Friday, November 6, 2015

Making Writing Fun Again

I've learned something in the last few years of teaching Creative Writing. High school students don't think writing is fun. According to their writing autobiographies, writing in school is dull and lifeless and done only according to teacher directions. No voice. No choice. No fun.

Sometimes, I forget that too.

This week was conference week and a great time to remind us all that writing is fun, creative and doable. These activities I used with my juniors and seniors and also with my eighth graders, who will also be writing fiction stories.  I have to say, the eighth graders are waaayyyy more excited about writing stories than the high schoolers are.

Monday we all wrote from picture prompts. I've been pinning these great pictures for awhile now and have used them in class several times. Kids get done with this assignment and always say, "That was fun."  The premise is simple. Students work in groups of three. They are given a picture with these directions:

WRITER #1: Tell the story about what was happening when this picture was taken
WRITER #2: Add to the first writer's story. 
WRITER #3: Share your thoughts or the life lesson. 
WRITER #1: Read the story. Edit and revise it for clarity. Give it a title. 
The idea and the questions aren't mine (as soon as I find the originator again, I'll be sure to credit!)

I give each writer three minutes and then they pass. When we've gone through the directions, it's time to share. And guess what? My high schoolers stand up in front of the class and read their writing! That's HUGE in my room.  So did my eighth graders, but it's not quite as big a deal with them :)

On Tuesday, my Creative Writing students wrote pass around stories in groups of five to seven (8th graders did this Wednesday). I gave them a story starter prompt (again, found some online), a sheet of paper and a clipboard.  Each student wrote one sentence and then kept passing the clipboard around for fifteen or twenty minutes. The eighth graders were so excited about these that one group acted theirs out!

Thursday was our last day of the week and my high school kids needed the period to share their digital storytelling projects with me, but the eighth graders wrote partner stories with Story Cubes. There are lots of ways to use Story Cubes, but I just rolled the dice and asked kids to write a story, trying to use all the images on the dice. The way this activity went, I'm pretty sure they will beg to finish them on Monday.

This all seems so simple as I write it that I'm not sure I should even share this post. But it's such a celebration of writing fun in a high school writing class that I just had to. If you had been there and seen the smiles, heard the laughter, you'd be celebrating too! 


  1. Bringing back the JOY and FUN to writing...what's more important than that?!?! LOVE this!!!

  2. Love hearing stories of teachers who are so responsive to their students.

  3. What fun writing ideas! You reminded me that I have some of those story cubes that I need to break out of storage. Have a great week!

  4. I know that some people don't like prompts, but they are such inspiration to get people (students) going, Deb. It seems that the students did "have fun" writing!

  5. Finding activities to excite writing is anything but simple. Thanks for sharing. I think I need a set of those Story Cubes! My students would love it. I also think they'd enjoy passing a story around. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Just bought story cubes at my school's book fair!! Reading your post reminded me to add it to a lesson SOON. Writing is hard but you named many fun ways to make it more doable! Thanks for sharing.

  7. Love reading about your writing experiences this week. It's always fun to hear how things are going in someone else's room and doubly so when it creates smiles and laughter in a high school classroom.

  8. I love how you've kept writing fun.