Writing is such an important skill to develop in primary grades. Your learners are beginning to learn the writing process from brainstorming, prewriting, drafting, editing, revising, and publishing. Coming up with different writing topics can be time consuming, but I put together a year’s worth of writing prompts to make sure your students can write all year long. Here are some ways to use writing prompts in the second grade classroom.
Start the Day with Morning Writing Work
Writing prompts are an easy way to start your students’ days. Treat a writing prompt like bellwork, and ask them to get out their notebooks or writing folders as the school day gets started. Prompts like “Write about something you remember about your class last year?” or “Draw a picture of your teacher. Describe him or her.” are great to start the year with. Get your students transitioning from writing to sharing by using writing prompts as part of a morning meeting for your second graders.
These paperless writing prompts are perfect for this!
Create Writing Centers for Your Students
Using writing centers in the classroom are a great way to have your students explore different aspects of writing or differentiate instruction. You may do this as part of your language arts time while you have a group doing independent reading, working on writing prompts, and another small group work on structured reading or writing instruction with you. You may also choose to have students work on multiple writing prompts and rotate in centers. Using writing prompts in centers can be a great way to differentiate instruction as well. You can work with a small group that needs guidance, have some students partner up, and still have an independent group.
Use for Formative and Summative Assessments
Use writing prompts as progress monitoring or to formatively assess writing. Give a descriptive writing prompt like “Draw a picture of your favorite food and write about it” at the beginning of the year and then revisit the same or a similar prompt (“Use your five senses to write about your favorite ice cream”) later in the year. Assess how your students have improved in each of the six traits of writing (ideas, organization, conventions, voice, sentence fluency, and word choice).
You can also use them to assess grammar skills within their writing. For example, after completing their writing, have them us a highlighter to mark different parts of speech. In this example, they had to highlight capital letters and punctuation marks.
Start Student Reflection with Journaling
Invite your students to use writing prompts in daily journaling. Rather than assess their writing for six traits or require them to go through a full writing process. Share prompts to have students reflect upon in a writing journal. If students have something else on their mind, allow them to go off-prompt and write about what’s going on in their life. Journaling is an important way to have your students share their thoughts and feelings. My a year’s worth of writing prompts have various prompts that allow students to focus on personal goals (like what they want to be when they grow up) or character traits (like kindness or characteristics of a good friend).
Set up a Writer’s Notebook
I love using writer’s notebooks in my classroom! My students have 1 ½” binders with eight sections including:
- Spelling Dictionary
- Vocabulary Journal
- Rough Draft
- Editing & Revising
- Final Copy
- What Can I Write About
- Work on Writing
Add the monthly writing calendars from the a year’s worth of writing prompts to give your students sample ideas in the “what can I write about section”.
Another reason I love using writer’s notebooks is to see student growth in writing throughout the year. It’s incredible to see how much they improve as writers from August (or September) until May (or June)!
You can read more about my writer’s notebooks in this blog post.
Introduce Early Finisher Activities
Your second graders finish at different rates. While some students will be able to finish their Language Arts activities like reading and writing quickly with proficiency, some students will need more time to complete activities in writer’s notebooks or reading comprehension passages. Some students may move through center rotations faster than others while still completing all the tasks well. This is why I always have early finisher activities on hand. In Language Arts, writing prompts are perfect tasks for students who complete work early. Instead of having them wait around for the other students, give some fun, engaging prompts to complete in their journals or own their own. They’ll love having choice with the monthly prompt calendars.
Start a Classroom Blog
Start a student-protected blog on a safe site like edublogs or even Google Sites. You can post an original writing prompt, and students can share their own responses. This is a fantastic way to share student writing with a larger, authentic audience. Make sure to check your school’s rules for using public blogs and websites with your students.
Host a Writer’s Showcase
The last step in the writing process is publication. This used to mean just creating a polished, final copy, but today, it means sharing with an audience. Invite parents, administrators, older elementary peers/helpers, and other teachers to come watch as your students read and share their writing in a writer’s showcase. You can even do this multiple times a year, and allow your students to pick their favorite pieces from their writing prompts (in their journals, writer’s notebooks, or assessments) to share with their audience.
Integrate with SeeSaw
If you are not familiar with the learning app SeeSaw, I highly recommend it for more reasons than one. SeeSaw is an online portfolio platform for classrooms. It’s truly amazing but let’s save that for a different post.
In this example, a student used the SeeSaw app to brainstorm adjectives about hot chocolate. They simply took a photo of the task card and then they could add their own words.
They were able to save their work to their portfolios. I could log in and check at any time. SeeSaw allows you to write comments and conference with students about their work.
Your students will be so excited to get writing this year! Check out a year’s worth of writing prompts and these ways to use writing prompts in the second grade classroom to help you and your students get started.