I was recently talking with a friend whose son struggles with writing in the classroom. He’s a creative, bright, and charismatic boy, and when he’s engaged in a task, he is focused and shows great determination to complete what he’s started, to have arts-based writing strategies.
But in school, when faced with writing prompts that are inauthentic or don’t engage him, he struggles. And it is such a shame, because this clever, engineering young mind now believes there is something wrong because he can’t complete the writing prompts handed to him. He might just need some arts-based writing strategies to open up his own possibilities.
What if changed the nature of this boy’s writing exercises to engage him, to make his writing more personally relevant, and to increase his ownership of the task at hand? What a great place for arts integration to step in! Here’s a few arts-based writing strategies to use in the classroom that will hopefully engage and motivate your struggling writers.
Students summarize key points of a story or a book by creating a piece of visual art. Students will then write an artist’s statement about their piece and how it reflects the key points of the story, describing their artistic choices.
Cut up several old picture books, and have students mix up the art to make up a new story.
Stepping Into the Painting
Using a piece of art or an image, students become a character or an object they see. After students choose their character or object, they must begin to verbally tell a story. They give background into what they are seeing, thinking, and feeling. Once the exercise has been completed, have students write their story. See more about the Stepping into the Painting strategy HERE.
Have students write a letter to someone of their choosing: a character from a story, a composer of a piece of music, an artist, etc. Have the student introduce themselves, ask questions, and express opinions. Extension: have students switch letters and write a reply.
Guided Active Listening
Have students listen to a piece of music, preferably one that features a particular instrument. Have students write a monologue from the point of view of that instrument. You can also have students listen to a piece and write a creative story about an imagined event within the piece. See more HERE.
Have students select a piece of music of their choosing and brainstorm who wrote the song and why. Students will then write a story about how the song came to be.
Key Topic Dance
Have students brainstorm important words or topics in a story or book. Next, list movements, shapes, levels, and energy that could be used to convey the topic. Have small groups plan a dance or movement around a chosen topic word. After the performance, have students write a response about what they did and how they felt, making reference to the key topic they conveyed as well as elements of dance.
These strategies and many more can be found in Creating Meaning Through Literature and the Arts by Claudia E. Cornett.
What arts-based writing strategies do you use to help your struggling students? We’d love to hear from you!
Brianne is a former music educator from Chicago and current graduate class instructor with EdCloset’s Learning Studios. She earned her Masters degree in Music Education from VanderCook College of Music and has over a decade of experience in the elementary general music classroom. With her experience in the performing arts, Brianne is dedicated to building connections between the arts and Common Core Standards, 21st century learning skills, inquiry and project-based learning. In addition to her work with EducationCloset, Brianne is a yoga instructor in the Chicagoland area. You can also find Brianne here: https://artsintersection.wordpress.com/