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Just a picture

March 7, 2013

Have you tried giving your students a photograph as a prompt for a writing assignment? How about giving them a photo and telling them they have the freedom to write in any style they choose? John Spencer at Education Rethink does exactly this with his students and gets many creative assignments in response-poems, short stories, graphic novels, and even podcast outlines. This is a great way to let students have a bit of choice within a lesson. It also allows them to show off their strengths and preferred writing styles.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. March 8, 2013 9:08 am

    Love the idea of allowing students to respond in writing in forms that are personally meaningful to them. This is a great way to help students see the lifelong benefit of leisure writing. I think in my adult life I’ve had to use so many prescribed styles of writing (business letters, lesson plans, college papers) that my artistic side of writing has decayed badly.

    I use pictures extensively with students as writing prompts, but I don’t do as Chris suggested and offer just one picture. Some kids are incredibly concrete and need to be able to relive something they have experienced in life, so a photo from a class field trip might be their choice. Others love to unleash their creativity and might choose a Chris Van Allsburg illustration as a prompt (ie: Mysteries of Harris Burdick).

    One of the beauties of pictures for kids who are non-verbal or those who need a great deal of scaffolding before they can begin writing is that pictures give a common, concrete focus for discussion. Talking about pictures with kids lets them form their ideas first or perhaps locate vocabulary on a voice output device before launching into the writing. It’s far less stressful to write when you aren’t starting from a void!

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