Writing Warmup Exercises


When I taught summer school English, it was tough to foster student motivation.  It was hot; their iced coffees and sports drinks sweated on the tiny desks.  No one wanted to be awake at 7:30 in June, July or August.  Many of my students were exhausted from working part-time jobs on top of summer school.  Most of all, the majority of students didn’t want to be at school for another 10 weeks.

To combat the malaise, I used daily creative writing warm-ups to get everyone’s hands and brains moving, reward punctuality (an automatic five points for completing it), and hopefully bring some fun and humor to the classroom.  I gave the students a prompt— usually an image– and asked them to write a 1-2 paragraph story about what’s happening in the picture or what will happen next.  The results were always interesting.  I tried using songs, but I found pictures much more effective.

I used pictures I took myself of my hometown, Traverse City, MI; my Alma Mater, Kalamazoo College; and historical photographs from TC’s local history museum, the Grand Traverse Heritage Center.  These pictures prompted the most vivid responses.  Feel free to share them with your students.

You now have 8 minutes to write a 1-2 paragraph story about one of these  pictures.  Please begin.  We’ll share our responses with the class when we’re done.

It was interesting that students rarely asked for more information about the photos (except the robot picture) and most students were comfortable inventing a story.  Some students struggled to do more than just describe, but over a 10 week course all my students became faster and wrote more.  Student highlights included a police drag racing contest, a squirrel who was traumatized by his cheating wife, and a robot zombie invasion of an all-robot college.  Can you do better?


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One Response to “Writing Warmup Exercises”

  1. Becca Says:

    Sadly I don’t do much creative writing in my classes … I ask them to write a personal essay for the first project and it’s like pulling teeth. I might be able to work this in somehow, though … if I frame it properly. Yay working at a tech school?

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