This is a simple idea to motivate your children to start writing immediately, mentioned to me by a colleague just the other day (hi Dave!).
Once you are ready for your class to go off and begin writing, tell the children they have two minutes to write the date and the learning objective in their books (writing the learning objective is a big thing in the UK). Tell the class that after two minutes is up, you will select a pupil randomly (using lollipop sticks or an electronic random name selector or whatever). If whoever gets chosen has finished the date and the learning objective, they will be awarded a team point or golden ticket or whatever reward system you use.
This little tip can help avoid the following (humorous and fictitious!) scenario:
You’ve just done a great bit of input and modelling on the carpet, and your children are all fired up with great ideas for writing. You send them off to their tables and then your attention is immediately diverted by children coming to you asking how you spell words, what is the date, where do we start writing etc etc etc. You get swamped with a million and one things and you also end up spending ten minutes talking to one pupil who is struggling to get their ideas down. Near the end of the lesson you glance at a child’s book at another table and see that in twenty-five minutes they have managed to write the date (incorrectly) and half the learning objective and THAT’S IT. You feel like ripping your hair out in frustration, and you know that someone at some point in the future is going to come along and it’ll be YOUR fault that this child decided they’d rather spend the lesson jabbing an eraser with a pencil than writing a story that you so carefully spent ages helping them with……
Instead, you simply institute the ‘two minute check’. Knowing there is a chance they will be checked up on and that they could get a prize will help spur on those slow starters! Having such a rule also reminds you as a teacher to check where everybody is up to, something which can easily go by the wayside in a busy classroom.