This is what I was seeing on blogs, Instagram, Twitter:
Don’t these pictures make you curious? I could not imagine what this was all about. Slowly I gathered clues and tried to make sense of it all, but it didn’t make sense. The word prompt kept appearing and I couldn’t quite wrap my mind around how creativity and prompt fit together.
I decided to wait until I knew more and placed my trust in Colby Sharp. I knew in my heart that Colby was not a teacher who gave a prompt and expected kids to write. I decided to wait and see, but I did pre-order this book.
Colby did several videos when he got the ARCs. He mentioned trying some of the prompts with his students. I was feeling a little hesitant, even though he said his students loved creating with the prompts.
I am not a fan of prompts. Prompts make me think there isn’t a choice in what to write or how to write. We are right back there being the turkey persuading you not to eat him. When I think back to my days of writing as a student, I don’t ever remember getting a choice in my writing. I remember wishing I could write the story from my pencil’s point of view. That was never an assignment and I only wrote to fulfill the assignments. I didn’t know I could just do it on my own.
The first page I read began with the heading WELCOME TO THE CREATIVITY PROJECT! Here he explained how the project worked. He challenged forty-four authors and illustrators to create a prompt that would get creative juices flowing. These prompts could take any form illustrations, photos, poems, anything that gets one thinking. Once he got the prompts, he sent them out to the authors and illustrators to create. This book contains the prompts (forty-four used and forty-four unused) and the creations from the prompts.
Now, I am understanding that these aren’t your everybody-writes-the-same-story kind of prompts. These are more like prompts for quick writes. I’ve been trying to understand quick writes. Penny Kittle, Kelly Gallagher, Linda Rief write about having their students do a lot of quick writes off a prompt. I spent an evening talking with Ruth Ayres about the difference between a prompt and a quick write prompt. She helped me clear the fog that had been clouding my brain on this topic. I wish I knew a different word for quick write prompts.
As I read some of the prompts, then the response, I noted that sometimes the responder didn’t truly follow the prompt, but they made it their own, which is what is asked of the writer in quick writes.
Gary Schmidt is one of the contributors. I have been a fan of his writing ever since I read Orbiting Jupiter. I was curious what he wrote for a prompt. He had a half page of a story started, then Linda Urban finished the story, but she included an author’s note that I very much appreciated because she explained her thinking on this idea of prompts. These words made all the difference: “. . . I want all the readers and writers who are looking at this anthology to understand that prompts like these are for play. They are for exploring and trying things out and seeing what skills you might have and where you might want to grow.” A few sentences later she said, “The project isn’t called the Perfection Project or the Judgment Project or the Published Authors Can Do No Wrong Project. It is the Creativity Project. I stretched my creativity a little here, to try to finish a short story. I’m going to call that a success. Now, how about you?”
I can see using this book in many ways in the classroom. It can spark an idea. It can be examined comparing the prompt to the response. Perhaps the response could be read, can you figure out what the prompt said? I see mentor texts in these pages. I love the range of writing and illustrations. However, I wish the illustration pages were in color, but I guess that would make the book too expensive.
What a unique concept for a book! Well done Colby Sharp!
All day (March 13), I waited and waited for a new book to arrive. It wasn’t just new to me, it was new to the world. I wrote about it on March 14.
I also got an email newsletter on March 13 from Colby Sharp announcing his book to the world. The subject line was – Holy Smokes! I have a book in the world. What an awesome feeling that must have been to be able to create that subject line. At the bottom of the newsletter there was an announcement:
I’m giving away a copy of The Creativity Project. Just reply to this email and tell me something about a teacher that had an impact on your life. I’ll draw one random winner, and ship them a brand spanking new copy of the book.
Even though I had a book coming, I replied to his email with the name of my French teacher from high school as a teacher who had an impact on my life. I sent the email because that’s what I do if someone offers a book. I had no expectations of winning.
On March 19, I saw another email with the same subject. That’s odd, I thought. I almost deleted it because I thought it was the original, but I didn’t delete it. I opened it and couldn’t believe my eyes when I read:
You won a copy of The Creativity Project. Just let me know where you’d like me to send it.
