‘The unread story is not a story; it is little black marks on wood pulp. The reader, reading it, makes it live: a live thing, a story.’ Ursula K. Le Guin
We ask children to write in school but often there is no apparent purpose that they can see other than pleasing their teacher! This can prompt some very reluctant writers in our classrooms. The 100 Word Challenge seeks to address this problem.
It is a weekly creative writing challenge for children under 16 years of age. Each week a prompt is given, which can be a picture or a series of individual words and the children can use up to 100 words to write a creative piece. This should be posted on a class blog and then linked to the 100 Word Challenge blog. The link is usually open from midday on Sundays until midnight the following Saturday.
By setting a limited word count with a focused theme and a guaranteed audience beyond the class teacher, children have far greater motivation for writing. Those who are reluctant writers feel safe with only 100 words to write, whilst those more advanced writers can really extend themselves with the word restriction.
One of the special things about 100WC is that those entering a piece are encouraged to visit other blogs and leave a constructive comment. Peer ‘talking’ to peer is very powerful and we have seen a real improvement in some writing that has come from suggestions from other children. It also provides another teaching point for teachers to show children how to comment constructively.
The 100 Word Challenge has been used for homework tasks and up leveling practice as well as a regular writing activity. Teachers have found that this has helped with their workload. It certainly helps drive traffic to a blog which in turn helps the motivation for blogging in general. The Quadblogging phenomenon has been able to use 100 Word Challenge for a shared activity. This of course provides an international audience.
Above all – it is fun! Children feel challenged and then really rewarded when they see the comments (please see Team 100WC). Do join in and see writing improve!