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Thread: Creative Writing for Mixed Age Children - advice on lesson planning

  1. #1
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    Creative Writing for Mixed Age Children - advice on lesson planning

    Hello all,

    I've recently taken a volunteer position teaching creative writing to children at a local YMCA. My experiences are primarily with first/second year college students, but I think this will be a good experience for the community and me. I have been seeking the expertise from a few elementary school friends, so I hope I'm ready to deal with the kids!

    But here are a few challenges that I would love some advice on. First, this course will have a WIDE range of age groups, starting from third grade to seventh grade students. This might make selecting course material a bit difficult. I am considering dividing the class into two halves based on age.

    However, this is a 8 day course at 1 hour per day. This means time is limited. My coordinator did mention that the younger students tend to lose focus and wander off to other arts/crafts classes (the kids can decide which one they can take during their evenings at the YMCA).

    My main objective is, of course, to generate interest in writing, and hopefully the students will continue to work on their writing after the course. Asides from that, I want the students to be able to learn and apply basic plot structure, using the plot pyramid as a guide. I do not plan on giving them homework, because this is already extra activity for them.

    So here's a tentative course outline:

    Day 1
    - Introduction to plot structure, using the pyramid as a guide

    Day 2
    - TV show/ cartoon for 20-25 min
    - Class discussion on how the pyramid was applied in that show
    - Note: I am still trying to find a show that can appeal to the entire class

    Day 3
    - I will read to the class Paul Yee's Rider Chan, a children's tale (but not widely known) in my area. I will only read and provide half the story (cut off during the rising action) to the class. Plot structure and literary elements will be indicated as needed.
    - Class will be in groups and will begin completing the story. My hope is that they can apply some of the plot structure discussed in class to this.
    - For all in- class writing, I plan on floating around the room providing assistance.

    Day 4
    - Complete Rider Chan story. Students encouraged to make their own illustrations.
    - Time permitting: groups can exchange stories to read

    Day 5
    - Students will begin their final project: a story of their own (I will mention this early during the course so they can start thinking about it). I will encourage them to use the plot pyramid. Illustrations encouraged.

    Day 6
    - Continue with final project.

    Day 7
    - Complete final project.
    - Peer editing.

    Day 8
    - Course celebration (required by the YCMA)
    - All assignments will be published in a package, and every student will receive one.
    - Reading from various class work.

    I would love to hear any input on this. It will be greatly appreciated!

  2. #2
    13 Year Old Writer.
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    As a kid myself, I think it's good fun to watch a tv show. But truth is we never learn from it. If i was a teacher I'd do a quiz based on the tv show to see if people have been listening and give a small prize . Butttt yah.

  3. #3
    Registered User Jassy Melson's Avatar
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    Why aren't these kids in school rather than a YMCA.
    Dostoevsky gives me more than any scientist.

    Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world. - Albert Einstein

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    Original Poster Buh4Bee's Avatar
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    I think the best idea is to let them read examples that you are looking for specifically. If you want them to write stories than read them stories and show them what you want. It seems like you are doing that when you read Paul Yee's Rider Chan. I'm not sure what the pyramid is, but third grades can focus for about 20 minutes and that is on a good day. Showing them any kind of diagram on the first day may turn them off. In fact, any words like plot structure will stress them out. The grade level spread it too big also. You can put third grades in a class with seventh graders. That is unfair to the students and instructor. If you want some research try Lucy Calkins; the big writing guru for the elementary grades.

  5. #5
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    iIf it is a clas on writing, I reccomend you start each day with a "free write" where they write for 10-15 minutes just to get into the habit of writing.

  6. #6
    Registered User Jassy Melson's Avatar
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    My question wasn't answered.

    The best way to have a creative writing course is not to have a lesson plan. Throw it out. Provide a structured environment where the students can creatively write - outside of class. And that's it. Don't have them write in the class. Give them assignments to complete outside of the classroom. Discuss some well-known writers, but mainly discuss each student's writing--without identifying or naming the students. Have the students write a short story, a poem, and a nonfiction piece. Give them plenty of time to write each assignment. Again, don't identify the writers in class. Let whoever wants discuss and/or critique the writings. Let them know that their opinions are valid and valuable.
    Dostoevsky gives me more than any scientist.

    Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world. - Albert Einstein

  7. #7
    Registered User FTJohnson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rae View Post
    As a kid myself, I think it's good fun to watch a tv show. But truth is we never learn from it. If i was a teacher I'd do a quiz based on the tv show to see if people have been listening and give a small prize . Butttt yah.
    Hi Teacher Rea! Your strategy get the full attention of your students was really great ideas! I did this also to my class.

  8. #8
    StudentsAssignmentHelp
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    In my opinion it will be beneficial for students if they try to collect the data himself, Student can take help of internet or any study based help agency and regular assignment and homework is also a good option because it will maintain a writing habit of students.

  9. #9
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    This thread is really helpful. My mom's an English teacher and I can also share this thread to her for ideas. I also thought about how technology can be of aid to creative writing. For example, letting students create their own website using a website builder (recommended: hPage.com website builder) and writing their works there. That way, they can also think that their works are being read by an audience and will help them write better and more thoughtfully. Moreover, I think it will also help with their confidence knowing that someone out there might be reading their works.

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