We’ve known many teachers who believe “bell-ringers,” warm-ups, or informal writing assignments are a poor use of time, but we still stand by them.
Because we do not “grade” informal writing in the traditional sense (students receive credit simply for completing the assignment) we find that students are often more willing to take risks. Many students have even expressed that these exercises increase their confidence and get them excited about putting pen to paper. Is there a note of music sweeter to the writing teacher’s ear? We think not!
When we’re looking for writing prompts, our first stop is a site called Writer’s Digest. Below are a few examples of the writing prompts you’ll find there:
- “You’re leaving your favorite restaurant after eating breakfast when a stranger taps you on the shoulder. But this tap leads to a conversation—and adventure—that leaves you with one item that you never thought you’d ever own. Start your story with “I hate to bother you, but I have something important to ask.” And end your story with, “And that’s how I ended up being the proud owner of a (fill in the blank).”
- You are a world-renowned mystery writer living a life of seclusion. A random email informs you of a great story, the next bestseller. Unfortunately, you find the details to be a little too close to home. Write a scene where you confront this mysterious informant, who seems to know a little too much about your personal life.
- The snow is coming down and school has been canceled. Your brother, who has an important government job, has asked you to watch his kids during the day so he can go to work. While watching his kids, they reveal something top secret about your brother’s job—and it’s something, for the sake of your family, that you need to stop.
- You receive a mysterious email and the subject line reads “Everything you know is a lie.” You open the email and read further: “Act calm as to not alert anyone, but everyone around you is not who they say they are. You need to quietly get out of there and meet me at the spot where you had your first kiss. You know the place. My name is Mark.”
If you’re looking for more writing prompts, we also recommend checking out a site called Writing Prompts. Each prompt on the site comes with an accompanying photo and a brief explanation of how the prompt fulfills Common Core Standards.