Many students have difficulty coming up with writing topics. A memory nudge idea I use to great success is called a “Story Map.” I model this for my students by drawing a bird’s eye view of a place that holds many memories. I usually choose our summer family cottage on a local lake.
As I draw this map I label various events that have happened to me over the years there. As I label each one I tell the students a little bit about what happened there. When I am done I have five or six areas labeled, and by that point the students want to hear about each one in detail. I tell them that I have written stories about some of these places and will read to them later so they can see how I progressed from a simple idea to a story.
Now it is their turn. Some draw neighborhoods, some draw a floor plan of a house, and some draw a yard. This labeled map then goes into their rough draft folder, where they can take it out and remember all over again the time that…