Jean reminds you:
  • Students need some stimulus for writing. They can't just launch in cold. I usually start with a powerpoint of confronting or evocative images that invite them to ask their own curious questions and suggest 'what if?' possibilities. There is usually lots of discussion around the group as they think of similar things in their own experience or extensions to what they see.
  • Here is a stimulating short story or maybe it's a long poem,
    by Shane Koyczan called To This Day ... for the bullied and beautiful
    with imagery about being different and bullying that students should engage with and that should create some discussion to lead into stories about "being different" or "speaking out" and you can meet the author in person with more comments at this other YouTube site
  • Other great starting points for narrative or descriptive writing are the oddball news clips or bizarre happenings. Here is just one that should create some reaction:
    • Woman lands in hospital after chicken attack!
      17 August 2008 3:13:32 PM by ANI Melbourne, Aug 17 (ANI):An Italian woman landed in hospital after she was attacked by a chicken she was preparing to kill for dinner.
      The bird kicked out as Lucia Pisani approached with a knife to cut its head off.
      She reeled backwards and fell into the pot of boiling water she was going to
      Picture 4.png
      Picture 4.png
      cook it in.

      Pisani, of Frosinone, Italy, was taken to hospital and treated for severe burns to her legs.
      The chicken's revenge was short-lived because the womans husband killed the bird and roasted it for supper that night, The Daily Telegraph quoted a police spokesman, as saying. (ANI)
  • Time Magazine usually does a Top Ten Oddball News Stories each year

  • Crazy headlines can be a useful starting point, and you can get students to draw the picture they imagine then read the actual news story as in the case of the cartoons alongside.
Picture 2.png
Picture 2.png

  • The Darwin Awards celebrate scientists who stupidly kill themselves or fail spectacularly in experiments.

  • There are lots of Stupid Crimes websites with stranger than fiction true stories

  • Some short stories are suggestive of extension possibilities, either in full or just an extract.
    • I like the first few pages of The Machine Stops by E.M. Forster which describes a room, its mechanisms for lfe and its inhabitant in a future lived underground; astonishing in its creativity, since it was written in 1909:

      Imagine, if you can, a small room, hexagonal in shape, like the cell of a bee. It is lighted neither by window nor by lamp, yet it is filled with a soft radiance. There are no apertures for ventilation, yet the air is fresh. There are no musical instruments, and yet, at the moment that my meditation opens, this room is throbbing with melodious sounds. An armchair is in the centre, by its side a reading-desk-that is all the furniture. And in the armchair there sits a swaddled lump of flesh-a woman, about five feet high, with a face as white as a fungus...The chair, like the music, was worked by machinery and it rolled her to the other side of the room where the bell still rang importunately... She touched the isolation knob, so that no one else could speak to her. Then she touched the lighting apparatus, and the little room was plunged into darkness... the round plate that she held in her hands began to glow. A faint blue light shot across it, darkening to purple, and presently she could see the image of her son, who lived on the other side of the earth, and he could see her...
    • The Pedestrian, by Ray Bradbury, describes how simply walking in suburban streets can lead to being arrested by a robotic police car. These stories can also be turned into playscripts or short films by creative teenagers.

      ...He put his hand to the door and peered into the back seat, which was a little cell, a littleblack jail with bars. It smelled of riveted steel. It smelled of harsh antiseptic; it smelled tooclean and hard and metallic. There was nothing soft there...“Where are you taking me?”The car hesitated, or rather gave a faint whirring click, as if information, somewhere, wasdropping card by punch-slotted card under electric eyes. “To the Psychiatric Centre forResearch on Regressive Tendencies.”He got in. The door shut with a soft thud...

Cindy Says:

Creative writing promotes student’s writing abilities in many ways besides just helping them be creative. The writing process promotes good interpersonal skills, careful thinking about intended audience, form, purpose, and also helps in working with conventional and non-conventional grammar.
Creative writing may at first seem scary for some students who are used to and comfortable with the usual research paper or persuasive essay, but creative writing will allow these students to use the skills they have developed in these other forms of writing and will benefit from this skill. Other students may be thrilled with the idea of getting away from the usual factual essay and be able to finally express themselves.
Creative writing gives students the opportunity to write on their chosen topic, which allows them to focus on their strengths and interests, this leads to positive attitudes towards writing, which leads to successful learning.
Attached is a lesson plan including the themes of immigration and working conditions to complete a piece of creative writing.

