August 24, 2011

Differentiation AND Engagement! - Writing Bingo, Part 2

Last week I wrote about my plan to implement Writing Bingo. This activity creates a large chunk of weekly time dedicated to creative writing in a variety of genres including real-world texts such as invitations, emails, and schedules.

Today was my class's first day of Writing Bingo - and boy was I nervous! The students were given a Bingo board of 25 fun writing prompts (download a copy here). They needed to choose 5 activities in a row to form Bingo. They would have 1.5 hours per week over 4 weeks to complete all 5 tasks.

So I wondered - is this too complicated? Will the students be overwhelmed? Confused? Overworked?

And then...

they spread out around the room and started to work.

"Talent Show Winners" - A fictional news article created during today's writing time
I circulated to ask them about their work and provide some feedback, but I mostly tried to stay out of their way! Everyone was highly engaged the ENTIRE 40 minute writing period. In fact, I quickly realized that I needed to interfere less in their creative thinking and writing and just get out of their way! So I did my own writing for a while before circulating again.

I had created a Writing Resource File with examples of various types of text - comic strips, scripts, newspaper articles, etc... And GUESS WHAT - the students were actually using them to inform their work!

At the end of our writing period we held Writing Groups. Groups of 3 sat together and shared one piece of work. Group members gave feedback. This sharing time is essential because it allows students to "publish" their work, helps them stay accountable, builds/maintains excitement, and supports the growth of others through peer modeling.

Letter to a friend - written during today's writing time

But the best thing?
 A slew of students came up to me after writing and begged to take their work home to finish it. I told them we would be using in-class time for these assignments, but that they could complete other projects at home on their own. I'm thinking, though, that if the students want to continue their work at home - they MUST be into it!


I can't wait to see how Writing Bingo evolves over the course of the year!

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