It’s pretty simple: we like to do want we want to do when we want to do it because we have a reason and we know we can do it.
If you have read any of Daniel Pink’s work, you will recognize his research shining through that statement:
“The secret to high performance and satisfaction—at work, at school, and at home—is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world.”
“the three elements of true motivation—autonomy, mastery, and purpose”
Mastery means that you know you can do the task; you might struggle, but you know how to get there.
In writing class, help students see they can master the aspects of writing that is required of them. Do this by providing feedback first for what they are doing well. Find the strong verb and let them know. Point out the transition word that helps the reader. Indicate the specific nouns that paint the precise image in the reader’s mind. Whenever a student writes, there is something they are doing well. Acknowledge that first.
The second part of mastery is knowing you can get to the expectation. Feedback includes that acknowledgement of what was done well, and then a nudge of one or two things that would improve the writing. Ask a question about “How…” to get at the hidden action that needs to be clear. Ask a question about what the character was thinking or feeling so the writer can build his character. Their answers let them know what to add; and they know they can then.
Autonomy means choice– choice of which to improve, choice of tool, choice of genre, choice of topic.
Much of school requires nonfiction and essay writing, yet good nonfiction writing often includes narratives. Since everybody likes to share their stories, use narrative as the first genre to acknowledge good writing and strategies to improve it.
Students are constantly telling stories. As students enter a classroom, they are buzzing with stories from the moment in the hall or from the game last night.Time to write those stories is not an extra–it’s the starting point that they know how to do so they know they can master whatever goals they need.
Give them choices. Entry tasks, blogging options, free writing, power writing, choice time.
Provide language prompts: Language is a Virus Prompts New York Times Learning Network
It’s the play to begin. Let them choose paper or typing. Play with words and phrases. Play collaboratively as students each write the story from their perspective, then collaborate to improve. But most importantly, it’s what they know and can do. Peer and teacher feedback then indicate what was done well and one or two areas of question to improve. Shared Google Docs or Slides allow peers and teacher to add those feedback comments.
If students draft on paper first, do a “Gallery Walk.” Leave writing on the desk with a lined paper beside it. Students walk around silently, commenting on the blank paper to identify what they liked as good writing with the example and a question about an area of the writing piece.
Depending on the needs of the students, the tool used to write could be a choice; the genre [script, story, lyrics, poetry] could be a choice.
Finally, purpose. Finalize stories by taking out the personal information, tweaking the content for public viewing, and make those narratives part of the school culture of learning and sharing with the world.
Have a category on student blogs as “Slices of Our Lives” which can be searched and linked to for sharing in a kiosk during any event, added to parent newsletters, sent out in Remind or other parent notification platform. Encourage parent comments.
Let students know that their work betters the world; that sharing their stories helps others learn and grow.
Setting up a the writing classroom with time for narrative writing with the purpose of sharing short stories, anecdotes, lyrics, poetry to better the world provides students and teachers with the confidence to learn writing skills transferable to required essays and the choice to write about what matters. It develops a community of writers and that’s motivation with authenticity, purpose, and mastery. Celebrate that each week with live “Storytelling” from their own stories.
How have you found narrative writing as motivation?
This post is part of #DigiLitSunday
Geeky Gramma ~~
Retired Middle School Language Arts Teacher ~~
Writer and Thinker