Inspire Summer Writers

End the year strong – advice often written and shared.

Yes, there is a natural break from regular school schedules – but when we use the phrase end of school, are we unintentionally signaling to students that it is the end of learning for awhile?

In the final few weeks of school, our job is greater than “finishing strong”. Our job is inspiration.

Students Bloggers

Students with blogs are the easiest to inspire. My questions to them are twofold:

  1. What do you want to blog about this summer?
  2. Have you created a blog schedule?

One of my current students is moving in the next few weeks. Her passion is her dog. She has decided to begin a new blog from her dog’s perspective – how the dog wonders about the boxes and unusual human behavior. This same student is writing a letter to an airline, asking for pictures of the area in which her dog will be when he travels across the world by plane. The pictures will help her better write about air travel from a dog’s perspective.

Another student blogger liked the dog idea. When I asked her, What is your passion?, she immediately said “horses.” She decided to write from her horses’ perspectives.

One student wants to be a food critic. He is traveling Europe and plans to try and rate the local foods. His meals and thoughts will be recorded using a camera and a notebook then transferred to a blog when he gets within a wifi zone. This student will use newspapers and magazine food critic articles as mentor texts.

Scrapbooks and Notebooks

While on the Hong Kong Walkabout, many students developed an interest in photography. They plan to keep scrapbooks full of pictures, writing captions and noting interesting moments.

One girl is going to Alaska. I showed her pictures of Jean Craighead George’s writer’s notebook, featured in Speaking of Journals.

A good number of students want to take travel moments and turn them into personal narratives or poems. Those who were taken with the idea of a 25-word story plan to write a series of those during the summer.


In the most recent writing unit, a student compiled a cookbook of the best cupcake recipes. Every day for a series of days, she brought in two versions of the same type of cupcake. Classmates would rate the cupcakes based on moistness and flavor. They also made comments that will be compiled into a review. The review will look much like a mentor text blog, but she will cite recipe books and note alterations made to recipes rather than reviewing specific restaurants.


Since expat students live overseas, family members can change dramatically from one visit to another. One student plans to write about how family members have changed over the past year or more.

One boy recently found out his grandpa had passed. He will write down the stories that family members share as well as personal memories of his grandfather.


Another student, an American passport-holder, is visiting America for the first time. She wants to describe ways in which America is different than Hong Kong. Her passions are media, art, and music, so I suspect her writing will focus on those in particular. Her summer notebook will be filled with sketches and notes about observations.

Finishing Bigger Projects

A few students want to write novels. They wrote a chapter or two during the school year but would like to add chapters over the summer.

Some students have written feature articles about sharks or soccer teams. They plan to add, respectively, more pages about sharks and famous soccer players.

To-do Lists and Calendars

Thomas Edison had a “To Do” list. While celebrating a year’s worth of writing, consider asking students what they’d like to write over the summer. Help them make a list and develop a calendar. Then, make a place where students can post their writing (a Google map or a class blog).

What is on your to-do list? What can you model? Your model may be one of the greatest sources of student inspiration.

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6 thoughts on “Inspire Summer Writers

  1. Pingback: Inspire Summer Readers | Expat Educator

  2. Thanks for this , Janet. I agree, as we face “finishing ” for the year much of what we say and do here at school is full of those statements. It’s almost like we’re turning off the ” learning tap”! I realise too, that’s often how I phrase my comments in class, as a specialist our time is limited to 45 minute blocks, I shall make a mental note to change my my phrases.:-)

    • Thanks, Viv. Sorry to hear you’re still in school!

      I asked my 5th graders if they believed that “end-of-school” meant “end-of-learning.” Most agreed that this was their thinking.

      That said, many of their parents take them to shows and museums, and trips where their kids are learning (they just don’t realize it). I’m hoping they write about all those experiences.

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