Crowdsourcing stories

29 Apr

Today was my first creative writing lesson with my Year 7 class.  I always get nervous about teaching creative writing… creative writing is not really my skill set.

I have a really bright and very loud Year 7 class.  As such, I wanted to run an activity that would get them thinking creatively.  However, the lesson also had to meet the objective of students understanding the five elements of a narrative (orientation, complication, sequence of events, climax and resolution).

The idea that I came up with was to briefly discuss the elements of the narrative and then crowdsource a story  that illustrated all the elements.  The result was awesome!

I began by providing the details of the orientation, picking up on student cues.  These cues are noted in bold and square brackets.

Year seven sat silently.  They were in English class.  A poetry lesson.  [Some students were swaying in time to the rhythm of the story].  Caught up in the rhythm of the lesson they swayed slowly, keeping time with Ms W’s words.  [One of the boys was pretending to beatbox].  Sensing the innate musicality of the moment, two boys sitting up the back dropped a beat.  They began quietly [I pointed to two boys and the began to beatbox], the volume building.  [Three girls had their hands in the air, moving their hands in time to the beat]. Hypnotised by the beat, students began to raise their hands in the air, their arms moving as if conducting an invisible orchestra.

Sensing that Miss was about to spit some verse, the beat petered out and silence reigned.  However, before the class could experience the power of Spoken Word….

At this point I stopped so that we could discuss.  They identified that this was the orientation, and they also noted the elements present.

I also asked students for suggestions for a complication.  I got a range of suggestions.  My favourite (and the one that we used) was that Miley Cyrus, riding her wrecking ball, tore through the classroom, knocking me down and causing my death.

The lesson continued in this way, with students offering suggestions and me weaving them into a narrative.  We stopped periodically to discuss, evaluate and check understanding.

The kids really got into it.  They were quick to stand up, act out the descriptions, offer authentic dialogue and volunteer character quirks.

I know the kids really enjoyed the lesson, and I did too.  I wish that someone had recorded the story… it was a fantastic collaborative effort!


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