As an ELA teacher turned school librarian, I still enjoy incorporating writing activities in my Library Day lessons. I LOVED The Creativity Project, by Colby Sharp! What a fun way to not only help kids connect with authors outside of the books they know and love, but it sharpened their creative writing chops and it was a ton of fun! If you want to see how we turned this Library Day lesson into a school-wide “creativity project,” take a look at the “Extension Activity!”
Time: We did this in one class period, which is about 45 minutes.
Format: I book talked The Creativity Project first, sharing how authors/ illustrators created prompts, sent them to Colby, and he sent them out for other authors/illustrators to respond. Kids got a kick out of the spaghetti noodle graphic showing all of the participants in this project.
There are so many wonderful prompts to choose from in this book. I chose based on what I thought would be easiest for my students to complete in our time constraints. I presented them with the “Choose your own writing adventure” slide. I did not share the prompts that each author wrote. My students chose based purely on their knowledge of one of the authors, their knowledge of one of the books, or they used the force! Then, the students got to read the prompt by the author they chose.
I put 10 minutes on the clock, answered any questions, and set the tone that it was going to be a quiet 10 minutes so that we can think and enjoy a peaceful space to create. Every now and then a giggle erupted somewhere in the room, which ultimately built excitement because everyone knew there were funny stories incoming!
The students did not have to copy the prompt to start, which saved some time. Some chose to, but I did not insist on it.
Sharing: I asked for volunteers to read their prompt aloud to the group. Sometimes, I had more volunteers than I could accommodate, and if I did not have volunteers right away, I had students share their stories in small groups and then asked for volunteers to share to the group. This helped build confidence. Sometimes, I volunteered to read what a student wrote if they were too shy to read aloud, but they were eager to share. There are a number of ways to set the stage for sharing.
Results: Jess Keating’s prompt was a popular choice. Warning: unless “Big Chungus” is over, be prepared to hear lots of “Big Chungus” stories in response to this prompt! We have Pink Is For Blobfish in our library, and it was fun to see students reading it after our lesson. It was also fantastic to see many students perusing The Creativity Project, excited to see what other prompts were in the book. Our library copies were checked out immediately! I loved getting to see the students’ writing and see their personalities come out through this activity.
Extension Activity: After this lesson, I invited to students to participate in a school-wide “Creativity Project,” which included students creating a writing prompt, giving it to me, and I gave their prompts to other students who were participating. So, if you wrote a prompt, you got a different prompt in return. I set a time for us to meet, and about 2 weeks later, students gathered to reveal which prompt they wrote and read their responses (and eat cookies, because why not?). This brought together students from across grade levels, and they enjoyed finding out who wrote their prompt just as much as they enjoyed sharing what they wrote!
What I learned: I didn’t have student technology available for this lesson, but it lends itself to easy incorporation into Google Classroom, for example. This would also be a great collaboration opportunity! I can easily see working with ELA teachers, the art teacher, and inviting the Creative Writing Club to dig further into the prompts in this book.