Our curriculum demands that our students write for a range of tasks, purposes and audiences. We also want them to write so they can think things through, find their voice, and express themselves. The more they write, the better they will become at all of these things; therefore, we need to work on their writing stamina, giving them lots of opportunity to flex their writing muscle.
I knew that I was not giving my kids enough time to write -- other than the assignments I gave them -- so I created a series of writing prompts to change that. Now, writing prompts are nothing new for me; it's what I added to them that made them a more effective tool for increasing skill AND stamina.
Kids start with some pre-writing and then they do a quick-write. After they collect their initial ideas, they look back at what they wrote and reflect on ways to improve it. They are asked to look at ways to push their ideas further and to play with their diction and sentence structure. Some prompts have them experiment with different ways for leading into a piece of writing or using dialogue. I mix up the instructions so it's not repetitive, but each one challenges them to find ways to reflect and revise.
The prompts are pretty versatile. You can use them as bell ringers: on Monday have them do the initial response. Then, on following days, have them do one revision at a time. Or, use them all at once for skill building activities, or as inspiration for your writing workshop.
Regardless of how you make use of them in your classroom, your kids will have the opportunity to write more and improve their writing. Seems like a winning combination!