This week’s Alieo Writing Challenge, My Unusual School Year, asks students to imagine a school year with a difference.  There’s an old writing adage that states, “Write what you know.”  Using the setting of a school and the timeframe of a school year will enable students to take what they know, and launch into a piece of writing from this familiar ground.

When setting a writing assignment, it’s important to consider where the young writers are coming from.  Choosing familiar settings and circumstances allows them to draw more extensively upon person experience.

In developing their own writing challenges, teachers can create a writing assignment tailored to the specific background experiences of the students. Here are just a few suggestions for teacher-created writing challenges that tap into the students’ own experiences:

  1. After a field trip, create a bonus word list that relates to the activities and location of the field trip.  For example, think of the amazing stories that could come out of a visit to a science centre.
  2. After a special assembly at the school (with musicians, an author, or a guest speaker) create a writing challenge that draws upon various aspects of the presentation.
  3. If your school has a special day (sports day, a bake sale, a fundraiser, or any other special event), develop a prompt and bonus word list that relates to the special event.  (One of our teachers last year included the school mascot in a bonus word list!)

The possibilities of creating writing challenges for students drawn from their immediate experiences are endless.  When students are able to write what they know, the act of writing becomes an exciting adventure into drawing ideas from their own lives.