Friday, April 10, 2009

The Art of Writing

Challenges with Narrative Writing
Toward the end of term we gave students 2 hours to plan, write and edit an adventure story. We tried to give an appropriate amount of guidance without overwhelming students with too many details. It was eye-opening to see the resulting stories. We used a rubric to help us evaluate the skills that students were using and the literary devices of which they were aware. While I was very proud of my students for their efforts, I could see a lot of aspects that I'd like to work on further.

Story writing is not just a case of orientation, complication and resolution. There are so many additional features to take into consideration. Students need to create stories that contain depth of content and describe a believable universe. Timing needs to be considered so that stories have a captivating beginning, appropriate plot development and a satisfying ending that leaves the reader both content but wanting more. On top of all of this, characterisation, dialogue, vocabulary and description need to be considered. Prior to this year, I wasn't aware of how much there is to teach about narrative writing!

I am trying to prepare my students with the skills they will need when participating in our national testing next year. Apparently, they will be expected to write their whole story (with appropriate features) in 30 minutes with an additional 5 minutes planning and 5 minutes editing! How many adults can write a logical, well structured imaginative piece of writing in just 3o minutes?

My intern and I are trying to think up a useful acronym to help students to remember the significant features when planning and writing a narrative. Students need something easy and memorable to take with them as a guide. I want to give them the best tools for success that I can discover.

Here are some useful tools that I've found:
Writing Fun by Jenny Eather
The Six Traits of Effective Writing
Step by Step Instructions for Creating a Fictional Narrative
Exam Prep: Tips for Narrative Writing

Do you have any other tips or tools useful for teaching writing? Do you know of any great short stories or resources for helping students to create short stories in a short period of time?

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