Understanding What a Writing Prompt is Asking and Writing Back… Bring on the Writing Prompts!
E.Q. How can we prepare our students to better understand writing prompts?
Prompts…What Are They? There is a difference between a writing prompt and a story starter… A story starter might be, “ I was scared when…” A writing prompt might be something like, “Everyone is afraid of something. Write a story about a time you had to face your fears.”
The Purpose of a Prompt A writing prompt gives you a situation to write about. It gives you a specific scenario. What you write helps your audience see that you understand a certain style of writing.
The Purpose of a Prompt Example: Your school is being featured on a local TV talk show. You have been invited to appear on the show to talk about something interesting that happened at school. Write about what you will say on TV.
Anything is Possible… It is possible to learn to read a prompt carefully so that we can understand what we are expected to write. The better we understand the prompt, the better job we will do writing about it!
Reading a Prompt…Start at the beginning… Topic: The first sentence of a prompt introduces the main idea of the topic and gives you the biggest clue about what you are to write. Here’s one… All kinds of things happen at school. Choose one of your experiences to write about.
Is there more to the topic? Elaboration of the topic: Sometime after the first sentence there will be a second sentence that tells a little more about the topic. Watch for that one too… Think about a funny thing that happened to you. Which one would make your friends laugh? Write a story you would tell so that your friends will know why it was funny.
Check for Limits… Sometimes we try to say too much when we write! Check the prompts for words that help you limit what you have to say…We call this limitations of the topic. All kinds of things happen at school. Choose one to write about.
What’s your Genre? The last sentence of the prompt usually lets you know what type of writing you need to create. What are some words that let you know that you should use: Expository Writing? tell about describe explain Narrative Writing? tell a story think of/ describe a time a time Persuasive Writing? convince persuade sell
What do you remember about being in first grade? Think about your first grade memories. Choose one and write about it. Topic? Possible Graphic Organizers? Memories of first grade. Limitation of the topic? Writing Genre? Narrative writing, so I’m going to write a story. Choose ONE memory.
Topic: Elaboration of the topic: There are many good reasons to play sports. Some people play competitive sports and some play recreationally. Think of a sport that you enjoy. Persuade a friend to play that sport. reasons to play sports Think of sport that you enjoy. Possible Graphic Organizers? Limitations? Writing Genre: The author should think of only one sport to talk about… Persuasive writing
Teachers influence students’ lives. Explain how a teacher has influenced your life. Topic? Possible Graphic Organizers? Influential teachers. Is there a limitation of the topic? Writing Genre? Expository How has one teacher influenced your life?
You have a tee shirt with a picture of an elephant on the front. One sunny afternoon while you are wearing the shirt, the elephant mysteriously leaps off your shirt and starts running down the street. Write a story about what happened. Elaboration of the topic: Topic: Tee shirt with elephant on the front It’s a sunny day, and the elephant jumps off the shirt… Possible Graphic Organizers? Limitations of the Topic: Writing Genre: Narrative, because we are writing a story. Are there limitations?
What Comes Next? Once you understand the prompt, it’s time to begin writing! Remember the steps of the WRITINGPROCESS!
Persuasive or Expository? Writing situation: Schools rules help keep students safe. One rule that affects students is the dress code. Your principal is reviewing the dress code and wants some input from students. Directions for writing: Write an essay to your principal that will suggest changes in the dress code that you feel are important. Give specific details and reasons to support your ideas.
Expository or Persuasive? Writing situation: Schools rules help keep students safe. One rule that affects students is the dress code. Your principal is reviewing the dress code and wants some input from students. Directions for writing: Convince your principal that certain changes need to be made to the current dress code. Remember to state details and the reasons for your ideas.
Writing Situation: Some students at your school think that teachers assign too much homework. Teachers are willing to consider implementing a homework plan and are asking for student suggestions. Directions for writing: In a letter to your teacher, present your homework plam. Explain how much homework should be assigned. You may want to consider different school subjects and different days of the week. Expository or Persuasive?
Expository or Persuasive? Writing Situation: Schools rules help keep students safe. One rule that affects students is the dress code. Your principal is reviewing the dress code and wants some input from students. Directions for Writing: Write an essay to convince your principal to change the school dress code. Be sure to include reasons why the changes are necessary.
Your Turn! Your teacher will give you a copy of one of the prompts. Use the strategies you learned to decide what the prompt is asking you to write. Create a Pre-write…Use the steps of the writing process. Have fun!
Another Strategy Ralph Fletcher describes the R.U.P.R. strategy that helps students clearly understand what a prompt is asking…
Using R.U.P.R. • Read the prompt once • Underline the F.A.T.-P. (Format, Audience, Topic, and Purpose) in the prompt. • Plan your answer (Web, List, or other Graphic Organizer) • Reread the prompt to make sure you have answered all the parts. (Did I understand the prompt correctly? Am I on topic? Should I revise any part?)
Use R.U.P.R. to examine these prompts: Using your promethium board, examine the following prompts. Mark the F.A.T.-P. and discuss R.U.P.R. PROMPT: