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How to Write a Performance Review
Employers and employees find value in performance reviews. The feedback can range from guidance to praise, thus allowing for both parties to engage in discussion regarding what’s working and what isn’t. It’s for that reason leaders need to learn how to write a performance review using these guidelines.
Regular Feedback is Critical
While a performance review typically has a bi-annual schedule, that doesn’t mean regular feedback in-between those dates shouldn’t be happening. Therefore, look up how to write a performance review sample, and use that as your springboard for regular feedback. In doing so, your employees are sure they won’t be hearing about their performance during their first review. When looking up how to write a sample performance review, you’ll find that they’re comprised of many fundamental components including communication, teamwork and collaboration skills, problem-solving, accuracy and quality of work, dependability, and attendance, and meeting deadlines.
Utilize the Employee’s Job Description
When you’re unsure where to begin, utilize the employee’s job description as a springboard for their performance evaluation sample. In doing so, you’ll can determine if they satisfied all the requirements and responsibilities of the job description’s listings. You’ll also be able to determine if there were aspects of the job description where they were lacking. Be sure the job description is up-to-date before working on the performance review. That way, you’re sure the position hasn’t undergone any changes since the job description was written.
Use Key Points
When writing the performance review, focus only on key points. For example, if the review is about whether or not the employee is achieving their goals, focus on those key points. Examples of performance goals samples include that the employee must complete a certain level of tasks before being considered for a promotion. Some sample resolutions if the employee is not achieving their goals would include that they would implement a strategy for meeting their goals and then set up another check-in with you to assess their progress.
Request Feedback from Colleagues
When writing the performance review, it’s essential to solicit feedback from colleagues who have worked closely with them. This action is often referred to as obtaining 360-feedback because you’re receiving feedback for the employee from his coworkers, boss, and any other relevant staff. Use of coworker feedback samples includes asking employees what they like or appreciate about their coworker, when they thought their coworker did a great job, or what they would like to see change about a situation.
Keep Track of Performance
When learning how to write performance reviews, keeping track of an employee’s performance is part of achieving that goal. You’ll be working with sample performance comments from other employees, as well as logging their attendance, following policies, how well their meeting deadlines, and if they’re achieving their goals. When working on these tasks, you may need a logbook sample that includes information about their daily job performance. For example, the ledger sheet sample could consist of information about if accidents occurred if it’s a factory or cash overages if you’re in the retail industry. It’s essential to keep policies on-hand, like a cash management policy sample or sample IT policies, for example, to ensure they’re up-to-date and ready to present during the performance review.
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Creative Writing Lesson Plans: Week One
Looking for creative writing lesson plans? I am developing creative writing lesson ideas!
I’ve written and revamped my creative writing lesson plans. This semester marks the second time I have taught this particular writing class, and I beginning to bump near that tranquility-confidence-spot that teachers crave.
You know what I mean: I’m working the kinks out of these creative writing activities and plans. I am developing a vision for the class and am more confident in teaching it. Since I am happy with the first week of lesson plans, I wanted to share them with you all. These plans require lots of discussion and encouragement. I’ve found students are shy about writing creatively, about sharing pieces of themselves. A large part of the first week of class is setting the atmosphere, of showing students they are free to create. And! I believe these concepts will apply to most writing lesson plans for secondary students.
Feel free to give me feedback and borrow all that you need! Below, I’ve detailed my day-by-day progression for c reative writing lesson plans for week one.
Creative Writing Lesson Day One: Sharing my vision
When I created my first lesson plan for creative writing, I knew that students had to be comfortable. I’m not a huge “ice breaker” type of teacher—I build relationships slowly. Still, to get student writing, I knew I needed to have them comfortable.
For day one with any lesson plan for creative writing, I think it is important to set the tone, to immediately establish what I want from my creative writing students. And I want…
them not to write for me, but for them. I don’t want them writing what they think I want them to write.
Does that make sense? I don’t want to place limitations on them. I specifically outline what I believe they can produce in a presentation. (Sometimes I show it to parents, too!) As their writing coach, I plan to provide ideas and tools for use. Their job is to decide what tools work for their creative endeavors.
After covering classroom procedures and rules, I show students a TED Talk. We watch The Danger of a Single Story by Chimamanda Adichie. My goal is to show students that I don’t have a predetermined idea concerning what they should write. This discussion takes the rest of the class period.
Establishing comfort and excitement precedents my other creative writing activities. I image you can personalize your “vision” activities for your lessons in creative writing. Honestly, doing this pre-work builds relationships with students and creates a positive classroom atmosphere.
Creative Writing Lesson Day Two: Activating prior knowledge
Students possess prior knowledge concerning creative writing, but they might not consider that. Students should realize that they know what constitutes a great story. They might not realize that yet. An easy lesson plan for creative writing that will pay off later is to activate prior knowledge. Brainstorm creative, memorable, unforgettable stories with students. Share your thoughts too! You will start to build relationships with students who share the same tastes as you (and those that are completely different!).
