5 Ways to Help Reluctant Writers


It’s no secret that kids struggle with writing. Writing is an art form and takes years and years to master. Here are some ways to help your reluctant writers begin their journey!

Give them engaging topics

I often find that giving them too many choices can make it even more difficult for them to write. This is why I almost never say “write about anything”. Provide students with inspiration by giving them articles to spark their interest. I often pull an article off of NewsELA.com and give them a choice of how they want to respond to it.

Opinion writing example

Article: Should we tax robots that take our jobs?

Prompt: After reading the article on this topic, give your opinion. Should we tax robots that take our jobs? Support your opinion with pieces of evidence from the text. Do additional research on the topic or have a discussion with a partner to get more ideas.

Give them extra tools

I find that some of my students struggle with writing because they’re confused about the day’s mini-lesson. I provide these students with extra tools to help them not only write, but incorporate what we learned that day.

Here are some tools you can provide your reluctant writers with:

  • small group instruction
  • 1 on 1 discussion
  • skill bookmarks (see below)
  • a writing partner
This is a photograph of a resource to teach dialogue to reluctant writers.
Dialogue is a difficult skill to learn. These bookmarks help them easily format dialogue in their narratives!

Teach them the art of brainstorming

Sometimes the issue is just getting ideas down on paper. Work with students in small group or 1-on-1 to make sure that they have a good brainstorming session before you ask them to write. Make fun organizers to encourage brainstorming, and add a discussion component to help them get ideas.

In my classroom, we don’t just brainstorm at the beginning of an essay. We brainstorm for character development (pictured below), dialogue ideas, and reasons to support opinions we’ve formed.

This is a photograph of a brainstorming resource that can be used when working with reluctant writers.
From my Complete Guide to Creative Narrative resource.

Go beyond pencil and paper

Some students struggle to get ideas down on paper, but the ideas will flow when they’re given a device to work on. Blogging platforms like Blogger or Kidblog are a great free way for kids to share ideas and get feedback from other students in the class. I have former reluctant writers that have logged hours writing on their blog at home! This blog can be used for journaling, brainstorming, and even formal essay writing.

If you don’t want to set up blogs, you can also have them write in Google Docs or even in a notes app on a device. If you only have a few devices, you can set students up to work on them just to get the ideas flowing before they begin on their paper.

Form discussions

The best way to get ideas for writing is to talk about it! Lead a class discussion on the topic and then have students break off into small groups. I call them “mastermind groups”… because masterminds are all the rage now and I find it beneficial to have set groups that meet to support and work together.

Make sure that you set procedures and norms for your group discussions. If you notice certain students bringing a paper and pencil and just copying down other people’s ideas, you know you need to revisit the procedures with your students.


April Smith

Curriculum Writer and Online Professional Development Coach. 


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