One easy way to learn to write well is by copying good writers. Have your student give it a shot by writing a poem from a model — in this case “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost.
Start by copying the four stanzas of Robert Frost’s poem onto notebook paper:
Now change each stanza to reflect the current season of summer while keeping the meter and rhyme scheme. For example:
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods in the summer glow.
Carry on this type of change for each of the four stanzas.
Older students can also vary the other lines to reflect a different place, or time, or other setting. For example:
Whose waters these are I think I know.
Her cottage is outside the city though;
She will not mind me stopping here
To cool in the stream by dipping a toe.
Ruth Beechick explains how Benjamin Franklin learned to write by copying good writers. He found and outlined a piece of writing that he wanted to imitate. He laid aside his outlines for a few days and then came back to recreate the writing without looking at the outline. By comparing his creation to the original, he could locate differences and correct the work to make it better.
Once your student has completed the exercise above, have him try writing a new piece: “Running by the Ocean on a Hot Summer’s Day” using the same style.
These exercises and others like them can be found in our book Write Something Every Day: