What’s the best writing activity you’ve ever done with your class? Have you ever tricked your students into wanting to write a ton? How’d you do it? What do you use to inspire creative writing?
The most entertaining writing I ever witnessed my students perform came as a spur of the moment activity. Completely unplanned, an explosion of blogging happened in my class, thanks to Kidblog and creativity.
There are so many reasons that I love teaching third grade! One is that this is oftentimes the last year that personification is more than just a literary element. Leprechauns actually hide gold. There is a Tooth-fairy; “How else do you explain the money under my pillow–and, my tooth was gone!” I can get away with using puppets. Santa totally has a list, and he sends elves to check on things immediately after Thanksgiving.
Holly is my classroom’s Elf on the Shelf. She appears every year on the first day of school after Thanksgiving. Most students know the rules already. Many have their own elf at home. Each year’s students behaves differently. One year the Polite Pirates (my students) absolutely fell in love with Holly!
Throughout the day, while I was trying to teach, students were writing notes to Holly. They knew they couldn’t touch her, so they snuck the notes as close as they dared. There was an impressive pile at the end of the day.
What did I do with all of these notes? The tiny papers were full of love, teeming with curiosity, and fueled by Christmas magic. I brought them home, and Holly began a Kidblog profile within our classroom account.
At 5AM Tuesday morning she began to type. She shared good tidings from Santa, whom she had visited during the night, as she does every evening between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Then she jumped right into thanking the Polite Pirates for all of their enthusiastic writing to her and began answering their questions.
I don’t know how she did it, because you have to have a teacher profile to make your blogs in Kidblog “public”. Holly must have used some Christmas magic in order to foster faster reading of her blog. The students didn’t even have to log into their accounts before reading Holly’s message.
The class had already been using Kidblog, so they were actively checking to see if friends had left comments when they found Holly’s new blog. Before morning announcements began the room was already a buzz with imaginative play.
All in all, Holly wrote only nine blogs, but she replied to hundreds of comments! The variety of student writing was interesting. Some students wrote lengthy diary-style entries from home. Others had to jump right into their kidblog accounts right then and there to ask Holly, “How’d you do it? Are you real?” among other pertinent questions. Holly tended to reward students’ writing by mirroring their compositions with a similar amount of text, thought, and imagination. She was classy, creative, communicative, and caring.
In addition to her writing, Holly enjoyed taking pictures of her hiding spots. She’d leave clues in the header of her blogs as to where she was camped out for the day.
The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) sub-standard 3.A reads, “Create experiences for learners to make positive, socially responsible contributions and exhibit empathetic behavior online that build relationships and community.” This falls under the category of Citizen. Not only did the Polite Pirates welcome Holly into the classroom as a legit member of the crew, but Holly helped eight and nine-year-olds see life from a different angle… It was new every day, in fact, whether she blogged or not! Also, Holly’s positive relationships with the shelf-elves of the students, modeled through her commenting on Polite Pirate inquiries, were lessons in themselves.
When Christmas vacation took Holly from us, the joy of winter break was bitter sweet. I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed more passionate writing before or since. What have you used to inspire imaginative writing?