Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Writing Prompts in the Classroom

Raise your hand if you love writing prompts!  I think that writing prompts are one of those resources that people either love, or hate.  I happen to love them.  #sorrynotsorry


I don't use writing prompts exclusively by any means, but they are a handy resource to have around and I do integrate them into my regular curriculum.  They help offer the students choice during our writing time, and they help them practice the skill of "writing on demand."  More on that in a minute.

So, why do I love writing prompts and how do I use them?  That's what I plan to share.  Read on, teacher friends!

One thing I love about writing prompts is that they are a great way to provide choice, and who doesn't love having choices?  I'm a firm believe that students should have choices, when possible.  During our writing time, the students write in their journals when they are finished with that day's task.  But, sometimes they just don't know what to write about.  This is where prompts come in handy.  So very handy!

I have several small trays filled with prompts on rings.  When the students have trouble coming up with an idea, they take a tray to their table group (so others at the group can use them too, if needed).  They usually end up finding a fun idea to write about.  Sometimes the prompts help them find an idea of their own!  These prompts from Lucky to be in First are great!


My students also love this set from Lori Rosenberg (Teaching with Love and Laughter).  Note: she has recently updated this product so the cards look a bit different now (in case you check them out...and you totally should).


And, this set from A Cupcake for the Teacher is also great!


Our monthly Roll-a-Story boards are also pretty popular! This monthly board gives the students even more options when it comes to their free writing time.  If they don't want to use a prompt card, but need an idea, they can use their Roll-a-Story board.

I mentioned that these are pretty popular...let me put it this way, if I forget to pass out a new one at the beginning of each new month I usually hear this, "Um, Mrs. Salazar, you forgot to give us a new Roll-a-Story board." #yikes


The students keep their individual boards in their writing folder for safe keeping, and they also store a die in their pencil box.  When they get a new board they are given the option of recycling the old one, or taking it home.  They always opt to take it home.


The way these work is pretty simple (and fun).  Roll a die, match the number you rolled on the board and follow the prompts.  Each prompt gives a character, a setting, and a problem.  Most of the prompts encourage the students to use their imagination and to write creatively.

You can check out these prompts here.  And, you can grab a (free) sampler mini-set here.  :)

Designated writing time aside, sometimes I find that I need writing prompts for reasons other than providing choice.  I might need a prompt to use as a homework assignment, or when I'm planning for a sub.  Sometimes our schedule gets disrupted and we don't have time for lengthy writing projects.  That's when prompts like my new Writing Prompts for Anytime come in super handy.  They fill a need while providing meaningful practice!



Aside from being a great resource for homework, subs, and when there are disruptions to our routine, prompts of this nature also give students practice with the skill of "writing on demand." Anytime I can give my students meaningful skill practice, I'm a happy teacher! 

What do I mean by "writing on demand?"  I mean that the students have to respond to a prompt that doesn't involve choice.  Hear me out.

I frequently pick the brain of our academic coach at school and during the course of one of our conversations, she explained that students need to be able to respond to designated prompts.  This is something that is expected of them in the world of testing, so practicing the skill from time to time isn't detrimental, it's great exposure to an important writing skill.


This isn't to say that the only way to use prompts like this is "writing on demand" skills practice as described above. You could easily photocopy a few different prompts and place them in your writing center, thereby offering your students choice.  That's another thing that is so great about writing prompts, they are versatile!

When I made this set of prompts, I wanted to make sure it was versatile enough to be used for homework, in class, with a sub, in a center, for assessment, etc.  But, I also wanted to make sure that it was designed to support students as they learn to check their own writing. 

So, no matter how you use them, these prompts include a built-in checklist for students to refer to when they check their work. Primary students need lots and lots of practice when it comes to checking over their own work.  Developmentally, it's a tough task, but it isn't an impossible one. And, again, I'm all about providing the opportunity to practice important skills!  

A simple list like this is manageable for younger learners, which is important when you're trying to learn a new skill.  You can check out this set of handy dandy prompts here.

Thanks for reading, friends!  I'd love to know, when it comes to writing prompts, do you love 'em or hate 'em?

Toodles!


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2 comments:

  1. Fun stuff! Great post! And, thanks for the shout-out! It makes me happy that you love the writing topics cards.

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    1. Thank you so much, Lori! Your set of prompts have been a tried and true resource. The kids are always able to find an idea to write about!

      Thanks for stopping by! :)

      Aimee

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