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Grades 4–6
Narrative
Sparks

The Human Comic Strip

by Bryan Wilson, Educator Leader, Bureau of Fearless Ideas

Bryan Wilson is a writer/educator in Seattle. He is a Program Manager at the Bureau of Fearless Ideas, and serves on the board of Seattle City of Literature, part of UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network.

What Your Students Will Learn

Students will revise a scene from a first draft by slowing it down into frames or “comic panels” that they will have to work collaboratively to embody for an audience. The audience will help to add descriptive details to the scene to support their fellow author to make revisions.

Common Core Standards
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.4.3
Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.4.3.A
Orient the reader by establishing a situation and introducing a narrator and/or characters; organize an event sequence that unfolds naturally.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.4.3.B
Use dialogue and description to develop experiences and events or show the responses of characters to situations.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.4.3.C
Use a variety of transitional words and phrases to manage the sequence of events.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.4.3.D
Use concrete words and phrases and sensory details to convey experiences and events precisely.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.4.5
With guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, and editing. (Editing for conventions should demonstrate command of Language standards 1-3 up to and including grade 4 here.)
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.5.3
Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.5.3.A
Orient the reader by establishing a situation and introducing a narrator and/or characters; organize an event sequence that unfolds naturally.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.5.3.B
Use narrative techniques, such as dialogue, description, and pacing, to develop experiences and events or show the responses of characters to situations.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.5.3.C
Use a variety of transitional words, phrases, and clauses to manage the sequence of events.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.5.3.D
Use concrete words and phrases and sensory details to convey experiences and events precisely.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.5.5
With guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.6.3
Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, relevant descriptive details, and well-structured event sequences.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.6.3.A
Engage and orient the reader by establishing a context and introducing a narrator and/or characters; organize an event sequence that unfolds naturally and logically.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.6.3.B
Use narrative techniques, such as dialogue, pacing, and description, to develop experiences, events, and/or characters.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.6.3.C
Use a variety of transition words, phrases, and clauses to convey sequence and signal shifts from one time frame or setting to another.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.6.3.D
Use precise words and phrases, relevant descriptive details, and sensory language to convey experiences and events.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.6.5
With some guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.
What Your Students Will Produce

See more Lessons from Educator Leaders

Grades 6–12
Sparks
No Lab Coats Required: The Writing Laboratory

by Katie Manning and Brandon Brown, 826LA

Narrative
Poetry

Students enter a Writing Laboratory, no lab coats required, and use methods of observation to embark on their writing process.

Grades 6–12
Sparks
“The Hill We Climb”

by 826 National

Poetry

Students discuss the 2021 inaugural poem by Amanda Gorman and write their own poems in response to "The Hill We Climb."

Grades 6–12
Sparks
Memory Line

by Anna Griffin, 826 National

Memoir
Narrative
Poetry

Students plot significant memories on a timeline in this reflective writing activity.

Grades 3–5
Sparks
If I Were a Pizza

by 826 National, inspired by student authors of 826 New Orleans

Poetry

We are all parts of a whole, just like a pizza! In this Spark, students will think about all the things that make them who they are and then write a poem in the shape of a pizza.

Grades 5–8
Sparks
Loop-y Lyrics

by Julius Panoriñgan, 826LA

STEM

Students will use their knowledge of popular music to learn basic computer programming concepts.

Grades 6–9
Sparks
Power to the People Haikus

by Ola Faleti, 826CHI

Poetry

Students draw inspiration from powerful people they admire to write haiku poetry.

Grades 6–12
Sparks
Emulation Poetry

by Jillian Wasick, 826 Valencia

Narrative
Poetry

To jumpstart their own poems, students take inspiration from the poetry of the others.

Grades 1–5
Sparks
My Name Is

by 826 National

Poetry

In this Spark, students will write a poem that can be used as a tool to introduce themselves to their classmates.

Grades 4–8
Sparks
Interviewing Inanimate Objects with Daniel Handler

by author Daniel Handler, a.k.a. Lemony Snicket

Narrative

Students will anthropomorphize an inanimate object to produce interview questions and answers.

Grades 4–7
Sparks
The Dialogue Alphabet Game

by 826 National

Media
Narrative

This activity reinforces the role of dialogue in a story, with students creating realistic conversation in A-Z fashion.

Grades 3–5
Sparks
Mystery Food Poems

by 826 National, inspired by student authors of 826 New Orleans

Poetry

In this Spark, students will write a poem that engages the reader in answering the question: Can you guess this food?

