Writing Prompts January 18, 2006Posted by Michael McVey in Lifelong Learning, Online Tools, Writing.
Years ago I taught at a wonderful and progressive Secondary School in York Region in Ontario. Most students in most schools had one choice of English course they could take unless they wanted to shift from Advanced level to General. Students at Thornlea, on the other hand, could choose from a wide range of courses from ones with a strong focus on literary analysis to courses that stressed writing. They could choose from courses with strong thematic elements such as Heroes and Villains or take courses with a drama component. As a new teacher to that school, I inherited courses that it seemed nobody wanted to teach.
One of these courses was called Journal Writing, which even at the time the course was given to me I thought a bit on the light side. The course used as a guide a workbook by Mark Hansen called Sources. The thinking behind it was that students can produce brilliant journal entries if they are given guidance on the topics that peel deeper into our psyche from simple observation of the world to observations of what is happening each of us. It worked very well and the students I had labored hard at their writing. I was inspired by that experience. Rather than just give my students the blank slate of a blog and ask them to write about their educational technology experiences, I provided a few questions to guide them. They are writing prompts only in the broadest sense:
- My First Computer
- Computers in My School Experience
- Instant Message Messes
- Viruses and Spyware
- Fun and Games
- The Dark Side of Computers
- When Projects Go Right
- When Projects Go Wrong
- The Future
Some of the blog entries are proving to be quite illuminating. One young lady in my class suggested that content or subject matter are not as important to learning to use computers as the sense of empowerment they provide and promote. She wrote:
When I was growing up “Kid Pix” taught me how to maneuver the mouse and how to be more creative. While I didn’t understand much about what I was actually accomplishing by working on the computer, looking back I can see that by working on [it] at a young age, it helped me not to be intimidated by other computers I would be working on in the future.