Every once in a while, we get tired of the routine in class and feel the need for a little spontaneity. Last week, we were feeling like we needed to shake things up. At the beginning of class, I moved kids into groups of four. I told them that they would be writing a group story and would have to have it ready for reading ten minutes before the end of the class period. Kids had about 35 minutes to work and then we used the last ten minutes to read these creations. "You can write about anything you want, but your story must include some form of treachery!" "Ooooooh," many of the kids yelled. They were ON it.
Immediately they got to work talking about different situations that would work for their story, brainstorming various degrees of treachery and adding details to the ideas to really punch them up. As I roamed the room, I saw some groups using one student as a scribe and others using a shared Google doc to which all could contribute. They were energized and excited. This was just what we needed last week! As the class period went on, I noticed that the level of engagement increased. As the plot lines got more complex, the kids became more and more involved in the creation. Good ideas were built from other good ideas. This learning was interesting and relevant to the kids.
It is amazing what motivated kids can accomplish in a half hour. The stories were creative, complex, well written, littered with details and well thought-out. The kids were a great audience when it came time to read the stories because the stories were so good. It was at that moment that I decided to use this as a weekly writing activity in class. Each week, we will have another topic/theme around which the kids will write. Part of the challenge is to weave the theme or topic into the story the kids want to write. It is through this limitation that such creativity is born. By stumbling upon this cool activity, we struck gold.