Initially, COW was designed to promote free writing– the unstructured, spontaneous approach to writing which builds stamina and fluency in students. However, COW need not be limited to this aspect of writing instructions.
COW can also be used in structured writing activities. Instructing students to use “Chapters” as separate paragraphs, students can create structured longer pieces of writing within COW. In each chapter, they address a specific aspect of the topic.
Here are a couple of examples:
Invent An Alien
Chapter 1 – Describe what your alien looks like.
Chapter 2 – What does your alien eat?
Chapter 3 – Where does your alien live?
Chapter 4 – What does your alien do for fun?
Chapter 5 – Describe day in the life of your alien.
Why did the Chicken Cross the Road?
Chapter 1 – Who is the chicken? Name, occupation, description?
Chapter 2 – The chicken approaches the road, but something prevents it from crossing – What is the obstacle?
Chapter 3 – Conclusion – How did the chicken get around the obstacle? Did the chicken make it to the other side?
Within these structures, students still have the opportunity to use their individual creativity while developing the skills of structured writing.