Teach Students to Be Concise
While some students struggle to move their pencil across the paper, there seems to be the polar opposite problem of students writing too much. However, the never ending essay or the story that just won't end is the most difficult to grade. These pieces are sometimes downright painful for the teacher to read. In addition, quite a bit of ink and precious time goes into showing students how to be more concise.
For the students who ramble on and on or who cannot end their story, teachers can share this great quote from Pythagoras who was a Greek philosopher and mathematician in BC 580-500. “Do not say a little in many words but a great deal in a few."
Good Word Choice
Word choice is so important in writing. Many students race to fill up the page but do not think about the words filling the page. They are going for quantity not quality. However, just getting anything down is a major success for those stuck with writer's block.
Once students are able to write their ideas into paragraphs, they need to be thoughtful of choosing words for tone, overusing words, eliminating weak words, and eliminating wordiness.
Model Word Elimination
Many students who are "wordy" do not even know they are until a teacher points it out to them. To have an "ah-hah" moment in class, share some wordy excerpts from recently completed essays or stories on the board or project them on a screen. It is important that the teacher does reveal the authors of these wordy excerpts. It is also advisable to have several examples so that a student does not feel that he or she is being singled out in class.
Next, the teacher should have the class come up with ideas on how to be more concise. Students can offer different suggestions on how to eliminate the "fluff" or extra words.
Example Wordy Excerpt
For example, a teacher could write this wordy excerpt on the board:
My bicycle is blue and it has silver stripes. It also has wide tires. In the garage next to my skates, football, basketballs, hockey equipment and baseball bat, I park it every night.
My blue bike with silver stripes and wide tires is parked next to my sports equipment every night.
In this example, three sentences were combined into one. Taking a class period to address wordiness can really pay off in the next writing assignment because students will be more thoughtful about the specific words that they write. In addition, they can see that they can write with many words in a draft and then revise and edit the piece to be more concise later for a final draft.