To become a good writer you need to spend time writing. It is a simple truth that drives my love of Writer’s Workshop. Of course, everything you love also has things that are obstacles to overcome. In this instance, the huge barrier some kids feel about coming up with anything, anything at all, to write about.
In my writer’s worskhop I do mini-lessons (5-10 minutes) about a skill or technique and then the kids are off to continue their self-chosen writing. At the beginning of the year, I always have a group of students that stay with me a little longer to try and figure out what they will write about. Sometimes this is related to their low level of English or their struggle to imagine new options. Several of my students cannot fit into a general class prompt and need the option to try out a few ideas and discard some before they settle on an idea.
It was for these kids that I created this build a prompt set. We looked at the basic idea that every story has a setting, characters, and conflict. They are then able to pick a partial prompt from each category and ultimately build a prompt that works for them. Lower primary kids tend to just need a very general category to write in. e.g. Superheroes! Animals! Witches! Most of my younger students can come up with a story (generally modelled after another story) with that little amount of prompting. My upper primary students needed more vivid details to get into the prompt which is why the prompts have both pictures and adjectives galore.
This didn’t solve all of my writer’s workshop woes. I still needed to figure out Writer’s offices, effective word walls, and the right pacing of instruction, but it did stop the frustration for kids that needed more help coming up with ideas. Once they were able to build their own individual prompt, they could start writing. And as we all know… if a kid starts enjoying writing, they’re going to want to write more.
Check out the rest of the Writing Wednesday helpful blogs and products! This a great group of teacher authors and you are sure to come away with great ideas.