I first discovered the 100 word challenge by accident when I managed to get myself on twitter during the summer of 2012. I was looking at ways of working online for a few months from following September with a class of 32 in a small room with 32 laptops while waiting on new building to be completed. I couldn’t believe all I was learning on twitter once I got the hang of it and of course everything I came across I signed up for deciding there and then that I would try “that” in September.
The 100 word challenge was just one of a number of different projects I signed up for but little did I realise at the time how important the 100 word challenge was to become to my class of 2012 / 2013 and the incredible impact doing it every week would have on my pupils creative writing, punctuation, self-esteem and so much more. I was also unprepared for how the children’s literacy skills steadily improved in front of my eyes with children going from “I don’t know what to write” to putting their heads straight down the minute they got the prompt and hey presto 100 words in no time!
At this point, 5 months into the challenges, I haven’t heard the phrase “I don’t know what to write” for a long, long time. Instead what I hear is “Is the prompt up yet”? and ”when is the showcase up?. As for the delight when a member of our class is showcased, the joy is amazing to see. The writing, the plots, the cliff hangers, and all the different takes on the prompt have also been amazing to watch as each child has developed in a different way as a 100wc writer.
So what’s so special about the 100 wc?
The children love the idea of a new prompt every week and they can’t wait to see what it is. There is no limit on where they can go with the prompts especially as they are all so different, the only limit of course is the 100 words which they have grown to love. For children with literacy issues who up to now found creative writing and indeed any kind of writing difficult, the 100 word limit means the challenge is so do-able and these children have prgressed from needing a lot of help with the initial 100wc to now writing it all themselves with some editing and suggestions from me. For the child who is very able to write pages and pages of creative writing the 100 word limit has really forced them to up their game and think about every single word they write. As a result their editing skills have really improved and now I rarely have to edit the challenges from these children.
The children absolutely love getting comments from Team 100wc – I think it makes them feel so special. We make a big deal about the comments every week noting where the comments come from. They love the idea of comments coming from places as far away as Australia as to them that is the other side of the world and very exotic. As for a comment from the headteacher herself, that really excites them!
The children have become so good at commenting on each other’s stories and commenting on other 100 word challenges on the 100wc.net site. Their comments have improved along with their writing and have developed from one word comments to very substantial comments.
As I mentioned, I signed up to a lot of projects via twitter prior to September but I can safely say the 100 wc is the project which has become such an important part of our school week from reading the initial prompt to writing and editing the 100wc and from reading the challenges written by classmates and global classmates to replying to the comments they receive on their own 100 word challenges. In fact the 100 wc is a truly global project.
The 100 wc has really gripped the imagination of the children and even though they have never met “the lady who does the 100 wc” they think that she is one of the kindest ladies there are. They feel they have a special relationship with Julia Skinner and call her The Head teacher because they know her twitter name. For many teachers with an overcrowded curriculum projects like the 100 word challenge can be difficult to take on and sustain. My personal experience of Julia Skinner’s patience, advice, encouragement, availability and instant reaction to any questions or problems I have is a large part of the reason why the 100wc is so successful in my classroom.