I have had my students work with their writing groups for some time now, and the ideas and topics of what to write about are getting redundant and dry. I find my students are struggling to come up with fresh topics to write about.
I adapted an idea from Jim Vopat’s book, Writing Circles: Kids Revolutionize Workshop.
I had the students think of three topics that they felt they could write something about. I told them this could be a word or phrase. I gave them examples of flowers, dogs, red, friendship, peace, I hate, boys vs. girls, baseball etc… I then had them pick the one topic that they are the most interested in writing about. They wrote their word on a notecard. Then I had them get into their writing groups and pass the cards in a circle marking each topic according to how they felt:
· * Is they would like to write about this topic
· ? if they are willing to try the topic
· X if the topic won’t work for them.
They then collected the topics and the one that had the most stars was the topic that they had to write about. I give my students one week to write about the topic in any genre. There is a little writing time in class for this, but they also may need to do some outside of class. I told them that it is not a final copy, but they must share what they wrote with their writing group. This may be a half page to one page.
Since I have done this, the kids seem excited to have a specific topic that they need to write about. It helps them get over the hump of I don’t know what to write about. There is still chouice given in this because they come up with their topics and have a voice in which topic they like. They also are able to write in any genre that they choose.
So far the students have really enjoyed the writing circle topics. Even if they get a topic they don’t care for, they write about how much they hate that topic. Since I require them all to share their writing, they are motivated to write well since they know their peers will be reading it. I heard a student say that he wanted to work harder on his topic this week because he was not proud of his writing he brought to this group! 🙂
Using writing topics will enable the students to write various genres on lots of topics and have many rough drafts. In a few weeks I will have them pick a writing that they want to take further in the writing process so that they can have a published piece.