Break-Up Conversation

To practice punctuating dialogue, the kids wrote break-up conversations.  Here is one that plays with words beautifully.  It may not be perfectly written, but this was done in a few minutes without out being edited.img_6851



First Lines–Journal Prompts

Here are some famous first lines from different books and movies.  Students will write a story where one of the lines must appear, authentically, in the story.  The line doesn’t have to be the first line, but it does have to appear.

  • It was the best of times.  It was the worst of times.
  • All this happened, more or less.
  • I had just come to accept that my life would be ordinary when extraordinary things began to happen.
  • It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.
  • When he was nearly thirteen, my brother, Jem, got his arm badly broken at the elbow.
  • What’s your dream?
  • All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
  • Marley was dead, to begin with.

Rejected Reindeer–Holiday Writing Incorporating Creativity, Technical Writing, and Letter Writing

This is an activity that I have used in different variations.  My students are always actively engaged as they create a reindeer that Santa rejected.  They are even excited to write about their reindeer.


This Year’s Version–completed in class

Rejected Reindeer Directions 2014

rejected reindeer help wanted

rejected reindeer sheet


Previous Year’s Versions–completed at home

Rejected Reindeeelem

Rejected Reindeer middle school

Student SampleThis is a student sample from several years ago.

Writing in the Middle School-Thoughts and Ideas

I tell parents every year at open house that the art of teaching is creating lessons that are so engaging for students that the students are willing to complete the task even if they don’t like what they are doing.  Writing is a great example of this.  Many students do not enjoy writing because it takes a long time, it requires them to think, it doesn’t have A right answer,there are many rules, etc.  However, there aren’t many skills more important for them to learn, so I am always on the lookout for good writing prompts and for resources that can be turned into meaningful, engaging writing prompts.

Here are some my most recent finds and ideas.

What My Childhood Tasted Like informative using an article as a text companion–designed around a lesson from Write Like This by Kelly Gallagher

Two People Meet in Heaven practice writing dialogue

28 Writing Prompts for Middle School  found on Twitter

Two Sentence Horror Stories Great for Halloween

Break Up Conversation Not a new lesson, but the kids enjoy practicing writing dialogue on this lesson.

Southern Journal The Quill and the Mule An article that provides Southern students with the reason they need to write a story that contains a dead mule.  My students have a blast with this.

The Porch Article An article that provides the prompt, “The _____ is the soul of the ____.”  The cafeteria is the soul of the school.  Home plate is the home of the field.


2 Sentence Horror Stories

As I am planning for Halloween in my middle school language arts class, I remembered 2 Sentence Horror Stories.  I pulled up the directions to make sure that I thought this would be a good activity for this years’ classes.  I can’t wait to see what they come up with.

Two Sentence Horror Stories  Here is my presentation.

Journal Ideas

I am always on the lookout for creative or unusual prompts that can be used for fairly quick journaling sessions.  Here are some that I have come across.

**Heather E. Wright:  Resources for Teen and Preteen Writers and Their Teachers

What kind of scene can you build around these lines of dialogue.

1. Where are you going?


Look at the sky.

2. I want to go now.

That’s impossible.


You haven’t met Sirus yet.

3. The place has changed since I was here last.

One thing has stayed the same though.

What’s that?

It’s still dangerous.


**The Daily Post–Posts a prompt a day.

1. Odd Trio Redux

Time for another Odd Trio prompt: write a post about any topic you want, in whatever form or genre, but make sure it features a slice of cake, a pair of flip-flops, and someone old and wise.

2. Object Lesson

Sherlock Holmes had his pipe. Dorothy had her red shoes. Batman had his Batmobile. If we asked your friends what object they most immediately associate with you, what would they answer?

3. Nosey Delights

From the yeasty warmth of freshly baked bread to the clean, summery haze of lavender flowers, we all have favorite smells we find particularly comforting. What’s yours?


** Photographs This link will take you to one of my Pinterest boards where I have pinned cool pictures that act as wonderful prompts.


**Mona Lisa’s Point of View

Write a narrative from Mona Lisa’s point of view.  How does she feel having people stare at her all day?  What kinds of sights and sounds does she view from her perspective?


Professional Learning: Connection Between Boredom and Creativity

Bored?  Good, You’ll Be More Creative

Do you have a friend who you hardly ever see but seem to be on the same wave length in your thoughts and beliefs?  I do, and I thank her for sharing this post with me.

I so value creativity and believe that creativity is really more important than base intelligence because it is what moves us forward in the world. The post from is short but thought-provoking.  Below are two things that stuck with me as I read.

“To create, we need to make space for our creation. Think of it this way — Emily Dickinson might not have written a word if she kept getting text messages. Thomas Edison might not have created the light bulb if he was sitting on his Facebook page. Steve Jobs might not have made the Mac if he was sucked into Candy Crush. Yet this is the world that we live in. We are highly over-stimulated.”

“When you are not consumed by technology, your brain has space to breathe and to create.”


So, what does this mean for me in my classroom?  How can I encourage creativity with my students?

The blog post recommends giving kids time to think and then ask them where their thoughts went.

ASCD suggests modeling creativity and making mistakes meaningful  Developing Students’ Creative Skills for 21st Century Success suggests that language arts teachers infuse classroom activities with art and music. Teachers Must Encourage Student Creativity provides a list of 30 things that teachers can do to promote creativity. 30 Things You Can Do To Promote Creativity