Student-Created Writing Prompts

We started today’s classes with the students finishing a story stem below:

  • As I slowly approached the deserted house at the end of the road…

Volunteers had the opportunity to share their short stories and each class voted upon their favorite of those shared.  You can find those stories here (or see them in the post below this one).

The following students’ stories were selected as the best:

  • 3rd Period: Seamus
  • 4th Period: Alex
  • 5th Period: Eddie
  • 6th Period: Chloe

After a brief recap of yesterday’s discussion on the Georgia Milestones, the students voted to see who had the best writing prompt.  They first selected the best prompt per table.  Next, they selected the best per three table groupings, and then decided between the final two.  The students then created a R.A.C.E. chart/graphic organizer to help them structure their thoughts on the top half of their paper.  They then wrote the full response on the second half of the paper.  Whatever was not completed in class was thereby assigned for homework.

A quick “shout out” goes to the following students for having written the winning constructed response prompts:

  • 3rd Period: Seamus and Sam
  • 4th Period: Erica
  • 5th Period: Lynn
  • 6th Period: Maribel


  • Read for 30 minutes.
  • Complete student-created constructed response if not finished in class.


Student Showcase (Student-Created Stories)

I have to take a moment to brag on my students!  Today, the students were asked to respond to the following prompt:

  • Finish the story prompt: As I slowly approached the deserted house at the end of the road…

All of the ones who volunteered to read had fascinating interpretations of this prompt stem.  Below are some of the most interesting ones shared in class as voted upon by the students themselves.


3rd Period

Author: Seamus F.

As I slowly approached the deserted house at the end of the road, my heart was pounding as I got closer and closer to the door.  I could feel the sweat beading on my forehead.  As I grasped the handle, it was hard to turn from how much I was sweating.  As soon as I opened the door, I knew I had made a mistake when the man in the room stared at me with his icy eyes and spoke the fateful words.

“Hi, I’m Chris Hanson and this is Dateline NBC’s ‘To Catch a Predator.’  Please take a seat.”


4th Period

Author: Alex D.

As I slowly approached the deserted house at the end of the road, I got scared and turned around.


5th Period

Author: Eddie C.

As I slowly approached the deserted house at the end of the road, I felt the adrenaline rush through my veins and I began to shiver profusely.  I tried to open the door, but it was jammed, so I kicked it in with a swift movement and then I froze.  I saw a silhouette and the sound.



6th Period

Author: Chloe H.

As I slowly approached the deserted house at the end of the road, I noticed a little girl on the swing outside.  I walked up to her and asked her if she lived there.  She said, “yes–twenty years ago.”

Rough Drafts, Edits, and Revisions

Today was a continuation in the writing process started yesterday.  The students took the outlines and Double Bubble Thinking Maps they created yesterday about the stories we all read on Monday.  With “Thank You Ma’am” by Langston Hughes and “The Storyteller” by Saki as their source material, the students set about creating a rough draft of an essay comparing and contrasting the themes within the two stories.  Furthermore, they were asked to show how the authors of both stories conveyed these themes.  After a brief re-cap of yesterday’s writing tips and a Q & A session, the students had the rest of class to write their rough drafts, share them with a peer for editing, and make the necessary revisions.  Tomorrow, the students will type up their final drafts in the Essay Scorer program for instant grading.


  • Finish any work not completed in class.
  • Continue work on Genius Hour project (DUE DECEMBER 12th, 2014).
  • Study for Friday’s Unit #2 Quiz.


Story Comparison Day #2: Expository Writing Tips

Essay writing has always gotten a bad rap…and rightfully so.  The topics have long tended to be stiff, un-engaging, and flat-out of tune with the millions of students who have to write in response to them.  While I like to create topics that are more interesting, all students need to learn how to find a way to connect with the topic in order to pop out an essay that is interesting to read, and representative of how well they can adapt and interpret the topic.

In today’s lesson, I showed the student how I approach the essay writing process so that it is a relatively easy and painless process.

Ms. Willipedia’s Expository Writing Tips:

  • šGet to know the writing prompt.
    • šDissect and analyze it to know what you’re being asked to do.
  • šOrganize your thoughts in advance.
    • šUse an outline or Thinking Map
    • šI strongly recommend an outline after using a Thinking Map
  • šRemember to make it interesting.
    • šInclude stories along with facts and examples to drive your ideas home (make them stronger).
    • The “Go Green” process works really well here.
  • šJust write.
    • šDon’t get obsessed with perfection.  Writing is a process.  This means that you make it better over time.

After presenting the students with their writing topic, we walked through the process of dissecting it in order to begin the brainstorming process.

Prompt: šRead “Thank You Ma’am” by Langston Hughes and “The Story-Teller” by Saki. In your review, compare how the authors reveal theme in each story. Detail what is similar and what is different about the way each accomplishes conveying his message.

šDissecting the Prompt:

  • What are the verbs?
    • šRead, compare, reveal, detail, accomplishes conveying
  • šWhat are the verbs modifying/telling us to do?
    • šRead what? “Thank You Ma’am” and “The Storyteller”
    • šCompare what? How the authors reveal theme in each story.
    • šDetail what? What is similar and different about the way each author conveys (shows/illustrates) his message.

We then worked together to create a Double Bubble Thinking Map focusing on the themes of the two stories.

The students then took this Double Bubble Thinking Map and created an outline for their essay rough drafts with the information from the Thinking Map.  Whatever was not completed in class for the outline was assigned for homework.



  • Finish essay outline from class.
  • Read for 30 minutes.
  • Continue work on Genius Hour Project (DUE FRIDAY DECEMBER 12th, 2014. NO late work will be accepted.)


Introduction to Argumentative Writing: Monday, September 29th, 2014

Though we had taken a few moments during last week’s lessons to briefly discuss argumentative writing and the characteristics of quality writing, today we delved headlong into it. First, the students had the opportunity to share what they remembered of the characteristics of quality writing from last week. Then, I shared with them the six general writing traits we tend to focus upon when writing:

  1. Ideas
  2. Organization
  3. Word Choice
  4. Sentence Fluency
  5. Voice
  6. Conventions

The students were then shown a couple more examples of argumentative writing in action.  The students listened to the first two minutes of the most recent podcast from the Freakonomics blog entitled “Fitness Apartheid.”  Should residents of an apartment building who pay a discounted rate be able to partake in more luxurious amenities?  We took a moment to have a brief discussion on both sides of the issue presented within “FItness Apartheid.”  Next, the students read a written example of argumentative writing at work (text can be found in the PowerPoint below).

We ended class today with the students choosing 3-5 of the topics they found the most interesting.  They then narrowed those down to two with which they will create a Circle Map to brainstorm.  These will become the foundation of the argumentative essays they will be writing in class this week.

Here are two more links to even more argumentative writing topics:


  • Read for 30 minutes.
  • Complete the Circle Map of two topics (except 3rd period)
  • Study for Wednesday’s lesson 4 vocabulary quiz

PowerPoint: 9.29.14 Characteristics of Quality Writing and Intro to Argumentative Part 2

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

The warm 3-day weekend wrapped up with the historic inauguration of our President on the same day as we celebrate the achievements and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, jr.  In fact, I found out that President Obama is one of only 17 presidents to give an inaugural address to jump start his second term.  Did you know that his second inauguration is not the first Presidential Inauguration to coincide with MLK Day?  Interestingly enough, President Bill Clinton‘s second inauguration was also on MLK Day.  How fascinating!

On our first day back (and the day before the Georgia Middle Grades Writing Assessment) we played an ELA version of Family Feud for the activator (the 10 minutes prior to the main lesson) and played Writing Assessment Review Jeopardy.  The students seemed to have a wonderful time.

This afternoon was the last of the Pre-Writing Assessment after-school tutoring sessions.  I want to thank all of the students who stayed after school or came during connections for additional help.  That level of initiative is what will surely be the foundation of success.  I am so proud to teach such students!

PowerPoint: forthcoming

HOMEWORK: Get a good night of sleep!  Read for 30 minutes and work on the Guided Book Review which is due in 1 week (on Tuesday, January, 29th, 2013).

The Week of January 14-18th in Review

In preparation for tomorrow’s Writing Assesement, last week was devoted to review of all of the writing strategies that had been addressed in class.  I held two tutoring sessions during and after school to assist those who felt they needed to practice some skills, ask additional questions, or receive extra teaching.  It was an absolute blast!  As a result, I will be holding weekly after-school tutoring sessions starting within the next couple of weeks.  Finally, on Friday, we wrapped up the week with a timed writing to simulate part of what the students will encounter tomorrow.

PowerPoint: forthcoming

HOMEWORK: Read for 30 minutes and work on the Guided Book Review (Due Tuesday, January 29th, 2013)

WELCOME BACK! Tuesday-Friday, January 8th-11th, 2013

I hope everyone had a safe and wonderful Winter Break!


