Tag Archives: Teacher Tuesday

Teacher Tuesday: A Resource and Prompts

“Imagination grows by exercise, and contrary to common belief, is more powerful in the mature than in the young.”

Paul McCartney, Singer/Songwriter

I like this theory! Though, I’ll be the first to speak up on behalf of the “mature” sector of us, sometimes our imaginations need a little lift.

As a recommendation from a particular post on Teaching Authors blog, I ordered a book from my local indie shop: Unjournaling by Dawn DiPrince and Cheryl Miller Thurston (Cottonwood Press, Inc.) I thought it was a book of ideas for journal writing: thought-provoking questions to help a writer dive deep beneath the surface and pour out one’s soul.

I was pleasantly surprised! Not at all the soul-searching material I expected, but 200 writing prompts to flex the creative muscles, tickle the funny bone and awaken the mind. Each prompt is unique in the exercise and the lesson it provides.

Ever struggle to explain the “show, don’t tell” concept of writing? Here are some examples from this fabulous book:

“40.  Chris walks into a room. By describing only the reactions of  the others in the room, let us know something about him.”

“135.  In one sentence, describe something (not someone) that is very ugly. Create a vividly ugly image, with words.”


Here are a few prompts for the love of words and creative thinking/problem solving:

“39.  Write three different sentences, each using the word “crumpled.” Create an entirely different image with each sentence.”

“36.  Some people can’t smell. In one paragraph, make them understand “skunk.”

“70.  List ten words that use ph to make an f sound (Example: phrase.) Then use all ten words in a paragraph.”

“75.  Most people believe vomit is an ugly word. Write a paragraph that incorporates at least 10 words you believe are ugly.”


And some prompts are just silly:

“101. Unbeknownst to most people, the chicken had lots of reasons to cross the road. What were at least five of them?”

“103.  You know what an orfinbellydorper is. Mot people don’t. Explain to them what to do with one.”


I can’t wait to use some of these prompts at my next young writers group!

What books help you inspire creative writing in your class? Has anyone used A Writer’s Notebook: Unlocking the Writer Within You, by Ralph Fletcher?  I’m thinking of purchasing them in bulk for my Summer Writing Studio in August. Any reviews you can offer?

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Filed under Advice, books, teaching, Writing prompts, Young Adults

Teacher Tuesday: Showing Young Writers a Whole New World

Showing Young Writers a Whole New World

Guest Post by: Alexis Montgomery

As a teacher, you endeavor to come up with new and creative ways to inspire your students in their writing.  But over time, you may hit a road block as you reach the limits of your own creativity.  After all, you spend a lot of time not only expanding young minds in the classroom, but also engaged in lesson planning and grading papers after hours.  You take on a lot more than just the standard school day, and it can be difficult to keep your projects up to par with the constant turnover of information that your students have become accustomed to these days.  So how do you continue to inspire them in their own creative writing when you may feel like they’re light years ahead of you?

If you are a writer yourself, you may already have some helpful resources at your disposal, such as volumes of creative writing prompts.  Although these are often for mature writers, there’s no reason they can’t be tailored to your students.  If you’ve been through all your own materials, look to the internet.  There are dozens of sites that offer similar fare for writers who need a little help (there are even some made by, and for, teachers).  But writers can be an insular lot.  If you want to get your students thinking outside the box, you’re going to need to dip into other forms of media as well.

Try a project on social consciousness.  Have your students watch a news program or pick up a paper and write a story from the point of view of someone involved in one of the articles.  Or you can choose a few news items yourself. 

You can also look to the music industry.  Have each student write down the lyrics to their favorite song and then write a story based on them.  Or have them write a song in a certain style (blues songs always tell a sad story).  You could also pick out a song and a poem and have your students compare and contrast the two.

Even movies offer different styles of story-telling, so bring in a few to demonstrate how a storyline can be broken up in different ways (flashbacks, flash-forwards, multiple storylines overlapping, etc.).  You can even use websites like YouTube to come up with fascinating new ideas (how does that cat play the piano? Have each student write a short story or poem about the talented Mr. Kitty).  Most forms of media will offer distinctive styles that can make your students approach writing from a different angle, so use them as a teaching tool.

It’s all too easy to fall back on the same projects you used last year, and the year before, but you would be doing your students (and yourself) a disservice.  Keeping abreast of new media is a way for you to connect with your students on their level (they’re sure to be impressed if you’ve heard the latest Lady Gaga album) and really get them to explore the world that they’re already immersed in.  And finding new avenues of creativity for your students will also serve to keep you excited about what you’re doing, which your students are sure to notice, and appreciate.

Alexis Montgomery is a content writer for Online Universities, where you can browse through various online degree programs to find a college that suits your needs.

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Filed under Advice, teaching, Writing prompts, Young Adults