Kids always ask me about "Writer's block." which I rarely get. My theory: whenever we stop playing with words and "get serious" about writing, writer's block happens. By serious I mean worries that the first draft must be perfect (ha!) or that I must follow my novel's plotmap to the T. By playing I mean getting the ideas out–making room for rhymes or ideas or characters who show up on the page unplanned, and plot twists even you didn't see coming. Like I tell students at school visits: This is what sloppy copies are for!
These days, with required No-child-left-untested State Standards, a lot of the PLAY time gets cut. And yet when all is said and done, aren't the creative problem solvers, the ones who know how to play with ideas and words and think outside the box, the ones who pave the way?
So–enough talk–here's one of Erin's favorite ways to quiz or review with students (on any topic!)
and teach sentence structure (shhh–don't tell them!)
AND play with words at the same time:
A variation of a theater game called Dr. Know-It-All. (aka Professor Know-it-All)
Who: 10-12 students (or less) stand in line or semi-circle at the front of the room, facing the rest of the class.
How: Tell the 10-12 students they are now "one brain" and must answer questions on the given topic with a complete sentence, by speaking one word each in turn. When the "brain" has answered in a complete sentence, the last person adds the end mark ( example "Period." or "exclamation mark!")
Sample question (asked by teacher or other members of the class): What ways can you describe a rock?
Sample answer (one word per student, going down the line as many times as needed until the sentence is complete and answer given.): "Rocks can be described as mineral or soft or hard or part of the earth period."
Students must not only LISTEN to each other (now there's a concept!) but make sure the sentence makes sense and actually answers the question.
PS: Thanks to Librarians Lynn Baker (Cambridge Heights) and Julie Korb (Citrus Heights) for the photos!