Creative writing--it's one of the few times where kids (and us adults) have free reign to write pretty much whatever we want. BUT I'm pretty sure we've preconditioned so many kids to write like robots that when given opportunities to free-write they don't know what to do. How many times have you heard a student say, "I don't know what to write about."
This goes for my own daughter and on a couple of lazy days during Thanksgiving break we tried to break the norm of creative writing by incorporating unknown QR code elements. My thinking revolved around the idea that my own kids just need little bumps of engagement to get going and adding in the technology/QR code element is just the ticket.
Then I went to my quality control (that's my daughter) and asked her what she thought of the idea. I could see her wheels spinning and she started telling me all kinds of ideas that should be included.
I created a die with codes for characters, setting, and a problem. Then she (my second grader) had to write a story based around these ideas, but first she had to write out her rolls/scans on a graphic organizer.
Below is what she rolled and scanned:
Character: Frosty the Snowman
Setting: The Enchanted Forest
Problem: There was not more hot chocolate.
This was the final story I got from her:
This was written during a break. I didn't even bribe her with a new set of LEGOS. I was even able to get my littlest kindergartener to do it to. For a little differentiation I had her draw a picture of the three items she scanned. She plowed through multiple stacks of paper using that method.
I love seeing this and watching my child grow as a writer. It's a pretty good measuring stick. I'm excited to use this in class and see what all my other students come up too.
The RULE of ENGAGEMENT
Engagement is the absolute key for hooking my kids and students. I think it would be a little preposterous to imagine that all kids come in ready to learn like one of Pavlov's dogs. It doesn't work like that. It never works like that. It doesn't even work like that as an adult. We want to be engaged and sometimes our imagination can't get the jump start it needs without a jumping-off point. Sometimes engagement takes a little piece of technology or a idea-nugget from the teacher, either way works and either way is successful.
How do you engage your students for creative writing activities?
Grab a free sample below: