Writing

Not just writing correctly, but writing interestingly!

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Paragraphs: Systems of Sentences

Paragraphs: Systems of Sentences

Want students to understand how a paragraph fits together? Explode one and make them reassemble it using the clues in each sentence! I even wrote a little app to bust a paragraph up for you.

Showing A Character’s Trait

Showing A Character’s Trait

We tell students to "show, not tell" in their writing, but this advice isn't effective until they experience the difference. In this video, we'll put a famous character (of students' choosing) into a mundane situation and develop a fun scene to show off their main traits.

Ways to Start a Sentence – Level 1

Ways to Start a Sentence – Level 1

"Add more variety!" I'd say to my class. But I never really knew what this actually meant. Suprise! This bad advice never improved students' writing. In these videos, students learn nine specific ways to add variety just by changing the beginning of their sentences. This was easily one of my students' favorite writing tools - because it actually helped them.

Fancier Figurative Language: Start with a Cliche

Fancier Figurative Language: Start with a Cliche

We'll start with the cliché "as cold as ice" and go somewhere much more interesting.

Holiday vs Holiday (from a Mascot’s Perspective)

Holiday vs Holiday (from a Mascot’s Perspective)

Want something to do during the holiday season that is both fun and involves thinking? Get students writing about what a snowman would think about Halloween or what a ghost would think about Thanksgiving.

Building Creative Analogies

Building Creative Analogies

We'll take two seemingly unrelated pieces of content (say volcanoes and the human body) and then build analogies to connect the two ideas. In the end, students can create a skit, comic, or story relating the two concepts.

Jabberwocky and Context Clues

Jabberwocky and Context Clues

Context clues lessons can be a disaster. Here, we expose students to a delightful classic packed with nonsense words ("Jabberwocky") and ask them to decipher the meanings and parts of speech. Then, it's only natural for students to write their own nonsense poems.

Upgrade Research Questions With Depth and Complexity

Upgrade Research Questions With Depth and Complexity

Ever ask students to create research questions? Were their ideas a bit… blah? My own students had a very hard time writing questions they didn't already know the answer to! This video is how I solved that problem: upgrade research questions with depth and complexity.

Writing About Art: The Scream

Writing About Art: The Scream

Your students will turn the iconic painting The Scream into a vivid, sensory poem.

Better Stories Part 4: Character Archetypes

Better Stories Part 4: Character Archetypes

Are students' characters a bit flat? Archetypes give them a strong foundation on which to build their own characters as well as a tool to analyze existing stories.

Writing A Thanksgiving Letter

Writing A Thanksgiving Letter

What if an inanimate object could express thanks for a special person in your life? What would it write?

Writing Seuss Style Poetry

Writing Seuss Style Poetry

Sure, Dr. Seuss wrote for young students, but can older students analyze his writing and learn to mimic his style? THEN, they can produce Seuss-style poetry about any topic: Ancient China, the electromagnetic spectrum, Pride and Prejudice, and (yes) fraction division!

Punctuation Power

Punctuation Power

In a sentence, punctuation may seem meek when compared to those mighty words, but punctuation has incredible power over the meaning of a sentence. Students will try re-punctuating sentences to find new meanings - without changing a single word!

Writing Summaries in Haiku

Writing Summaries in Haiku

Let's write a summary. A very short summary. With VERY strict rules.

Identifying Author’s Voice

Identifying Author’s Voice

What if... Edgar Allen Poe wrote Alice's Adventures in Wonderland?

Better Stories Part 1: The Big Idea

Better Stories Part 1: The Big Idea

We open our unit on narrative writing with a big idea: "structure increases creativity." I show how this is true by bringing in examples from across all disciplines.

Writing in Pilish

Writing in Pilish

Pi can go beyond circles! What if you wrote using the digits of pi as your guide?

Remixing A Holiday Poem

Remixing A Holiday Poem

Let's take a classic Christmas poem and remix it to work with another holiday!

Better Stories Part 3: Literary Themes

Better Stories Part 3: Literary Themes

A typical student narrative includes plot and characters but lacks a larger idea to hold it all together. This is where a lesson on themes comes in…

Better Stories Part 5: Plot Structure

Better Stories Part 5: Plot Structure

Ever read a student's story that was just event after event after event and then a very sudden ending? They lack an understanding of a plot's structure. With the help of Finding Nemo, I break down how to set up a well-structured plot.

Back to School: Rewriting The Beatles’ “Help!”

Back to School: Rewriting The Beatles’ “Help!”

Can your students come up with a one-syllable word to sum up their time away from school? And then rewrite The Beatles' song Help!?

Random Emoji Prompt Generator

Random Emoji Prompt Generator

Click up an interesting, visual writing prompt suitable for any grade or purpose.

Propaganda and Logical Fallacies

Propaganda and Logical Fallacies

Let's see how propaganda techniques can make even something great seem bad.

Academic Love Letters

Academic Love Letters

What if Kylo Ren wrote a love letter to Abe Lincoln or the Sahara Desert wrote one to the Moon?

Upgrading Compare and Contrast Writing

Upgrading Compare and Contrast Writing

Upgrade compare and contrast writing with just a couple of key words.

Teach Non-Fiction Writing Structure With Fractals

Teach Non-Fiction Writing Structure With Fractals

Did you ever notice that the structure of an essay is very similar to the structure of a paragraph? Hmm…

A Halloween Costume Gone Wrong

A Halloween Costume Gone Wrong

Let's go roller skating in a Halloween costume! What could possibly go wrong?

Changing Coordinating Conjunctions

Changing Coordinating Conjunctions

What happens when we switch out a "but" with a "so"? An "and" with a "for"? How can such tiny words make such big differences?

Better Stories Part 2: Types of Conflict

Better Stories Part 2: Types of Conflict

If your students' stories are packed with endless ninja fights or arguments between frenemies, it's time to expose them to a wider range of conflicts.

Looking Closely at Holiday Photos

Looking Closely at Holiday Photos

Let's write from multiple perspectives using an old timey holiday photo!

Ways to Start a Sentence – Level 2

Ways to Start a Sentence – Level 2

We'll show students how to add more variety to their writing by starting sentences with a reason, a prepositional phrase, and a simile.

Pronouns With Too Many Antecedents

Pronouns With Too Many Antecedents

What happens when a pronoun could refer to more than one noun? Big problems!

Writing Clear Directions

Writing Clear Directions

Can you write directions so clear that a group of kids can put a toy together with no illustrations?

Thanksgiving Photo Writing

Thanksgiving Photo Writing

Starting with an old-timey photo, students will write from a particular item's point of view.

Advanced Alliteration and Consonance

Advanced Alliteration and Consonance

When students learn about alliteration, it's hard to steer them away from goofy tongue-twisters. Certainly, there must be more powerful and practical ways of using alliteration. In this lesson, I draw on delicious examples from Shakespeare to show how a very advanced writer used alliteration. Then, I break those ideas down so students can try them out.

Studying and Remixing “The Raven”

Studying and Remixing “The Raven”

Ready to push kids beyond the boring, old ABAB rhyme scheme and into something a bit more complex?

Literary Technique: Juxtaposition

Literary Technique: Juxtaposition

Put a grumpy character next to a joyful one and they make each other stand out even more. Opposites are powerful!

Ways to Start a Sentence – Part 3

Ways to Start a Sentence – Part 3

We'll show students how to add more variety to their writing by starting sentences with gerunds, participle phrases, and absolute phrases.

Ambiguous Sentences

Ambiguous Sentences

Rather than just demand that students "write clearly," we'll explore the hazards of poorly written sentences… and maybe create one of our own!

Analyze Paragraphs: Baseball

Analyze Paragraphs: Baseball

Students will read three paragraphs about the same topic, decide what makes each one different, and then create a super-paragraph!

Bobbing for Apples

Bobbing for Apples

What is bobbing for apples like… for an apple?

Robot Writing: The Bridge

Robot Writing: The Bridge

One painting of a bridge. Three robots. Who wrote it best?

Fancier Figurative Language: Use the Opposite

Fancier Figurative Language: Use the Opposite

Let's start with "As cold as fire."

