Creative writing offers students a chance to use their imagination while developing fundamental writing and storytelling skills. Creating a classbook allows students to share their ideas and reach a common goal together. This project is a great way to boost a young writers’ confidence and give them physical evidence that they do in fact have the skills to have their writing published.
How to Build Student Confidence by Creating a Class Book
Giving students the freedom to write about what they want will help them realize that writing isn’t just grammar exercises and spelling tests, but a way to express their thoughts and feelings.
It is important for you, as a teacher, to guide your students through their writing journey, but you should also allow them to learn on their own and from one another. Writing lets children leave their comfort zone and express their feelings. They will become more independent and confident in expressing their thoughts as they write and contribute to a classbook.
Publishing a classbook shows all of your students that their work is valued and worthy of being bound into a physical book, just like the ones that they have at home. This will help build their self-esteem as writers and introduce them to the creative writing process.
Creative writing is important to young students because it allows them to develop their descriptive writing skills without the worry of giving a wrong answer. Supporting your students’ ideas and stimulating their writing will be the force that drives them to become confident writers in the future.
It’s natural to focus on the mechanics of sentence structure or punctuation, but depending on your students’ age and skill level, it may be beneficial to opt for a more objective way to reinforce writing fundamentals.
Don’t just focus on the technicalities. Children need to hear that they are good writers and that their writing is important and valid. Try to acknowledge the intellectual contributions they have made in their writing such as story structure or creative topic ideation. Children, like adults, need to be reminded every now and then that they are doing well and that their work is appreciated.
There is, of course, a need to reinforce formal grammar instruction, but also keep in mind that a student’s quality of work doesn’t solely depend on grammar, capitalization, and punctuation. After all, these students are still learning and, their writing is a work in progress.
The question now is, how can you point out spelling and punctuation errors without making students feel as if their writing is bad as they create their classbook pages?
Mistakes are a healthy part of learning and life. Make sure you tell your students that even the best writers have to go back and correct their mistakes. Reiterate to them that correcting errors is a natural part of the writing process at every level.
You should use your classbook project as an opportunity to teach students about draft editing and proofreading in a way that is both constructive and encouraging. Here is how you can correct student mistakes without negatively affecting their confidence:
1. Start by Praising Their Accomplishment
Your students worked hard on their piece of writing and, you should acknowledge that right off the bat.
2. Say Something Positive About Their Work
This is probably the most important step on this list. Start by saying something positive about what the student wrote.
This could be something like, “You did a great job describing what your house looks like.” or “Your story is very funny and, your spelling is awesome.”
It doesn’t have to be a full blown 20- minute compliment session, but this helps put the student’s mind in a positive place before you tell them what they can improve on.
3. Point Out What Needs Improvement then Set Attainable Goals
It is important to show students where their writing can improve, but you can’t stop there. You should make a plan with the student and set a goal that helps them become a stronger writer.
4. Highlight Their Strengths and Encourage Them to Build on Those Strengths
Ending on a positive note is just as important as starting on one when it comes to reviewing a student’s work. Find something that stands out about what they wrote and tell them to keep working towards improving that skill. Let’s say a student uses a writing strategy such as creating a visual picture with their words. Have them expand on that by asking them to tell you more about what they want the reader to see.
If you have a student that is extremely good with vocabulary and spelling, encourage them to use more challenging words and phrases.
5. Peer Review
Once students have all written and edited their book pages, prompts, poems or essays, have them read what they wrote in front of the class.
After they present their work, have other students tell the presenter what they liked about their writing. This will reinforce to students that not only you but their peers respect and enjoy what they have written.
The key here is that all comments are positive. There is a time and a place for peer editing and constructive criticism, but the point of this activity is to build student self-esteem.
If you are afraid that your students do not have the attention span to sit through this activity or that there may be a lack of participation, you can have your students trade their work with a partner and tell each other what they liked about their partner’s writing.
The best thing about a peer review is that it can be used at any grade level to help build student confidence.
After students have written and edited their prompts, their writing can be turned into a class book. Publishing a class book gives students physical evidence of their work that will last a lifetime.
Instilling confidence in young students is a challenge, but it is not impossible. Cultivating confidence in your students can have a significant impact on their growth as a writer and as a person.