Hey, so tell me if this sounds familiar.
You’re teaching writing. You’ve finished your explicit teaching and explained the writing task. Your students have started working and they seem to be on task and scribbling down their story ideas.
Then, you look over and see one of your students. Let’s call him Johnny. He’s got a blank piece of paper in front of him. Completely blank.
Johnny doesn’t like writing lessons. You’re lucky if you can get a few words or sentences out of him. Even then, it’s like pulling teeth. You go over and try to give him some prompts or ideas…but nothing. Johnny is a reluctant writer.
Sound familiar? It is for me. I’ve had a student who would write nothing, no matter how much 1:1 support he got.
It can be tricky figuring out how to engage reluctant writers. Even the most engaging lesson idea doesn’t help sometimes. But don’t worry, there is a solution.
Roll A Story
Sometimes students are reluctant to write because they struggle with handwriting or spelling. However sometimes, they just can’t think of an idea or they have trouble concentrating.
I want to introduce you to an amazing solution: ‘Roll A Story’ prompts.
I discovered them when I was a new teacher and I started using them for literacy centers. I realized pretty quick that my students LOVED them! The act of rolling dice keeps them so engaged.
Roll a Story prompts are essentially a single piece of paper with a table of ideas. They usually have columns for characters, settings, problems (and sometimes solutions).
How do they work?
Students roll a die to mix and match story elements. For example, they roll once and use that number to see what their character will be. Then they roll again for to see what their setting will be.
Kids love dice. They also love that the ideas are provided to them, so they don’t have to brainstorm (they especially love it if the elements are funny or weird). The mix and match elements often create funny stories!
But most of all, students love having control over what their story is about. Teachers often struggle with how to engage reluctant writers because everything is so forced. Instead of forcing a reluctant writer to write about one thing, they get the choice of lots of fun ideas!
But not too much choice, like when I tried to list ideas to Johnny. Nothing stuck. But if the dice decides on something, there you go!
Pro tip: If you think the sound of dice rolling on tables is loud (or it’s annoying when dice roll on the floor), simply put the die into a container and students can gently shake the container.
Roll a Story activities can be no prep. You can simply print the page and that’s it! However, I recommend laminating the page so that you can use it over and over. It’s really great for writing stations!
I created some roll a story prompts for my students, but I didn’t just create the roll a story page! I made some planning pages and lined writing pages too. That way, my students could effectively plan their stories and have a nice place to write them.
Where can you get them?
After discovering my love for Roll a Story prompts, I decided to make some. I have a free one that you can access here in my free resource library (when you sign up as a V.I.P, you get access). I also have some Roll A Story activities that you can purchase in my TPT store.
I love my free one because it can be used all year. However, I also love a good theme, who doesn’t? So, I created Roll a Story activities for Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter.
I even made some for Easter, Halloween, Back to School and Christmas. You can grab the bundle here. My activities also include planning and writing pages.
I hope this post helped with how to engage reluctant writers. I also hope you end up loving Roll a Story activities just as much as me!
P.S – Follow me on Instagram @terrificteachingtactics to see my resources in action!