During this activity, I want to see how students work together, and I want to build a rapport with students. Additionally, activating prior knowledge provides a smooth transition into other creative writing activities.
This creative writing activity is simple:
I ask students to tell me memorable stories—books, play, tv shows, movies—and I write them on the board. I add and veto as appropriate. Normally doing these classroom discussions, we dive deeper into comedies and creative nonfiction. Sometimes as we work, I ask students to research certain stories and definitions. I normally take a picture of our work so that I can build creative writing lessons from students’ interests.
This takes longer than you might think, but I like that aspect. This information can help me shape my future lessons.
With about twenty minutes left in class, I ask students to form small groups. I want them to derive what makes these stories memorable. Since students complete group and partner activities in this class, I also watch and see how they interact.
Students often draw conclusions about what makes a story memorable:
- Realistic or true-to-life characters.
- Meaningful themes.
- Funny or sad events.
All of this information will be used later as students work on their own writing. Many times, my creative writing lessons overlap, especially the more times that I teach the class.
Creative Writing Lesson Day Three: Brainstorming and drafts and lists and more
From building creative writing activities and implementing them for a semester, I now realize that students think they will sit and write. Ta-da! After all, this isn’t academic writing. Coaching creative writing students is part of the process.
That is not the writing process I want them to implement. Building a creative project requires thought and mistakes. (Any writing endeavor does, really.) Students hear ‘creative writing’ and they think… easy. Therefore, a first week lesson plan for creative writing should touch on the writing process.
I’ve learned to provide students with plenty of opportunities to stretch their imaginations. For instance, one of the first activities we do is analyze a person from class. We do this with characterization questions. (You can download these question for free in my library .) I connect that activity to the list of memorable stories we previously brainstormed. What makes a character memorable? Can we weave together a story that allows characters to shine?
The characterization questions force students to consider people in unique ways. For instance, what can you learn from a person by their ice-cream toppings? At first, that might seem silly. Really though, if a person has a standard order, that reveals a characteristic, as does a person who mixes five flavors. It is fun for students, and they have the tools to create dynamic characters.
Creative Writing Lesson, Days Four and Five: Writing and more writing
Students need practice writing, and they need to understand that they will not use every word they write. Cutting out lines is painful for them! Often, a lesson plan for creative writing involves providing time for meaningful writing.
For two days, we develop these character sketches. I don’t provide a ton of guidelines; I want to see what students create. I spend lots of time writing with them and modeling sentences.
This is our first large project. As we continue, students are responsible for smaller projects as well. This keeps students writing most days.
On Fridays, we are producing “quick writes.” Students write about a goofy topic that implements a creative side. For instance, students might write about Batman and character motivation. (You can also download those “quick writes” in my membership library .)
Overall, my students and I work together during the first week of any creative writing class. I encourage students to write, and I cheer on their progress. My message to students is that their writing has value, and I want to read what they create.
And that is my week one! The quick recap:
Week One Creative Writing Lesson Plans
Monday: Rules, procedures, TED Talk, discussion.
Tuesday: Prior knowledge—brainstorm the modeling of memorable stories. Build community through common knowledge.
Wednesday: Review of memorable traits. Characterization activity. Download it for free in my library .
Thursday: Review characterization activity and practice implementing it into a written format.
Friday: Quick writing prompt, character writing continues. (Again, download the writing prompts in my library.)
For the second week of creative writing, I begin with narratives. I outline expectations with a narrative presentation that contains key elements and move onto developing the setting and creating a character. Narratives are perfect for the first assignment because students have typically written these before, and they are willing to share details. We are not out of our comfort zones, and I can build classroom community by encouraging collaborations.
Students do well with this small assignment for the second week, and then we move to longer creative writing assignments . When students experience success with their first assignment, you can start constructive editing and revising with them as the class continues.
These creative writing activities should be easy implement and personalize for your students. If you want the characterization sheets for your creative writing lesson plans, snag them here:
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Are you interested in more creative writing lesson ideas? My Facebook page has interactive educators who love to discuss creative writing for middle school and high school creative writing lesson plans. Join us!
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Walking by the Way
the road to inspired learning
Eight Free Creative Writing Lessons
February 17, 2012 by Ami 17 Comments
I know I throw around the word favorite all the time. But this is the truth: teaching creative writing lessons is my favorite.
I have taught creative writing enrichment for summer school students. I have taught creative writing in various homeschool settings and co-ops. I have taught big students and little students. And I love it.
Since I love to share homeschool co-op class ideas , I have compiled the creative writing lessons from a co-op class that I taught.
Creative Writing Lessons for a Homeschool Co-op Class
First, please remember that any teacher can use these creative writing lessons. You don’t need to be teaching homeschoolers. You can be a classroom teacher or a homeschool teacher at home with one student. You can even be a librarian who needs a fun program series.
Second, I used these creative writing lesson plans with upper elementary students (with maybe a few 7th graders thrown in). However, you can adapt and use them for older students or younger students!
Creative Writing Lesson Plans
Creative writing lesson one.
