"Every school day since 2009 we’ve asked students a question based on an article in The New York Times. Now, five years later, we’ve collected 500 of them that invite narrative and personal writing and pulled them all together in one place. Consider it a companion to the list of 200 argumentative writing prompts we posted earlier this year.
"The categorized list below touches on everything from sports to travel, education, gender roles, video games, fashion, family, pop culture, social media and more, and, like all our Student Opinion questions, each links to a related Times article and includes a series of follow-up questions. What’s more, all these questions are still open for comment by any student 13 or older."
Close Third-Person is important tool to have in your kit. This is a chance for the reader to become intimate with the characters. And if done correctly, you can enter the natural vernacular seamlessly.
BBC News PD James' top 10 tips for writing a novel BBC News You can help people who can write to write more effectively and you can probably teach people a lot of little tips for writing a novel, but I don't think somebody who cannot write and does...
Young-adult fiction, commonly called "YA fiction," has exploded over the past decade or so: The number of YA titles published grew more than 120 percent between 2002 and 2012, and other estimates say that between 1997 and 2009, that figure was...
"Of all the scenes we write, dialogue is the most complex and rich. Most writers I know take several passes to get it right."
Penelope Silver's insight:
"Dialogue is one of those tricky areas that trip up many authors--myself included. As I am writing my first romance novel, I run into areas such as:
"How much dialogue is enough?
When and where should you insert dialogue?
When should you move from narrator consciousness to talking?
How long should you make the responses?
"Author Roz Morris gives us seven simple steps to writing great dialogue. You would think most would seem obvious, but some of them are real ah ha! moments. I really appreciate these tips:
"VISUALS - People move as they talk. They shrug, make faces, cook, clean, etc. Create a picture in your reader's mind. This will create a richer, more dramatic scene.
"REACTIONS - Are the characters reacting and talking or does their internal dialogue evaporate when they start being vocal?
"DECLUTTER - Think of your reader when you write dialogue. Readers scan through these scenes quickly, and don't need to be told of every breath and blink. Let your scene sit for a few days, and go back at it with fresh eyes to take out the fat.
"Head on over to the article to read four more great tips!"
***This review was written by Penelope Silvers for her curated content on "Writing Rightly"***
"t was not long ago that producing multimedia digital content required expensive equipment and deep levels of technical expertise. We are at the point now where anyone can create and publish very compelling content with nothing more complex than a web browser.
"The point is not that these are professional level production tools, but that the barrier of entry to content creation can be drastically low. And you should find a new mode of creativity when the tool have some limits as to what they can do-- and find that the core of the story is much more important than a widget."
Jim Lerman's insight:
This is Alan Levine's classis wiki from 2007, most recently updated in May, 2013. The site links to, names, and briefly describes more than 50 web 2.0 tools to use and share with students for many forms of storytelling. Be sure to check oout the "New Tools to Be Added" link in the navigation bar. It goes to a page containing tools that Levine is still considering for addition to his list. Readers may suggest tools to add as well.
"This week I gave a seminar at TeachMeet Clevedon. I am going to post more fully on my topic of teachers getting better by undertaking ‘deliberate practice‘ sometime soon. One smaller aspect of my presentation was how teachers can improve written feedback, both to improve learning and to marginally reduce the time taken to give written feedback. With the gift of more time we can free ourselves to pursue becoming a better teacher more deliberately: with reflection, planning and deliberate practice. Of course, written feedback is so crucial that it can improve teaching and learning significantly, therefore it deserves our attention in its own right.
"The following list of tips is a synthesis of my experience and that of my English department (see our policy for feedback here). It also draws upon many excellent teachers and their cumulative experience of effective written feedback."
"To help jump-start your brainstorming, we have gathered a list of 200 writing prompts from our daily Student Opinion feature that invite you to take a stand.
"Though you won’t be limited to these topics for the contest, you’ll see that our list touches on every aspect of modern life, from politics to sports, culture, education and technology. We hope the range inspires you, and we hope the fact that each question links to at least one related Times article gives you a starting point for finding evidence."
"The National Writing Project (NWP) does a spot-on job of bringing together a raft of resources for those teaching writing at all levels of interest and instruction. These thirty ideas are a great way to get started, and include tips that originated as full-length articles in various NWP publications. As suggested on its site, "readers will benefit from a variety of eclectic, classroom-tested techniques." The complete list of ideas is offered here, along with links to the aforementioned articles which often include suggestions about classroom implementation. First-time visitors should take a look at tips like "Use the shared events of students’ lives to inspire writing" and "Pair students with adult reading/writing buddies."
26 Questions Every Student Should Be Able To Answer These questions are more about the student than you, your classroom, or education. What every student should know starts with themselves and moves outwards to your...
Blurb's free, easy-to-use book-making tools let you design, publish, promote, and sell your own bookstore-quality books. Unleash your creative genius, make a book with Blurb, and be part of the Blurb community.
"Warm up activities that get learners writing can be fantastic for getting the creative juices flowing while also giving a focused start to your lesson. A writing task at the start of class can be an effective way of leading into explicit grammar teaching or can just as easily be followed up with speaking activities. What’s more, many such activities are easy to adapt to be suitable for any type of learners, both adults and kids. Indeed, adding an entertaining element to writing activities will make them fun for everyone, as well as making them low pressure tasks which enable learners’ writing to flow freely. Here are five of my favourites."
Grammar & Spelling Check; Free Online Proofreading; No Downloads...Allows you to find those pesky mistakes and correct them before your teacher does...
Jim Lerman's insight:
I checked this out for something I had just written. It is way, way better than the checker built into Microsoft Word. PaperRater offers not only spelling and grammar check, but also plagiarism detection, and suggestions for improving writing. The service is free and fast. I plan to use it for myself as well as recommending it to colleagues and students.
"One of the key results of flipping my writing and literature classes has been that my students do much of their writing in-class on computers provided by the college. All of these computers have Microsoft Word on them, but I prefer to use Google Docs/Drive instead. Given that MS Word is the standard word processor for my college and most of the rest of the world, then this preference may require some defence. After all, my colleagues expect all of their papers to be submitted in doc or docx format, and my students are most familiar with Word, so what are the benefits of Google Docs that make it worth swimming against the tide?"