To Prompt, or Not to Prompt?

Here we are: Day #30 in a 31 Day Writing Challenge! It’s time to start reflecting.

I started this challenge with a plan to lean in and try out a type of writing I don’t really agree with; writing to a prompt. I chose Quick Writes by Donald Graves and Penny Kittle as my source of prompts. I wrote to quite a few over the month. Here’s what I’m thinking:

-I’m glad I took on the project. I think it’s important to try things myself in order to develop a broader understanding and to better explain my thinking about a topic.

-Some of the prompts led me to interesting places. I definitely discovered topics that I would not have if it hadn’t been for a prompt. I wrote about learning to drive with my dad and my parents’ divorce. I explored some powerful memories and experiences.

-Some of the prompts pushed me to be more creative than I would have been without them (drawing my hand, or writing from a shopping list, for example).

-I didn’t have to struggle for an idea when I wrote to a prompt. That’s kind of a plus and a minus for me. It was nice to know that there was going to be something to write about every day, but I think it took away an important part of the writing process – finding a topic that I care about and want to write about.

-I did build in some choice (One of the reasons I’m against prompts is because I find that they are often teacher-driven and don’t allow for choice – a key to engagement in my opinion.). I looked through the prompts and decided on the ones I wanted to try. Maybe this is cheating, but it was the only way I could do it.

Overall, I still think it’s better if writers choose topics of their own, but I’d be willing to offer children the choice of trying out writing to a prompt every now and then. Maybe it would lead them to some interesting topics. Maybe it’s a way in for some writers. Maybe prompts can provide a warm up if a writer is stuck. I’m a bit more open to the use of prompts after taking on this project. I see some value in the exercise.

2 thoughts on “To Prompt, or Not to Prompt?”

  1. I always question whether or not prompts are better than choice. I most enjoy prompts that are open ended and allow for differentiation of response. Lately my students have been writing to a daily quote. Next month I plan to present a poem a day project. Nice reflection on your month of writing.

  2. I still think some of your prompts led to good pieces. The end of the month got so exciting for you you didn’t need them though!

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