The first lesson focuses on cliché and metaphor. It prompts students to consider how words matter.
Grab lesson one here .
Creative Writing Lesson Two
The second lesson teaches students about sensory details: why they are important and how to include them in their writing. Students will begin using sensory details to evoke smells and sounds and sights.
Grab lesson two here.
Creative Writing Lesson Three
The third lesson introduces showing vs. telling. Students learn how to recognize authors who utilize showing, and students are able to articulate the difference between showing and telling.
Grab lesson three here.
Creative Writing Lesson Four
The fourth lesson teaches students how to capture images. We use examples of poetry and prose to discuss this important writing skill.
Grab lesson four here.
Creative Writing Lesson Five
The fifth lesson introduces the story elements of character and conflict.
Note: You may choose to split this lesson into two lessons since it covers two big elements. I only had nine weeks with my students, so I had to jam character and conflict together.
Grab lesson five here.
Creative Writing Lesson Six
The sixth lesson introduces the students to point of view and perspective. We have fun reading poems and using pictures to write descriptions from different points of view.
Grab lesson six here.
Creative Writing Lesson Seven
The seventh lesson puts everything we’ve learned together. I read the students some fractured fairy tales, and we watch some, too. Students then use the prewriting activities and their imaginations to begin drafting their own fractured fairy tales.
Grab lesson seven here.
Creative Writing Lesson Eight
The eighth lesson focuses on revision. After a mini-lesson, students partner up for peer editing.
Grab lesson eight here .
For our final class day, students bring revised work, and I host coffee shop readings. This is a memorable experience for students (and their teacher).
Creative Writing Lessons FAQ
Since posting these creative writing lessons, I have had lots of questions. I decided to compile them here in case you have the same question.
Q: What are copywork quotes? A: Copywork quotes are simply great quotes that students copy as part of their homework assignments. You can use any quotes about writing. I’ve included my favorites throughout the printable packs.
Q: Can I use this with a younger or older student? A: Absolutely! Just adapt it to meet the needs of your student.
Q: Can I use this for my library’s programming or my homeschool co-op class? A: Yes! I just ask that it not be used for profit.
Do you have any questions about teaching creative writing? What’s your biggest hang-up when it comes to teaching creative writing? I’d love to hear from you and help you solve the issue.
January 7, 2016 at 1:57 pm
As long as you are not profitting from using them, they are yours to use! Enjoy! Wish I could be there to help facilitate all those young writers!
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Ideas, Inspiration, and Giveaways for Teachers
We Are Teachers
10 Creative Writing Activities That Help Students Tell Their Stories
Lower the stakes and help them get started.
The Adobe Education Exchange is the free learning platform and community, with workshops, classes, and resources, all designed by educators for educators, to ignite creativity in the classroom. Learn More .
“I don’t have a story. There’s nothing interesting about my life!” Sound familiar? I don’t know a teacher who hasn’t heard students say this. When we ask our students to write about themselves, they get stuck. We know how important it is for them to tell their own stories. It’s how we explore our identities and keep our histories and cultures alive. It can even be dangerous when we don’t tell our stories (check out this Ted Talk given by novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and share it with your students for more on that). Storytelling is essential for every subject, not just English Language Arts; students dive deeper and engage when they practice thinking about how their own stories intersect with historical events, civic engagement, and the real-world implications of STEM. These 10 creative writing activities can work in every subject you teach:
Here are 10 of our favorite story telling activities that inspire students:
1. write an “i am from” poem.
Students read the poem “I am From” by George Ella Lyon. Then, they draft a poem about their own identity in the same format Lyon used. Finally, students create a video to publish their poems. We love this one because the mentor text gives a clear structure and example that students can follow. But the end result is truly unique, just like their story.
2. Design a social media post to share an important memory
How can you use your unique perspective to tell a story? We want our students to learn that they are truly unique and have stories that only they can tell that other people want to hear or could relate to or learn from. In this activity, students watch two Pixar-in-a-Box videos on Khan Academy to learn about storytelling and perspective. Then, they identify an interesting or poignant memory and design a social media post.
3. Create an image using a line to chart an emotional journey
How do you show emotion using a single line? In this activity, students watch a Pixar in a Box video on Khan Academy to learn about how lines communicate character, emotion, and tension. Then they experiment with these aspects as they write their story. We love using this for pre-writing and to help students explore their story arc. Also, for students who love to draw or learn visually, this can help them get started telling their story and show them that there are many different ways to tell a story.
4. Tell the story behind your name
Sharing the story behind our name is a way to tell a story about ourselves, our culture, and our family history. And if there isn’t a story behind it, we can talk about how we feel about it and describe what it sounds like. In this activity, students use video to introduce themselves to their classmates by discussing the origin of their name. This project asks students to connect their names (and identities) to their personal and familial histories and to larger historical forces. If you’re looking for a mentor text that pairs well with this one, try “My Name” by Sandra Cisneros .
