In the first part of this series of blog posts, I talked about how to introduce creative writing in schools in a fun way. Then in the second part I talked about why it’s important to build an imagination muscle and flex it regularly.
In this final part, we will look at how to practice all these ideas in a busy and often assessment filled curriculum. Children will love reading and writing if there is much more of a self-invested motivation. So these are some ideas for both teachers to practice and practice in their classrooms with students.
Practice What You Preach
a) Start (or end) every day / lesson with a related prompt and a writing activity. Whether you’re going to be discussing mountains in a lesson about landforms or about adjectives in an English lesson, you can start with a poem or a story prompt related to the lesson. Get them to write a simple 4-line poem or a 6-line story about an adventure over a mountain using the terms they would have learnt in the previous session.
It’s a great way to revise and apply, improve comprehension because the concepts you taught have to be understood to be thrown and mixed into a story.
b) Start a writing journal – the teacher, the TAs and the students could keep a writing journal where they could write a few lines every day in one of the classes (and draw) to comment on, discuss, share their thoughts on the day or the lessons or their break-time. Whether you are an adult or a child, professional or an amateur writer, a topic or theme or a prompt would help initiate the writing process so they are not staring at a blank page.
c) Start class or school assemblies with word prompts – if the entire school is buzzing about a word – for example – umbrella – every child’s story would be different yet would have been triggered by the word umbrella.
d) Collaborative writing and drawing is a brilliant way to reduce the amount of writing each child has to bear and a great way to promote collaborative working within groups. Discuss stories, get children to work in groups to create a book, draw a cover, do the blurb, get inside writing and illustrations. It’s important that teachers take an active part in these activities to bring a sense of “we’re all in it together.”
e) Display teachers’ and children’s work alongside in classroom and school displays. Choose a topic and let everyone write a story or a poem or draw and pin it up. Be brave – the less children stress about sharing their work, less pressure to write. It increases joy and reduces the fear of criticism. And teachers should lead the way by displaying their work.