Writing to a Prompt

I really like this post from Two Writing Teachers about Writing to a Prompt.  As we continue our discussions about what the workshop format looks likes, we often communicate that students should not be writing to a prompt because it is teacher-driven and, therefore, compromises the authenticity of the writing and element of student choice.  While this can be true, the reality remains that this type of writing is the expectation in testing situations so students need instruction and application opportunities with it.  This blog post gives some great practical advice on how to implement the teaching and application of prompt writing into our daily workshop.

Additionally, we can make this writing style more authentic if we are intentional in the content of the prompt.  I have provided two links to resources below that provide engaging prompt opportunities for kids.

1) Do your kids love to argue?  Try some of these argumentative writing prompts from the NY Times: http://mobile.nytimes.com/blogs/learning/2015/02/05/301-prompts-for-argumentative-writing/?referrer

2)  Do you want to show kids how their writing can build from their initial response?  Use this resource to not only find good prompts, but it also provides varying levels of student work that you can use as mentor texts to show kids.  This gives them opportunity to have students identify how the piece grew stronger with each increased score.  This is a resource that helps give students that explicit anchor to name what an author is doing and think about how to apply those same skills to their own writing.


#SOL15- Day 5 of 31

Slice of Life image




Running is a passion,

But am I running to or from?

Most times I am not sure.

I suppose it’s actually both at the same time.

To work and from the annoying drivers-

To my to-do list and from the stress-

To soulful music and from my own rambling thoughts-

To lunch and from work-

Breathe, breathe, catch your breath.


To work and from the world.

At my desk they are there and I am here.

Separated by a window, but united in humanity.


To the gym, to home, to my heart.

Sweat dripping from my nose, heart pounding on the breeze,

The race is almost done.

Through the front door I run-

my family, my world.

Breathe, breathe, catch your breath.

The race is finished,

and I fall blissfully exhausted into bed.

#SOL15- Day 4 of 31

Slice of Life image

I am about finding my place and making an impact.

I am about making waves, hoping to see its ripple effect in time.

Even though I am a creature of habit, I’m about making a change;

because you don’t have to look too far to see that we need it.

I am about challenging you in hopes of pushing you beyond your comfortable boundaries,

making you see yourself for more than you ever thought you could be.

Yes, I am about many things and each has their place where I hope to make a mark,

and leave a lasting, positive affect.

I am about my family; they are my home,

nestled deeply within my heart, their very thread is my bones.

Providing and receiving unwavering support,

the true definition of unconditional love.

I am about being the best mommy I can be to Lillian,  since I’m her only one.

I am about being the best wife I can be to Kyle, because he’s my only one.

I am about being the best woman I can possibly be,

I never want to let my family down.

I am about my friends; they are my cup of coffee on the back porch.

Hours of pointless and not-so-pointless conversation,

Smiles, laughter, tears, screams, shouts of joy, disgruntled complaining,

They all define a moment,

A moment where we need to be lifted up,

A moment that need recognition,

A moment that didn’t seem special at all,

until you shared it with a friend.

I am about being the best friend that I can be.

I never want to let them down.

I am about my community; it is my running path through the park,

The Missouri River gleams its sparkling eye in my direction

and I am inspired by the nature around me.

I am equally, if not more so, inspired by the people.

What is their story?  What are their ties to my school, my church, my neighborhood?

It’s evident those connections exist, or else we would not be in this place at the same moment.

If only we had more time to inquire and know them.

I am a voter, a volunteer, a public servant, a teacher.

I want to give back to my community for giving me a place to belong.

That comfort alone allows me to find success in my day-to-day life.

I am about my Tigers; they are shade between the columns on The Quad,

where I sat with friends to study,

but all we did was converse,

sometimes through dialogue, but often through silence.

They are football Saturdays at Farout Field.

They are the Alpha Chi Omega house on Richmond Street.

They are 10 roommates at 1603 University Place.

It is my education, lasting friendships and life memories.

It is my beloved Mizzou.

I have found my place in many aspects of my life,

And like to think I’ve left my mark in each of them.

I’m still looking for my place in may aspects of my life,

and I’m enjoying the view.

Places.  Yes, places.  That’s where the good stuff happens.

#SOL15- Day 3 of 31

Slice of Life image

Greetings from a first time slicer.  As is typical of my life since becoming a mother 6 months ago, I’m three days late to the party.   Please accept my apologies and know my heartfelt gratitude towards still be welcomed at the table.

My writing journey has taken me many places with its lulls and peaks like any other aspect of our lives.  It was not until about six years ago when I got involved in my local community’s Writing Project site that I truly understood the energy and magnitude that comes with being a part of a larger writing community.  Since then its power has gripped me in such a way that I will never be released (nor do I want to be).

Part of this journey has taught me that there is no cheaper nor non-judgmental therapy than a blank piece of paper and pencil.  On the page sits only my voice.  Bare and raw and ugly and eloquent and exposed and free and mine.  And that–right there–that’s the power.

I have not always realized this.  In fact, it was not until my adult life that I thought of writing as my voice.  This statement is sad, but true.  Up until then my only goal with writing was to get my papers back with as little red ink back on them as possible.  It was not until I was a teacher of writing that I knew I had to make writing so much more for my students.  See by this point the fire had been ignited within me and the 28 sets of eyes that stared at me each day were at risk of losing it all, and they had very little to lose to begin with.  It was then that I realized writing was, or at least had the potential to be, their ticket.  Sure, it may be a bit idealistic but these kids had voices that were silenced on a daily basis.  And they had things to say.   Important things.   Real things.  Intelligent things.   Insightful things.  Pointless things.  But things.  Things that if nothing else let them be heard and validated for the first time in their life.

It was then that my teaching did a 180.  No longer was writing about filling in lines to fulfill the requirements of a five-paragraph essay.  No, it just couldn’t be about that anymore.  Not if writing was to be their ticket.   And so our focus became what do you need to say and who needs to hear it?  Tell them those things.  Get them out.  They are worth hearing.  They are a part of you, and you matter.  What you have to say matters.  Speak, and speak loud.  The world is listening.

Text Website: www.commonlit.org

If you find yourself continually looking for mentor texts to use in the classroom this site is perfect for you!  It offers short passages, poems, historical documents, articles, etc. for classroom use.  You search by theme and then can choose texts from there based on reading level.  These texts are provided for teachers, by teachers. So, if you have some great texts to share as well, feel free to submit those to be uploaded.



March Newsletter

I got to enjoy some great learning from Debbie Miller and Penny Kittle last week.  Talk about getting re-energized!  Those ladies know what they’re doing and how to their audience engaged.  So inspired and so excited to share some of their ideas with you in this month’s newsletter!