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fifth grade teacher NC

Reminded me of my youth

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Loved this article. You listed some of my favorite cartoons growing up. I agree students have a better understanding of fiction material. I often relate fiction to non fiction during instruction to help my students. More imagination is important to student development. By building on imgination students are developing experinces to build connections or refernecs for learnign other concepts.

Reading Tutor

Do whatever works!

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I absolutely loved this blog. You write wonderful stuff! I totally agree with you about harnessing, molding and engaging a child's imagination. One really notices how vital this is when working with Autistic students. Sometimes a teacher has very little choice in what the child writes about. To make the process meaningful and productive,writing revolves around what they like, and sometimes it is the same subject every time, i.e. dinosaurs, trains, etc. The way I look at it is if this works, do it. The assignment is complete; the child is happy; and the teacher is relieved and able to see progress if he/she gives the right cues to accompany the writing assignment. One can accomplish this if patient and creative. I tried it the other way, and got nothing but frustration. Thanks for giving a "thumbs up" to this. I feel inspired and excited by what you have written. Good advice for all areas of education to follow.

4th grade teacher

I agree that there seems to

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I agree that there seems to be a lacking in the creative writing students are doing these days. I am always amazed when I have students who come into my classroom who do not see to have this imaginitive skill. I can remember in past years, when I have given my students a creative writing topic/focus (i.e. Write a story from the perspective of a vegetable about to be put in vegetable soup. It's your last day alive...what are you going to do?) they struggle with it way more than I think they should. I wonder if this is rooted in a lack of experience using this skill or a lack of time spent using one's imagination (in a world where it seems more and more kids are just being given what they want, including the answers). I think it's a bit of both. I know several of my collegues who do not like to do creative writing with their students because their stories are "painful to read." Sure, it is much easier to grade a prompt paper with specific rubric guidelines, but I agree wholeheartedly that students need to be encouraged and to be doing more creative writing.

Elementary School Teacher - 4th Grade

Wow, I am so glad I stopped

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Wow, I am so glad I stopped to read this posting. I teach 4th grade and telling the students to "write about what you know", goes over about as much as "take out the trash"! I have found that providing several writing prompts for the student's to use helps them to get started. Granted it's not totally creative, but it seems to work for me. I'm not talking about the old tired, "what did you do this summer?" routine. One that really sparked with the student's this last year was: "We were sitting in class and wondering where Mr. E was? Then suddenly we hear this LOUD bang outside the door, I jumped up from my desk and ran to the door, just as I opened the door falling from the sky....". I usually do 4 prompts 3 outlandish and one ho-hum for the student who just can't wrap their mind around the other 3. By the end of the year, I get no responses written on the ho-hum prompt!

Fifth grade language arts and social studies teacher

I love that you create a

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I love that you create a space for your students to be themselves and to write about what interests them. I work in a district with a scripted reading and writing program. I see how it crushes the imagination of the students. By the time my students get to me in 5th grade and I tell them to “write what they know”, I get blank stares. “What do you mean write what we know? Will you just tell us what to write?” At the beginning of the year, even when given a prompt to assist in creative thinking, my students struggle to use their imaginations. My class is often a huge shift in thinking for them, but by the end of the year many of my students are reading more and enjoying writing in a way they never thought they would. Your article is encouraging as I continue my quest in changing how my students view reading and writing.

Teacher, Author, Guitar––Word.

Good Talk Here

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Thanks for all of the wonderful comments.

I totally agree that reading teaches the writer how to write. A book is the best teacher out there. Unfortunately, as a child, I didn't read much and didn't want to read. I think it was because I wasn't exposed to books that peaked my interest. When I became a teacher my reading increased and my writing changed we well. The book that totally changed my writing style was Stephen King's On Writing, my first King book. I went on to read many more of his books. The Shining totally rocked my world and Misery showcased the brain of the working writer, love that one too.

Prompts have their place. I only use writing prompts when I'm teaching the genre of "State Test" writing. Prompts are an exercise, practice, a challenge. It's not real writing. Real writing needs real time to draft and even more time to revise. My students do well with prompts because I foster creativity. They don't get stuck because they can weave a story around the tiniest bit of info or a picture. Why? Creative thinking and writing.

"There are only two ways to learn to write that I am aware of, no shortcuts––to read a lot and write a lot."

Stephen King

Retired teacher and administrator

It's great that so many

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It's great that so many teachers are trying creative writing with their students. But prompts or requests to imagine something won't do the job. Children have to read a lot to become familiar enough with various literary forms to use them in their writing.

5th grade teacher from St. Petersburg, Florida

I love that you are

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I love that you are advocating for more imagination in writing. Even when given a prom,pt, it limits student on what they can write. In my 5th grade class the students write in a daily journal about anything they want. Every 3-4 weeks they take a journal entry and turn it into a fictional story. Sometimes it's great, sometimes not so much. But I rarely have a student who doesn't want to do this kind of assignment. Letting students be creative leads to more interest in school in general, I believe. Wonderful blog!

1st grade teacher from Jacksonville, Fl

Loved this article! I often

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Loved this article! I often give my students "free write" time, but the majority end up stumped about what to write about. I try to help encourage their imaginations by giving them writing prompts (like imagine you came to school and all your classmates were replaced by aliens. What would happen?) but it's like pulling teeth to get them to think. I believe they're just so in the routine of seeing and describing normal everyday occurrences and are discouraged from using their imagination. Couple that with the fact that so many that aren't exposed to fictional stories and there's a problem. Now I know they see fiction on television, but most of my students don't understand that THEY can write similar stories!

former teacher and homeschooling parent

Loved this

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Loved this article--especially that first paragraph! I'm a former elementary teacher and a longtime homeschooling parent. I give workshops and blog for homeschooling parents about writing, and this is precisely what I preach. Homeschoolers are lucky to have the freedom to encourage this sort of writing, but many are stuck in the writing education of their childhoods and just don't consider it. I always tell them to pay attention to the sort of books their kids like to read or have read to them, and start there when looking for writing inspiration.

People don't seem to realize that this sort of writing can prepare kids to write compelling essays and such when they're older. Once they get how "story" works, they can apply it to all sorts of writing. The best kid story-writers will write the best college application essays, I guarantee it!

P.S. As I write this at 4:00, my nine-year-old is in the backyard battling invisible creatures with an invisible sword. Guess some things never change.

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