Elements of The Fantasy Genre

Elements of The Fantasy Genre

Dig into the common elements of the fantasy genre.

Passive to Active Voice

Passive to Active Voice

n this lesson, students will not just fix passive sentences, but break active sentences as they learn to put the star of the sentence first.

What Would Poetry Think About Prose?

What Would Poetry Think About Prose?

Imagine that Poetry and Prose meet for the first time at a party? What would they say to each other? How would they feel? In this video, I guide kids through the process of writing a script in which these two forms of writing interact.

Fixing Shakespearean Run-Ons

Fixing Shakespearean Run-Ons

Can your students help The Bard? We'll fix five Shakespearean run-ons in three different ways.

Writing About Art: Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog

Writing About Art: Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog

Students will look closely at a piece of art and then write a structured poem about it.

Fancier Figurative Language: Move the Simile

Fancier Figurative Language: Move the Simile

What if we started a sentence with the simile?

Writing Technique: Contrast With Synonyms

Writing Technique: Contrast With Synonyms

A specific technique to help students add some spice to their writing. We'll be contrasting two ideas using synonyms.

Robot Writing: Volcano

Robot Writing: Volcano

Read three pieces of writing from three different robots about the same beautiful painting of a volcano. Who wrote it best?

Mother’s Day Cards

Mother’s Day Cards

Let's write the cleverest Mother's Day cards you've ever seen!

Analyze Paragraphs: Cucumbers

Analyze Paragraphs: Cucumbers

Students will read three paragraphs about the same topic, decide what makes each one different, and then create a super-paragraph!

Writing About Art: Impression, Sunrise

Writing About Art: Impression, Sunrise

Students will create a surprisingly good poem based on Monet's Impression, Sunrise.

Analyze Paragraphs: Wolverines

Analyze Paragraphs: Wolverines

Students will read three paragraphs about the same topic, decide what makes each one different, and then create a super-paragraph!

Writing About Art: Chōshi in Shimosha

Writing About Art: Chōshi in Shimosha

Get your students writing some pretty darn impressive poetry based on Japan's most famous artist.

Writing About Art: Twilight in the Wilderness

Writing About Art: Twilight in the Wilderness

Students will write about a beautiful painting from Frederic Edwin Church.

Order, Chaos, and the Holiday Season

Order, Chaos, and the Holiday Season

Let's write a holiday song about order and chaos!

Change A Story’s Genre

Change A Story’s Genre

What if we rewrote a story's climax into a totally different genre?

Holiday Writing: Packing Crates

Holiday Writing: Packing Crates

Students will look closely at this old image and write a short, structured poem.

Writing Technique: 3 Dependent Clauses

Writing Technique: 3 Dependent Clauses

A specific technique to help students add some spice to their writing. We'll be writing sentences with three dependent clauses.

Fancier Figurative Language: Advanced Repetition

Fancier Figurative Language: Advanced Repetition

Is your students' use of repetition limited to, "The girl was very, very, very fast."? Let's borrow some ideas from Shakespeare!

Writing Technique: Opposite Adjectives

Writing Technique: Opposite Adjectives

A specific technique to help students add some spice to their writing. We'll be using antonyms to describe the same topic!

Doubling Up Writing: Anadiplosis

Doubling Up Writing: Anadiplosis

Repeating words can be what you want, if what you want is an interesting effect. (Psst, that's an example of anadiplosis!)

Analyze Paragraphs: Empire State Building

Analyze Paragraphs: Empire State Building

Students will read three paragraphs about the same topic, decide what makes each one different, and then create a super-paragraph!

Analyze Paragraphs: Tomatoes

Analyze Paragraphs: Tomatoes

Students will read three paragraphs about the same topic, decide what makes each one different, and then create a super-paragraph!

Holiday Emoji Story 🚚

Holiday Emoji Story 🚚

Students will create a story about 🚚🎁🤔🐶🫣

Earthquakes – Mixed Up Paragraph

Earthquakes – Mixed Up Paragraph

Can you use the context clues to get these sentences about earthquakes back into the correct order?

Writing Technique: Triple Anadiplosis!

Writing Technique: Triple Anadiplosis!

