Time management for writing is one of the most difficult things to teach students. Writer’s block doesn’t begin to describe the many obstacles students have to overcome to simply start the writing process. Teachers have the unique ability to turn student frustration and struggle into commitment and creativity by teaching time management. When students learn how to monitor their time spent performing each writing step, they become more successful in their writing endeavors. Students become proficient writers and finish on time every time, and their work exhibits a coherent display of their actual ability.
How to Teach Time Management in Writing
The following guidelines are based on one type of writing assignment. This can be adjusted to fit your curriculum and the needs of your students.
Reading (20-30 minutes): We already know that the reading portion of a writing assignment can take up most of the students’ available time if they are not trained to self-monitor the clock. Explain to students that the focus needs to be on the reading at this point and not yet on the writing portion. Set a clock during instruction so students can gauge their progress.
Planning (10-15 minutes): After the reading, anxiety is sure to set in for some reluctant writers. This is an opportunity for you to teach students how to have fun and make writing an experience. Teach them how to plan for their essay by creating an outline. If students get stumped, ask them to write down the main ideas from the reading. Clear direction regarding content will be key to helping those students who struggle the most.
Introduction Paragraph (5-10 minutes): There are many ways to write an introductory paragraph, but it is important for students to pick a way that best suits their writing style and/or ability level. Whether you teach your students to write a thesis statement first or to begin their writing with a hook, make sure they have a path for progression.
Middle Paragraph 1 (15-20 minutes): For the student who writes with ease, the paragraphs may flow. However, some students may struggle with the middle paragraphs. Teaching students the structure of an essay is key. Getting organized words on the page is progress.
Middle Paragraph 2 (15-20 minutes): Each body paragraph follows similarly with a topic sentence and supporting sentences. Students should include examples and details about the topics in each middle paragraph and should aim to write 8-10 sentences in each.
Middle Paragraph 3 (15-20 minutes): By the fourth paragraph, a student should start to feel either relaxed or rushed due to time management. This is when reminding students that they are learning how to be productive writers is helpful. They will have further opportunities, and it is more important to continue working than let time get in the way of progress. Encouragement over criticism works well in writing.
Conclusion Paragraph (5-10 minutes): Some students may feel that only 5 to 10 minutes is not enough to finish a paper, but you can remind them that it’s all they needed for the introduction. A conclusion is even easier because the paper is essentially written.
Practice Makes Perfect!
After teaching each step of the writing process, it is important for teachers to practice timed writing sessions with their students. Students will not only learn how to organize their writing into a coherent whole, but will also develop a foundation for future writing success.
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