Month: March 2015

What Have We Here? Another Visual Prompt



We’ll leave it completely up to your imagination what the story is behind this photo.  A couple of things to think about before you write may include:

1.  What happened leading up to this scene?

2.  What happened next?

Beyond that, it’s all up to your nimble, outrageous imagination.

Now, get writing!

Photo Credit:  Joel Koop

You can see more of Joel’s amazing photography at his website.

The Teacher as Writer and artist . . . and athlete . . .



One of the most powerful teaching methods is so very simple. If you are teaching art, let the students watch you draw. If you are promoting fitness, run with them. If you want them to write, be a writer.

I’m no artist. My drawings in art class weren’t even fridge-door worthy. Yet, that didn’t seem to matter to my students. They were fascinated when I drew along with them, always curious to check back and discuss my drawings. Instead of me, the teacher, telling the students what to do, then pace about watching them at work, I became an artist– just as I expected them to become artists.

I employed this approach to the Canada Fitness Test. I’d be out there sweating and straining along with my students, running laps, doing crunches, and attempting the dreaded flexed arm hang. (I earned a silver, by the way.) In joining them in the fitness test, the motivation level rose dramatically among the students.

And so it is with many other school pursuits, including writing. Use a Smart Board or some other projection devise to allow your students to watch you work as a writer. Your writing doesn’t have to be great. It doesn’t have to be perfect. In fact, it’s better if it isn’t. By sharing with your students the thought processes and frustrations you experience in writing, they will benefit greatly as they venture off on their own writing adventure.

Here’s a great blog post along the same lines by Bethany Hill:  “Never Too Old to PLAY.”

So, get our there, and be a kid again!


Pranks Galore! An April Fool's Day Writing Challenge

Everyone loves April Fool’s Day! (Don’t they?) Well, writers certainly do, because there’s nothing funnier than writing about a wild prank. (Isn’t there?) In honour of April Fool’s Day, here’s a writing challenge to get those creative ideas flowing.

  1. Before doing the Writing Challenge, be sure to go to your Bonus Word List Manager, look in the “Shared” tab for the April Fools! Bonus Word List, then copy it into your own set of Bonus Word Lists. Don’t forget to assign the April Fools! Bonus Word List to your class. (No fooling!)
  2. Also before the writing session, have a brainstorming session with the class for words they think should be added to the April Fools! Bonus Word List. You can add to the April Fools! Bonus Word List by going to your Bonus Word Manager, clicking on April Fools!, then add the words students suggest.
  3. Here are some prompts the writers many want to use to get started:

    When I woke up, realized I had been pranked! I could tell, because…

    The week leading up to April 1st was the worst week of my life! It began on Monday, when…

    Usually, Kelly was the school prankster. This, year, I decided to seek revenge by..

    It was going to be the ultimate prank! I decided to…

    Here are some step-by-step instructions for the best April Fool’s prank ever. First, you have to…

    Sometimes pranks backfire, like the time I…

    Or… start your story without a prompt.

  4. Be sure to have a sharing session after everyone’s had a chance to write their stories. This may be especially useful for teachers, giving them a ‘heads up’ for potential pranks to expect on April 1st!

Teaching Old Dogs New Tricks while discovering a variety of learning and teaching styles

Here’s a great article on learning and teaching styles. It’s about a skier of fifty-seven years, Ian Brown, spending a couple of days being taught by two ski instructors with very different teaching styles. He discovers much more than just how to carve the perfect turn.

 On the slopes of Mont Tremblant, Ian Brown discovers how old dogs can learn new tricks

Time to Eat Up! This Week's Visual Prompt



Before you begin writing, think about some of these questions to get your imagination flowing:

1.  If you ate this, what would happen to you?

2.  Where did this come from?

3.  What will happen to this over the next five minutes?

4.  What would happen if you put this on the barbecue or boiled it, or baked it?

5. In what sort of recipe could you use this?

Now, get writing!


How to Avoid Writer’s Block Advice from someone who has made millions of people laugh.

As a writer for The Simpsons, Joel Cohen has made millions of people all over the world laugh through his writing. He shares a piece of wisdom he has picked up on his creative journey.  It’s definitely worth checking out.



The Luck of the Irish! A St. Patrick's Day Writing Challenge

I’ve never seen a green COW, but that doesn’t mean they don’t celebrate St. Patrick’s Day!  Here’s a writing challenge full of leprechauns, rainbows, pots of gold, and other magical mysteries from the Emerald Isle.

For this writing challenge, copy the St. Patrick’s Day Bonus Word List and assign it to the class.

Have your writers choose one of the following prompts:

1.  The best way to catch a leprechaun is . . .

2.  I finally found the end of the rainbow!  But instead of finding a pot of gold, I found . . .

3.  When I saw the four leaf clover, I picked it, and suddenly . . .

4.  I woke up one morning and noticed that everything in the entire world was green.  I jumped out of bed and  . . .

5.  As a leprechaun, I love to play pranks on humans.  For example, last year, I . . .

6.  The leprechaun granted me three wishes.  My first wish was . . .

7. No prompt.  Just get writing!

Personalized Learning What Do We Really Mean When We Say 'Personalized Learning'?

There’s a lot of talk of late about Personalized Learning. Like many innovations in education, the issues surrounding it are complex.  The article, What Do We Really Mean When We Say ‘Personalized Learing’? explores some of these issues.

A Mystery Visitor This Week's Visual Prompt


Before you write about this week’s visual prompt, think about these questions:

1.  What is this creature called?

2.  Where did it come from?

3.  Why did it suddenly show up in the snow?

4.  What is it made of?

5.  How did you discover it?

6.  What is it going to do next?

7.  Are there more creatures like it?

Now, go ahead and write!



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