Lydia Sulda says:

Text Types- Starting a Unit on Different Creative Writing

Before launching into a unit of work based around creative writing, ‍‍‍‍it is important to first explain to the students ‍‍‍‍the different forms text types they can come across during their reading.

This YouTube video is a very quick, two part video, which goes a little into detail of the different types of texts. It’s very visually stimulating so might be more appropriate for younger students or as a humorous approach to relooking at previous material with older students. The video is called ‘Introducing text types by R.I.C. Publications.’ This video could be used as a very quick introduction into the different types of writing and texts that are available. Most students assume that creative writing is only a story, whereas we know that this is not true. If one was going to embark on a unit based around creative writing I think it is important to explore all the different types of text writing that students can do. Introducing Text Types


This is also a worksheet given out to students explaining specific features of each type of text. The different text types include Narratives, Recounts, and Responses etc. The sheet describes the purpose of the text type as well as the basic structure and language features that you would expect to find within a creative writing piece of that nature. I would instruct students to keep this worksheet handy throughout the creative writing unit and constantly refer to it as an explanation for the different types of writing tasks that I would set. Whilst Narratives are one of the most common creative writing tasks set, I would also have students explore expositions through debating or letters to the editor and also perhaps a Response to an article or YouTube video.

Definitions for you to use in your classroom:

  • NARRATIVE- a verbal or text account of connected events; “a bare narrative of the details.”
  • RECOUNT- a given account of an event or experience.
  • RESPONSE- a verbal or written answer to a question, subject, survey, questionnaire etc.
  • REPORT- a classification or description statement
  • EXPLANATION- an account of how or why something has occurred
  • EXPOSITION- a piece of writing that uses persuasive language and argues one side of an issue
  • PROCEDURE- a set of instructions that tell someone how to do a task

Kate Green says,

Thought I'd share these clips with you. They could be a great way to generate discussion around what English means to your students... Enjoy!!
your pencil should be talking.jpg
your pencil should be talking.jpg
A great picture to put up when students are doing individual work.
School is killing us.jpg
School is killing us.jpg
great way to generate discussion between older students. May be used to explain why you are using technology.

Lets eat grandpa.jpg
Lets eat grandpa.jpg
Humorous approach
Keep calm.jpg
Keep calm.jpg
A picture you could put on a power point slide when students are attempting something difficult.
Humorous approach.
Teach students how to structure their sentences.

Lauren B Suggests:
When I was in school I loved creative writing. I had teachers who were enthusiastic about it. Some really interesting ways in which creative writing can be taught to get kids enthused in it is to get them to finish the story. Sometimes students find it difficult to create something completely out of the blue so a few sentences written on the board to help them begin their story might be beneficial.
For example you could write this on the boardComplete this story. Accumulate 500-600 words utilising descriptive words“One day Johnny was walking to school. Along the way he stopped because he thought he could hear something. When he turned around he saw…..”
Another example could be
“She frowned. She had no idea how it happened. Again. Why did this always happen? She slowly opened her door to see her mum standing before her. She embraced her and began to tell her all about what was going on. ‘The problem is that i…..’”
When students have had some experience with finishing the story you could design a task in which they can create an authentic creative writing piece. The only issue with this is that you will need to identify some boundaries or guidelines for the student. A good idea could be to design a lesson or two in which you describe certain elements of writing. Some of the important lessons you could create could be on;
  • Setting
  • Theme
  • Plot
  • Characters
After completing this lesson you could create a task like this“Students are to complete a creative writing piece, 1000-1200 words, which utilises one of the following;an old stair case, the blue book, a table under a tree, court of law, a sporting event or a family gathering. Within your creative piece you must include the following elements;a detailed setting develop a rich character profile (may wish to complete an identity mind map)and have a constant theme running through it.When you have finished your creative writing piece you are going to write an analysis, 300 words, on the way you included two of the following;languagesettingCharacter profiles themeWhen you have completed your creative writing piece and analysis it shall be collected for marking. The main way in which I shall be making this piece is through your critical analysis.
Alternatively if you wanted to engage students in another way they couldCreate a writing piece which utilises elements you feel after viewing some of the most famous pictures. students may feel that they cannot find inspiration of things to write on. You could as a class go through and have a look at the following

If you were going to do a prelearning assessment in which students would create a creative writing piece, following this you could spend some time looking and where other creative writing comes from.

