I have to give credit to one of my fellow teachers (Ms.
Vucin) for this idea. She uses this as an "I'm done!
What now?" activity, but you can use it for a writing
idea as well. It's a great way to promote creativity!
white piece of paper and draw a large squiggle on it.
Photo copy it, and place it out for the kids to use.
They twist and turn it anyway they need to, to visualize
what that squiggle can become. It can become a snake or
part of a river, or an alien- they need to be creative.
Then, they write a story to go along with their picture!
didn't realize how good this activity was until I
actually did it with my kids. Their ending products were
so creative, I couldn't have imagined some of the things
they came up with! They were also very motivated to
write the stories since they had come up with such an
imaginative picture to start their project!
Coded Editing Checklist
I'm sure that every teacher has their version of a
"Writers Checklist". And I'm sure that every teacher has
students who "say" that they've checked everything over
using the checklist, yet there are a million silly
mistakes that say otherwise. Am I right? Well, my
checklist may solve this problem! Each category in my
checklist has been assigned a color. (Capitalization is
orange, punctuation is blue, etc...) Not only do
students need to check their list off as they proofread
their work, but they also must underline (in the
assigned color) at least three examples of when they've
either made corrections in that category, or when
they've shown usage of those writing rules correctly.
So, if they see a word that needs to be capitalized,
they'll correct it, and then underline it in orange. And
if they see that they're missing a period, they'll add
it, and then underline it in blue. This way, I can SEE
that they understand each category concept, and it
forces them to really take the time to use their
these lists laminated in the beginning of the year
(Office Max has free laminating in August for
teachers!!!) and then punch three holes in the side, so
that these checklists can be kept in their binders all
year long. Laminating them allows for them to use expo
markers to actually check it off, and then erase it when
they're finished, so it lasts for the whole school year!
Download a copy of my editing checklist
Randomly, I will give my students a "Gift of Writing"
which is a little educational and motivational quote
that they can place into their Life Books. I have them
write a paragraph analyzing the quote and what it means
to them, and then we share our responses. Some teachers
give a Gift of Writing after students finish a long-term
writing assignment. I found a terrific website that has
mini-posters with motivational quotes written on them.
What I do is, I copy the poster and shrink it to a 3x5
size in a Word document, and then make enough for
everyone. It's nice for the kids b/c there is a picture
that goes along with the words and we all know how much
kids like pictures! Click below to see the site I use.
Gift of Writing- Free Educational Posters
Nelson is Missing Writing Unit
I start out the school year as many teachers do, reading
the book Ms. Nelson is Missing. This is how I
start my writing unit of the school year, by giving my
students a variety of writing genres all based on this
book. Often times, I don't have time to get into all of
these writings that I will list below, and you can pick
and choose what is right for your students as well.
Students will write their personal account of either a
nice teacher they had, a mean teacher they had, or an
experience with a substitute teacher, either good or
Have your students describe both Ms. Nelson and Ms.
Swamp as descriptively as they can, even using a
thesaurus to teach them the most colorful words they can
find. Then, have them write two paragraphs for each
character in the story; the first paragraph being only
physical description, and the second paragraph being
Using the descriptive brainstorm that they just created
in the last lesson, students will fill out a Venn
Diagram, comparing Ms. Nelson to Ms. Swamp. Then, they
will write two paragraphs. The first, being how the two
characters are similar, and the second being how they
Persuasive: "Come back Ms. Nelson!"
Students will write a persuasive letter to Ms. Swamp,
begging her to come back!
"Mean teachers get more teaching done than nice
teachers." Agree or disagree?
Poetry: "Ode to Ms. Nelson"
"The students in Ms. Nelson's class didn't realize how
nice it is to have a teacher like Ms. Nelson until she
is gone and replaced by Viola Swamp. Think of a time
that you didn't realize how good something or someone
was until it was gone." Jot down some notes, and then
write an "ode" to pay tribute to that someone or
something you wish you had appreciated while you still
could. Your poem can rhyme or not. Often odes are very
dramatic, full of phrases like "Oh, wonderful Ms.
Nelson!" Give a dramatic reading of your odes in front
of the class.
Expository: "How to be a good student"
Expository writings explain things step by step. Explain
"How to be a good student", and give the steps a person
should take in order to make that happen.
Creative: "Becoming Your Opposite"
In the book, Ms. Nelson is Missing, a teacher
must become a person very different from herself in
order to get her class' attention. Create a character
that is the opposite (or very different) from the real
you. Make a list of your personality traits (shy, loud,
nice, funny, etc...) and then write a second list of the
opposites. Give your opposite a name. Have the class
interview themselves as their "opposite personality". Be
sure to answer questions like your NEW self! Example
questions may be "What is the most important thing in
life for you?", "What makes you happy/sad/angry/laugh?",
or "What are you afraid of or worried about?"
write or illustrate a diary entry about a good day or
bad day in the life of your opposite. How are you alike?
What advise would you give your opposite? Would he/she
some examples from my past classes, click
October, I like to use
"Nounster" as my writing project. Since it's not my
original idea, I will just like you to the rightful
Am Thankful For My School
November, we write thank you letters to every employee
of our school, from custodians, to lunch aids, to the
secretaries. I put this idea on my Holiday Ideas page,
here to read more!
Invent a Holiday
December/January, around the holidays, I give the
students the opportunity to invent their own holidays!
Here is where I use the 5 Ws graphic organizer, and they
brainstorm all the details about their make believe
holiday. This project is meant to be creative. I tell
the kids that I'm not looking for generic ideas such as
"Reading Day...a day to read"- I'm looking for creative
ideas such as "Day of Dance....a day where everyone
meets in the town park, and the park is divided up into
several areas where there are teachers teaching all the
different genres of dance such as ballroom, latin,
hip-hop, ballet, lyrical, tap, etc... There are dance
recitals held in the town hall, and parades with dancers
dancing in the streets. Music can be heard throughout
the town, and everyone is having a blast." See what I
mean? Be creative!