Inspiring prose prompts for more able learners not only offer them a challenge but will also support their communication skills, improve vocabulary and provide them with a creative outlet to express themselves, thereby supporting long-term mental health. This is especially true when the prompt encourages them to process contemporary issues and experiences, which is needed now more than ever.
Hold a discussion with your class about possible ways of interpreting the writing prompt and offer students time to consider how they might approach it. Discuss planning the writing, creating a draft and revising it based on reflection and feedback. Imposing restrictions on the writing, in the form of time or word count limits, adds a further challenge and encourages the development of metacognition and planning skills, while asking children to read out their finished stories to the class, promotes presentation skills, oracy and confidence.
- …and this is why 2021 will be remembered
Write a piece of prose of 500-750 words about a time and place. The last line of the piece should end with ‘…and this is why 2021 will be remembered.’
- Lockdown Paradise
Write a piece of prose of 500-750 words that takes you to a place or time you’d rather have been living in during lockdown.
- Our Message to the World
You are walking late at night in an unknown place and you come to an abandoned building. You look down and see a mysterious-looking little book with strange shapes all over the deep red cover. You open it and see the title page reads ‘Our Message to the World’. What does the book contain?
- Reflections on Lockdown
Write about your reflections on lockdown 2021 both positive and negative. Include in your writing the phrase ‘I know why the caged bird sings.’
- The Me I Met While School Was Out
Write a piece of prose of 500-750 words about what you learned about yourself during the period between New Year and March 8th 2021; ‘The Me I Met While School Was Out’.
- Locality Central
Write 500-750 words on the topic of ’10 Good Reasons [your village/town/city/local area] is the Centre of the Universe’ with reference to lockdown restrictions.
Any of the prompts above could also be used to set a school or key stage competition. When setting a competition, be clear about the expected length and theme, ask class teachers to long-list the entries (providing the final judge(s) with, perhaps, 6 entries from their class) and choose someone completely independent of the classes to make the final decisions – possibly the head or deputy head unless you have someone else suitable affiliated with the school. Winning entries could be displayed around the school or go in a school newsletter. Small, inexpensive trophies for the winners always go down well.
Whether you use these prompts as general class tasks, homework assignments or for a competition, the benefits will be the same. Some children will need more scaffolding, explanation and support than others, but all will have the opportunity to interpret the prompts creatively and develop their writing, communication, and planning skills.
Learn more about writing for greater depth at Key Stage 2: https://missstanleyyr6.wordpress.com/2019/07/25/greater-depth-can-it-be-taught/
Learn more about developing writing at Key Stage 2, including the writing process: https://www.nfer.ac.uk/media/1356/91027.pdf
Section 7 of this document has good information for teaching writing at Key Stage 3: https://dera.ioe.ac.uk/2403/7/se_iw_handbook0067109_Redacted.pdf
Bob Cox talks here about plotting journeys for young writers: https://www2.le.ac.uk/offices/english-association/primary/primary-plus/411online/quality-text-to-quality-writing-plotting-creative-journeys-for-young-writers
Bob Cox’s website, Searching for Excellence, offers many writing resources for all key stages: https://searchingforexcellence.co.uk/
About the author: Rebecca Howell is Potential Plus UK’s Senior Education Consultant. She leads various aspects of the organisation, including oversight of the assessment and advice services. She is passionate about leadership and developing new services to support members. With a background in educational leadership, she has 3 children with high learning potential/dual or multiple exceptionality.