Writing Stamina Timer: Building Stronger Writers

Ughh, the last month FLEW past. I am sad that I didn't get to blog as often as I would have liked (essentially not at all...) but with state testing and a family destination wedding in the mix, time was just not on my side!  And speaking of time...I am using that as my motivation for this post...

The majority of my students hate writing.  Hate is a rather strong word, and yes I am using it because well, they just hate it (or at least until more recently...).  Many of my students' learning disabilities prevent the process of writing from coming what we would call "naturally" to them.  Being that I am their teacher (duh) and that I, myself, have a strong passion for writing and the therapeutic benefits it could have for an individual, I refused to give up on them this year.   So, I decided, let's for just a minute (or twenty) throw away the mechanics and general rules of writing.  What if I could get my students to just write whatever was on their mind?  What if they could just essentially build their stamina for writing, the same way an athlete builds his or her stamina for running?

That is where my "Writing Stamina Timer" came into play.  First we brainstormed how our bodies can get stronger, or how we can build up our endurance for running longer.  After some discussion, I linked the analogy to their writing.  We can become stronger, more powerful writers, if we not only practice, but perhaps just get lost in the process of writing our feelings or thoughts.  The students, much to my happiness, loved this idea!  By the time the timer went off, they asked for even more time!  We use our writing timer at least three times a week now, and each week that passes, we add five more minutes to the clock. The kids love challenging themselves by "racing the clock". 

The timer counts down until time is finished.
To make sure this idea didn't get dull or boring, I hopped onto Pinterest to gain some more inspiration.  I found some students were running out of things to write about, so I grabbed two photos from the "animals" category that I thought would provoke some juicy commentary, and perhaps a few giggles.  These two photos served as the students' writing prompts.  There were really no rules to the assignment, other than they needed to be creative and write until the timer went off. =]  Another homerun!  The kids loved this!!

These pictures were found via Pinterest under the "animals" category.  Don't you just love Pinterest!? =]
Sample of a creative writing piece.  One writing goal for this student is to slow down and proofread work.

After a few weeks of practicing with this, I decided it was time to "crack" down a bit by inserting (without them knowing) some writing mechanics.  I noticed because the students were instructed to "write until the timer goes off" their writing tended to drag on towards the end, or contained wordy, repetitive details.  So we discussed how our time could be better used until the timer goes off?  That's right, PROOFREAD your work!  Take parts out, add words in, what sounds funny?  What sounds great?
Wee! look at them go!
Overall, I cannot explain how excited I am to hear my students actually ask to used the "Writing Timer".  What are some ways you motivate your students to write?   Leave a comment below.

Catch ya' later!

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  1. Love your blog! If you have a minute, please check out my blog - from one fifth grade teacher to another. :)



  2. I'm going to try this with my behavior bunch! Thanks so much!

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