Grades 4–8
Sparks
Details Detective

by Naomi Soloman, 826NYC

Narrative

In this Spark, students practice adding details into their writing, with the help of peer feedback.

Grades 4–12
Sparks
Tell Me a Story

by 826 National

Narrative

This Spark provides students with the opportunity to get to know their classmates by sharing personal stories about a specific topic.

Grades 5–8
Sparks
Hero’s Secret Lair Haikus

by Mariama J. Lockington and Peter Calhoun Hall, 826NYC

Fantasy/SciFi
Poetry
STEM

In this session, students will write haikus that includes two perspectives, one of a hero and one of an engineer, to design a secret lair for a superhero.

Grades 1–5
Sparks
Say Something
by Cartoon Network

by 826 National and Cartoon Network

Students reflect on what it feels like to stand up to bullying and write about a time when they used their voice to make a difference.

Grades 1–5
Sparks
Me, Myself, and I
by Cartoon Network

by 826 National and Cartoon Network

Memoir
Narrative

After writing about their personal and social identities, students discover that sometimes what makes us unique is what brings us together.

Grades 6–8
Sparks
Revision Bingo for Narratives

Inspired by Kendra Lappin, 826 Valencia

Narrative

In this Spark, students will play a game of bingo to improve their narrative writing.

Grades 6–9
Sparks
Magic 8 Ball: Character Desires

by Debra Mitchell, 826CHI

Media
Narrative

Students pose questions to the magic 8 ball in this activity centered on character motivation.

Grades 6–7
Sparks
What’s Your Cause?

by Meredith Goldberg-Morse, 826LA

Persuasive

In this activity, students write about a cause they are passionate about and imagine how they can create change in the world.

Grades 4–7
Sparks
Character-O-Matic

by the Team at 826CHI, with inspiration from Ryan Harty, 826michigan

Fantasy/SciFi
Narrative

In this activity, students practice analyzing a character’s internal motivations and fears and develop their own original characters.

Grades 3–9
Sparks
The Dialogue Shuffle

by Klariza Alvaran, 826CHI

Media
Narrative

This spark activity is designed to get your students on their feet while reinforcing the need for strong dialogue in narratives.

Grades 6–8
Sparks
Artifact Detective Balderdash

by Louise McCune, 826 Valencia

Informational
Narrative

Students play a spin-off version of Balderdash in this activity, working as budding archeologists who must use the power of observation to solve a few artifact mysteries.

Grades 4–7
Sparks
Character-O-Matic Protagonist & Antagonist

by the Team at 826CHI

Fantasy/SciFi
Narrative

In this activity, students create original monsters in archetypal protagonist and antagonistic roles by focusing on internal and external characteristics.

Grades 5–6
Sparks
Superhero Traits

by Jane Roschen, 826LA

Fantasy/SciFi
Informational
Media
Persuasive

In this activity, students will explore superhero traits or superpowers that they know or admire. What kind of jobs do they do? How do their powers help them achieve this?

Grades 1–5
Sparks
If Poems

by 826 New Orleans

Poetry

Students will imagine what they would do if they were someone or something else.

Grades 5–8
Sparks
Making (and Breaking!) Rules in Poetry

by Mindy Misener, 826michigan

Poetry

This activity encourages young writers to identify the rules in their own poems and to then experience the joy of either smashing the rules outright or finding a graceful way to reimagine them.

Grades 6–12
Sparks
Write Here, Write Now

by 826 National

Informational
Narrative
Persuasive
Poetry

These 10 prompts ask students to browse the 826 Digital Student Writing Gallery for writing inspiration.

Grades 5–12
Sparks
Telephone Pictionary

by 826 National

Narrative

By combining two classic games, students will learn how storytelling and art can build community or help them break through writer’s block.

Grades 1–5
Sparks
Super Sentences: Adverbs

by Naomi Solomon, 826NYC

Narrative

Nouns, adjectives, verbs—and in this case—adverbs are the building blocks of super sentences. In this Spark, students will practice identifying and using adverbs in their writing.

Grades 1–5
Sparks
Feelings to Action
by Cartoon Network

by 826 National and Cartoon Network

Narrative

Students write similes to express what their emotions feel like and build plans to treat others with kindness and empathy.

Grades 3–5
Sparks
Diary of a Tasty Food

by 826 National, inspired by student authors of 826 New Orleans

Poetry

In this Spark, students will pretend to be their favorite food and write about what that food would do on an average day.

