Motivating Students to
By: Amy Warbington
“What is the best practice for
motivating my students to become
About the class…
• This fifth grade class has a full range of academic ability
levels, although the majority of the students read “below
• There are 24 students who represent a wide variety of
racial, ethnic, and socio-economic backgrounds.
• There are two special education students who were
mainstreamed into the classroom.
• While only two students receive extra support from an ESL
resource person, about 20% of the students come from
• 30% of the students in the class are new to the school this
Where they were…
• 3 weeks of MEAP testing, including the Language Arts
• Weekly writing assignments given which included detailed
requirements and extensive proofreading directions.
• Same writing format every week.
• Excessive MEAP writing practice (Position papers,
constructed responses etc.)
• Students had a strong distaste for writing and lacked
motivation for any type of writing.
• Some students rarely turned in writing assignments.
• Read a number of resources on the Writer’s
Workshop approach to writing such as Writer’s
Workshop, by Ralph Fletcher, The Art of
Teaching Writing, by Lucy Calkins & 6+1 Traits of
Writing, by Ruth Culham
• Talked with peers and other teachers for advice
• Visited a classroom during Writer’s Workshop to
observe the process and take notes.
• Changing the original research question.
Plan of Attack!
• Making it apply to my classroom.
• Creating an exciting new approach to
writing and establishing new routines.
• Celebrating student’s strengths and quality
writing during every workshop.
• Sharing personal writing & Demonstrating
• Had to get the student’s attention and entice
• Personal passion for writing shared.
• Have the students come to their own
realizations about the importance of writing.
• Invite them on the journey.
• Incorporating a variety of meaningful topics &
activities during writer’s workshop
• Interactive approach to drafting, revising and editing
• One-on-one interaction
• Opportunity for
progress in writing
• Allows for the
student to set
personal goals for
• Student accountability
• A time for students to share their works in
progress to receive feedback and encouragement
• A time for students to share their finished pieces
as a means of publishing their work
Writing as an Expression
• Meaningful topics & prompts
• Student choice
• Supportive environment to learn about one
• Stream of Consciousness
• Incorporating photos and stories
• Individual voice & style (embarrassing
Where They Are…
• Every student turned in at least two of the
four writing assignments during Writer’s
• No moans and groans at the start of
• Student growth and improvement in
• Cesar Chavez Essay Writing Contest
Meet the Students
• Student F is an ESL student who speaks English, but
struggles greatly with reading and writing in English.
• He receives assistance from an ESL teacher in the building
three times a week.
• He had 14 missing writing assignments prior to the Writer’s
Workshop and his excuse was that he didn’t like writing at
all because he struggles with spelling and grammar. He also
mentioned that he felt too much pressure to write
• He turned in all of the writing assignments during the
workshop and continuously improved various aspects in his
• “Yes I do like to write. I like to write because these
writing assignments are better.” –A quote from his
evaluation of the WW
Meet the Students
• Student S is a good student who was a strong writer
prior to the launching of the Writer’s Workshop.
• Her improved greatly by developing her style and
• She enjoyed the freedom to explore various elements
of language in her writing as well. (See sample work)
• She won 1st place in the Cesar Chavez writing contest
out of 100 other students in the Greater Lansing Area.
• “I enjoyed having the opportunity to write about
anything you wanted and express your true feelings in
what you write.” – A quote from her evaluation of WW
Meet the Students
• Student A is a special education student who needs extra
support in the area of literacy. She is dyslexic and greatly
struggles with transferring her wonderful ideas on paper.
• She rarely completed a writing assignment prior to Writer’s
Workshop because she said that it was “too hard to think
about the requirements and the ideas and write it all down”.
• She wrote and turned in every workshop assignment and her
attitude toward writing completely changed.
• Read quote from evaluation.
Meet the Students
• Student J is an average student who always completes his
work and he needs constant confirmation that he is doing an
• Prior to the Writer’s Workshop, he followed requirements
of writing rigorously and rarely allowed creativity to enter
• Throughout the workshop he gained confidence and began
to take risks in his writing.
• V.I.P. poem example
• “My favorite was the V.I.P. writing assignment because we
got to write about people we care about however we
My Best Practice…
• to consider the individual strengths and needs of
each student and structure the approach to
• to allow the students to have the freedom to be
creative and express themselves and their
experiences through writing
• to encourage students to choose one area at a
time to improve
• to establish a caring and supportive environment
for the students to grow and learn about one