5. Develop a visual character sketch
Give students the time to create a character sketch of themselves. This will help them see how they fit into their story. In this lesson, students create a visual character sketch. They’ll treat themselves like a character and learn to see themselves objectively.
6. Create a webpage to outline the story of your movie
Building a story spine is a great way to show students how to put the parts of their story in an order that makes sense. It’s an exercise in making choices about structure. We like this activity because it gives students a chance to see different examples of structure in storytelling. Then, they consider the question: how can you use structure to set your story up for success? Finally, they design and illustrate an outline for their story.
7. Respond to a variety of writing prompts
Sometimes our students get stuck because they aren’t inspired or need a different entry point into telling their story. Give them a lot of writing prompts that they can choose from. Pass out paper and pencils. Set a timer for fifteen minutes. Then, write 3-4 writing prompts on the board. Encourage students to free-write and not worry about whether their ideas are good or right. Some of our favorite prompts to encourage students to tell their story are:
- I don’t know why I remember…
- What’s your favorite place and why?
- What objects tell the story of your life?
- What might surprise someone to learn about you?
8. Create a self-portrait exploring identity and self-expression
Part of what makes writing your own story so difficult for students is that they are just building their identity. In this activity, students explore how they and others define their identity. What role does identity play in determining how they are perceived and treated by others? What remains hidden and what is shown publicly?
9. Film a video to share an important story from your life
Encourage students to think about how to tell the story of a day they faced their fears. Students consider the question: How can you use different shot types to tell your story? They watch a video from Pixar in a Box on Khan Academy to learn about different camera shots and their use in storytelling. Then, they use Adobe Spark Post or Photoshop and choose three moments from their story to make into shots. We love using this to help students think about pace and perspective. Sometimes what we leave out of our story is just as important as what we include.
10. Try wild writing
Laurie Powers created a process where you read a poem and then select two lines from it. Students start their own writing with one of those lines. Anytime that they get stuck, they repeat their jump-off line again. This is a standalone activity or a daily writing warm-up, and it works with any poem. We love how it lowers the stakes. Can’t think of anything to write? Repeat the jump-off line and start again. Here are some of our favorite jump-off lines:
- The truth is…
- Some people say…
- Here’s what I forgot to tell you…
- Some questions have no answers…
- Here’s what I’m afraid to write about…
Julie Mason is a Senior Editor at WeAreTeachers. She taught middle and high school English, and is a blended and personalized learning instructional coach. She loves reading a book in one sitting, good coffee, and spending time with her husband and sons.
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15 Classified Ads We Hope Had Happy Endings Writing prompt: choose one of these historical ads and construct a narrative that supports it. Include characters, location, and other necessary details. (Teachers may wish to check the ads for appropriateness.)
20 Mystical Bridges That Will Take You To Another World Creative writing prompt: "I walked across the bridge and ..." The photographs of real bridges on this page are astonishingly beautiful. However, the page also carries ads that may not be appropriate for the classroom. Consider copying the photographs into a new file for classroom use.
27 Magical Paths Begging To Be Walked Photographs of beautiful paths all over the world, showing a variety of seasons and geography, just waiting to inspire a poem or serve as the setting for a short story. Note: this page carries ads that may not be appropriate for the classroom. Consider copying the photographs into a new file for classroom use.
The 100-Word Challenge In this activity students respond to a prompt using not more than 100 words. Writing is posted on a class blog, where responses are invited. The activity encourages regular writing for an authentic audience. It's designed for students 16 and under.
Adding Emotions to your Story A good lesson on adding detail, "exploding" an incident, and "show, don't tell." It includes handouts and is designed for grades 3-5.
After the First Draft: 30 Fast, Easy Writing Tips for the Second Draft This 37-page document is designed for writers of novels, but many of the tips apply equally to writers of short stories. Clear, simple, and easy to read, appropriate for 5th or 6th grade (in places) and up. Adobe Reader required for access.
All Together Now: Collaborations in Poetry Writing Students write a line of poetry in response to something the teacher reads. Their lines, together, form a poem. This unit is designed for grades K-2.
Bernadette Mayer's List of Journal Ideas A list of journal topics that will work on multiple grade levels. Scroll down for a list of "Writing Experiments" that will work well in a creative writing unit.
The Book of Butterflies by Michael Leunig (Scroll down on the page.) This short (1:06) video explores the question "What happens when a book comes to life?" It will work well on almost any grade level.
By the Old Mill Stream A creative writing prompt, differentiated for elementary and middle and high school students. Students begin writing a narrative. In the second part of the prompt, they write a description.
Calling on the Muse: Exercises to Unlock the Poet Within From Education World.
Can You Haiku? from EdSitement Complete lesson plans for writing haiku, links to additional material.
Character Name Generator Choose ethnicity, decade of birth, and gender, and this site will generate an appropriate name and a possible character description.
Characterization in Literature and Theater Students explore various methods authors use to create effective characters. Students will consider what makes a character believable and create their own characterizations. They will also write a short script using the characters they created and act out the script.
