Beacon Lesson Plan Library

What Do I Write About?

Nancy Slack


Can't think of anything to write? This fun activity is designed to give students a creative opportunity to use descriptive language and develop a topic for writing by brainstorming through art.


The student uses a variety of strategies to prepare for writing (for example, making lists, mapping ideas, rehearsing ideas, grouping related ideas, story webs).

The student uses an organizational pattern having a beginning, middle, and end (including but not limited to organizing ideas sequentially or around major points of information).


- Drawing paper or story paper
- Crayons, markers or colored pencils
- Stopwatch for teacher use
- Short story or fairy tale (if you choose this part of the lesson)


1. Gather materials, including crayons, markers, and/or colored pencils for students lacking necessary supplies.
2. Choose a short story or fairy tale to read to students out of sequence, modeling the importance of organization (providing a non-example).


Students work together to create individual drawings that will later be written about. Question to be sure everyone understands the guidelines and activity. Assumes background knowledge in brainstorming and descriptive language.

1. Start lesson by dramatically modeling a studentís behavior when asked to write about a self-chosen topic (whining highly recommended). - I can't think of anything to write about!

2. Tell students that inspiration for writing topics can often be found through doodling. Once creativity starts flowing in one area of thinking, it often carries over to other areas, such as from drawing/coloring to writing.

3. Discuss expected behaviors for this activity:
A. Be respectful. No coloring, scratching, or crossing out of someone's work.
B. Work within the time limits. When time is called, stop working and prepare for the next step.
C. Use time wisely. When it is time to think and imagine - think and imagine. When it is time to create, create.
D. All creations must be school
E. Follow the same pattern of movement.

4. Each child will be given a piece of drawing paper/story paper. They are to write their names on the back.

5. Students will have one minute to think about something they might want to draw. If they can't think of anything when it is time to begin they may doodle - draw lines, spirals, and circles, whatever! Students will then have one minute to draw. Announce each change of activity - Think (Begin stopwatch. At the end of one minute say stop, then draw and begin timed drawing. At the end of the minute say stop. ) Draw - Pass.

6. Students will pass their paper to another student, following teacher directions, and the process will begin again, with students adding to each other's designs. After the initial thinking and drawing time periods, times will change to thirty seconds for each section.

7. When each student gets back his/her own paper, move to the writing portion of the activity.

8. Introduce the importance of organization to aid in understanding. Give students a set of directions to follow which are out of order.
A. Put your hands on your head.
B. Push in your chair.
C. Stand up.

9. Ask why these directions couldnít be followed. Explain that this same type of confusion occurs for our readers when we donít organize our written work. You can also read a short story/fairy tale mixing up the order of events. (Goldilocks works well - breaking the chair before sitting in it, etc.)

10. Whether you are writing directions or telling a story, putting the beginning, middle and end in proper order are crucial to understanding.

11. Review using descriptive and specific language. Students may write either an expository or narrative or can be determined by the teacher. Students can either tell a story about their end product/picture or explain the process/what happened to their paper.

12. Circulate throughout all stages of the activity to be sure that guidelines are being followed and students understand the process.

13. Students turn in written papers when finished to be evaluated based on the FCAT Writing Rubric, assessing only in the area of organization. (See Assessment for complete criteria.)


Student produced writing will be formatively assessed for understanding of organizational pattern based on the the FCAT Writing Rubric - Organization section only. Also, check to be sure they have completed an art piece. (Note- this is only ONE strategy.) Students not creating an art piece or scoring a 3 or lower on the organization should be retaught and reassessed.


Possible modifications for ESE/ESOL
Use sequencing cards. Have students put them in order then write the steps/story illustrated in the pictures.
Students can also record verbal directions using a tape recorder then review for changes.
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