Madeleine Hilder suggests:

Similarly to Lauren, I loved creative writing as a student. I am one of those odd ones that loves poetry too. But I understand that there will be some students that will not enjoy creative writing. On my placement, I was able to be a part of a classroom that valued creative writing. The teacher used many different techniques and strategies to engage her students in this literary practice. As teachers, it is extremely important that we understand that all students are different and will not always require the same techniques and approaches to a task. Below I will explain some of the strategies this English teacher implemented and why they were successful.

  • Prioritising personal fiction reading - It is important that for students to become good writers that as teachers we expose them to as much fiction as possible, to 'wet their taste-buds. It is also to engage deeper thinking and analytical thinking, and begin to realize there are more ways they can express themselves. And when we do so, allow them to find books that they personally connect with. The teacher I worked with had her students select one novel for silent reading time during the week. She allowed time each week for the students to read. Many students have little time outside of school (between family, friends, sport and homework) to read for pleasure. By allowed time for silent reading, the teacher was prioritising reading and instill that into her students.

  • Scaffolded story writing - As it is sometimes daunting for a student to begin a creative writing task without any inspiration, the teacher developed a class input task that was used to scaffold the students creative writing. She had the students write a setting, a main character and a problem on three separate pieces of paper. She then collected them into three different hats. The students then selected one setting, one main character and one problem. What resulted was an inspired writing task that removed the fear of creative writing as the students were entertained by their selections and were released from the task of having to choose their own main fictional features.

  • Class story lines - Prior to starting the writing task, the teacher showed the class how to write an effective story. As a class they wrote a story. With suggestion from class discussion, the teacher wrote the story on the board. When a student would suggest something, the teacher was able to teach why the suggestion was effective or how it could be made better. This got all students involved and was able to clearly show effective creative writing techniques in practice.

Hopefully by implementing some or all of these strategies, there will start to be more budding creative writers and avid readers, and the task of creative writing may not seem so scary.

Chloe H says:

‘Creative writing is writing that expresses the writers thoughts and feelings in an imaginative, often unique and poetic way’ – Sil.Org (What’s Creative Writing?)

The term ‘creative writing’ is used broadly but actually refers to the expressions of feelings and emotions often in a metaphorical and highly descriptive way and is arguably the most difficult writing discipline because it covers such a big range of text t

- Autobiography

- Collaborative writing

- Creative non-fiction

- Novel

- Play write

- Poetry

- Screen write

- Short story

- Lyric writing

- Stream of consciousness

However, all text types need to cover the following elements:

- Character

- Point of view

- Plot

- Setting

- Dialogue

- Style

- Theme

Creative writing goes outside the boundaries of the normal and professional academic and technical forms of literature. What puts the ‘creative’ into non-fiction describes the type of factual writing that transcended the boundaries of style and approach that we normally associate with that of journalists, technical or academic. Creative writing is how the subject is treated rather than the subject itself.

There is an emphasis on the narrative craft, character and use of literary tropes. They key to creative writing is the ability to use your life experiences, feelings, emotions, thoughts, inner person and above all imagination in order to produce captivating pieces of text for the reader.

Teachers need to provide creative a hook for the content they are teaching in the classroom, some students may feel defensive about creatively writing. This can be done using a hectic newspaper article, poem or short story or even a YouTube clip. One of my favourites is Knock Knock, performed by Russell Simmons, the producer and founder of the Def Poetry Jam TV series.

This link is expressive and shows a visual form of how powerful and unique creative writing can be.

Sometimes however, it is a challenge for students who are completely absorbed by non-fiction to apply their imagination within their literacy writing skills. Some students need writing tasks that connect with real people, things and events. Framing Creative writing in the classroom requires teachers to expose their students to a range of multimodal and hybrid texts. Using multiliteracies pedagogy gives students a more flexible range of options to explore, engage, and apply to their creative writing. More dynamic approaches that are able to engage and encourage students to write creatively can be using video to develop ideas, using real life experiences allows students to connect emotionally and relive the experience for themselves, using cross curricula writing offers offers more opportunities to extend and develop children's writing through hooking them into a topic that is being taught across the curriculum, and adding drama techniques enable the children to become immersed into the life and world of a character

Teachers trying to ground our student’s plans, interests, needs and knowledge need to have resources and the ability to be flexible. Students who don’t have an identity, writers block, or lack of content and knowledge are able to use and manipulate a range of different literacy texts, modes and materials in order to shape high quality learning experiences and produce successful creative writing outcomes.

