Given strong writing skills are essential for success in K-12 schooling, college, and the workplace, all students need to be competent writers. When we examine 21st century skills, written communication is always included. Unfortunately, we often encounter students who are reluctant writers. For various reasons, they will do almost anything to avoid putting ideas on paper. At times, these students struggle in many areas of school. However, some of the time these are strong students when it comes to anything but writing! Why do some students almost refuse to write or, if we’re lucky, give us the absolute minimum? Most importantly, what strategies can we use to help these students catapult over that barrier so they begin to produce quality written work without a battle? We’ll examine these two crucial questions and explore some answers.
Fred Wolff spent nineteen of his twenty-four years in education as a classroom teacher, working with students in grades 5-12. While some of his work with students was more traditional in nature, he always worked to find innovative methods to motivate students. Over the years, his students wrote, directed, and produced movies; built a power-generating windmill on a 60’ tower; published books; interviewed governors, state supreme court justices, and state senate presidents; and built a Huck Finn-style raft and floated it on a river. For five years, he worked as a district curriculum coordinator. In 1994, Wolff was honored with a Distinguished Teacher Award by the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars. In 1997, he was awarded a Fulbright to study education in Japan. Most recently, he wrote and co-produced the hour long PBS aired documentary Telling Their Stories, a compelling examination of Holocaust survivors living in his home state of New Hampshire. His first book, The Write Direction: A New Teacher’s Guide to Teaching Writing, is available for purchase. Wolff has trained teachers across the United States and in over a dozen different countries on four continents on the Six Traits of writing. He holds a B.S. in Communications from Ohio University, a M.Ed. from the University of New Hampshire, and a Doctorate in Curriculum and Teaching from Boston University.