Grades 1–5
Sparks
Super Sentences: Verbs

by Naomi Solomon, 826NYC

Narrative

Nouns, adjectives, adverbs—and in this case—verbs are the building blocks of super sentences. In this Spark, students share action words that bring them joy and incorporate those verbs into a story.

Grades 1–5
Sparks
Summer Writing Bingo

by 826 National

Fantasy/SciFi
Informational
Narrative
Poetry

Students engage in a variety of writing prompts to keep their skills sharp over the summer break. They can also revise their writing and send it in for publication on 826 Digital!

Grades 6–12
Sparks
Letters, Undelivered

by Maria Villareal, 826CHI

Informational
Narrative

This activity prompts students to write words unspoken, in letters undelivered.

Grades 6–9
Sparks
Neighborhood Poem

by Aarti Monteiro, 826NYC

Poetry

Students identify the power of imagery in poetry, then practice putting this power to use in a poem about their neighborhood.

Grades 6–8
Sparks
Black Box Archaeology

by Louise McClune, 826 Valencia

Informational
Narrative

In this activity, students work as budding archeologists and creatively reimagine ways for archaeologists and historians to use artifacts to tell stories.

Grades 1–5
Sparks
On the Inside
by Cartoon Network

by 826 National and Cartoon Network

Narrative

Students are inspired to write about a time that they felt accepted and appreciated for who they are.

Grades 1–5
Sparks
Backward Storytelling

by 826 National

Narrative
STEM

In this Spark, students will use backward thinking to create a four-panel comic strip story using the backward problem-solving skills of software developers.

Grades 1–5
Sparks
Nature Writing

by 826 National

Poetry

Students will write a poem about nature using sensory details to capture the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and feeling of the subject.

Grades 2–12
Sparks
Author Bios

by Cristeta Boarini, 826 MSP

Narrative

Author bios offer students another opportunity to express themselves through writing and to feel like a real author. This Spark walks students through the process of writing one.

Grades 6–8
Sparks
Authentic Dialogue

by Leah Tribbett, 826 Digital Educator Leader

Narrative

In this lesson, students tackle the art of writing authentic dialogue that reveals information about the characters, plot, and conflict.

Grades 5–6
Sparks
Invent a Miracle Elixir

by Paris Hyun, 826LA

Fantasy/SciFi
Persuasive

Students will use creative thinking to innovate an imaginary elixir that targets a problem they see in the world.

Grades 6–8
Sparks
Revision Bingo for Poetry

Inspired by Angela Iton and Precediha Dangerfield, 826 Valencia

Poetry

In this Spark, students will play a game of bingo to improve their poems!

Grades 6–8
Sparks
One Good Line Deserves Another

by Maria Villarreal, 826CHI

Media
Poetry

In this activity, students draw upon inspiration from existing text and the world around them to launch stories of their own.

Grades 4–8
Sparks
Setting the Tone

by Aarti Monteiro, 826NYC

Narrative

This activity explores the way emotions change how we perceive settings. Students work in groups to create descriptions of apartments based on an emotion they draw from a hat.

Grades 6–8
Sparks
The Illustrated Word

by Maria Villarreal, 826CHI

Media
Narrative

In this activity, students illustrate a favorite word and explore what makes words meaningful through illustration, research, and discussion.

Grades 1–5
Sparks
Friends Help Friends, Always
by Cartoon Network

by Sarah Kokernot, 826CHI

Media
Narrative

Students use illustrations as entry points to write stories about friendship from a new perspective.

Grades 1–6
Sparks
Creative Recipes

by Jillian Wasick, 826 Valencia

Narrative
Poetry

What are students made of? This activity prompts students to reimagine recipes and write about their life experiences.

Grades 1–12
Sparks
A Good Time to Write: Remote Learning Kit

by 826 National

Informational
Media
Memoir
Narrative
Persuasive
Poetry

Engage young writers of any age at home with this collection of 826 Digital writing prompts and activities.

Grades 5–12
Sparks
Exploring Connections
by Academy of American Poets

by 826 National, in partnership with Academy of American Poets

Narrative
Poetry

In this Spark, students will explore the many ways you can connect to a poem.

Grades 5–6
Sparks
Teach a Pirate How to Make a PB&J

by Neil Gordon, 826LA

Informational

Students teach a "pirate" how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and learn how to give effective instructions in the process.

Grades 5–9
Sparks
A Day in the Life of Flood City
by New Leaf Literary & Media

by Daniel José Older, author of Flood City

Fantasy/SciFi
Narrative

This Spark introduces students to the fantastical world of Flood City and prompts them to write a journal entry from the perspective of a Flood City resident.

