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.