Thursday, November 20, 2008

You want me to write about what? And... you want it written where?

Today, class, I want to encourage writing skills

… Easier said than done, right? Not really. Give your students a direction and then let their imagination, creativity and life experiences guide their writing oasis.

How exactly do you encourage your students to open up and let the words flow? Easy! With writing prompts. Writing prompts are loosely guided topics, with minimal directions, that allow the individual student perspective to shine through. The best part about writing prompts? They can be written on paper, typed on a computer or even spoken (example: Podcasts, etc.)

Why are writing prompts needed and useful? Writing skills are one of the most basic and fundamental foundations to effective communication. Regardless of the grade level, writing skills are key. Sure, there are always students who say, writing is not my thing – not my strength. Nonsense! Everyone has ideas, opinions and life experiences that form a knowledge base. We just need to help those students tap into those areas and learn how to express them clearly.

As a teacher, your first question may be “Where do I start?” There are tons of resources that provide random and/or topic-focused writing prompts. Check out these sources to get started…

-DE Streaming “Writing Prompt Builder” within the “Teacher Center”
-The Teacher’s Corner
-Education World

So... let’s take it one step further. Let’s make the writing prompts interactive!

Classroom Idea:
-Set up a wiki page for your students
-Once a week, post a new writing prompt
-Make sure all of your students have access to your wiki
-Once they log in, they can respond to your writing prompt

Benefit to the Teacher:
You are successfully incorporating a collaborative 21st Century tool into your class that encourages dialogue and (over time) improved writing skills.

Benefit to the Student:
Each student learns how to use a 21st Century resource and, at the same time, they can read (and learn from) the perspectives of their peers. Not to mention, they gain an appreciation for contributing their own important thoughts!

Get Started! Here is a 9th-12th grade writing prompt:

(courtesy of DE Streaming)
-Many teens formed study groups in the fifties. Write a short essay defining what a study group looks like today. Be sure to consider technology and transportation, among your considerations for the definition.

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