Most famous student response when it comes to writing… “I don’t know what to write about.” Well the answer to this famous problem has arrived for FREE and no work on your part – Scholastic Story Starters. This virtual, writers slot machine allows students in kindergarten through sixth grade the opportunity to make a few choices and then receive a writing prompt in return. They can choose from adventure, fantasy, science-fiction or even the scrambler. Students begin by making a decision about the theme and then enter their first name and grade level. Next they are ready to “pull the lever” and see their “winnings”. Hey, if they don’t “win” on the first shot, they can pull the lever again. My first try I was given, “Write a post-card from an old police officer who ignores orchestras.” Students can also modify their response by just spinning part of the machine such as changing the character or the maybe the character and the problem. I changed my character from police officer to rock star. What an adventure my story will take, hmm?
After students are satisfied with their prompt, they click next and then decide what format their story will be written in: notebook, letter, newspaper, or post card. Students also get to decide if they will add a drawing to their story to help provide some visual literacy into their writing. From there they can actually “write” or type their story online in the provided format and then print it or download/save it as a PDF format. This saved file can then be included in a student portfolio or published on a class blog.
This resource can be incorporated into a daily writing prompt, writing center, or even journal writing. You can show the “slot machine” on the board using your projector and have the entire class write about the same prompt. Allow students the opportunity to share their writings out loud or even in small groups; compare/contrast how the same prompt gave such different stories. You could also choose a writing prompt and put a spin on it to turn it into a persuasive piece rather than just a narrative.
Once the students see the image on the screen their engagement for writing will soar without much discussion or instruction needed from you. Who knew we could inspire kids to write without teacher motivation? Check out the image and see what you think?