Writing

Not just writing correctly, but writing interestingly!

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

Part 1 of Ways To Start Sentences

"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.

Paragraphs: Systems of Sentences

Part 1 of Mixed Up Paragraphs

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.

Fancier Figurative Language: Start with a Cliche

Part 1 of Fancier Figurative Language

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

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

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

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

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

Part 6 of Writing About Art

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

Better Stories Part 4: Character Archetypes

Part 4 of Writing Better Stories

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

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

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

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!

Identifying Author’s Voice

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

Writing Summaries in Haiku

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

Remixing A Holiday Poem

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

Better Stories Part 1: The Big Idea

Part 1 of Writing Better Stories

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.

Better Stories Part 3: Literary Themes

Part 3 of Writing Better Stories

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

Part 5 of Writing Better Stories

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.

Propaganda and Logical Fallacies

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

Writing in Pilish

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

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

Part 1 of Emoji Prompts

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

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

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

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

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

Looking Closely at Holiday Photos

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

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

Part 2 of Writing Better Stories

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.

Ways to Start a Sentence – Level 2

Part 2 of Ways To Start Sentences

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

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

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

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

Advanced Alliteration and Consonance

Part 5 of Fancier Figurative Language

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”

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

Ways to Start a Sentence – Part 3

Part 3 of Ways To Start Sentences

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

Literary Technique: Juxtaposition

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

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

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

Bobbing for Apples

What is bobbing for apples like… for an apple?

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.

Robot Writing: The Bridge

Part 1 of Robot Writing

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

Fancier Figurative Language: Move the Simile

Part 3 of Fancier Figurative Language

What if we started a sentence with the simile?

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

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

Writing Technique: Contrast With Synonyms

Part 1 of Spice Up Your Writing

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

Analyze Paragraphs: Wolverines

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

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: Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog

Part 4 of Writing About Art

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

Writing About Art: Chōshi in Shimosha

Part 3 of Writing About Art

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

Writing About Art: Impression, Sunrise

Part 2 of Writing About Art

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

Order, Chaos, and the Holiday Season

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

Holiday Writing: Packing Crates

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

Robot Writing: Volcano

Part 2 of Robot Writing

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

Writing About Art: Twilight in the Wilderness

Part 5 of Writing About Art

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

Writing Technique: 3 Dependent Clauses

Part 3 of Spice Up Your Writing

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

Writing Technique: Opposite Adjectives

Part 2 of Spice Up Your Writing

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

Fancier Figurative Language: Advanced Repetition

Part 4 of Fancier Figurative Language

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

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!

Doubling Up Writing: Anadiplosis

Part 4 of Spice Up Your Writing

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

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 🚚

Part 1 of Holiday Emoji Prompts

Students will create a story about 🚚🎁🤔🐶🫣

Earthquakes – Mixed Up Paragraph

Part 2 of Mixed Up Paragraphs

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

Change A Story’s Genre

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

Writing Technique: Triple Anadiplosis!

Part 5 of Spice Up Your Writing

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 🕷️

Part 1 of Halloween Emoji Prompts

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

Halloween Emoji Story 🎃

Part 3 of Halloween Emoji Prompts

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

Holiday Emoji Story ⛷️

Part 5 of Holiday Emoji Prompts

Students will create a story about ⛷️🌨️🌲🐻🤝

Think Like An Author: Hemingway vs Dickens

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

Mother’s Day Cards

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

Super Specific Similes – Slimy Broccoli

Part 3 of Super Specific Similes

Students will make this slimy broccoli simile seriously specific.

Super Specific Similes: Quick Baby

Part 1 of Super Specific Similes

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

Emoji Stories 🏰

Part 2 of Emoji Prompts

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

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

Part 1 of Writing About Art

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

Robot Writing: Acropolis

Part 3 of Robot Writing

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

Halloween Emoji Story 🌕

Part 2 of Halloween Emoji Prompts

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

Coral Reef – Mixed Up Paragraph

Part 7 of Mixed Up Paragraphs

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

Super Specific Similes: Stinky Seaweed

Part 4 of Super Specific Similes

Students will make this simile about stinky seaweed super specific.

Holiday Emoji Story 🎅

Part 2 of Holiday Emoji Prompts

Students will create a story about 🎅🛷🌀🚀🌍

Holiday Emoji Story ☃️

Part 3 of Holiday Emoji Prompts

Students will create a story about ☃️👑🏔️🔭✨

Holiday Emoji Story 🍪

Part 4 of Holiday Emoji Prompts

Students will create a story about 🍪🥛🔍🐾🦌

The Great Sphinx – Mixed Up Paragraph

Part 11 of Mixed Up Paragraphs

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

Automobiles – Mixed Up Paragraph

Part 3 of Mixed Up Paragraphs

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

Trains – Mixed Up Paragraph

Part 5 of Mixed Up Paragraphs

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

Robot Writing: Orchestra

Part 4 of Robot Writing

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

Super Specific Similes – Strong Uncle

Part 4 of Super Specific Similes

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

Rainclouds – Mixed Up Paragraph

Part 8 of Mixed Up Paragraphs

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

Washington, DC – Mixed Up Paragraph

Part 4 of Mixed Up Paragraphs

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

Super Specific Similes: Loud Class

Part 2 of Super Specific Similes

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

Emoji Stories 🚗

Part 5 of Emoji Prompts

Students will write a story about 🚗🗺️🌋🐉🌉

Emoji Stories 🤖

Part 4 of Emoji Prompts

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

The Moon – Mixed Up Paragraph

Part 6 of Mixed Up Paragraphs

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

Great Sloths – Mixed Up Paragraph

Part 9 of Mixed Up Paragraphs

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

Pluto – Mixed Up Paragraph

Part 10 of Mixed Up Paragraphs

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

Emoji Stories 🐻

Part 3 of Emoji Prompts

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