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Saturday, January 4, 2014

Getting a little wild and crazy with writing

For the first semester of school, I have had my students completing assignments from Writing Frames. I have used this book for years because it provides scaffolded writing lessons. These are very beneficial to my lower-level ELLs, special ed., and dyslexic students. They have probably even saved my Pre-AP students some thinking. 

For the second semester, I am ready to pull the rug out from under them. It is time to do some actual thinking for their writing assignments. So, I went to my handy-dandy bucket of writing books and pulled one out. 

You thought I was joking,
didn't you?
The Write-Brain. 366 exercises. Plenty to choose from. I have used this before, but I have never had my students complete many of the assignments. (Honestly, I bought it for me, but I have not completed many of the assignments.) I don't think I have touched more than five of the assignments. Well, that is a waste of my money and my resources and my push for myself to do more writing. So time for my kiddos to get to work. 

Because of the high number of laptops we now have on campus, we are under pressure to really move to being paperless. My students do most of their work on the computer (I have 1:1 in my classroom), but homework assignments have always been a concern. I have decided that I am going to survey who can access online homework assignments, and I will make paper copies for those who need them, or they can come in after school on tutoring day to complete the assignments.
Their first assignment from The Write-Brain will be Day 1 (may as well keep it simple for myself). One of the things I have worked on over vacation is exploring what I can do with different types of social media. I have discovered that there is value in Pinterest - aside from sharing recipes. I have started making resource folders for my students. I am also trying to use for photo editing apps to bling up my assignments a bit. (Yes, I know I am a nerd. It's all right. My students love me for it.) All of this will be linked up to Edmodo for assignments to be completed. 

The results: 

My "blinged" up assignment.
Yeah, this is going to take some practice.

If nothing else, this forced me to do some writing of my own. 


  1. like it, thanks!

  2. I would be interested to see the grading rubric you use.

    1. Here is the link:

      It's just a very simple rubric I made for our school. It needed to be generic enough for all content teachers to be able to use it.

  3. How do the students see the completed rubric in conjunction with edmodo? Do you grade the assigment in edmodo, or provide a paper copy rubric?

    1. I make notes about the points they lose in the comments of their assignment in Edmodo. For example, -1 capitalization. Then they can go back and look and see what they need to work on.

      They never even look at the rubric, honestly, either before or after. Their only concern is the overall grade.

  4. Love your idea, and now I think you are going to cost me more money by shopping on Amazon. I laughed because just today I pulled out the book, TAKE 5! - 180 Bell-ringers That Build Critical Thinking Skills by Kaye Hagler. It seems like the same idea. Maybe we should create a folder and share it together on a google drive.

  5. I keep everything in Google for sharing.

  6. Bling it up! Yeah.
    I do a similar writing activity with a deck of Mad Lib cards (not even sure where I got them from anymore), and then midway through writing, they get to "trade" words with someone. (I don't know that book you pulled out. I will have to check it out.)
    I think it's important that we shake things up now and then, for us and for our students. I like the unexpected assignment, and often, a writing prompt comes to me on the ride into school. With the push around expository and informational writing, much of our creative writing now comes during our "writing into the day" period, where they learn about narrative writing with our nutty writing prompts.
    I guess it's about finding balance.
    PS -- stopping by here as part of my 50 comments on 50 blogs over 50 days. I can't believe I didn't get here earlier. Or maybe I did. I'm losing track of my path. Whatever. Here I am! Here you are! Thanks for writing and sharing. I learned about a new book today.