Thursday, February 20, 2014

Word Splash -- Get That Writing Rolling!

I don't know about you, but when I my students begin a new writing project, they want to completely skip the planning stage and go right to drafting.  They write for a few minutes, then stall...thinking they have nothing more to say.

Earlier this year, I thought of a great way to prevent this stalling and to get students to produce a focused burst of ideas for their writing.  I call it the Word Splash.

The way it works is students take a page in their notebook (or other paper) and write their topic in the middle of the page.  (It helps to circle it to help it stand out.)  I then set a timer for 3 minutes.  During that time, students write ANYTHING that comes to their mind, even if it has nothing to do with their topic.  (Why?  Because that nonsense is getting in the way of their deeper thoughts coming out.  Once they get it on paper, they can move on with their thinking.)

The only rule is that they have to keep writing for the entire 3 minutes.  They write words or phrases that pop into their head and "splash" them around their page.

Next, comes the fun part...

I set the timer for another three minutes.  During this time, students walk around the room, read each other's topics (circled in the center of their page) and try to add more ideas to each other's Word Splashes.

When we are done, students go back to their own Word Splash, cross out any words that are nonsense or off-topic (those words that were getting stuck in their minds and preventing the good stuff from coming out) and begin to organize the words into categories to develop into a draft.

The result is usually plenty of ideas to get and keep students writing!  They can go back to their Word Splash as a planning tool throughout the drafting process.

What other ideas do you have to get your students to plan out their writing?  I'd love it if you would share some thoughts!


  1. Thank you for posting this! This is such a great idea! I will use this for sure!

  2. This sounds similar to the quick writes that we do. I love the idea of having others add to their ideas. Definitely going to try that.

    Quinnessential Lessons

  3. I agree with Kim. Word splashes are a great way to get their own ideas down on paper, but I like that you have the kids moving around and sharing ideas.

  4. Great idea to have students walk around and look/add-on to others' work! I've never thought about doing that in the planning stages...we always just share after publishing!

    Kate :)
    McDee's Busy Bees

  5. Love this idea! We used it with our student leaders and had a great discussion about their words for our goals for the year! :) Thanks for sharing this!
    Mrs. Bentin's Blackboard

  6. We do something similar to this in their reading notebooks called "free write." I give them a topic that they can use, or they can choose a topic of their own and we start out at 3 minutes but work our way up throughout the year. It's the same concept, they must write for the entire time. I have found it really helps with mental blocks then every so often we take one of their free writes and turn it into a writer's workshop writing. It works really great!


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