Tag Archives: Creative Writing

‘Night of the Hunted’

11 Jul

Studying the Gothic?  If so, this set of images entitled ‘Night of the Hunted’ is just what you have been waiting for!

I would like to give these images to students, challenging them to come up with a short Gothic narrative that engages with each image.  Students may sequence the images and the story as they wish, but each image must be incorporated.

It would also be interesting to have students engage in a peer review activity so that they can understand how the conventions of a genre can be leveraged in different ways to create a diverse range of stories.

Extension Activity #2

29 Jun

Another possible extension activity is to have students create a writing portfolio in response to a text studied in class.  They might, for example, a letter to the editor to defend particular language/textual choices, create a travel brochure related to the novel’s setting, and also write a series of diary entries that enable examination of characters’ innermost thoughts.

A suite of writing would allow students to express themselves in different forms, thus adding interest.  Additionally, it would allow me to differentiate, easily, thus enhancing the capacity of each student to express him/herself.

Extension Activity #1

28 Jun

I teach a number of talented junior students who are in need of extension.  As such, I am making it my mission to devise some interesting activities that will help them to hone their skills and continue to foster their love of English.

One possibility is to have students script and record a serialised radio play/podcast linked to the text we are studying in class.  Students could, for example, re-imagine the text from a new perspective, branch off into the experiences of a secondary character or create the prequel.

This activity has the benefit of being a sustained project, something that can play out (pun intended) over the course of a semester and be presented to the class as an end of term activity.  It also has the potential to foster collaboration, with students working together to script and voice the various characters.

 

Re-view

20 Jun

I have been reading a lot of book reviews recently.  It struck me that the point of a review is to offer enough information to entice one to read the text, but not so much information that the entire plot is explained.  This got me thinking, could I use this as a tool to trigger students’ creativity?  Could they re-view or re-imagine the original text by exploiting the gaps in the plot left when a text is reviewed? For example, could I use extracts from this review of Colm Toibin’s ‘Sleep’ to as stimulus for students’ gothic compositions?

I am excited to give this a go!

Engaging the disengaged

9 Apr

I am hoping to be able to spend some time this year developing more engaging and innovative learning activities for some of my more disengaged students.  Here are some of my ideas thus far:

  • Create the pitch for a musical adaptation of the Shakespearean text we have been studying.  Which elements of the text would you retain, which would you change?  Who would you cast and why?  Write the song for a key scene in the play.  Create a storyboard outlining the plot.  Produce a costume for one of the main characters.
  • Write the next chapter of the novel we have been studying.
  • Re-write a section of the text from the perspective of a secondary character.
  • Re-imagine the poem we have studied as a narrative/conversation/feature article/persuasive speech.
  • Transform the poem we have been studying into a spoken word poem.  Justify your performance choices.

If you have any other good ideas I’d love to hear them!

FRIDAY FICTIONEERS: ‘The Signature Room’

11 Nov

I used to be a Friday Fictioneers regular, but what was intended as a short break soon become a long one.  I thought I would try break the drought with a short story in response to the prompt for this week.  As per usual, the task is to write a complete narrative in 100 words exactly!

The Signature Room

My father saw it as a vanity project.

He refused the title Grandma gave it, labelling it The Signature Room.

I saw colour whirling in time with the whispering wind, and shapes jostling into position as they awaited the arrival of royalty.

I saw windows into unfamiliar worlds, and mirrors reflecting portraits of my reality.

I saw an autobiography, where words were replaced by images, and ink with paint.

After Grandma died I invited my father to sit with me, to see her story.

Three days later a sign appeared on the door: ‘Dora’s Gallery’.

His signature was scrawled beneath.

Subverting Fairy Tales

28 Oct

I have recently read Kissing the Witch (Emma Donoghue), a collection of interlinked short stories which subvert well known fairy tales.

I wish I had read this a little earlier as one of these stories would have been a good addition to a recent lesson sequence about subverting fairy tales.  Inspired by the three tales told by the monster in The Monster Calls, I decided to examine texts that incorporate some fairy tale elements but subvert or challenge others.

To illustrate the point, we engaged with a picture book retelling of The Three Little Pigs and a FANTASTIC short story entitled ‘There Was Once’ by Margaret Atwood.  After this discussing these and making connections to A Monster Calls, I asked students to select a fairy tale and subvert it.

Together we brainstormed some amazing ideas, framing our potential points of challenge or subversion as a series of interlinked questions.

  • What if the bears trespassed in the home owned by Goldilocks?  What if she was home?  What if she had a gun?  New bear skin rug?
  • What if Belle has taken the Beast from the wild?  What if the animal rights advocates found out?
  • What if Pinocchio was a real boy?  And a minority?  And he lied to the police?
  • What if Snow White’s experience of a poisoned apple prompted her to pursue an organic farming venture?
  • What if the witch in Hansel and Gretel was involved in human trafficking?
  • What if Cinderella was told from the perspective of one of the stepsisters?
  • What if Aladdin needed a visa to travel to a whole new world?
  • What if the Emperor was arrested after engaging in public nudity?
  • What if the Princess in The Princess and the Pea did not discover a pea beneath her many mattresses?  What if she discovered a handgun, or drugs?  What if she was undercover detective?

Getting creative!

22 Sep

I am trying to get students to think outside their known universe when writing.  To do this, I want to show them images depicting scenes from various countries and get them to write descriptively about what they see.  I am keen to help them move beyond the mere visual similes and metaphors and, as such, I am asking them to focus on texture and movement.

‘Wrong Channel’

20 Jan

I happened upon ‘Wrong Channel‘, a short story by Roberto Fernandez.  This very short narrative centres upon an error of interpretation.

This would be an interesting narrative to use with students as an example of humour and effective dialogue.

It would also be valuable as a writing prompt, encouraging students to speculate as to what happens next in the narrative.

‘There Was Once’

19 Jan

I recently read an interesting short story by Margaret Atwood entitled ‘There Was Once‘.  In this story the speaker attempts to recount a traditional fairy tale, only to be interrupted by the listener who notes all the politically incorrect elements of the story.

I think this would be an interesting narrative to share with students for a number of reasons:

  • It offers an alternate narrative style
  • It engages with social commentary
  • It offers strong perspectives and voices
  • It offers students permission to think and write outside established categories and stereotypes.