Month: January 2016

Down the Drain This Week's COW Writing Challenge



Here is the visual prompt for this week’s COW Writing Challenge, “Down the Drain.”

Our character is about to lower himself through a drain.  Or is it a drain?  Maybe it’s actually a portal to some strange land.

Portals are a common literary device to take characters from one time and place to another.  Authors have used wardrobes, tree houses, and rabbit holes to name just a few.  This writing challenge is an opportunity for your students to explore other portal possibilities.  What potential portals could exist in their classroom?  The school?  The school yard?  Their homes?

After completing this writing challenge, your students may wish to do other free writing sessions in which they use their own invented portals which lead their characters to adventure.

Superpower! This Week's COW Writing Challenge

At one time or another, many of us have wished to have some sort of superpower.  Whether it’s the ability to fly, read minds, bend large steel pipes with our bare hands, or find a word that actually rhymes with orange, the superpower we desire is a telling reflection upon something within ourselves.

In this week’s COW Writing Challenge, we are asking students to imagine what life would be like if they could have any superpower they wished.  Before the writing session, have your students think about the following questions:

1.  What superpower would you like to have?

2.  Why would you want such a superpower?

3.  What good would you do for the world with your superpower?

4.  In what ways, good or bad, might your life change by having this superpower?

5.  Is there a story behind how you gained your superpower?

Choosing a superpower could be the first step to developing a superhero persona.  Students may wish to develop a whole series of stories based upon their own superhero persona, saving the world from a series of dastardly villains.

We wonder . . . will any of your students wish for the superpower of wildly imaginative writing?

Peekaboo! This Week's COW Writing Challenge



This week’s COW Writing Challenge is a visual prompt with the sentence prompt, “Was this a plant or a human?  That’s when I noticed it began to grow and . . .”

This writing challenge offers an example of how engaging the students’ imaginations can cross over into concepts studied in other subject areas.  For example, with this writing challenge, if this human-looking figure emerging from the soil was actually a plant, what would it require to grow and remain alive?

If plants require air, water, correct temperature, and carbon dioxide, what specific conditions would this strange human-like plant need for survival?  Further research into the needs of a variety of plants, such as the Venus flytrap, could provide material for the students as they prepare to write.

After writing their story of the human-like plant, a follow-up activity would be to draw an illustration of what this plant looks like fully grown.  Think of what its leaves and flowers may look like.  Also, it’s important to give this new plant a name.

We hope this writing challenge will help your students to grow as writers as they write about the growth of this unusual plant.

Predictions for a New Year This Week's COW Writing Challenge

Every January, predictions are made for what we might expect in the year ahead.  Many of these predictions amount to rampant speculation.  In this week’s COW Writing Challenge, students are given free reign to look at the year ahead and make their own bold predictions for 2016.

Some may wish to play it safe, predicting that June will be followed by July.  While others may wish to peer deeply into their crystal ball and make predictions that verge on the outrageous.  If your students are wondering about what sort of predictions to make, they may want to think about making predictions on:

1.  something unexpected that happens during the Super Bowl.

2.  a surprise winner at the Academy Awards.

3.  a person who becomes famous in an unexpected way.

4.  strange weather patterns.

5.  something that visits Earth from outer space.

6.  a new musical sensation.

7.  a great scientific discovery.

8.  a new invention that will change the world.

We also predict that your students should have a thought-provoking and entertaining time making their outlandish predictions for the year 2016!

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