Ideas for Getting Ideas

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Have your students ever whined, "But, teacher, I don't know what to write about?" No one likes whining, and you can’t supply ideas for all your students. There’s only one of you and so many of them. And, besides, even if you were inclined to give them ideas to write about, you SHOULDN’T! Your students need to learn to come up with ideas by themselves—that’s what authors do. The more your students generate their own ideas for writing, the easier it will become for them over time.

But there is a mini-lesson you CAN do to help your students to learn about ideas for getting ideas. See the two-page handout in the Blog Link below. The first page is blank for students to fill in and the second page is sort of a “cheat sheet” for you (but feel free to generate your own cheat sheet =).

Give each student a copy of the blank page with the heading “Ideas for Getting Ideas for Writing.” Tell them they have to think of how they get ideas for stories--NOT what the actual ideas are (i.e. my dog got lost, the time I went camping); but rather ways they came up with those ideas. Give them an example to get them started. You could write READING A BOOK up on the board. Then say, “When I read the book A Camping Spree with Mr. Magee by Chris Van Dusen, it reminded me of the time our family went camping. I’d like to write about that camping trip. And so reading a book triggered an idea for my writing. What other things can trigger ideas for writing?” Give students a set time, such as two minutes, to write on their worksheets TWO ways they get ideas for writing.

After students are finished, then have the class share the ideas they wrote down. You should write a comprehensive class list on the board with everyone’s ideas for getting ideas. But also ask students to copy/write the ideas their fellow classmates generated onto their own papers too—that way each student will have a master list of ways to get ideas for stories. These papers can then be kept in the front of each of their writing folders. And, by all means, the list should not be static—add to it as the school year goes along.

Then the next time, during writing workshop, when students get STUCK for ideas, refer them to their “idea” paper for help. Less whining, more ideas—all good! And you’ll make “getting ideas” MORE VISIBLE to your students—yay!

 

BLOG LINK:

Ideas for Getting Ideas Worksheet

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