Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Switch It Up! A Creative Writing Idea


Hey y'all! It's Heather from 2 Brainy Apples, and I am so excited to be posting today! This year I am teaching 6th grade ELA. If you teach writing, then you know how in depth those writing standards are. Narrative, expository, argumentative…while there are only 3 genres, they do have a TON of elements that fall under them. I have found that in order to ensure my students are proficient in writing these genres, we have to spend a LOT of time on them. Between these writing genres and the grammar, that doesn't leave a lot of time for my favorite part of writing: creative writing. Yes, you could say that narrative writing could be considered creative writing to a degree. And my students do free writing often, but I still don't really consider this creative writing. I want my students to have fun writing, and I also want them to stretch their imaginations.

One day before Christmas break, I was trying to figure out what to have my students do that day in class. We were close to the break, so their minds were beginning to drift. I knew that a strictly academic lesson wasn't going to sink into their brains. I did want them to write, but I didn't think free writing was going to keep their attention either. I don't know how this idea jumped into my mind, but once it hit me, I was like, "YES!" This is a NO PREP, easy to implement at the last minute, engaging writing activity that my boys and girls loved!

This girl used such great language in her writing based off this Switch It Up drawing.

Switch It Up

When my students walked into class, I had them immediately begin drawing on a piece of blank paper. They were really excited to draw, so they were immediately engaged. I told them to just draw outlines and not color anything in. I didn't tell them that they had about 5 minutes to work on their masterpiece. After 5 minutes, I told them to stop and find a friend to swap with. They looked at me like I was crazy. Some even protested. Who would have thought they would have become so attached to their drawings? Once everyone had swapped, I told them to start drawing again. They had to figure out how to continue the drawing in front of them. Some of them continued the picture as how the original drawer probably would have continued it. Others really changed the drawing. I could tell their creative juices were starting to flow!

After about 5 more minutes, I told them to swap again and to continue drawing. At the end of that 5 minutes, I told them to swap for a final time. This time I didn't have them continue the drawing. Instead I told them they needed to write a narrative about the drawing they had. They needed to use the drawing as an inspiration for their narrative. Almost ALL of them dove in head first! I had never seen them so excited to write! My class was writing for the next 40 minutes. I didn't have to redirect any of them. They were so engaged! They were writing such in depth narratives, when the bell rang, they begged to take them home to finish them.
This one was my favorite! Poor bearded princess!
This drawing is definitely a little strange, but they had fun with it, and the story is really creative!

While I won't be able to do this again with the surprise element, I will definitely do this again with my students for that day where they are checked out, and I know nothing will sink into their brains :)

Heather
**Please excuse any typos as I don't have the super power of being perfect :)