Yesterday I asked my 7th & 8th graders to free write in their journal for 5 minutes. You would have thought I asked them to cut their right arm off and then beat themselves with it! I had given them a topic but they didn't like it and weren't doing much with it, which lead to the free write. I was so disgusted. My thoughts were "What will it take to get through to them that writing (and reading) can be fun?!" I wasn't ready for the battle yesterday. Today however, I brought my weapons for the battle. And they LOVED IT! What did I do you ask?
I used the following writing prompts, one per piece of paper:
- Don't feed the animals!
- He had nothing to say to her. He couldn't believe what she had said to him! How could she!
- Finally! It worked! They are dancing! After years of training them, they are dancing!
- I always wanted to be a teacher, now I'm not so sure. The kids scare me. What if they don't like me?
- She wishes her mom would just stay out of it. What does she know about being a teenager?
- The car salesman got on the bus. He hoped he didn't have to sit next to the baker today.
- Every day I'm in the fruit bowl. The orange is next to me and the banana smells bad.
- Shaggy ran into the elevator. He couldn't believe it. He and Scooby were about to meet Batgirl!
I also made sure to create lines on my paper and then I printed them out. Every student got a piece of paper to start. They read their starting sentence(s) and then wrote for 2 minutes. After 2 minutes were up they passed their papers to the right. They read what has been written thus far and then got another 2 minutes to add to the developing story. They loved it! By the 3rd or 4th time of passing the papers students who yesterday who were the loudest whiners were the ones asking if they could have 30 more seconds to write. My assistant is typing them up today and tomorrow we will read them aloud in class. They were super excited and wanted to read them right away, but class had ended. I wrote with them and tried to steer some of the stories back to where I thought they should be. It was so much fun. I will definitely be doing this again with them to get the creative juices flowing. I might have them take a paper tomorrow and edit and revise it to make it a decent story. We'll see.