I heard an amazing graphic designer say something about loving restrictions because they force creativity (a great podcast from SXSW). That’s something we ought to use, as well as do, in teaching.
So let’s start by restricting the students . . .
6 Word Stories
This is a great way to get students focused on story elements and on clear, concise language. They’d also be great writing prompts. This link is to Say It Better where I found the post and this one is to a much larger list of 6 word stories at Wired. Some of the examples have non-school safe language so you probably won’t want to send students right there.
With bloody hands, I say good-bye.
– Frank Miller
Machine. Unexpectedly, I’d invented a time
– Alan Moore
This assignment forces a lot of deep processing and creativity. You could also use it as an option for your vocabulary work with bonuses for good “stories” with more than one vocab word in them (used correctly of course). You might want to expand the word limit but make things hard for your students. Difficult and creative is the opposite of boring.
4 Slide Sales Pitch
It’s similar in idea to dy/dan’s four slide sales pitch.
how well you can sell yourself in four (4) picture-only slides. No audio, no video, no hyperlinks, no multimedia miscellany. Just pictures and text. Make us want you.
This is another great way to get students (and teachers) thinking about economy in how they present information. This is really higher level thinking and I like the combination of visuals and words that the presentation option allows.
There are lots of ways to use this and focus it on content as well. A four slide bio of Ghengis Khan. A four slide summary of whatever. Then you can embed the slide shows or stories in WordPress blog posts with the star ratings plugin and let your kids vote on their favorites- instant interaction, real world audience and content review, mix in some comments and you could even get peer editing going on.
You could even combine the two and come up with a four picture 6 word story (or go crazy and give them 10 words). Maybe one week you pick the pictures and the next week the student who “wins” the contest picks them.