How to use a 100WC prompt really effectively (1)

Teachers often exclaim ‘ Well, I never thought of that!’ when I visit schools to model how to use 100WC prompt. Here, I outline how to use a 100WC prompt really effectively and you may be surprised at some of the questions and answers! 
Simple 100WC
100 Word Challenge is fairly simple.

  • A prompt is set.
  • Pupils read it and produce a creative piece of writing using around 100 words.
  • This is published on a class blog
  • It is then linked to
  • Commenters visit to leave supportive comments

There is no doubt that the power of 100WC lies in the comments that are left giving suggestions on how writing can be improved. The extended audience really motivates pupils to keep going in, what for many, is a fairly difficult activity.
…but there’s more!
However, they have to have some input from the teacher in order to get their ideas flowing.
The prompts that are set are to encourage ‘out of the box ‘ thinking. This over used phrase is often linked with blue sky thinking but in this case it simply means looking beyond the words or picture that has been set.
An Example
How to use a 100WC prompt really effectivelyFor my recent visit to Crowmarsh Gifford School (see Crowmarsh wants more L5s) I used this picture for the prompt. My opening question to each class was ‘What do you see?’
As you can imagine the first responses included – a cake, men, cream, chocolate flake, marshmallows.
I then extended one or two of these answers – ‘What are the men doing?’
Answers were – chopping wood, climbing, eating.
These questions and answers gave me a flavour of where the children weere in their interpretation of the picture. If someone had said the men were miniature, I extended that to ask ‘So what does that mean about the cake?’ With a prompt like this the children need to make their minds up as to whether the men are life sized or the cake is real. Once they have decided (and either is fine!) they can then explore the next part of their story.
Having established which is the true element in the picture (based on size) I then went onto delve into what could this mean.

  • Where did this giant cake come from? – another planet, under the sea, science experiment gone wrong
  • Why are the men miniature? – made a wish, evil witch cast a spell, punishment for chopping down the wizard’s precious tree, they are aliens
  • What is that brown item sticking out? – last tree on earth, guidance system for a space craft, mast of a ship, ladder to get to the mine below

Where to next?
The responses above that the pupils gave me  show you how varied  their ideas were.  Your pupils will be the same and it is very important to help them extend their idea with more where, what, how questions. With each of them, it is really key to let them know that with 100 Word Challenge, no idea is wrong and that quirky is fine. What they need to take on board is that if they are going to be really imaginative, they must continue that thread in a sensible, logical way. So, they can’t die mid story!
Do visit Prompt#1 to see what these young writers did with this picture. It was not all cup cakes! 
How did you use Week#1 prompt? Leave your approach below

This is the first is a series of ‘How to use a 100WC prompt really effectively’. Do watch out for more hints and tips

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