race
    This is an activity you can consider if you want to encourage your learners to write narratives starting from sentence level.
    1. Draw a table on the whiteboard with the categories: Animal, Action words (Verbs), Describing words (Adjectives) and Naming words (Nouns).

    2. Fill in the first row for them and do it as a class for the rest. Each student can take turns to provide a word for each category.

      Example: 

      Animal Action words (Interesting Verbs) Describing words (Adjectives) Naming words (Nouns)
      Dog strolled red road
      Cat stretched shady tree
      Bee buzzing skinny branch


    3. Thereafter, they can once again take turns to construct a sentence using the words contributed and collaborate in writing a creative story.

For example:

One day, a fluffy dog strolled towards the pedestrian crossing, wanting to cross the red road. It wanted to cross the road to a park which had ample space for it to run about. Once it safely reached the park, it spotted a lazy white cat stretching its paws under a shady tree. The cat turned to look at the dog and nonchalantly turned its head away. All of a sudden, a bee came buzzing from the skinny branch from the same tree. It flew annoyingly and stubbornly around the dog! The dog barked and barked and jumped around but the bee kept buzzing close to it. The dog looked desperately at the lazy cat hoping for it to come to its rescue. However, the cat had found itself a nice spot and had fallen asleep peacefully.

The objective is to get students to use their creative juices to write sentences based on the words in Table 1 to help them develop a paragraph.

  1. Tennis Debates (adapted)
    “Tennis is the sport most often compared to a conversation” (Markovits, 2019). Tennis Debates is an exercise for debating involving the whole class (Middle School Public Debate Program, n.d.). Exposition topics especially for learners who are new to this genre can be hard. Teachers can adapt this exercise to engage their learners when teaching exposition.

    Here are the suggested steps to conduct Tennis Debates:
    1. Provide simpler exposition topics for a start especially for beginner writers.Example 1: “Students should use uniform to school.” Do you agree?
      or something fun, Example 2: “Minecraft is a better game than Fortnite.” Do you agree?

    2. Brainstorm ideas for both sides of the topic together as a class

    3. Students then provide supporting details for their main points.

    4. Last is the actual game. Students take a side and argue their point one after another like a tennis match. This means that they have to rebut and state their reasons for the rebuttal to strengthen their stand. The winner will be the group with more points

This would be a perfect opportunity for students to refute meaningfully and support their stand while learning about exposition writing.

  1. Using music
    Music especially in this day and age is popular. This is an activity you can do with music to encourage writing: Listening to instrumental music helps students use their imagination to develop character(s) and storyline for their writing.

Let students listen to different instrumental music clips and get them to imagine a character and the character’s personality based on the music. For example, a happy tune could be associated with a bubbly and cheerful girl who likes to sing and skip wherever she goes.

So the focus can be about character development or setting the scene of the story. You can just start with one audio clip to help students with that piece of writing he or she needs to do. Not sure how to do it? Think back on the time you watched a movie and recall that different scenes have different music especially when a new character is introduced. Use that as a guide to do this activity.

In essence, students do need inspiration to write. Writing does not always come easily and naturally for everyone. Even writers face writer’s block. Thus, as teachers and parents, we can try incorporating some fun activities to engage, inspire and encourage writing. Activities should be selected based on the learners’ learning needs, profiles and interest. Hopefully, you would find one that your child or students resonate with to help encourage them to write with confidence! 

Nur Alia Binte Salim
Senior Educational Therapist & Curriculum Developer
Bedok Learning Centre

Learn more about Alia!

 

References
Markovits, B (2019). A good conversation is like a (good) game of tennis.
Retrieved on 18 June 2021: https://lithub.com/a-good-conversation-is-like-a-good-game-of-tennis/

Middle School Public Debate Program (n.d.). Tennis Debates.
Retrieved on 18 June 2021: https://static1.squarespace.com/static/564f4570e4b07b93990a546e/t/57b88b62414fb53695b53d5a/1471712143423/Tennis+Debates+Instructions.pdf