Writing partners can be an important source of inspiration and support for your kids. It’s the rare kid who truly wants to work alone all the time. Writing requires an audience, someone to give a response, someone to read your work.
There’s no need to wait to get writing partners going. There are no “prerequisites” to being a writing partner, no such thing as “not ready.” Kids can start out by simply sharing and talking with whomever they already sit next to, and later you can assign formal, longer-lasting partnerships.
In case you haven’t started up writing partners, here are some of my favorite lessons for getting partnerships up and running.
1. Start simple by teaching active listening. Teach kids to put one piece of writing in the middle. Teach them both to hold the edges of the paper ( I know it seems silly, but it makes a HUGE difference). Teach them that they both have a job. The writer needs to read their work with their best, most expressive, storytelling voice. The listener needs to listen for the big important things that are happening. The listener can retell the story back to the writer to make sure that it’s all making sense.
2. Teach kids a few simple prompts kids can say to their partner to compliment the writing. “I noticed that you…” “Your story makes me picture…” and “Your story made me feel…” are some great prompts to start with. Model a growth mindset and encourage kids to recognize and name hard work when they see it, rather than praising each other for talent or natural ability. Kids can use your writing strategies charts to get ideas for supportive compliments.
3. Teach kids a few simple prompts for helping their partner improve the writing. “Say more about that…” “What did you really mean?” “Can you explain that?” are good starters. Kids can use a simple checklist or chart to get ideas for helpful suggestions to give.
4. Teach kids that they can tell their story aloud to their partner to rehearse it. Telling the story 2-3 times before you start sketching/writing is a GREAT strategy no matter how young or old.
5. Teach kids to ask each other questions when they are stuck or they aren’t sure what to do. “Can you help me?” “I’m confused.” “What can I do now?” are questions that kids can ask each other. Sometimes they’re afraid to ask their partner until you explicitly teach it.
Literacy Coach, Consultant, Author, Graduate Course Instructor, and Mom. Passionate about fostering a love of reading and writing in learners of all ages.