Have students mastered the art of anadiplosis: ending one sentence with the beginning of the next? Now it's time to take it to the next level!

Halloween Emoji Story 🕷️

Halloween Emoji Story 🕷️

Students will create a story about 🕷️🕸️📩🔑🚪.

Writing Sample: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Falling)

Writing Sample: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Falling)

A passage from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland to use as a mentor text, discussion starter, or writing prompt.

Halloween Emoji Story 🎃

Halloween Emoji Story 🎃

Students will create a story about 🎃🕯️📖💥👻.

Holiday Emoji Story ⛷️

Holiday Emoji Story ⛷️

Students will create a story about ⛷️🌨️🌲🐻🤝

Think Like An Author: Hemingway vs Dickens

Think Like An Author: Hemingway vs Dickens

What if your students rewrote Dickens in the style of Hemingway and vice versa?

Super Specific Similes: Stinky Seaweed

Super Specific Similes: Stinky Seaweed

Students will make this simile about stinky seaweed super specific.

Super Specific Similes: Quick Baby

Super Specific Similes: Quick Baby

Let's make this simile about a quick baby even more specific.

Super Specific Similes – Slimy Broccoli

Super Specific Similes – Slimy Broccoli

Students will make this slimy broccoli simile seriously specific.

Writing About Art: Burning of the Houses of Lords and Commons

Writing About Art: Burning of the Houses of Lords and Commons

Students will create a pretty darn interesting poem about Burning of the Houses of Lords and Commons.

Getting Specific With St. Patrick’s Day Writing

Getting Specific With St. Patrick’s Day Writing

Let's take a starting phrase about St. Patrick's Day and get specific. No, even more specific!

Emoji Stories 🏰

Emoji Stories 🏰

Students will create a story about 🏰📚🔍🔐🚪.

Writing Sample: The Wind in the Willows

Writing Sample: The Wind in the Willows

A passage from The Wind in the Willows to use as a mentor text, discussion starter, or writing prompt.

Robot Writing: Acropolis

Robot Writing: Acropolis

One painting of ruins. Three robots. Three pieces of writing. Who wrote it best?

Writing Sample: The Velveteen Rabbit (The Toys)

Writing Sample: The Velveteen Rabbit (The Toys)

A passage from The Velveteen Rabbit to use as a mentor text, discussion starter, or writing prompt.

Writing Sample: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Shrinking)

Writing Sample: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Shrinking)

A passage from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland to use as a mentor text, discussion starter, or writing prompt.

Coral Reef – Mixed Up Paragraph

Coral Reef – Mixed Up Paragraph

Can you use the context clues to get these sentences about the coral reef back into the correct order?

Writing Sample: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Writing Sample: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

A passage from "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" to use as a mentor text, discussion starter, or writing prompt.

Writing Sample: A Christmas Carol (Cold)

Writing Sample: A Christmas Carol (Cold)

Robot Writing: Orchestra

Robot Writing: Orchestra

Read three pieces of writing from three different robots based on a beautiful painting and decide who wins!

Halloween Emoji Story 🌕

Halloween Emoji Story 🌕

Students will create a story about 🌕🌲👣😱💨.

St. Patrick and Other Legends

St. Patrick and Other Legends

How would real people feel about the legends that have been created about them?

Writing Sample: Anne of Green Gables

Writing Sample: Anne of Green Gables

An intriguing passage from Anne of Green Gables to use as a mentor text, discussion starter, or writing prompt.

Writing Sample: Peter Pan

Writing Sample: Peter Pan

A passage from "Peter Pan" to use as a mentor text, discussion starter, or writing prompt.

12 Phrases: Out To Eat

12 Phrases: Out To Eat

Given twelve random phrases, students will pick four and then write about the strange situation.

The Great Sphinx – Mixed Up Paragraph

The Great Sphinx – Mixed Up Paragraph

Can you use the context clues to get these sentences about The Great Sphinx back into the correct order?

Super Specific Similes – Strong Uncle

Super Specific Similes – Strong Uncle

Let's make this simile about a strong uncle even more specific.

