Involving students in creative writing activities can enhance learning, foster student creativity, and stimulate and further develop their imagination and writing ability. The more students get involved in writing, the better their prowess will be as a writer and creative thinker.
After having your class watch this short video about Llamas and Alpacas taken at the Knoxville Zoo in East Tennessee, involve your students in composing either a poem or story.
Step 1: Have your class watch the following short video:
Creative Writing Video – Llamas and Alpacas at Knoxville Zoo in East Tennessee
Step 2: As a class, brainstorm at least five facts about Llamas and Alpacas that students can include in their poem or story. List those facts on the board.
Step 3: Have students either compose a poem or a story inspired by the video. Stress that this will be their first draft.
Step 4: Divide the class into pairs of students or small groups of students to work together as editing partners. The students will make editing suggestions. They will also ask clarifying questions where the story or poem is not clear.
Step 5: Allow students time to refine and polish their writing product. Then they should work at writing or typing a final draft of their work.
Step 6: Have students illustrate their work with a drawing of their own. Or they could get some clip art off the internet. If you have class access to a Computer Lab, you might even wish the students to create a PowerPoint presentation of their story or poem complete with illustrations.
Step 7: Share their creative ventures with the class.
Step 8: You may want to appoint a student or students as the FACTS POLICE. They will count to make certain that at least five facts has been integrated and interwoven inside their story or poem.
Step 9: Involve the class in a quick discussion after each oral presentation of what creative techniques they used to include each fact. Did they do it through dialogue between characters? Did they do it through description? Did they do it in some other manner? In this way, students will get ideas for future work as they learn from each other’s oral presentations and the follow-up discussions.
Step 10: Create a class book of stories and poems about Llamas and Alpacas. Or publish the story or poem on a class blog in the internet.
Step 11: You might even want to create a class bulletin board about Zoo animals that either feature or include Llamas and Alpacas.
For the Teacher
How do you justify taking class time to involve your students in a creative writing activity? How does investing class time in creative writing ventures benefit student-learning?
When you check out the Writing Standards and Speaking and Listening Standards for K-5 on the national level, you will be able to find your answer.
Writing Standards K-5
* Under Text Types and Purposes, it states, “Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.”
Writing poetry and / or short stories would fit that requirement. Their stories or poems would use the technique of including an introduction; it will follow a sequence of what happened first, what happened next, and what happened after that; they will include at least five facts about the topic as part of their story or poem; and they will wrap-up the story or poem with a concluding statement or section.
* Under Production and Distribution of Writing, it states the following:
“Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.”
Once again, their stories or poems would fit this requirement perfectly. Their writing should be clear. It should be coherent and easy to understand and visualize. If you allow class time for this activity, they will have the time to sufficiently develop and organize their ideas into a cohesive story or poem. Knowing that they will be sharing their story or poem with the class and submitting it to be included in a class book, your students will likely make the extra effort to make this story or poem entertaining and articulate.
* “Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or tying a new approach.”
This activity can be enhanced by assigning students to edit each other’s work. They can share their story or poem with a classmate. The classmate can ask questions about points that have not been made clear and make suggestions of how the story might be improved or enhanced with more clarifying details. Stress to students that they will be creating a first draft to be submitted to a partner for editing and then a final draft to be placed in the class book.
* “Use technology, including the internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.”
Students can go to Google Images or Yahoo images to get appropriate illustrations that could enhance their work. Obviously, they will be using the internet to watch the creative writing video that inspired their story or poem in the first place. You might even wish to start a classroom blog where they can publish their finished story on the internet. If you do that, please send me a link. I would love to read the stories or poems that were inspired by the video that I created.
* Under Range of Writing, it states that students should “write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences.”
In the case of this creative writing assignment to write a story or poem inspired by the video, the students will be writing under the provision of shorter time frames of only a day or two.
Speaking and Listening Standards K-5
* Under Comprehension and Collaboration, it states the following:
“Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively and orally.”
Since the students will be sharing their stories and poems with the class, they will be getting practice in oral speaking. If they also create drawings or internet clip art to illustrate their work, they will also be enhancing their presentation visually.
“Evaluate a speaker’s point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric.”
You could have a fact police person count to make certain that at least five facts about the topic has been included in their story or poem. You could also involve the class in an interesting discussion about the creative way each student chose to weave the fact into their story through dialogue, description, or some other convention.
* Under Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas, it states the following:
“Present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.”
Since the student has already worked with a student editing partner, their presentation should be more polished than if they are giving an oral presentation based on their first draft alone. In that case, hopefully, their story or poem is organized, clear, and well-developed.
“Make strategic use of digital media and visual displays of date to express information and enhance understanding of presentations.”
If you have access to a computer lab, you might even have the students integrate their story or poem into a PowerPoint Presentation complete with illustrations. If that is not possible, than they should either come up with a drawing or internet clip art or magazine pictures to illustrate their work.
“Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and communicative tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.”
The more students have the opportunity to give oral presentations in class the better. Even though that is challenging for the shier students, it is still really good for them. After all, when they get out in the work world, most jobs require the employee to have the ability to communicate with others. In many cases, they have to share their work or presentations with fellow employees or bosses.
So as you can see, there are definite benefits to involving your class in creative writing ventures. Plus, many students find this type activity really enjoyable as well.
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