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Quick Ideas For Creative Writing In The Classroom
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Many language arts teachers and English teachers spend much of their time in "literature mode." Most standardized testing in elementary, middle and high school focuses on reading comprehension and analysis. In short, writing sometimes takes a back seat. Many states assess student writing through testing at various grade levels, but even that strategy is being dropped with the adoption of the Common Core and the revamping of standardized testing to match the demands of new curriculums. At the same time, subjects that have not always been tested are suddenly being tested. Social Studies and sciences are now being tested in states where they were never looked at before Common Core adoption. These subjects, along with math and language arts, will contain "writing elements" or short response answers... eventually. So what does all of this mean for creative writing? It means, there is no time for it!
What a shame! Students have great imaginations, and even the ones who don't seem to have the knack for developing their own prose and poetry can be fostered into a world of teeming with ideas and characters. Classroom teachers should try to fit a few creative writing assignments here and there despite the demands of the Common Core and standardized testing. Here are some quick and easy ideas to inspire kids to get creative with their writing.
• Take a paper bag. Fill it with "interesting" objects (a gummy worm, cotton balls, wheels off of toy car, etc.) Just pick random small things. Have each student reach into the bag, touch one object, pick it up but don't pull it out of the bag. Have students write a description based on what they felt. Turn it into a poem. Give them a rhyme scheme if they need more direction!
• Take several pieces of white paper and some craft paints. Allow students to come up and squirt some paint on the paper. Fold the paper in half to make "ink blot" pictures. Have students write a poem or a short story about what they see in their "ink blot".
• Use pictures from old magazines or calendars. Post a different picture each day or just occasionally to inspire students to write based on what they see. They could create poems, stories, or just descriptions.
• Invest in Chris Van Allsburg's The Mysteries of Harris Burdick. This is a great poster set with really cool pictures that inspire students to write great stories. I have used these with middle and high school students and gotten great results.
• Have students create their own comic strips using clip art or cut outs from a magazine (or even have them draw the characters and setting if they wish and you have the time).
• Take newspaper clippings (photos or articles) and have students read them and develop a background story or side story.
• Write out several short phrases that include one character name, a location, and a prop. Have kids draw them from a bag as story-starters.
• On slips of paper, write down ordinary objects (keys, vase, tree, etc.). Have students draw them out of bag and create "odes" or poems about the objects in a concrete form. This is where the words are written in the shape of the object.
• Have students create a biopoem.
Teachers should never be afraid to take a few minutes here and there to do a little creative writing despite the fact that the Common Core and general standardized testing isn't really conducive to the creative side of education. Students need to have a creative outlet in the midst of the heavy expectations of the current academic climate.
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