Renee Moon says.

Creative writing was a topic I loved as a student, however often in school I remembered getting writers block. Writers block is a condition, primarily associated with writing when an author loses the ability to produce new work. A strategy that my teacher used to prevent this was handing out story starters. Bellow I have provided some great links to story starters, and other strategies to help students with creative writing.
The following photo is from a website I found which students might enjoy creating their own story starters.

Creative idea

I also found the following video from you tube. It just shows how creative somes teacher can be when engaging students to the learning. ( worth watching very funny)
Great Video !!

I also found some great teaching ideas of using a film with creative writing.
Observing the Scene – True or False? / Ordering the Events

Film: Unbreakable (adaptable for other films)
This exercise uses the kitchen scene, where, in order to prove that his father
(Bruce Willis) can’t die, Joseph picks up his father’s gun which he has taken and
Stage One: Students watch the scene and summarise what happened in pairs.
Stage Two: Students watch the scene again and afterwards answer the attached
true/ false questions.
Stage Three: Watch the scene for the final time and put the attached events into
the correct sequence. This stage may have to be repeated.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Worksheet (Unbreakable)
1. Watch the scene again and say if the following sentences are true or false.
a. The father is washing clothes. _
b. The son is sitting at the table. _
c. There aren’t any bullets in the gun. _
d. The boy shoots his father. _
e. The mother sits down first. _
2. Put the following sentences into the order in which they appear.
a. The father threatens his son. ( )
b. The mother tries to explain the situation. ( )
c. The parents sit on the floor. ( )
d. The father is washing up. (1)
e. The father tries to explain the situation. ( )
f. The son puts the gun down. ( )
g. The father asks his son what he is doing. ( )
h. The father picks the gun up. ( )
i. The boy points the gun at his father. ( )
j. The boy picks the gun up. ( )

Greg Richardson says:
Scaffolding a draft for narrative writing
Stephen Graham Narrative Writing SCAFFOLDS.doc
Stephen Graham Narrative Writing SCAFFOLDS.doc
Stephen Graham Narrative Writing SCAFFOLDS.doc

This file can be used to scaffold a students thoughts and prompt them what to think about to provide notes to easily write a narrative story from.
The box on the left, 'words to think', is prompting for adjectives: dark, scary, chilling, spooky...
The box on the right, 'words to write', is prompting for words that are specific to the type of narrative. For crime: suspect, victim, motive, crime, police, murder, assault...
The boxes through the centre of the document is a scaffold for a narrative text type: Orientation, Complication, Events, Resolution.
The boxes on the second page are used to help the students build characters that interact in their narrative story.
Forcing the students to consider and expand their thoughts into these specific categories will allow them to write a more complete and targeted narrative.
Stephen Graham is a well known educator within the school system who specialises in teaching text types and improving students literacy skills.

Advertising is an extremely influential entity around the world. Multiple forms of media and literacies are involved within this mode of communication. The breakdown of advertising I believe is a very important way to positively enhance deconstructive skills and also by the process of deconstruction comes the understanding of how to construct. Advertising is not only about deconstruction but also techniques such as taglines, the use of jargon, catchy titles, humour and its use and purpose behind the idea. The idea of advertising could spread into multiple topics or fields such as IT, food and nutrition, writing for publications, art and design, drama, school/community involvement.

One simple way to get students engaged in the deconstructing process is to evaluate two or three advertisements of one particular item. For example: cars, chocolates or fast food are good places to start. Showing a video of an advertisement is a good engagement strategy. Imagine starting your class with an advert for M&Ms and then giving the students M&Ms packaging to decipher using basic questions and guidance. Obviously you would share the chocolate with the class to engage them in the activity but also encourage them to consider each product and for fun

Here are some clips that I would consider using they are for chocolate companies:
Student will use critical and analytical skills to understand the complexity or simplicity of advertising. Another task that could be useful in this area is in the field of print media. Asking students to bring in an advert from a magazine or newspaper and then asking them why they chose it and get them to deconstruct it or even create their own advertisement.
Asks these questions:
What can YOU see??
What do you think a year 8 could see compared to a year 11 student? – Obviously you would expect the year 11 to see more complex idea within the advertisement.

