I borrowed an idea from John Spencer about using a photo writing prompt to get some creative juices flowing in learners. There is a Tumblr page that has a collection of writing prompts to help start that process. Tumblr is blocked, so I hopped on to compfight.com and searched the word "quiet."
I got this image. I put it up, gave some brief instructions, and said "go."
"Do we describe the picture?"
"Should we explain it?"
"I want you to look at it, settle your head, and then just write."
"Can I write a poem?"
I'm trying to show my freshman that the world is not "right" and "wrong." There is no black and white. Each of them is a lens into the world and they need to 1) be given a chance to share that lens, and 2) know how to articulate what they are seeing.
Here are some excerpts:
I used to play in a park near my house; there was a huge (or at least it seemed huge) tree in the park with old wooden steps nailed to it, so I could climb it. I always ended up getting too scared; I would stop halfway up and come down.
I think the picture is kind of mysterious in a way, because it leaves people thinking and wondering about what it is supposed to mean or if it is even supposed to mean anything. Maybe it doesn’t have a meaning or a point. Maybe someone just wanted to take a picture.
Even though you are grown, everyone has their own place of peace, their own place to be still and quiet. This is the place they go to, to get away from the crazy lives we live and go back to those days of our childhood.
Who says you can't teach writing in science?
You can read more of the excerpts above by Laura, Dannie, and Erin.