The Clues to a Great Story One-page handout with 5 essential elements for good storytelling. Uses "The Ugly Duckling" and more contemporary stories for examples.
The Color of Love In this lesson students will be invited to reflect on a variety of colors and the pleasurable things that those colors invoke. They then will write a poem about someone they love following Barbara Joosse's style in I Love You the Purplest .
Creating Characters Students examine character as a significant element of fiction. They learn several methods of characterization, identify and critique these methods in well-known works of fiction, and use the methods in works of their own. Students also identify, examine, evaluate, and use the elements dialogue and point of view as methods of characterization.
Creative State of Mind: Focusing on the Writing Process In this lesson, students examine the lyrics of rap artist Jay-Z for literary elements including rhyme, metaphor, puns and allusions, then consider what he says about his own writing process. Finally, they analyze additional lyrics and apply lessons from Jay-Z's process to their own reading and writing.
The Cutting Edge: Exploring How Editing Affects an Author's Work Students examine the writing of short-story author Raymond Carver as well as their own writing to explore how editing can affect the text, content and context of an author's work.
9 Fun First Day at School Writing Activities
The smell of freshly painted halls, the excited chatter of returning students bursting with 2 months’ worth of gossip to share – it must be the first day at school once again.
Rusty pens and dusty pencils are hastily pulled from the bottom of school bags where, for many, they’ve lain all summer.
Now, you’ll need some engaging writing activities to get those atrophied writing muscles back in shape. The standard ‘ What I Did This Summer ’ type essay just isn’t going to cut it.
Luckily, we have 7 Great Back to School Writing Activities for you to help shake off the cobwebs and get your students’ writing skills back on par. Let’s get started.
Ice Breakers – FIRST DAY AT SCHOOL Writing activities
At the start of each school year, there’s likely to be a new face or two in the class and while 2 months isn’t a long time in the great scheme of things, our students can do a lot of growing and changing in that time.
Ice-breaker writing activities give students a chance to connect with others in the class. They give students some insight into the lives of their classmates.
Here are some fun ice-breaker writing activities to get the new school year off to a strong start writing-wise.
- The A to Z of Me!
In the A to Z of Me , students write an acrostic poem about themselves. With the first line of the poem starting with the letter A, each new line of the poem begins with the next letter of the alphabet and should reveal something about the poet.
For younger students this may be too long – it’d be a 26 line poem after all. In this case, you can easily adapt the activity to employ the letters of the student’s first name.
The aim of this activity is for students to capture the essence of who they are in their poems. They can write a phrase or a line based on their interests, their appearance, things they have done, hobbies, desires, ideas, where they’re from, etc.
For older students and stronger students, you can make this more challenging by insisting they employ a rhyme scheme throughout their poem.
For example, they could write their poem in couplets (AA, BB, CC, etc) or with an alternate line rhyming scheme (AB, AB, AB, etc).
When students have finished writing their acrostic poems about themselves, they can perform it to the whole class in the form of a class poetry slam.
This is a fun activity that challenges students to recall what they know about their classmates already or, in the case of a newly formed group of students, to explore their initial impressions of each other.
In Guess Who? the teacher divides the students into 2 groups. They then write down a unique fact about themselves on a piece of paper, fold it up, and give it to the teacher.
If everyone already knows each other very well, you might want to limit the facts to something they did over the summer that the others in the class are not aware of yet.
Students could write about a hobby or a talent they have, a language they speak, or a place they visited, anything that they feel makes them unique or special.
Students then take it in turns to read a fact written by someone from the other group and they then guess who wrote it.
A point is awarded for each correct guess the winning team being the team with the most points at the end.
Collaborative writing Activities
Collaborative writing activities offer students opportunities to work together with a partner, a small group, or the whole class to produce a shared piece of writing.
As with the previous activities, these activities can serve to break the ice. More than that, though, they help students establish a level of comfort working together to achieve a shared goal – a key dynamic to encourage at the start of any school year.
- Snowball Story-Writing
In this simple, but fun activity each student starts by writing the beginning to a story. There should be an allotted amount of time to complete this, the length of which will depend on the age and abilities of the students.
When the allotted time is up, students should stop writing, roll their piece of paper up into a ball, then throw it up towards the top of the classroom!
Students should then each retrieve one of the ‘snowballs’ from the front of the classroom and, when the timer is started, read the beginning of the story and then write the story middle until the time is up.
Again, the students throw their snowballs to the front of the classroom, before selecting a new snowball to write the ending.
When the stories are completed, they should be returned to the students who wrote the story beginning. This student should write a final draft of the story to ensure it reads well
Students can then share their stories by reading them out to the class.
Sometimes students will struggle to kick start their writing. To help students get going, it can be helpful to provide students with a sheet of paper with a writing prompt on it. This can be in the form of a sentence or even a picture.
These prompts can be easily differentiated to suit the age and abilities of your students. For example, more prescriptive prompts are useful for younger students, while more open-ended prompts will be suitable for older and/or stronger students.
