So on Friday 15th Nov I embarked on quite a scary venture with my lovely set 2 year 9 class… Creative writing. I do not think I am a very good writer and as I explained in my blog a few days ago, writing creatively fills me with dread so naturally teaching creative writing makes me nervous! However a mentor of mine, the wonderful @mskjmoose came to my rescue and shared her blog post about Free Writing and inspired me to start breaking down my barriers to writing imaginatively and creatively. So I read her blog, I researched the NATE TAW project and realised that I could have fun with creative writing and allow the kids to have fun too! I understood that free writing was about allowing the pupils time to ‘write freely’: no limits, no constraints and no formal marking/ assessment. It is about them developing as a writer and enjoying the time given to write and develop with the freedom they have without worrying that I was going to read it and mark it. However if they want to share it they can of course! After reading this information I decided on how I wanted to set up my Free Writing lesson and vowed that I would reflect on the experience so I could develop it over time.
I decided that I would keep lesson 1 in keeping with the scheme of work: focusing on mystery, suspense and tension if they wanted a starting point! (I figured some students would love the total freedom but this would also scare some so I thought a stimulus was a way to support some writers!
I think the best way to share the lesson is to narrate it…
I got to the lesson early (during break) so I could set the scene with some spooky music and asked pupils to write *anything* they wanted to: notes, words, phrases, draw images… They had about 6 mins and I wrote some of my ideas on the board ( something that I was still nervous about doing!)
After that I asked the pupils:
how do you feel when you are told to ‘write something-anything’?
I answers the question first:
It makes me feel scared and nervous reactive I worry people will judge me. After I shared. My feelings they happily shared theirs: ‘determined, Miss cos I want to do well’, ‘scared too miss, because I don’t know where to start’. ‘Fantastic because I love creative writing’
Pupils recorded this start point in their book.
We then explored the term ‘free writing’
We discussed the sentence starters and they then filled them in to show they’d understood what we were doing and why. By this time they all seemed quite intrigued and interested, which was a relief! I want them to record some things in their books so I can teach their confidence/ feelings/ progress and reflections however I told them they would do their writing on paper and only share it if they wanted to.
I then showed them some images I had taken from the petrol station last weekend (to use as a stimulus if they wanted!)
They laughed at my situation when I told them how scared I had been alone in the isolated petrol station at half 11 on a Saturday night! I then let them go… After telling them they should use their time to write whatever they wanted to in whatever genre/style they were raring to go! I even said they could sit where they wanted to… I had some in the alcove, some on the window sill, some under tables, some with their back to the wall in the floors and do you know what, they LOVED it! They didn’t mess around, they didn’t talk to each other they sat and write for half an hour and it was magic.
There was one pupil who literally looked lost so I sat with him and was encouraging. It took about ten mins of discussion: we discussed his feelings, his preferences then he got cracking. I didn’t even get chance to write myself because I had a queue of pupils willing to share their work and they said I could take a pic for my blog (the know I am a teacher geek!)
Some of them were eager to share
To end the lesson I got them to spend a few minutes reflecting: how they found the experience, what they enjoyed, what they’d like to do from here…
I was really invigorated by the experience!
To reflect myself I would say:
Pupils being inspired
Pupils being enthusiastic
Pupils focused and concentrating
Pupils offering their work freely and sharing their ideas freely
What they would like from me in terms of me reading their work: just to share it with me or to give them constructive feedback
Helping support them more I.e. Giving them examples of good texts that they could use to help them develop so they emulate the style
Opportunities to share more…
It’s a work in progress but I am so pleased lesson 1 went well!
If you have any advice, please share!