The English Classroom

A HELPFUL GUIDE FOR PRESERVICE AND GRADUATE TEACHERS

Visual Writing Prompts

The Situation

You want students to write using an unseen visual text, such as preparation for NAPLAN and senior school. 

You want students to develop skills about brainstorming and writing under pressure. 

The Solution

Visual writing prompts are an absolute necessary in an English classroom. They useful when you want students to write about a particular situation, or respond to a particular idea.

There are millions of prompts online, and I would highly recommend that you collate a small encyclopaedia for your disposal. 

They can just be a curious image, something that will prompt students to question. Look at the following: 

http://www.flickriver.com/photos/petergutierrez/popular-interesting/

How can you run this activity? Here is one way: 

  1. Split students into pairs (Shoulder or face partners).
  2. Ask students to brainstorm who the character is and what happened for this to occur.
  3. Provide time for students to consider. 2 minutes.
  4. When you stop students to brainstorm as a class, record the ideas on the board. However, you will need to categorise their ideas into charactersetting and conflict. (Remind students that without these three narrative conventions, there is no story. I like to tell my students that without The Joker, Batman does not exist. A character must always confront a conflict, regardless of whether it is internal or external.) 
  5. Talk out the ideas of students and ask them how they develop the ideas.
  6. Encourage students to use ideas for their owned timed writing. Provide students with 5 minutes to write as much as they can.

You might like to dig deeper. Providing students with an image, such as the following, can provide a great discussion. However, as there are no people to refer to, it will need scaffolding. Students, especially in year 7, will likely need additional time to consider who might have visited and why? Remember, you need to drag out the conflict (It may not be straightforward for some students.)

https://wiselwisel.com/tagged/lugares-abandonados

Soak up this time for brainstorming and provide students time to consider the endless possibilities. Getting students to write immediately without prompt ma backfire if you do not consider the context of a class. Children are imaginative, but need structure when writing; they do not have a file of ideas locked away at all times. 

Eventually, once you have taught skills behind brainstorming, you will be able to present your students with more complex prompts and less time to consider. They will need to think on their feet and discover the characters, setting and conflict for themselves.

Here are a couple that I have discovered along the way:

https://i.pinimg.com/736x/ac/22/da/ac22da56a3b522df9d70687363c9241b.jpg
https://www.lempertz.com/typo3temp/processed/csm_Lempertz-862-239-Photographie–Photoarbeiten-Toni-Schneiders-Zaungaeste-beim-Fussball_fcb28adfdf.jpg

2 thoughts on “Visual Writing Prompts

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