Teaching creative writing

I am lucky, I am a trained teacher. I sit in workshops or conferences and cringe…thinking “tut tut tut..where is the integration, the differentiation, feedback, spiral learning, action learning, group work…..” But, I am one of the lucky ones when it comes to teachers. I am doing a course with Caren Kennedy and she not only lives up to my expectations but lives up to her lesson plans.
                    Here a lesson plan I wrote for my blog readers.
For every 5 hours you teach you
must put in 20 hours prep. My favourite subjects are Science and English,
especially creative writing. In the English curriculum creative writing is
under the strand – Emotional and imaginative development through
language and strand unit developing emotional and imaginative life
through writing. Kinda tricky to achieve when you faced with a 6th
class of 35 kids.
A lesson is broken in 3 parts,
intro (get them interested, find out what they know, ask questions),
development (action of learning) and conclusion (we recap/share what we
learnt). Sounds easy? Well not when you have to compete with mobile phones,
video games, MTV, Nickelodeon etc. They are use to instant gratification, so, the
most important part of the lesson….the intro, or – if you are a writer…“the
Introduction (10 mins)
I real ‘em in with the use of
Show them a muse (pictures/ video/prezie/music etc)
Question them: (Who are these people? What happened
next in this picture? What is the back story here? What are they wearing? What
are they talking about?)
Ask “What happened next?” give example – “I think they
ran into the shop behind them to run away from the herd of cows which are going
to come down the street any moment now.”
Put them in pairs and they would have to discuss what
they saw.
They would then have to ask the 5 W’s to each other
(who, what, when, where and why)
I would get them to pair up with another pair beside
them and discuss while I ran around the room, listening, assessing and helping.
I then tell them that I am going to ask some of them to
share their partner’s ideas (so you are ensuring that they are listening to each
Rapid fire sharing, giving praise and ensuring the rest
of the class is paying full attention to the person sharing.
Development (20 mins).
Are they excited? Is there a loud
buzz in the classroom, yeah? Great, the rest of the lesson will be a breeze.
I ask them to take out their English copies and ask
them to use a blue* pen, write down the date, and the title of “creative
writing, draft 1,”and the 5 W’s.
I now ask them to think of a title for the muse they
have chosen. (I also have the muse printed (A4) and laminated and stuck to the
board (or if I chose music ~ it is playing.)
They then must write the title down in the middle of
the page in red* pen, circle it and think about writing down words that relates
to the picture and words answering their questions.
I give them 2 minutes to think in silence, I then ask 3
pupils to share with the class.
I when run to the board, and ask the pupils to help me:
come up with a title, and some words for the picture I have chosen for my mind
They have an idea of what to do, tell them they have 5 minutes
to do this.
I run around the room, assessing (noting my findings
down on my checklist) and guiding (questioning them until they understand.)
I ask one of them to come to the board and write their
mind map on the board. (Usually the bored pupil (they are bored because they
need (a) help or (b) encouragement.) We all guide this pupil.
Now I question them as to what makes a good story?
(introduction, middle, end, interesting characters, a plot, a problem to be
overcome and a ending resolving the problem.) The curriculum is circular in
nature, so they would have been doing this for years; we are recapping on their
known web of knowledge.
10.  Then
have 20 mins to write their story, give them a word count; “you must write at
least 3 lines in each paragraph and 3 paragraphs, write more if you can. I want
everyone to aim to write as much as they can.” I tell them. You need to keep
the different levels of ability in mind, so having to write 3 lines is doable
for pupil X, also by having so much pair work; you have included peer
mentoring, oral work and an integration of SPHE (strand – myself and others, strand
unit – communicating and resolving conflict. You never teach any lesson in
isolation, you are always informally integrating it with others.
11.  When
they are finished (you have by now check every
pupils work and signed it)
12.  For
early finishers you ask them to pick another picture and make another mind map.
Conclusion (7mins).
This is their first draft; you will need to have
another lesson on editing their work. It is of vital importance that you stress
the concept of drafting. They won’t be happy with this, so now you gotta get
them excited about their next lesson; tell them “we are going to turn your
stories into a book!! You will all edit and re-draft, draw a picture, I will
scan them.” (You can’t photocopy, as it is a “Green School,” and you are
keeping the paper usage low (tell them why you are scanning –geography
You tell them you will then put their stories on the
school web site/class blog.
You need to remind them of your lesson on “safety and
the internet”.
So, you need to go over not to write your full name on
your story, not to include any personal information, not to base characters on
anyone you know.)
Now, you get to enjoy the fun part of the conclusion.
Sit down at the side of the class and ask a random pupil to sit on your seat at
the top and to read their story (quickly).
Make sure everyone is sitting with their hand folded
and listening (which you are modelling).
Try to get through as many as possible and remind the
ones who didn’t get chosen will be chosen in the next English lesson.
Phew, you are done, the bell for rings,
you follow the usual class procedure then grab your water bottle and fruit (oh,
did I not tell you…they have a healthy eating policy here, so you need to
model this also!) and run to the staffroom, pretending not to hear the trouble
brewing, “I’m not a yard duty, Thank God,” you think as you run.
My advice, if you want to see how real teaching is done then study with Caren, check her out on twitter and her course details are here.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Thanks for comment.


  2. Anonymous says:

    Great, what class and school are you in now?


  3. mich says:

    Hi Louise,

    Thanks, yeah teaching is fun…a lot of prep but I'm sure agree that it is the same for writing.


  4. 120 Socks says:

    Well done – remind me to sit in on one of your lessons – sounds like a lot of fun and learning too! Well done you. Sorry it has taken me so long to comment 🙂


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