“The road to hell is paved with adverbs.”
– Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
I have tweeted a few times recently about doing an activity with students called quick writing. In this activity, students are told that they will have fifteen minutes to compose any text type they like; poem, recount, description, short story, introduction to a longer story etc., using the supplied image as the writing prompt. I have presented this task to students across years three to six thus far, and all students have enjoyed it, and engaged with it honestly and wholeheartedly.
I have been doing a fairly simple Google Image search, using writing stimulus year x, where x represents the year group of the students. The activity’s primary purpose is to stimulate creativity and encourage students to use their imagination, and students have, on the whole, engaged with the task at higher rates than I thought I would, and created, without prompting from myself, a silent classroom filled with the sound of pens scratching across the paper and the hum of the computer projector.
The other way that I have been utilising this task is to provide students with an opportunity to practice typing, by using either the school bank of laptops or their own tablet, and, again, all students have engaged honestly. I was concerned that students would spend time playing around with font types / colours / sizes but that proved to be unfounded as students dived right into the task.
I have included below two samples of the writing that have been composed in this fashion, both from year six students. Students have given their permission to put the writing online, and I would ask that, while reading these texts, that you remember that these are off-the-cuff compositions that have not been edited or proof-read at all.
Zmaya and Callum created the following compositions using this writing prompt.
The House by Zmaya
It all started the day I went home
When I saw a huge dome
I loved the look
so I went and took
The thing that it belonged
I was wrong
To do what I did
Now my house flew to a bridge
Then to a rock were I now live
I have a boat to go to school
I live near an island
I live on an island
In my house
I have a pet mouse
I love the view my sky high
I love my house you should to
Random Story by Callum
My mum bought a new house on the weekend and I went to have a look but I couldn’t get in because it was on top of a little island than I saw a person in a little dark door way at the bottom of the mountain and there was a ladder on the bottom tide to a boat. They started waiving and it was my mum.
When she stopped waiving someone puled inside she started screaming so I was stupid enough to jump out of the boat and swim to her safety but I was to slow she was gone in a flash I was scared but l had to be brave to run after her. I herd her screaming but could not keep up with her.
Suddenly I has getting pulled back by something and I yelled whos there [time ran out here].
The other technique I have heard of being used is to provide a range of images and allow students to select three or four images to use to link together as part of their story. I would very much like to hear from anyone who has used this method, and hear how you have found it as a literacy tool.