I like to have the students discuss what they want to write about and then time how much they write. Drag the timer out of the gallery and set it for ten minutes (or whatever amount of time suits your grade level). Discuss what the story will be about or go to Scholastic’s story starter website (http://teacher.scholastic.com/activities/storystarters/storystarter1.htm)
Tell the students to write as much as they can in ten minutes. Start the timer and when time is up, have the students count the number of words they wrote. The goal is to beat that number the next time. NOTES: Spelling and sentence structure don’t count for this and so these stories should not be read to the class as good or bad examples.