Patricia: Students emerge so MUCH as writers when you don't give prompts! Or if the prompts are general (like write a story about exploring a new place), kids can really focus on their own creativity. Now this morning, I was watching a student write, and he began writing about a pirate-related adventure, though in my opinion it brought in a little bit of violence. Not giving prompts opens all kinds of doors... and it opens opportunities for so many discussions because the kids connect more personally with what they have written. I can ask this student why he expressed his writing in the way he had this morning. Overall, if I gave a specific prompt all the time, some of my kids perhaps would not have developed their skills as much. On the other hand, a few students may not have ever thought that writing can be personal, fun, and an interesting way of self-expression.
Bruce: Good idea! Some students need ideas to develop, and I always have prompts available because it gets students thinking. We do have to write to specific prompts at times, such as "Write about an adventure on the TITANIC" or "Write a story about living in a haunted 100-year old house". Giving the choice motivates reluctant writers to make connections and write something stellar. The majority of my students absolutely love writing!
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