On this first day back for the students, we did a writing strategy recap.  As a whole group, we looked at a sample expository writing prompt and broke it down using TAPP-F.  This strategy helps the students look at the key points in a writing prompt to determine what it is that they need to do in order to be successful.

  • T=Topic
    • This is where the students take a topic in its entirety and summarize it in one to two sentences.
  • A=Audience
    • According to the writing prompt (topic), who is going to read the essay/letter/speech?
  • P=Purpose
    • Why is this essay/letter/speech being written?  Is it to persuade or to inform/explain?
  • P=(Organizational) Pattern
    • How should you organize your writing? Should it be organized in:
      • chronological order (in order of time)?
      • logical order (in order of what makes the most sense to you)?
      • cause and effect order (where the cause of something is discussed first and then its effects)?
      • problem and solution order (where the problem is presented and then you discuss a possible solution)?
      • comparison and contrast (where two or more things are discussed for how they are similar and dissimilar)?
  • F=Format
    • In what form are you writing?  Is it supposed to be:
      • a letter?
      • an essay?
      • a speech?

The students had to dissect and brainstorm using TAPP-F on the topic below:

Lunch GMWA writing topic

HOMEWORK: Read for 30 minutes and write an introduction paragraph based on the topic presented in class.  Read for 30 minutes.

PowerPoint: Writing Strategy Recap 1.8.13



In class, each student continued formulating and organizing their ideas using a graphic organizer to map out their body paragraphs.  I provided some assistance by guiding them through the process using the ELMO document camera.

HOMEWORK: Complete the body paragraph sections in the graphic organizer provided in class. Read for 30 minutes.

PowerPoint: Body Paragraphs 1.9.13



Having mapped out the body paragraphs both in class and for homework the previous night, the students began work on sculpting a strong conclusion.  With the time remaining in class, each student then took what they wrote in the graphic organizer the night before and translated it into a rough draft.  Those who did not finish in class had to complete it for homework, due at the beginning of their class period on Friday the 11th.

HOMEWORK: Complete the rough draft of the letter to the principal.  Read for 30 minutes.

PowerPoint: Conclusions 1.10.13



The week wrapped up with practical application of all of the skills practiced this week in the form of a timed writing.  As a reminder, the students used the acronym of T-BOW ( (c) 2013 Me) to guide them through the writing process.  T-BOW represents:

  • T=TAPP-F (see above under “Tuesday”)
  • B=Brainstorm
  • O=Organize (see above under “Tuesday” as well)
  • W=Write

All of the drafting homework from the previous days this week were due at the beginning of each class with no late work being accepted (except in rare circumstances).

HOMEWORK: Read for 30 minutes.  Remember, this upcoming Tuesday is our next Library Day!  Find your library books and have a wonderful weekend!

PowerPoint:  Timed Writing Day 1.11.13


Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

It has been said that preparation is the key ingredient to success.  With the Writing Folio Mock Writing Assessment, the students had the opportunity to mimic the conditions of the actual 8th grade Writing Assessment that will be administered on January 23rd, 2013.  Much like the actual exam, the Writing Folio Mock Writing Assessment is hand-scored on a rubric similar to the one used by the State of Georgia for the GMWA (Georgia Middle Grades Writing Assessment).  We should receive the results of these writings within the month where they will be posted online for viewing. 

After 100 solid minutes of writing in the morning, my 6th and 7th period classes took part in an ELA review game which can be found here.  They were paired up based on mixed ability and interests to create a dynamic collaborative learning environment.


HOMEWORK: Complete any missing assignments (DUE FRIDAY) and read for at least 30 minutes.

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

Before everything else, getting ready is the secret to success.” –Henry Ford

As a method of getting ready, we had the first Writing Folio Mock Writing Assessment which mimics the 8th Grade Writing Assessment.  Completed within 100 minutes, every student remained in their homeroom in order to remain focused on doing their best on a topic of which they had no prior knowledge.  This mock assessment is hand-scored, just like the actual writing assessment, and is logged online so that the scores of each paper can be accessed from the internet.  Our plan as an English Language Arts department is to use this as a way to help each student know where to improve upon their writing and how.

For the remaining class periods, the students concluded the Sentence Auction started on Monday.  It was a BLAST!


HOMEWORK: Read “Out of Bounds” on pages 165-180 in the Reader/Writer InterActive Workbook.  Complete all of the questions in the margins.

PowerPoint: 10-9-12 Fun Times at the Sentence Auction Part 2