Writing can be a difficult skill for students to learn. Even for someone who enjoys it, there’s a certain amount of effort that goes into every word and syllable. This can be made more or less difficult depending on what medium students use to write with too.

Writing with a simple pen and paper is more challenging, but it also encourages students to construct sentences, practice pronunciation, and develop their reading comprehension. For my part, I’ve always felt it’s more worthwhile to go old-school. Technology may be here to stay, but real growth doesn’t occur without a little hard work. There are also strategies that educators can use to make writing – if not easier – then more engaging for their students. Here are just a few retro activities that can help them develop their language skills:

Journaling: There’s a good reason why many people kept journals in days past. Recording thoughts didn’t just help with retention, it also allowed people to navigate their personal ideas and feelings. Reflection journals can play a crucial part in education as well. By giving students journals where they record their questions and wonderings, teachers not only get them to engage with the subject matter, but they also provide a healthy emotional outlet.

Letter Writing: If you’re looking for a way to increase collaboration and communication, then letter writing is a practical activity that students can continue to use throughout their lives. First, have them consider who they would like to send a letter to. It could be a friend or a family member, they could even send a kind message to someone living in a retirement home. Once they’ve chosen their recipient, have them construct a nice note, then have them go back and determine what about their letter can be improved. Be sure to have them double-check their grammar, vocabulary, and spelling!

Winding Words: Expand student vocabulary by creating connections between words to form a Winding Word chain. When a group has finished a chain, see if they can recreate it from memory. When students expand their vocabulary, they expand their ability to think. It’s amazing how well this cements vocabulary words in students’ minds!

Free Writing: Sometimes all students need is a little unstructured play. Free writing is the simplest strategy to employ when fostering student writing ability. It gives students a chance to mess about, experiment, and turn their thoughts toward what they’re passionate about. In the process, students naturally develop their skills in ELA. Sometimes the best way to learn is by simply doing.

With a little help from these strategies, even students who struggle with writing can find themselves engaged, learning, and practicing their ELA in a meaningful way. Don’t be afraid to go a little old school this season. Put away the tablets and instead break out the spiraled notebooks. Writing is the doorway to infinite educational opportunities. Once students have a grasp of the fundamentals, there’s no limit to what they can discover!

For more free educational resources, check out these free tools and strategies from Blue Apple!

*Image courtesy of David Schwarzenberg via Wikimedia Commons.