Grades 4–5
Sparks
Alternative Universe Nursery Rhymes

by Liz Levine, 826NYC

Fantasy/SciFi
Poetry

Challenge students to rewrite a classic nursery rhyme with a twist.

Grades 5–6
Sparks
Monster Scattergories

by Lindsay Stinson, 826LA

Fantasy/SciFi
Narrative

Students will learn to be empathetic towards those who are different by brainstorming scary characteristics of specific monsters and then developing more positive aspects to their nature.

Grades 6–8
Sparks
Obsession with Jessica Goodman

by Jessica Goodman

Persuasive

This Spark uses students’ favorite things to support their persuasive writing practice.

Grades 1–5
Sparks
Writing to Process (Elementary)

by Asia Calcagno, 826CHI

Memoir
Narrative
Poetry

Writing can be a powerful tool when working through feelings of grief, sadness, or anger. This Spark creates an intentional opportunity for youth to write and speak about what is on their minds.

Grades 3–5
Sparks
Include Someone BINGO
by Cartoon Network

by 826 National and Cartoon Network

Narrative

In this twist on a classic game, students will practice intentional inclusivity with their classmates, as well as brainstorm other ways to continue building community throughout the school year.

Grades 6–12
Sparks
Writing to Process (Secondary)

by Asia Calcagno, 826CHI

Memoir
Narrative
Poetry

Writing can be a powerful tool when working through feelings of grief, sadness, or anger. This Spark creates an intentional opportunity for youth to write and speak about what is on their minds.

Grades 3–8
Sparks
Recipe Zines

by 826 National

Informational
Media
Narrative

With a little folding and loads of creativity, students make their own zines that feature abstract recipes.

Grades 3–5
Sparks
The Writer’s Notebook

by Kathy Seipp, 826 Digital Educator

Narrative

Invite students to write freely with this lesson that includes directions for students to set up a writer's journal and favorite journal prompts.

Grades 2–5
Sparks
An Ode to Pieces

by Lauren Rudewicz and David Hutcheson, 826michigan

Poetry

Students will define the word “ode” for themselves and identify the people and moments in their lives they’d like to celebrate in a poem.

Grades 5–12
Sparks
Exploring Voice
by Academy of American Poets

by 826 National, in partnership with Academy of American Poets

Poetry

In this Spark, students will learn more about voice: what it is exactly, and how to name the elements of it.

Grades 5–6
Sparks
Write Your Own Comic Dialogue

by Ashlyn Anstee, 826LA

Media
Narrative

Students will be asked to take an existing 4-panel comic and create their own dialogue. This is a fun quick activity or warm-up exercise that will challenge students to write efficiently.

Grades 6–8
Sparks
Be a Maker: Hashtag Activism and the Instagram Essay

by Laura Lisabeth, Ph.D., 826NYC

Informational
Media
Persuasive

In this activity, students explore Instagram as a form of public rhetoric and practice using hashtags as a way to engage with larger communities.

Grades 1–5
Sparks
Sensory Heart Mapping

by 826 National

Narrative
Poetry

Students will identify their favorite sensory memories and transfer them to a visual heart map.

Grades 2–6
Sparks
Poetry Hunters: Finding Poems Where You Never Thought to Look

by Kiley McLaughlin & Dana Belott, 826 Valencia

Students experiment with alternative ways of writing poetry by reordering and rearranging pre-existing text.

Grades 5–6
Sparks
Amazing Stories

by Nathalie Lagerfield, 826CHI

Fantasy/SciFi
Narrative

Students will imagine (and write about) their own fantastical worlds, using the cover illustrations of magazines as inspiration.

Grades 5–6
Sparks
Myth-Making

by Pedro Estrada, 826LA

Fantasy/SciFi
Narrative

In this activity, students will examine narrative structure, explore the purpose and practice of myths, and put the two together to create their own original piece.

Grades 6–10
Sparks
Slang Candy Hearts

by 826 National

Candy hearts are a Valentine’s Day staple, with their funny—even punny—sayings about love. In this Spark, students will lean into the world of youth slang to write some “sweet” sayings of their own.

Grades 6–12
Sparks
A Place Worth Being with Jason Reynolds

by Jason Reynolds, The New York Times Best-Selling Author & National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature

Narrative

Students will write a personal narrative where they describe themselves as a place. Not a specific place, but all the things a "place" consists of.

Grades 4–7
Sparks
Setting-O-Matic

by the Team at 826CHI

Narrative

Students learn to incorporate setting as a key element of a story, starting with inspiration from collages.