- Tapestry Poems
Tapestry poems are a collaboration between two students. So, as a first step, you need to assign each student a partner to work with.
The next step requires you to assign a topic for each pair of students in the class. Each partner then independently writes a 9-line poem on the assigned topic.
When each student has finished their 9-line poem, they share them with their partner.
The task at hand is for the students to now work together to produce an 18-line poem from the two 9-line poems they have created.
To do this, the students will have to collaborate to make the composite poem work. The idea here is to weave the different threads of the two interpretations of the topic into a single ‘tapestry’.
Students will need to include the 9 lines of both poems, but they have room to edit for verb tense and to make minor grammatical changes to make things work.
The partners must also compromise to agree on a single title for their shared piece.
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MemorY Writing activities
While we want to avoid the cliched ‘ What I Did This Summer ’ essay, it doesn’t mean that memories of the long holidays can’t serve as an ‘ in’ to some worthwhile writing activities.
In the following writing activities, students will be asked to access their memories of summer to serve as a jumping-off point. Let’s get started!
- Paint a Picture With Words
Essentially, this writing activity challenges students to write by employing their senses to evoke a memory.
First, ask the students to choose from a memory of a place they visited during the summer vacation. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a beach trip or visit to a shopping mall, they’ll both serve equally well for this activity.
Students must then endeavor to recreate the scene as they recall it through careful selection of vocabulary and description.
The main focus of this type of writing will be the use of sensory language. Students should meditate on the things they saw, heard, smelled, tasted, and felt while they were in their chosen place.
Students should work to paint a vivid, multi-dimensional picture in the reader’s minds-eye. For this reason, they should choose a static memory such as a scene they recall. This activity has more in common with landscape painting than with film-making. A plot is not required.
This activity offers students an opportunity to hone their descriptive writing skills which will help them improve their writing in many genres.
As with the last activity, this type of poetry is typically focused on evoking a scene. In the case of the haiku, this is usually a natural scene.
Before putting pen to paper, be sure students are suitably familiar with the features of the haiku:
● It consists of 3 lines
● It contains 17 syllables
● The 1st and 3rd lines have 5 syllables and the 2nd line has 7 syllables
● It does not need to rhyme
● It’s usually about nature or a natural phenomenon
● Often has two contrasting or juxtaposed subjects woven into it.
This activity is best introduced by reading and examining a couple of well-written haikus, such as those by Basho in translation, to ensure student familiarity with the form.
This is a very meditative writing form and it is important to set a suitable mood and atmosphere in the classroom to encourage the necessary concentration and reflection the writing process will require. The playing of gentle instrumental music is one way to help achieve this ambience.
FUN WRITING ACTIVITIES
While the first of our Back to School Writing Activities focus clearly on breaking the ice and drawing on memories, the primary focus of the following writing activities is on having fun.
While these activities will also offer students opportunities to develop some technical aspects of their writing skills, the main emphasis here is on students seeing writing as a fun, creative activity where they have the space and time for self-expression.
- Creative Excuses
To start this activity, students must come up with a list of 10 chores or tasks that they absolutely hate doing.
Next, students should choose 4 from this list of their most detested tasks. They need to then write a letter explaining why they cannot complete these tasks.
Encourage students to get creative with their excuses. The crazier and more imaginative the excuses are, the better. This activity is an opportunity for students to let their imaginations loose.
- ‘What If?’ Writing Prompts
Writing prompts are a great way for students to break through writer’s block. In this activity, students generate their own writing prompts by creating ‘ what if? ’ scenarios for other students in the class to use as writing prompts.
Many of the best and most creative stories come from starting with an inquiry into what would happen if x happened. These scenarios can be silly, serious, fantastical, or humorous, as long as they provide a jumping-off point for the student writer.
When students have completed their prompts, the teacher should gather them in to distribute randomly among the class.
When students have finished writing their responses to their assigned prompts they can share their work with the class. This will be especially interesting for the writer of the original prompt.
- Fictional Interviews
This activity involves a little bit of writing and a lot of role-playing.
In this activity, students should be paired up with a partner. Each partner chooses a fictional character they will role-play. The character can be from any type of fiction, for example, movies, comic books, or works of literature.
Partners must prepare and write up a series of interview questions for their partner’s fictional character.
Partners take turns interviewing each other while the interviewee is in character.
This is a great way to bring a bit of drama into the classroom, but if you want to emphasize the writing aspect of the activity, you can set the students the task of writing up the interview in the style of a magazine feature article. This will require the student to weave some narrative writing around the back and forth of the questions and answers of the interview.
So, there we have it. 9 engaging activities to kick start the writing process at the start of the school year.
There is quite a variety to choose from here, with some activities honing technical aspects of the writing process, while others are more centred on the fun of creativity.
Remember, at the start of the school year, it isn’t so important what the students write, but that they write!
With the selection of activities above, you’re sure to find an activity to suit even the most pen-shy of students!
DOWNLOAD OUR 52 DIGITAL WRITING JOURNAL TASKS
Our FUN TEN-MINUTE DAILY WRITING TASKS will teach your students the fundamentals of creative writing across all text types. 52 INDEPENDENT TASKS are perfect for DISTANCE LEARNING.
These EDITABLE Journals are purpose-built for DIGITAL DEVICES on platforms such as Google Classroom, SeeSaw and Office 365. Alternatively, you can print them out and use them as a traditional writing activity.
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The content for this page has been written by Shane Mac Donnchaidh. A former principal of an international school and English university lecturer with 15 years of teaching and administration experience. Shane’s latest Book, The Complete Guide to Nonfiction Writing , can be found here. Editing and support for this article have been provided by the literacyideas team.
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Creative Writing Skills: 6 Lessons You Need To Teach Today
So, you’re going to teach Creative Writing. Congratulations! Now comes the hard part–what exactly does that mean? What should you be teaching? What skills should your students be learning? In this post, I’m going to share some essential Creative Writing skills you should be teaching in your high school Creative Writing class.
If you’re looking for more tips to teach Creative Writing, check out this post . And if you need help planning the Creative Writing semester, this post should help .
(Looking to skip the planning entirely? Grab all of my Creative Writing skills lessons right here! )
Creative Writing Skills #1: Show. Don’t Tell.
The advice to “show, don’t tell” is some of the oldest and most consistent advice given to young writers. And it’s for a good reason–they really struggle with it!
About half of my students come into Creative Writing with these big elaborate stories they want to tell. But when they actually get into writing, their stories feel more like a list of events that happened.
I’ve seen months of plot happen in just a paragraph of my students’ writing. Students need to learn to slow down and create an experience for their readers. It’s how a story unfolds, after all, that makes it worthwhile–not the events themselves.
Tips for Teaching “Show. Don’t Tell”
Like all creative writing skills, you’ll want to show your students some really good mentor texts first . Find some excerpts from books with really juicy descriptions. Share these with your students.
After they have some examples, give students time to try “telling” an event, description, or emotion instead of “showing” it.
I do this by giving each student a “telling sentence” and asking them to turn it into a “showing” paragraph. A student might get a sentence that says something like, “Billy felt angry.” Then, they’ll have to write a whole paragraph that implies Billy is angry without actually saying it bluntly.
If you want to save yourself some time (and the mental anguish of brainstorming a bunch of bland sentences), you can get my “Show. Don’t Tell” Mini-Lesson right here. It includes a slideshow, student worksheets, and those telling sentences.
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Creative Writing Skills #2: Precise and Concise Language Choice
Now that your students are learning to slow down and offer descriptions in their writing, it’s time to help them focus on their word choice.
Diction is immensely important to a writer–especially when storytelling gets more advanced. A lot of our students want to write down the first words that come to their minds and then “be done.”
But we know great writing doesn’t happen like that. We have to teach our students to find the best word, not the first word–without abusing a thesaurus.
Tips for Teaching Better Word Choice
First, you’ll want to show your students some examples of really great concise and precise word choice. You’ll also want to show some not-so-great examples. The comparison should be eye-opening for your students.
Now, the best way to become more precise in your diction is to improve your vocabulary. We probably can’t make great strides in improving our students’ vocabulary in just a quarter or semester of Creative Writing.
But we can show them how to improve some of the most commonly used vague language . One great example of this is the word “got.”
It’s pretty rare that “got” is the best verb for a situation, but we–and our students–use it all the time. If we can teach students that “got” is a red flag for vague language, that’s a huge step!
We can also teach our students to avoid filler words.
If you need help putting this all together in a lesson, I have a no-prep Precise and Concise Langauge Mini-Lesson right here for you . Included is a slideshow, students worksheets, and a reference handout for students they can use every day.
Creative Writing Skills #3: Dialogue
Your students are starting to put words on a page and–hey–they’re not bad!
But at some point, your students are going to have their characters talk to each other. And this can be when stories get really, really bad.
Early on in your Creative Writing class, encourage your students to start listening to the way others speak. Where do they pause? What slang do they use? When do they use complete sentences and when don’t they? You can even ask students to jot down conversations they overhear.
A great writer has an ear for dialogue, and this skill begins when students become aware of speech around them. Encouraging them to eavesdrop will help them write realistic dialogue later. Just remind them to be respectful. Eavesdropping in the cafeteria is one thing. Listening outside someone’s bedroom door is another.
Our students not only struggle with mimicking real, authentic speech, but they also struggle with punctuating it. Depending on the skill level of your students, you may have to pick your battles here. Cheesy speech might be worth ignoring if there’s no quotation mark in sight.
Tips for Teaching Dialogue Writing
First, and foremost, I like to cover punctuating dialogue first. For one reason, it’s because punctuating dialogue is either right or wrong. It’s easier to learn something that is objective.
For another reason, I, personally, can’t stand reading poorly punctuated dialogue. My English teacher’s eyes just can’t see past it.
Only once the quotation marks, commas, and periods are at least close to the right spot do I focus on trying to improve the content of students’ dialogue.
