Ready to get students excited about writing? Then check out Scholastic’s Story Starters, a virtual Willy Wonka type machine that randomly generates writing prompts. Yep, from general fiction to adventure, fantasy, and science fiction, this fun interactive is sure to provide students with some writing inspiration.
To create a story using the Story Starters tool, students select the desired theme, enter their name and grade, and then spin the casino-like slot machine theme wheel. Once the contraption comes to a stop, a unique prompt is then displayed. If writing advice for a scatterbrained plumber who is a stowaway on a submarine isn’t adventurous enough—no problem! Give the dial another spin!
Once a suitable storyline is generated, students are then prompted to select from a variety of formats, including notebook, letter, newspaper or postcard. Students also have the option to include a hand-drawn illustration in their project—a feature that encourages students to make meaningful connections between text and visuals. When writing is complete, finished projects can be printed and/or downloaded/saved as a PDF for later use.
Check out a screen shot of the adventure theme below. Pretty visually appealing, eh? Wait until you get a load of the sound effects!
OK, so the Story Starters site may sound like a gimmick. I don’t know—maybe it is. But my theory is if a tool is used to engage and motivate students to write using an assortment of fictional themes and formats, then it fulfills its purpose. Plus, it provides students with an opportunity to utilize technology in a fun and meaningful way. How can you go wrong?
Story Starters is a nifty web site for a whole class activity and/or as a writing learning center. It’s also a great resource to use with an interactive whiteboard or projector to generate ideas for free creative writing time. When writing assignments are complete, encourage students to share their stories. You’ll be amazed to hear all of the different ideas they come up with from the same prompt.
Need additional ideas for integrating Story Starters into your classroom? Then be sure to check out the Teacher’s Guide.
So, what are you waiting for? Take the writer’s block out of creative writing by surfing on over this “cool tool”. And as an added bonus, Story Starters is now available for the iPad!