I have noticed throughout my years of teaching, that I have not had a huge focus on creative writing. Often my lessons have revolved around the informational text: how to answer questions, how to reflect, and how to respond, and the always enjoyable grammar rules. Last year, my schedule changed to add another class that was based on Language Arts. After thinking long and hard about what I missed during my regular day, I came to the decision I would add a writing class (period) and it would be devoted to students creatively writing without restrictions.
The first year was pure experimentation and I was truly surprised at the students' willingness to write when given the chance to express themselves freely.
I began by utilizing the book "The Fruit Bowl Project" by Sarah Durkee. Her ingenious idea about creating a class "fruit bowl" for writing, generated our own class derived adjectives, character names and a conflict. Then the class was given the opportunity to craft any genre using the "Class Fruit" as in inspiration.
The results were phenomenal!
Students who did not like writing suddenly came alive with exciting ideas. Murder and mystery stories were created and shared. I read poetry, journal entries and autobiographies. The students were again engaged, and it was as if someone had flipped on a switch and an excitement about writing flowed through my classroom.
The success of this assignment gave me the courage to branch out and challenge my students further--we tackled science fiction. As a class, we read stories by Ray Bradbury and Isaac Asimov to understand the genre. Then we started with a "traditional" science fiction story around the setting of space.
Again, the results were amazing. Students were writing and sharing, editing and revising.
Adding creative writing to my curriculum has effectively changed the way I think about writing and has inspired my students to take chances with their writing, pushed them out of their comfort zones, and gave them the opportunity to work together collaboratively.
Cory Chase teaches 7th-8th grade at Boothbay Region Elementary School. She serves as the school advisor for yearbook and "Project Citizen". Cory earned her Bachelor's in English and Master's of Science in Education from the University of Southern Maine.