I did an amazingly successful lesson today that I like to call the one sentence makeover. I first demonstrate by writing a basic sentence on the board for example, "It is snowing." Then we discuss the importance of using vivid descriptive words in their writing, and I rewrite the sentence. The frigid North Wind drives the tiny shapeless snowflakes into waist deep mountains and bare valleys of drifted snow. I then wrote another basic sentence, "I went up the mountain." and gave the students 5 minutes to work on making the sentences amazing. They were instructed to work on just the one sentence for the entire time. They could do as many revisions of that sentence as they like but they must keep writing the whole time, and they can not write about something else or turn it into a story with multiple sentences.
The students loved this quick and relatively easy assignment. I sometimes think there is great benefit in focusing on one small thing and spending time with it. Students don't feel the pressure of an overwhelming assignment and their creativity soars. While a had a few that still didn't get it, many did and I got to hear some really amazing writing. I look forward to seeing if this translates into better daily writing.