A rolling stone gathers no moss, it's been said. To that old saw, I now add: a writer who doesn't write gathers no topics. I'm both surprised and not surprised by how quickly I've fallen out of the groove gouged during the recently concluded #sol16 story challenge. So, I will reach desperately into English class for slice inspiration. More of a nick, really.
Today, I adapted activity 1 in this lesson from EDSITEment where students write about different points of view using five black-and-white photos of the Statue of Liberty. I next asked my eighth graders to choose a landmark of their own, go visit it virtually, and start two pieces about that location, each from a unique perspective. Sure, I noticed plenty of Eiffel Towers, but there was remarkable breadth, too. Some students returned to places they'd frequented over the recent spring break, reviving happy memories; others used a few clicks to observe spots of which they'd only dreamed before. Class simultaneously visited Ireland, Thailand, Peru, and South Dakota, among other locales.
I never fail to be amazed by the writing grist provided by the Internet's seemingly ceaseless digital mill. I can also still fret about how much this relatively easy access to imagery may atrophy writers' own imaginative powers over time. (Clouds have silver linings, but the converse is equally true.) Changing perspective, I hope, will always powerfully jolt my students' creative juices.