A blank page is intimidating. Don’t believe me? Take a piece of paper and write three paragraphs about what you did last weekend. I don’t know about you but I’m lucky if I remember what I ate for breakfast. Yet, we often give students a prompt like this and then bemoan the fact that students don’t descriptive include details or show an interest in revising what they wrote.
Lesson for the Classroom
Pictures unlock details from the brain. You can have students bring in a photograph of something they’re going to write about or you can have students draw detailed and labelled pictures as a way of prewriting. By appealing to students visual intelligence you will unlock all kinds of rich details and increase student engagement in writing. Students with a picture of their dog, will think of all kinds of things to write about Spot that wouldn’t come to mind when staring at a blank page and the walls of the classroom.
Students at all grade levels can draw pictures, like storyboards, as a way of prewriting. As an adult, I use pictures as well as a way of planning out what I’m going to write. Don’t think that it’s a waste of time or not age level appropriate. The time invested pays dividends later in the writing process and students at all grade levels can benefit.