March 13, 2016

Beyond the Pencil: Expanding Student's Writing Tools

Let students use other writing tools than just pencils
Do your students use pencils for ALL of their class work? I'm here to tell you to a few benefits of letting students use more than just a pencil and how it can change your student's writing for the better.

What are the Benefits of other Writing Tools?
No Erasing: By allowing students to only write with pencils, (typically with an eraser) students know there is always an option of erasing when they make a mistake. I notice some students become more concerned about the perfection of their work and not just the free flow of ideas in their writing. I've noticed that students write more when they sit and "just write" instead of worrying what the writing looks like. I know, I know, you may say that students need to worry about punctuation, spelling, transitional words, etc. Yes, there is a time and place for that, but there is also a time where students should be able to just write freely. 

Catching Mistakes: More importantly, when students don't have the opportunity to erase, I get to see where they make their mistakes, what work they completed that day, and what they may need to work on. I can then do a mini-lesson for a small group or the entire class if I keep seeing similar mistakes or concepts that they didn't seem to get. I don't always see that if they bring me work that they've already edited quite a bit. 

No Pencil Sharpeners: Need I say more? :) Seriously though, you won't have to hear the pencil sharpener or mess with sharpening pencils every morning before class. No more tiny pencils getting stuck in your pencil sharpeners or double sided pencils. No more emptying shavings. 

Less Arguing: Even if we provide students with the same brand of pencils, they always find something to argue about. They want the taller pencil, the biggest eraser, the pointiest pencil, etc. When students are giving a lot of options to write with, there is less arguing. There is always something fun to write with! 

Variety: When was the last time you grabbed a pencil to write with? I can say I hardly ever use a pencil, why?, because they are BORING! I grab an ink pen, marker, flair pen, etc. I like to write with something colorful and smoother. So do our students! 
Other Options for Writing Tools:
-pens
-markers (fat & skinny)
-highlighters
-colored pencils
-crayons
-pencils without erasers

Colored pencils are great because they write like a pencil, but are a bit more fun to write with. Students get the feel of a normal pencil, but they will take their time since they won't be able to erase. 
Practice money skills with this Monster Money bundle.
Writing with crayons can help their fine motor skills and also teach students control. Since crayons write a bit "fatter", they'll have to be more aware of their writing space.
Students practice writing letters based on what they roll. Add crayons to help their fine motor skills.
Skinny markers are probably my favorite to let students use. They glide on the paper, are consistent, write small and exact like a pencil, yet add a fun pop of color!
This editable sight word writing makes practicing sight words more fun. Skinny markers are a great way to let students use something else to write with that mimics a pencil, but add a pop of color!
Students don't have to worry about sharpening a pencil, having an eraser, or it being too tiny to write with. They last a long time too!
You'll be surprised how many students will pick pens to write with. I think they feel like a grown-up using a pen.
Easter graphing and tracking sheet.
Pens have the same benefits as skinny markers and are another great option.
Remember, that this doesn't have to be a switch for your entire day if you don't want to. You may find a time when you still need students to write with pencils. I'm just saying to give it a shot and see if you see some positive results! Giving students some freedom and choice and be good!

If you are looking for more writing tips, you can read about my new post: Do you Want Your Students to Love Writing?

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