Writer’s Block! Every English teacher’s nightmare! Who wants to listen to that incessant whine, "but I don’t know what to write about!" The underlying assumption, of course, is probably that it is the teacher’s job to come up with subjects…
Let’s get the students’ creative juices flowing, and have a lot of fun doing it, shall we?
First, break up the rows of desks and get the kids in a circle or half-circle. Have a "hot seat" strategically placed. It can be at the front of the classroom or a part of the circle, but it must be different from the rest of the seats. For example, if it is part of the circle, it should sit higher than the other chairs.
Tell Me About the Time You…
English student’s personalities cover the range from complete extrovert to painfully shy, so let your first "victim" (use that word and the class will giggle) volunteer to sit in the hot seat.
The rules of this game are to start answering the question immediately. Hesitation is not allowed.
Ask you first victim a question: "Tell me about the time you were hunting in Africa." As students take their turns in the hot seat, the questions can be anywhere from realistic, to highly unlikely, to downright surreal. Make sure you have a wide variety of questions prepared, so the kids can’t plan their answers ahead of time.
More suggestions include:
… were attacked by a person-eating plant.
… ate six large pizzas.
… showed up for a formal party in jeans.
… showed up for a swim party in a tuxedo.
… fell into a shark-infested swimming pool.
… jumped off the Empire State building and landed in California.
Be creative with your questions!
Tell me about the time you traveled to Mars.
It is important to have a sense of humor in this activity. This game encourages quick thinking, creativity, and the act of simply getting words out. This is extremely important for writers, because we can sift through everything we put on paper and choose what we want to keep. But if we allow Writer’s Block to stop us, then nothing gets written, and there is nothing to sift through and save. This exercise can help students produce.
In writing classes, the teacher can refer back to this exercise with students. For example, a student who is not sure what to write in a book report can be asked, "Tell me about the time you read this book," or, "tell me what you liked about this book." Remind the student to just write the answers to the questions without editing. He or she can edit later, after the words are on the page.