Posts Tagged Andrew Pudewa
By Andrew Pudewa, the Institute for Excellence in Writing
To accomplish difficult tasks, motivation is absolutely necessary. No one doubts the need for motivating students, and methods of inspiring them to accomplish a teacher’s goals are numerous. On one extreme, there is fear: “Do this or die,” while on another, huge reward: “Do this and you win a million dollars.” When motivating children to write, however, there are some significant principles that must come into play because the fear of death impedes learning, and ultimately, material reward becomes ineffective. Some children write for fun; reading what they’ve written is its own reward. They embrace the idea of journals, and, inspired by their dreams and future, they write because they have a mission: to become writers. But these students are rare. Most children, especially those for whom writing is difficult, don’t have an instinctive inner drive to write. Typically the desire must be developed, and often the teacher’s biggest challenge is creating and maintaining that motivation.
For most of us, the basic reason for writing lies in Audience. We write a letter because we believe that someone will read it. We complete an assignment because it will be read and graded. We submit an article to a publication because we hope it will be published and appreciated by many. When there are readers, writers will work. Naturally, a positive response from the reader—be it parent or teacher, publisher or public—will motivate the writer to continue presenting his words on paper to his Audience. This approval is in fact the most effective form of motivation that exists. Therefore, let us consider a few ways to help build children’s motivation to write by developing Audience, first at home, then in community, and finally in the larger world.
At home, and for the young child, the most important Audience is the family. Some families are able to nurture a powerful enthusiasm for each other’s accomplishments. Feeling joy in seeing what their children (or brothers and sisters) have done, these families are rich with smiles, words of praise and appreciation. Refrigerators become the public posting place to acknowledge artistic accomplishments, and parental smiles are worth more than a mint to a young child making her first serious efforts in facing a new challenge. Sadly, the parent’s initial excitement over the child’s accomplishments may begin to wane, as the need for correction gradually increases. The cute, unconventionally fresh expressions of the child are not quite so amusing when they are considered awkward or wrong in comparison to an adult standard. In our effort to teach children “correct” writing skills, we often forget that they still benefit from frequent huge smiles, joyful hugs, and enthusiastic genuine compliments. As parents express appreciation for the child’s efforts, others in the family can catch the habit of appreciating and acknowledging one another.
Some successful families have developed specific ways for building the home Audience. A section of wall space can be set aside to “showcase” the best writing of each child for the week or month, possibly accompanied by illustrations or coloring. How about taking a half hour or so one evening a week to let each family member read aloud something they’ve recently written or worked on? This type of “family forum” gives each child a built-in deadline, a reason to do their best, and an appreciative Audience at home, all of which are vital components in motivating children to do their best work. Additionally, a publication like “Our Family News” (which could contain stories, poems, artwork, reports, and more), would not only help you overcome the stress, fear, or guilt associated with the dreaded “Holiday Letter,” but could become a way to periodically provide an Audience for children’s writing that extends even beyond family and into the larger community. Most importantly, it would give you an opportunity to do the single most powerful motivational activity: demonstrate the importance of writing by working on it together! Successful families know that to effectively encourage children to write often, it must become a cultural thing—a normal part of life.
At a certain age, having your stuff up on the refrigerator just doesn’t cut it any more. The Audience must expand beyond the home. Peer appreciation, carefully directed, can have a strong and positive effect on motivating the young writer. Visit any school classroom and what is on the walls? Children’s work. Universally, kids love to read what other kids have done; it’s an encouragement and a comparison. Skillful teachers give frequent opportunities for children to share their work, either in full class forum or small groups. While many schools have newspapers which sample the creative efforts of various students, some teachers even publish a class “Magnum Opus” or “Great Work” as an end-of-the-year collection, featuring the very best story or essay from each student. For homeschool students, a “writing club” may provide some of the positive peer influence that extends beyond the family. With the explosion of technology, a web page to showcase the work of a family or club allows for an ever-expanding Audience, potentially reaching the ends of the earth.
Why write, really? Ultimately, it must be because someone has something he or she wants to communicate. Eventually, assignments like stories, essays, book reports, and research projects must give way to self-imposed goals; adults write for a purpose. We write to educate, enlighten, entertain, persuade, assist, convert. There are problems to address and joys to demonstrate, hopes to elicit and dreams to inspire. If your children have become confident and competent with the basic skills of putting words on paper in an organized and interesting way, you will see them jump at the opportunity to use these skills to make a difference in the lives of their friends, be effective in their work, and serve God. It then becomes your job to help students find work that requires writing, opportunities to write to local officials or newspapers on issues that matter, reasons to correspond with prison inmates or friends with problems, and ways to submit stories with a message to publications with a purpose. They can even self-publish booklets or newsletters. In the end, students will continue to write as
they see the potential to make a difference in the greater Audience of the world.
Presenting techniques and creating assignments while giving gentle correction and criticism is vital for success, but beyond that, the teacher must know how to motivate children to continue to practice their skills. Writing is much like music; you can know what to do, but until doing it has become natural, fluent, and relatively easy, the ability does not truly exist. Depending on the age and aptitude of your children, motivating them may be a simple matter or a Herculean task. A variety of tools will be needed, but more than anything else, you will want a continuous, genuine, and penetrating smile. Although your students may eventually want to write for their peers, or to change their world, you, the teacher and parent, are their first and most important Audience.
Andrew Pudewa is the founder of The Institute for Excellence in Writing, firstname.lastname@example.org ï 1-800-856-5815
© 2008 by The Institute for Excellence in Writing. The above article is available at www.excellenceinwriting.com
Webinars for School Administrators – Monthly Webinars are on Wednesday and Thursday of each month during the school year. Visit http://www.excellenceinwriting.com/schools_and_teachers for scheduling information.
Andrew Pudewa, the creator and director of the Institute for Excellence in Writing, is one of the most popular conference speakers and experts on the teaching of creative writing in America.
Mr. Pudewa gives seminars, workshops and lectures to teacher groups all over the country and his complete writing program is easy and enjoyable to use for both teachers and students.
The father of seven, Andrew brings a youthful joie de vive but serious intelligence to the field of creative writing and his bright approach is irresistible to virtually any student.
The IEW school line includes the incredible disk-based writing program from K-12, eBook downloads for schools, Teacher Resources and Professional Development packages, too!
IEW offers a Magalog to teachers and you receive two FREE downloads when you visit the website and the School Division.
In the 1990s, Andrew Pudewa was introduced to Dr. James B. Webster and his Structure and Style methods while Mr. Pudewa was teaching 7th–8th graders English and history. After participating in the 11-day professional development course held in Canada for several years running, Andrew was given Dr. Webster’s blessing to take the program to the United States and streamline the course work for completion in two days instead of eleven. Today Mr. Pudewa is the principal speaker and director of the Institute for Excellence in Writing. Presenting throughout North America, he addresses issues related to teaching, writing, thinking, spelling, and music. His seminars for educators have equipped them with powerful tools to dramatically improve students’ writing and thinking skills. Although he is a graduate of the Talent Education Institute in Matsumoto, Japan, and holds a Certificate of Child Brain Development from the Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, his best endorsement is from an Oklahoman 3rd-grade teacher, who called him “the most powerful influence in modeling what kind of teacher I want to be.”
Excellence in Writing successfully equips students of all ages and levels of ability, including those with special needs and English language learners. Its methods not only build written and oral communication skills, but also improve critical thinking. By using Excellence in Writing methods across the curriculum to reinforce content area, students truly learn to write as they write to learn and are transformed from immature or even reluctant writers to competent, confident communicators. It is possible to teach students with very high writing aptitude alongside those with undeveloped writing aptitude, and the system works magnificently at both ends of that spectrum. ♦