writing prompt

“Let’s Talk”: Building a Bridge Between Home and School

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Author: Catherine Humphrey

Summary: How do we create opportunities for both our students and their parents to be involved in assignments that generate a sense that the writing being done is “real”? The author of this piece provides a window into an initial essay assignment that prompted her high school students and their parents to talk together prior to taking a position on an education-related op ed piece. She also offers tips for generating and sustaining quality verbal interactions. Many examples of reflections from parents and students reveal both positive responses and challenging situations that could spark lively conversations in study groups, school/community professional conversations focused on parent engagement in writing, or in individual classrooms with students.

Puny Poetry Meets Its Match

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Author: Gerri Ruckle & Jim Horrell

Summary: What can we do when confronted with the challenge of helping young poets develop an awareness of the expressive power of poetry as opposed to rhyming lines that that often convey little meaning? By sharing a series of scaffolded strategies illustrated with multiple examples of student writing, the authors tell the story of how they changed their teaching and supported students in exploring poetry and creating sophisticated works of self-expression. This resource offers excellent ideas for professional development related to teaching poetry within a reading/writing workshop approach.

Helping Teacher-Writers Begin to Write

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Author: Troy Hicks, Anne Elrod Whitney, James Fredricksen, and Leah Zuidema

Summary: How can we best support our own and our colleagues as teacher-writers? In this chapter from Coaching Teacher-Writers: Practical Steps to Nurture Professional Writing, planners and leaders will find constructive strategies to motivate teacher-writers to begin, sustain, and complete professional writing. A valuable resource for facilitators, the chapter offers, “descriptions of key practices…developed over years of coaching, teaching, and collaborating with K12 teachers who write about classroom instruction, teacher research, or advocacy for better policy and pedagogy.”

Why I Write: Scientist Timothy Ferris on Writing to Learn

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Author: Timothy Ferris

Summary: Ferris explains that he writes as a way to learn science and describes the vital role that science has played in changing the world for the better. He discusses how writing for general audiences can help scientists to “clarify their own thinking, by obliging them to put specialized ideas into wider contexts and to express them simply.” This short piece could be motivating for science students and teachers to read aloud and discuss before prompting them to write their own ‘why I write’ narratives.

Expressive Writing in the Science Classroom

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Author: John Dorroh

Summary: In this account of expressive writing in the science classroom, teacher John Dorroh introduces writing to build students’ curiosity, inviting them to wonder, to ask questions, and to imagine. In the process Dorroh wrestles with the issue of assessment and also demonstrates the importance of teacher-as-writer as he writes along with his students.

Getting Inside Inquiry: Teachers’ Questions Transform Their Practice

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Summary: Useful for teams interested in planning teacher inquiry programs, this resource tells the story of a collaborative inquiry project carried out among teachers from writing project sites in Oklahoma and Nevada that not only transformed their individual teaching practices but also supported them to start teacher inquiry communities at their sites. This resource includes links to readings on inquiry, a PDF of a teacher inquiry-focused institute, and a great writing exercise (“The Stuck Place”) designed to help teachers begin to develop practice-based research questions.

Getting Real: Authenticity in Writing Prompts

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Author: Patricia Slagle

Summary: Are you excited about the idea of giving your students an authentic audience for their writing? If so, you will find this description of authentic writing prompts in a high school class a valuable resource. While the strategies and examples are drawn directly from a high school classroom, the approach to sharing the students’ writings with the intended audience, as well as the discussion about what happens when the intended audience does or does not respond, is applicable across all grade levels.

The Family Writing Project: No More Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

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Author: Arthur Kelly

Summary: Describing the family writing project that he developed and led, Arthur Kelly explains that such programs offer families the rare opportunity to come together and create a community of writers: “As in National Writing Project summer institutes, participants in family writing projects discuss ideas and issues that are important to them. They work together on activities, write extensively, and respond to each other’s work.” Useful for teachers exploring program models to support community literacy, this article includes several writing prompts that work in family writing contexts as well as a rationale for why family writing programs build community and honor writing as they honor writers’ lives.

Tapping the Potential: Building Teacher Leadership While Rethinking Your Site

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Author: Ellen Brinkley and Anne-Marie Hall

Summary: Considering a leadership retreat? This article frames the experience of two site directors who used an NWP directors’ retreat as an opportunity to explore ways to invite new teacher leadership for the site. As they addressed site leader strengths, roles, and burnout, they used several writing and thinking exercises to focus on specific talents and interests in site leadership, then looked at teacher leaders who could be invited in and whose work could build capacity for the future.

C3WP: Teaching On-Demand Argument Writing

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Summary: This online learning experience from the College, Career, and Community Writers Program (C3WP) supports on-demand writing. A PowerPoint with a slide-by-slide voiceover, it takes you through a step-by-step approach to teaching on-demand arguments of policy. It uses a two-day reading and writing task as a teaching prompt and another reading-based prompt as the task students complete on-demand. The PowerPoint, once downloaded, is editable. This resource could provide a digital writing experience for teacher groups to explore their own on-demand argument writing skill, or it could be used as a model so teachers can form their own on-demand readings and prompts.