At the beginning of writing time, I asked everyone to get out their notebooks. I announced that we were going to do a 10 minute writing warm up. I would write a prompt on the board and we all (me included) would write for 10 minutes.
No talking. No stopping. No getting up. No sharpening pencils. No trips to the water fountain. No searching our desk for something we must have right now.
Monday's topic was a line of dialogue: "I told you this wasn't a good idea."
Tuesday's was dialogue again: "I think I broke it."
Wednesday's was a word: Imagine
Thursday's was a bit trickier: Write a paragraph about spring break. Every sentence must begin with a word that starts with the letter "S" and you can't repeat words.
When we did this on Monday, writing for 10 straight minutes was a bit rough for some kids. There were trips to the water fountain, staring off into space, and the rummaging through desks. However, by Thursday, everyone had found their groove. We all wrote for 10 minutes.
After the 10 minutes, we gathered into a circle and shared our writing (with the option to pass). There were some truly fun writing pieces that could be the spark for a longer pieces.
Here's what I learned from this activity:
1. As the week went on, many of my writers tried writing in genres they were reluctant to write in before -- poetry, plays, etc.
2. Even my most reluctant writers could handle 10 minutes.
3. We haven't been doing enough sharing of our writing this year. The circle time was incredibly valuable.
4. Because I wrote and shared too, the students saw me as a writer, not just as a writing teacher.
5. I could interject the "Stop and reread" lesson which reinforced the importance of stopping and rereading what you've written on a regular basis.
6. It was fun!
7. It is a quick way to plump up our writing notebooks with new ideas.
8. The prompt needed to be very open ended, with lots of room for interpretation. Canned prompts such as "Write about your plans for spring break" are boring, boring, boring.
When we return from break, I plan to continue writing warm-ups. It will give me lots of new writing material to work on over the summer.