When it comes to building writing fluency, I find that the use of images can help students engage more in a given topic and write for longer periods of time. Visual prompts can provide inspiration and take your students’ writing to a whole new level. If you are on Pinterest, a simple search will provide you with LOTS of options. You can see my Pinterest board full of visual writing prompts by clicking here.
I generally use my projector to show the image to the whole class but have just started using Discovery Education’s Writing Prompt Builder with students on some of the days we have access to our grade level set of iPads. You can upload your own image or use one from DE’s resource library and include the prompt and any directions you wish to provide. Look for the simple directions under Builder Tools, by clicking on Writing Prompt Builder. Some students really like to use the iPad to type their piece but I also allow students to use their writing notebook as well. We’ve discovered that it’s easy to lose your work on the iPad and they’re not very fast at typing just yet.
Here’s an example of a prompt we are using this week, using the image Snowman from DE.
When you look out your window, you see a winter wonderland. Snow is everywhere! Think of a snowy day when you and your family or friends built a snowman. Write a story describing the day. Include details about the snowman, the clothes you wore, what you saw and smelled, and how you felt. Make your readers feel that they are building the snowman with you.
This is an unedited student response by AC:Me and my family went outside to play with the snow. Me and you made a snowman. The snowman looked cool.It had a red sparkly scarf,pitch black hat,buttons,bright orange carrot nose,big smile,eyes,sticks,mittens.I wore a huge torquise jacket,winter boots,two gloves,and a hat.I saw beutiful trees covered in snow. I could smell hot cocoa.I felt so happy.
And another unedited response by AG:Once opon a time there was three kids,Aidan,Cooper and Sean.They smelt somthing.It was snow.They put on heavy boots and a heavy jacket.They seen a big fat snow man.It was wearing a scarf a hat.The three boys feelt nerves.
Many of the responses are very literal interpretations of the prompt (and a bit list-y) so it was a learning experience for me as well. I love that they referred back to the expectations but want them to also write with their own spin.
And here’s another option where the beginning of the story is the prompt, using the image Gare de Lyon from DE.
As he strolled through the deserted station, Samuel couldn’t help but think of…
My students really enjoy using images to help them get started and often beg for more writing time. Music to a teacher’s ears! Give it a try and please comment below with your favorite visuals.