This post is for the teachers who hang out with me at the WNY Young Writers’ Studio, because Betsy asked:

Ideas are but one of the Six Traits of Writing, and this is where we’re beginning tomorrow in Mrs. Urbanski’s sixth grade class. When the kids come in, I’m going to ask them to take their shoes off. Chaos might ensue soon afterward, and even if it does, I’ll try to remind them that attending to this Trait requires us to do do much more than include a central point and interesting details. They will need to storytell rather than summarize, as Lucy Calkins suggests. Writers who exhibit good ideas also try to surprise their readers by approaching their topics in unusual or unpredictable ways as well.

Shoe stories offer a perfect opportunity for guided practice around this Trait.

Once everyone is barefoot, I will ask them to locate another shoe within the group that does not belong to them. I will share my own example, we will do some brainstorming and work with Word Choice, and then they will begin to write the tale of their selected shoe and how it became separated from its mate. When they are finished quick-drafting, they’ll team up and use the Traits rubric for Ideas to provide each other feedback.

I miss doing this with my own students, and I also miss smiling all day long with my friend and coteacher, Kristen while we did. But I’m looking forward to tomorrow, and I hope this helps my WNYYWS friends too! Happy friday!



  1. I wish I didn’t have a class that period, I may have to sneak down for a little bit. That sounds like so much fun! My students would love that, especially since I have a bad habit of talking about my shoes a lot!

  2. Angela, you can hear the excitement in your voice about working with kids. I love it! Great idea too. It’s a shame more secondary/HS teachers don’t see the value in creative writing or storytelling and feel too pressured to always be writing parallel tasks or practice exam essays. Makes me sad.

  3. Betsy Ernst Reply

    Thank you for sharing this! I am definitely going to try it! Love all of the ideas! I have used all of them! Thanks again!

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