For Fun

I've been growing more and more interested/concerned in my students' writing as the year progresses- it's led to some intense frustration. Writing is a weakness at our site (and community) both in terms of organization and content. Part of the problem, in my humble opinion, is that the kids really just don't enjoy it. Writing essay after essay simply isn't even remotely fun if it's something that you struggle with. Especially when you have the teacher bitching you out for not having a "valid argumentative thesis," "cohesive organization," "proper textual support," or a "personal voice." Hey, it's my job.

A few weeks ago I gave the kids a project to do on The Metamorphosis and one option was to write a 8-10 page prequel to the story- total carte blanche to go where they wanted. And the ones that chose to do it loved it. I had everything from Spiderman-reminiscent bug bites to myseterious fortune tellers casting spells. The kids asked if they could write over the page limit and actually turned them in on time. I've read most of them and the kids obviously took ownership of this type of writing- the thought and detail surpassed their normal academic work. It was refreshing. 

This motivated me to try to find some more fun ways to incorporate creative writing into my classroom. I don't have the luxury of time- there are plenty of things to do prepare the kids sufficiently for their IB testing next year. So I started scouring Amazon for some sort of materials that would allow kids to write little snippets that they'd hopefully find fun and would require creativity. And I hit the the jackpot with 642 Things to Write About, by the San Francisco Writers' Grotto. Here are some of the prompts/scene suggestions:

"You are a pirate. Describe your perfect day."
"A soldier is about to embark upon a mission that she know will kill her."
"Toto, if we're not in Kansas anymore, where are we?"
"Write a love letter to a person you dislike."
"You've been caught cheating at a casino. Explain to the pit boss why this is all just a big misunderstanding."
"Write about something you know absolutely nothing about. Make all of it up."
"You are at a department store in another city, and you see one of your teachers weeping. Write the scene."
"James Joyce said that a man's errors are his portals of discovery. What mistakes have led to epiphanies for you?"
"Describe in detail an everyday object- a piece of fruit, a water botte, or your beat-up old wallet."
"A man jumps from the fortieth story of a building. As he's passing the twenty-eighth floor, he hears his phone ring and regrets that he jumped. Why?"

And so on and so forth for another 632 entries. Some are a little inappropriate, but for the most part they'll work. 

And, let's be honest- from my perspective essays get a tad boring. Reading their answers to questions like these will be entertaining as hell. 


  1. Kudos for inspiring your students to write beyond the limit you gave them. Any teacher knows that cause for celebration. Are you allowed to post the best story on your blog? That would be fun for us to read.

    I love the topics from that book! I think I could even use some for my kiddos. Mine hate writing also but for reasons way different than your kiddos. Have your kids come over and help some ELD kids out!

  2. Love love love! This book sounds really cool. Making it fun is definitely motivating.

    One of my students' biggest complaint was that they didn't like writing everything by hand. I wished they could have typed more, but alas, I had one computer in my classroom. One.*