Holiday Emoji Story 🎅

Holiday Emoji Story 🎅

Students will create a story about 🎅🛷🌀🚀🌍

Holiday Emoji Story ☃️

Holiday Emoji Story ☃️

Students will create a story about ☃️👑🏔️🔭✨

Holiday Emoji Story 🍪

Holiday Emoji Story 🍪

Students will create a story about 🍪🥛🔍🐾🦌

Writing Sample: White Fang (The Wild)

Writing Sample: White Fang (The Wild)

A passage from White Fang to use as a mentor text, discussion starter, or writing prompt.

12 Phrases: Amusement Park

12 Phrases: Amusement Park

Given twelve random phrases, students will pick four and then write about the strange situation.

Automobiles – Mixed Up Paragraph

Automobiles – Mixed Up Paragraph

Can you use the context clues to get these sentences about automobiles back into the correct order?

Washington, DC – Mixed Up Paragraph

Washington, DC – Mixed Up Paragraph

Can you use the context clues to get these sentences about Washington, DC back into the correct order?

Trains – Mixed Up Paragraph

Trains – Mixed Up Paragraph

Can you use the context clues to get these sentences about trains back into the correct order?

Super Specific Similes: Loud Class

Super Specific Similes: Loud Class

Let's make this simile about a loud class super specific!

Emoji Stories 🚗

Emoji Stories 🚗

Students will write a story about 🚗🗺️🌋🐉🌉

Emoji Stories 🤖

Emoji Stories 🤖

Students will create a story about 🤖💃🎵🕺🐔.

Emoji Stories 🐻

Emoji Stories 🐻

Students will create a story about 🐻🎩🎙️🐰🤣.

Writing Sample: The Fall of the House of Usher

Writing Sample: The Fall of the House of Usher

A passage from "The Fall of the House of Usher" to use as a mentor text, discussion starter, or writing prompt.

Writing Sample: The Jungle Book (Bagheera)

Writing Sample: The Jungle Book (Bagheera)

A passage from The Jungle Book to use as a mentor text, discussion starter, or writing prompt.

Rainclouds – Mixed Up Paragraph

Rainclouds – Mixed Up Paragraph

Can you use the context clues to get these sentences about rain clouds back into the correct order?

Writing Sample: Moby Dick

Writing Sample: Moby Dick

A passage from Moby Dick to use as a mentor text, discussion starter, or writing prompt.

12 Phrases: A Magical School

12 Phrases: A Magical School

Given twelve random phrases, students will pick four and then write about the strange situation.

12 Phrases: A Day At School

12 Phrases: A Day At School

Given twelve random phrases, students will pick four and then write about the strange situation.

The Moon – Mixed Up Paragraph

The Moon – Mixed Up Paragraph

Can you use the context clues to get these sentences about The Moon back into the correct order?

Emoji Stories 🏟️

Emoji Stories 🏟️

Students will create a story about 🏟️🏹🍞🐦🔥

12 Phrases: Somewhere In Space

12 Phrases: Somewhere In Space

Given twelve random phrases, students will pick four and then write about the strange situation.

Great Sloths – Mixed Up Paragraph

Great Sloths – Mixed Up Paragraph

Can you use the context clues to get these sentences about great sloths back into the correct order?

Pluto – Mixed Up Paragraph

Pluto – Mixed Up Paragraph

Can you use the context clues to get these sentences about Pluto back into the correct order?

Emoji Stories 🕰️

Emoji Stories 🕰️

Students will create a story about 🕰️🎩🐀💎🕺

Emoji Stories 👁️

Emoji Stories 👁️

Students will create a story about 👁️🔮🌩️🚷🌲

Emoji Stories 🛥️

Emoji Stories 🛥️

Students will write a story about 🛥️🏊🌊🐙🤝 .

Emoji Stories 🚚

Emoji Stories 🚚

Students will create a story about 🚚🤖📻🛸🌌

Emoji Stories 🐌

Emoji Stories 🐌

Students will create a story about 🐌📬✈️🏛️ 📜

Emoji Stories 🦁

Emoji Stories 🦁

Students will create a story about 🦁👑🐗🎶🌄

12 Phrases: The Zoo

12 Phrases: The Zoo

Given twelve random phrases, students will pick four and then write about the strange situation.