In my last few posts I’ve been exploring ways to increase the rigor and independence of my students while I’m away. So far I’ve proposed a
. Today I’m going to write about introducing novelty and creativity into students’ writing assignments.
I got to try this out this week after needing to throw together some sub plans for an unexpected, extended absence (how appropriate for the purpose of these posts!) My students and I have been working hard on personal narrative writing. We’re nearing the end of our unit so they have worked with rubrics, self and peer edited, typed on google docs, shared their writing with families and read examples of great personal narratives.
You could say we are familiar with personal narratives (as in we are all a little bit sick of them, bored and ready for something new).
Then I got a bright idea. We’ve only been delving deeply into true, personal narratives in order to really master this one type of writing but we haven’t dipped our toes into fantasy narratives!
I did a quick google search for 4th grade writing prompts and picked a few I thought my specific students would be into. I also tried to pick prompts that sounded SBA-y (what do you think? Is that a word?) in that the prompt tells you the first bit of the story and then you complete the narrative.
This is one I picked;
Imagine that a ball rolled to a stop at you feet. When you picked it up it felt very warm and it glowed. Then suddenly… Describe what happened next.
FUN, right? This prompt makes me as an adult want to write quietly for 30 minutes.
In the plans I of course had the sub remind students that all the good stuff about a personal narrative we’ve studied, like dialogue and sensory details and paragraphing can be transferred to fantasy narrative writing.
Although my first instinct is not to introduce anything ‘new’ with my sub plans I felt this was an opportunity to increase students engagement, therefore decrease behavior issues for the sub and gave my students something new and fresh to try transferring their skills on. It made me more excited to return to the classroom and read the creative writing they’d done.
What do you think about ‘opening up’ some assignment for students to get creative with while you’re away? How do you think your students would respond to an invitation to get creative with a guest teacher? I’d love to hear your experiences.