As I started reading Sonia Thompson’s Berger’s An Ethic of Excellence in Action, this quotation really reasonated:
It reminded me about how important it is to provide opportunities for crafting, drafting and redrafting in the classroom and reminded me how important it was to give learners the time and space to create something that they’re truly proud of.
You’ll see other posts on this blog describing a few approaches I’ve taken to teaching creative writing and this year I’ve adapted some of those approaches further. Through clear modelling (and high quality models), we have unpicked and unpacked how some of the best narratives can focus on not only some of the more subtle aspects of human experiences, but also the universality of our experiences, too.
From this, I’ve been really keen to allow the pupils a chance to gather inspiration from a range of prompts and sources. This book has been a brilliant resource in giving prompts and short exercises to allow pupils to move beyond obvious or clichéd narratives.
We have spent a lot of time looking into a range of narrative perspectives and various structures for narratives, often using the same story but altering narrative viewpoint or structure to explore the various effects.
As a result of these lessons, students had a whole range of smaller pieces where they had exercised a particular skill. They were then offered time to reflect and refine and offered a 121 writing coaching session in class. I was really keen for the pupils to think deliberately about the choices they were making as a writer, so the responsibility for the direction of these meetings was placed on the students.
What followed was the production of our ‘ Polished Pieces’, which were shared across the class in this morning’s lesson. I am so impressed with the work that the pupils have produced and they are thinking so consciously and deliberately about the language, structure and form in their writing.
This piece was shared by one of the students, Dharma Martin. They had mentioned that they were really keen to utilise descriptions of setting for maximum impact, and I think you’ll agree that it’s certainly evident here- I think this is such a powerful piece:
This second piece really works hard at dealing with some complex and difficult issues. The student here wanted to experiment with 2nd person narrative and the exploration of thoughts, feelings and emotions of somebody who had overcome trauma and difficulty.
This next student took inspiration from the book above and the story of how musicians on the Titanic continued playing as the ship was sinking. Another powerful use of setting and imagery. This piece is by Saba Jawad.
This next example really is stunning. The student, Isabella Montano-Freeman wanted to explore thoughts about transferring between different worlds. What impressed me most about this piece was the precison in the language used and the way that she described settings and characters so effectively.
This next example shows such skilful imagery of the wedding cake and tables- we had discussed the power of zooming in and out for maximum effect and Aronea Havall does this in a really assured and skilful way. I really enjoyed hearing this one!
This next example really captures ideas about memory and the warmth of a parent-child relationship and it is written by Gemma De La Rey. I think the modification of certain descriptions here is really powerful.
This final piece is by Pavitra Pradeep Kumar who really captures moments of panic, retelling a traumatic moment. I think you’ll really enjoy this one!