Students’ dialogue writing is only going to get better through practice and observing real-life speech. However, you can give them some tips for writing dialogue better.
For example, remind your students not to have characters talk too much . I’ve seen stories with pages and pages of dialogue. Each character’s every little “hi,” “‘sup?” and “‘nothin’ much” gets recorded. Let your students know they can skip anything that doesn’t add value to the story.
If you need help planning this lesson, I have a done-for-you Dialogue Mini-lesson right here. It includes a slideshow lesson, worksheets for focusing on both punctuation and craft, and a writing exercise. Get it here.
Creative Writing Skills #4: Mood
If you can only teach your students the above Creative Writing skills, you will no doubt improve their writing tremendously. But if you want to take your students’ writing up a notch, encourage them to think about the mood in their poetry and stories.
Students will no doubt have heard this literary term from their regular English classes, but it’s always worth reviewing first. Plus, they’ve probably read for mood, but creating it is a totally different game.
Tips for Teaching Mood
There are so many ways you can teach your students to create mood. It’s a pretty fun topic!
You might want to begin with some brainstorming. Like, what kind of mood might a horror story have? A comedy? You want students to understand why, as a writer, mastering mood is important to them.
Then, like always, you’ll want to share some solid mentor texts. I love horror stories for showcasing well-written mood, but love poems are also good for this.
Whenever possible in Creative Writing, I like to mix up the media, so I have students first analyze the mood of various classic paintings. As an English teacher, it tickles me to show students that these literary terms apply to art of all kind. Film clips would work really well, too.
Then, challenge students to write a scene and evoke a specific mood. You could randomly assign the mood or let students pick.
In my Mood Mini-Lesson , I have students analyze the mood in painting first. Then, I have them choose a card. Each card has a different mood written on it. Then, students must describe a setting that evokes that mood. You can get this mood lesson for yourself here.
Creative Writing Skills #5: Tone
Well, if you’re going to teach mood, then tone is the likely next skill, right?
Teaching tone and mood is important because their differences are subtle, but important. Until students study tone, they might mistake it for mood and mix the two together.
I never expect my students to master tone. It’s difficult and something that even professional writers polish over the course of many drafts. But it doesn’t hurt to get students thinking about the impact of their word choice.
Don’t forget to remind students of the importance of choosing those precise and concise words. With tone, it’s truly what makes a difference.
Tips for Teaching Tone
After defining tone and showing great examples of it to your students, give them some space to practice identifying it.
I like to cover informal and formal tones–not just emotional tones. Identifying whether a piece of writing is formal or informal is a great first step for students. It’s a little easier but an important skill and might give your students a bit of confidence in their tone-identifying skills.
Once they know what tone looks like, they can try to create it themselves.
The activity I do involves having students write a short scene.
I randomly give my students a tone to use. I also randomly give them a situation. So, a student may have to describe “eating lunch in the cafeteria” with a “romantic” tone. The results can be pretty entertaining!
If that sounds like a lesson you’d like, you can get my Tone Mini-Lesson right here . Includes are a slideshow, students worksheets, and the slips for tones and situations.
And, if you’re teaching mood and tone, I have a FREE Mood and Tone Handout right here!
Creative Writing Skills #6: Voice
I put voice last in this blog post, but it could just as easily have been first. Voice is difficult to define for students, but it’s something they should be working on crafting throughout your whole Creative Writing class.
Even if your students never quite master their literary voice (who does?), it’s a good skill to discuss with them. If students understand the concept of literary voice, it will make them better writers and more analytical readers.
Tips for Teaching Literary Voice
You’ll first have to define voice for your students. This can be challenging. It might be easier to focus on a few aspects of voice–like diction or syntax–in order to explain the concept.
Discuss with students their favorite authors. What does their “voice” sound like? What about the authors you’ve read and studied together?
Give students examples of strong voice to examine (the stronger the better). Have them discuss the techniques and style of each mentor text.
To drive this home, I do a fun activity with my students. I take three very different poems by authors with very different voices. Then, I cut them up, line by line, and mix the three poems together. My students are then tasked with putting the poems back together!
To do this successfully, they’ll have to look for styles that match. Rhyming may be part of one author’s voice, but not another. One author may create a dark mood while another uses humor consistently. It’s a great way to drive home how voice can be an author’s calling card.
This activity and some additional practice are included in my Voice Mini-lesson . Also included is a slideshow to introduce the concept. You can save yourself some time and get the lesson here.
These are some skills that I think are essential for any Creative Writing class. There’s no one right way to teach any of these skills, and teaching from multiple angles is best.
Whenever possible, I like to make my Creative Writing lessons hands-on. Even the most die-hard students get sick of writing every minute of every class.
If you, too, would like some hands-on lessons and short activities that cover these essential skills, check out my Creative Writing Workshops Bundle . Each lesson includes everything you need to teach, model, and help your students master these skills one at a time.
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Early on in your Creative Writing class, encourage your students to start listening to the way others speak. Where do they pause? What slang do they use? When