Holy smokes, I won! Of course, I immediately sent him my address information. I’m so excited to have this book to gift to someone. Now I just have to decide who to give it too.
She: Is anyone home? I see red. Heelllooo!
She: No one answered. I know someone is home.
Come closer! Take a look! Someone is brighter than you!
He: I don’t think it’s safe to be that close. I like it out here.
She: Take a chance, I’ll meet you on the arm of this chair.
He: That’s as far as I’m going!
She: See, there’s nothing to be afraid of here. You need to take a chance and explore the world a little more. Who knows what’s out there waiting to be discovered.
He: You are right, look over there. Is that a bird feeder I spot? Let’s check it out.
They flew away that day, but she continues to tap at various windows. He, however, stays back and has not come closer again.
Taking stock of the refrigerator contents, I determine that we will have the creamy spinach enchilada leftovers for dinner, but I need something else to add to the plate. Previously, we’d had steamed broccoli to accompany the enchiladas. There was no broccoli in the fridge, plus I like to change things up on the second go-round of a meal.
A cauliflower was waiting its turn to grace our table in the veggie drawer. Mexican riced cauliflower would be the perfect side for this Mexican inspired meal. Plan made, recipe retrieved, ingredients gathered.
I knew something was not right the second I clamped the can opener onto my can. The clear liquid that oozed over the edge would not be found in a can of black beans. This was a can of garbanzo beans! The labels of the two cans were identical except for the name.
“I guess you will be having garbanzos added to your salad,” I inform my husband, and I explain why.
“Good!” he replies. “I like garbanzos.”
But the next day, I am flipping through pages of recipes, I discover a Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpea Soup recipe that I’ve not yet tried. I don’t remember printing this, but I have all the ingredients needed. Sorry, no more chickpeas on the salad. They are going into the soup.
When did chickpeas and cauliflower become a pair? Since the beginning of the year, we’ve had Chickpea and Cauliflower Curry, Chickpea Cauliflower Chowder, and now this soup. They’ve all been good, but I am a bit surprised at the combination appearing in recipe after recipe. I will have to see what other recipes are out there with these two ingredients.
Sometimes I must leave home in the dark, before the sun thinks about coming out for the day. I may have been grumbling to myself about the early hour as I turned out of my subdivision street.
Something moving caught my attention, just beyond the light provided by the headlights of my car. I slowed down. Is that a dog? If it was a dog, it would be a really big dog, perhaps a Great Dane. But I don’t think we have a Great Dane around us. Maybe it’s a wolf. Do wolves live here? I don’t know. We do have foxes, but this animal was too big for a fox. As these thoughts fire through my mind, my car gets closer.
Oh my, it’s not just one! There are three! Three young deer crossed the road in front of me. I stop the car to watch. They stop to watch the car. We make eye contact. Two run ahead, but one paused to stare me down. I think the look I got was, “What are you doing out here? This is our place!” As soon as the deer sent that eye-message, it scampered off into the dark to join its friends.
Slowly I accelerated while thinking about the encounter. “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” by Cyndi Lauper was playing on the radio. How appropriate, I thought. Those deer just want to have fun before the world wakes up.
Hello, bike. It’s been a while since I’ve visited.
No, it’s not really you. I still like you, but I’ve been busy. Yes, I know that we make time for what we value. Ever since I returned from the river trip to Bordeaux, my energy for our daily meetings evaporated. I had a lot of days in schools scheduled and I needed time to prepare.
Today I woke up and knew we needed to become friends again. I have completed my days in schools. I have time for you every day. My timer is set for thirty minutes of nonstop peddling.
Thankfully I have a distraction in front of me as the rhythm of pedals and hum of wheels spin around and around.
Time on the couch reading flies by. Time working in my office passes quickly. Time on the bike s-l–o–w-s d-o-w-n, did it stop?
Don’t look at the timer, just pedal. Pedal faster and faster. Concentrate on the story being told on the TV. Surely, the time is almost over! Sneak a quick peek. Half way!
Another quick peek. Yes! I can do this! Make these last two minutes count!
The barking dog brings the pedals to a stop. I am breathing harder. I am sweaty. I am finished!
The cycle begins again, tomorrow. Yes, bike I will be back.