Friday, July 11, 2014

Mini Writing Assignments



Most state test writing demands two things- the ability to use the techniques of the genre and to think on your feet. The one thing lacking in many ELA classrooms, often including my own, is giving students time to think, plan and create.  These opportunities do not have to be overly time consuming, but can increase student motivation, creativity and strengthen their thinking skills. The Common Core Standards support each idea below and depending on the depth of the assignment, takes very little planning to accomplish. Ultimately providing more challenging writing ideas help our students to think on their feet AND instills motivation and inspiration about the limitless possibilities of writing.

Visual Poetry

W.8.6. Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and present the relationships between information and ideas efficiently as well as to interact and collaborate with others.

The first tool: Visual Poetry. Now this is a relatively simple tool, but it could take student poetry to a different level. I can see students getting excited not just about seeing their poem in a different format, but in planning what shape or structure their poem will take when using this tool.  Shorter poems would work best- students might even take the most important words from their writing to create a visual.  This tool would also be something unique that students could use in writing workshop when they claim to be “finished”.  Take the activity a step further and have students reflect on why they chose that shape/format for their poem.  How does it compliment what you wrote?  And there is nothing wrong with creating visual poetry by hand too! 
I created this from a poem I wrote some time back. The good thing- Students are WAY more creative than we sometimes are.....     





You can find other ways to create/hack poetry Here



Hack Some Writing – Google Docs 

W.8.6. Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and present the relationships between information and ideas efficiently as well as to interact and collaborate with others.

L.8.5. Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.
 
Another idea is to create Found Poetry from a piece of writing.  In the #CLMOOC, Michelle Stein uploaded a document from something she wrote in reflection. She highlighted (or changed the color of the font) of particular words throughout the piece to create a ‘Found Poem’ and challenged the rest of us to do the same on her Google Doc that she shared.  I went in and created my poem changing certain words to green. And so on. The possibilities are endless in how students might use this technique. Individuals, small groups- assign a color and go! You could limit students to a particular paragraph, etc.  You could upload a piece of your own writing, a piece of student writing, even writing from an author or poet and allow students to hack the writing to create something new.  Students or the teacher can compile the created poems on a Google Doc, in Haiku Deck, etc.  and then hold a discussion on what processes were taken to decide on the words they chose for their poem. What stood out to you first? What frustrations did you experience? When did you know  your poem was ‘finished’?  What mood or tone is displayed based on the words chosen? What words have a strong connotation? What is the connotation? What do you think their poem means? Why? Provide evidence.

In this excerpt- three people took part- one in yellow, one used green and the other person used purple. 

 
Twitter Essay

W.8.4. Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

W.8.6. Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and present the relationships between information and ideas efficiently as well as to interact and collaborate with others.

If you are lucky enough to be able to use Twitter in the classroom, you might try a Twitter Essay.  (Of course with older students you might assign this as a flipped assignment) First introduced on the #CLMOOC and in this blog post- the idea is to provide a prompt for students to respond to  in just 140 characters (Including the hashtag).  Once students post, they are also required to find one or two student posts and respond in a peer review post. The teacher would have to be specific with the prompt as well as how students are to respond to each other’s ideas. I went to Twitter to find  #twitteressay and saw prompts such as:
What is the root of discrimination?
How has poetry affected your life?
Kevin Hodgson posted multiple Twitter Essays on hisblog-
Other ideas that would work like a Twitter Essay would be the six word memoir or tweet your life story in 140 characters or less, even flash fiction.  And if Twitter simply isn’t an option, try Edmodo or add your posts to a shared Google Doc- having students reply via comment option.
 

And to end- a really neat idea I’d like to try with students someday- Paper Circuitry

This site has a user guide, videos and how it connects to both language arts CCS as well as the Next Generation Science Standards. A great idea for Stem, an after-school program,  that last week of school, etc.
I can see students creating poetry – visual poetry- poetry in greeting card format- and adding lights to enhance it.  Talk about motivation!

  You can see additional ideas on writing at -CLMOOC Make Bank 

What kind of mini writing assignments do you do with students that motivate or inspire students to become life-long writers?