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Writing Prompts, Writing Prompts, Writing Prompts

posted: 9.24.12 by archived

I’ll admit that I am still a traditional “expressivist” in a lot of ways: I like to write with students, I believe in free-writing, and I am always looking for ways to break up my classes with little activities that spur creativity. I’d like to share a few sites that help facilitate this kind of teaching and that keep me from posing the same questions and prompts from year to year.

A friend of mine recently pointed me toward a great site that collects writing prompts, but showcases them in the form of a Tumblr blog—the prompts are made visually attractive and compelling, some of them rendered using the recognizable language and images of memes. The resulting multimodal texts seem to me to spur thought and invention in ways that a typewritten or chalk-written prompt just doesn’t. You can even submit your own writing prompts, or send just a quote or an image, to be turned into something multimodal. The site is run by Luke Neff, and he also maintains perhaps the coolest Tumblr commonplace book I’ve seen.  (I think I may steal this idea of creating a Tumblr commonplace book in a future class, too.)

Another interesting site is this random writing prompt generator, one of many online. Plinky also offers a full interface for this same kind of random prompt generation, giving you the opportunity to write and share your responses within the site, and even to add video, images, playlists, or maps. Similar to Plinky is One Word. As you can guess, the site gives you just one word, and then gives you just sixty seconds to write about it. Afterward, you can read the responses written by others. While I love free-writing with students and then sharing this writing in class, it is also pretty cool to see how other people from all over the world respond to the same word or prompt. (A similar but seemingly less successful site is Write for Ten, which gives you a window and a clock and asks you to write about anything you want, for ten minutes.) 

Storybird is a site that uses art to inspire writing and has become quite popular among K–12 teachers and students, and again allows students to share online, enter challenges and contests, and give one another feedback. Other sites allow for sharing longer format writing. Wattpad has become popular among fiction writers, but it has also already collected almost 75,000 nonfiction stories. (I also love that Wattpad was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.)

I hope that out of all of these links, I’ve led you to at least one lesson plan, prompt, or idea. If you have your own favorite sites, please share them!

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Categories: Jay Dolmage
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