Using a basic sentence, support your students in brainstorming their ideas. For example, “Discovering the ________ in you.” Let students fill in that blank by listing every idea they have in three minutes. Work individually, and then again in small groups to generate a wide variety of words.
Don’t think a brainstorming session will yield enough prompts? Consider reviving your own brainstorming practice using some tips from the Brainsprouting process.
We’ve developed a guideline in our design thinking workshops based on a Brainsprouting concept:
If you’re thinking it’s more efficient for you to come up with all the prompts, consider that all of us are more engaged when we come up with our own topics or questions that we’re already interested in exploring. Imagine the connections students will make when they see a title they generated in their daily writing practice!
Simply take the list of 20, 50, 100 ideas and transfer them into your title. It can be as simple as drawing from a hat, literally, or using an app like Magic Sorting Hat. Now you’ll have a variety of topics to choose from, within your theme of personal discovery:
Discovering the warrior in you.
Discovering the seed in you.
Discovering the genius in you.
Discovering the baby in you.
Discovering the sidewalk in you.
Discovering the magic in you.
Set a timer for the amount of time that makes sense for your students. Provide a short prompt – it can be the same for a week at a time, can change more often, or align with the lessons you’re working through. For example:
Discovering the Writer in You
Prompt: Think back to your first year at this school. Recall a difficult experience either in your personal or academic life. Write a letter to a new student that describes this experience.
If you’ve got more time, or for students who are ready write more, you can add: what did you learn from the experience?
Even more to add? Try what advice you’d give should they experience something similar in their future?
As you can see, the prompt is flexible – scaffold it, align it with your current lesson, or align it with the genre students are working in during a given unit. Have fun!
Use the writing your students generated in a way that makes most sense with what’s going on in your classroom:
Imagine working in cycles that align with your school calendar or writing projects you’ve already established in your units. Integrate the process into what you’ve planned and you could find this a natural entry point for you and your students, easing into a new habit together.