Having been in many different types of English classes I have experienced many different types of writing prompts. I have had writing prompts that are in the form of a statement, (http://www.writersdigest.com/prompts) a picture, or a song. I am currently in school to be a teacher and English is one of the subjects I would like to specialize in. I was curious as to whether anyone has any other types of writing prompts that they have used and how those have worked for the students. Have the ones that I listed provided good results for teachers to see the writing of the students? For myself, I always enjoyed writing so writing prompts were always very easy for me to grasp but are there certain types that don't work well for some students? Any input or advice?

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Comment by Dave Eveland on January 31, 2014 at 7:07am

I also love writing prompts!  I just wish I had more time to engage my mind and creative thinking to write.  I love to write.  I also know that my writing suffers when I don't engage with it as often.  The same thing holds true of my writing with regard to my level of reading - if I'm not reading, I'm not as adept at writing.

Writing prompts can give an opportunity for students to think and engage with concepts they've not yet imagined or fathomed.  It also gives a teacher insight into what a student knows about that particular concept or topic - allowing them to use it as an informal assessment mechanism to formalize how to guide a students continued learning and possible investigation into that topic.

Some of the writing prompts, esp. with younger children (who can't read yet) or those that are so immersed in media content could benefit from visual writing prompts - a visual with also provides inspiration, intrigue and introspection such as those from John Spencer.  I would have loved to have replied to these earlier in my life.  Some of them really engage my mind, almost forcefully, but in a way that invites me to think about the idea.

It's also important to understand that writing prompts can be used in an number of ways by teachers - and the writing itself need not be lengthy per se.  The follow through to some of these writing prompts could be thinking of a way to share some of the writing - even if it's not good - perhaps through share groups where student all use the same prompt and then share their responses.  Perhaps have a writing unit of prompts students could pick 'their best' and create a book or digital product out of it.

Comment by Morgan Thie on January 31, 2014 at 11:01am
I like writing prompts as well. However I remember when I was younger I didn't always understand what they were. So maybe having a lesson on what a writing prompt is and what it should look like would be important. Also if there is any way to make it fun that helps them remember it to. This is something that they will be using for the rest of their lives. Also I would do some writing prompts in groups or have them look at each other's and see what their peers think. Creative thinking is very important and we as teachers need to encourage the students to do this. How can we teach children to write though if they don't even know how to read yet? For the younger kids have a picture and have a writing prompt on the picture so they can better understand it. Also you need to have different writing prompts for different students since everyone doesn't learn the same.
Comment by Kayla on February 4, 2014 at 3:51pm
Writing prompts always used to intimidate me! I would get so nervous and worried that my writing wouldn't be my best. However, one way that my teacher helped me get over the fear of writing prompts was by having a class writing prompt. Everyone began with a paper, and started their own introduction for the prompt given. Then, after about 5 minutes or so everyone handed their paper to the person on their right. These students had five minutes to add on to what was already written. We worked on these projects for about thirty minutes a day for the week. On fridays, we would get our original paper back and would read it altogether as a collective paper. It was so much fun! It encouraged me to be more creative with my work and I learned a lot by reading what other people wrote and their ideas. I think doing fun writing prompts like this offers more opportunity to be creative while also taking the pressure off of "being a perfect writer." Sometimes our prompts would be a little more serious than others, but doing it this way was a great method for working together with other students and learning with them as well as from them.
Comment by Morgan Thie on February 7, 2014 at 8:23am

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