What is the purpose of the advertisement?
Is the advert effective? Does it achieve its purpose?
What is the advert trying to sell?
What colours are used?
What time of the day is the advert on? (if TV or radio advertisement)
Is there a message behind the advertisement?
What kind of formatting is present?
What is the context of the ad?
Who is the advert aimed at?/ Who is their target audience?

After students have answered basic questions like this ask them WHY!
*Why has the company done that? What has it achieved by doing that?
*Why have they used humour?
*Why is the ad on at 7pm instead of 7am?
and so on, continue to get them to question the role of the advertisment.

These could be done in small discussion groups or whole class discussions. Advertising is a very interesting type of literacy that is present in everyday life and making students aware of them impact they have could be an eye opening experience

This could start a unit of work on writing techniques and persuasive language as well as what has been discussed above.
This is a very simple annotation in first person of the cadbury advert above. Hope this helps :D

KennethN suggests:-

Free Writing

Studying creative writing here at university I’ve found one of the most useful ways to shake off inhibitions when it comes to writing fiction, and indeed essays, is free writing. The exercise conceptually is relatively simple, sit and write without stopping.

Reassurances that it doesn’t need to be good is important, the goal is just to keep writing.

Particularly for younger students, scaffolding the exercise is very important. The idea of writing without a plan or direction counters everything they have been taught up to this point. If you have a smart board or a white board you could demonstrate what needs to be done. This will probably be the most effective way as simply seeing someone write with no inhibitions in front of them may give them confidence. You may want to practice before class, to help you screen you writing style so you don’t write something that is, shall we say, not age appropriate.

The other important thing is stimuli. This can be anything. Many people suggest a line of text, above has been suggested news headlines, but it could be anything from the teacher bringing in a box of small items (ribbons, fabric, small toys), pictures, a short Youtube clip, a few seconds of music.

I also found this website with many great writing prompts. Just run your cursor over the numbers.

The end result will be the students will have a body of work to firstly prove that they can write, and then if they or the teacher chooses to they can edit and improve upon.

Unfortunately the high school I went to did not really value creative writing that much in English. When it was in class it just seemed like something they had to tick off a check list. It was never heavily weighted in terms of marks nor did it have much time dedicated to it. This was a pity for me as I enjoyed creative writing and was quite good at it, and as a student who was rather disengaged at school my marks notably peaked for these exercises. The problem was that students who were good at textual analysis, essay writing and giving the teacher the answer they wanted struggled with these tasks. I think it is important for students who may be good at creative writing, but just don’t know it yet , but also those who dislike it as they can pick up many skill in regard to other forms of writing.

Constructive criticism is an essential tool for students to be able to engage in editing exercises with each other. The obvious problems are that either students will be overly brutal and personal with their critiques, or the exact opposite, that they will be too afraid of hurting their peer’s feelings. Some rules of thumb I was taught when studying creative writing were:-

  • Make constructive criticism a zero-sum game, in that if you say that something isn’t working you have to suggest a way in which it can be improved.
  • What someone says about a piece of work is only a suggestion. The author is the ultimate decision maker.
  • Refer only to the work. Refrain from using personal language.
  • The person whose work is being critiqued does not speak unless asked a direct question.

Rhiannon Meuris-Palfrey says:

Is ‘creativity’ in the national curriculum? You could argue for and against. It certainly isn’t an easy question to answer because creativity has become such a difficult thing to define. It’s not a subject. It can’t easily be tested and measured. It’s come to be something that must float around the curriculum like a feeling, something that should be encouraged, but with few guidelines as to how.

Australian Curriculum: Critical and Creative Thinking

All too often creative writing may be barely glossed over in middle and high school English classrooms but spending time really delving into creative writing gives students the knowledge they need to be able to write well and creatively. Picture books offer a wonderful foundation for creative writing. There are a wide range of picture books and activities that can be used within a middle school english classroom to promote creativity. Some examples include:
  • Weslandia- Paul Fleishman
  • Roxaboxen: Alice McLerran
  • LookAlike: Joan Steiner
  • Just a Dream: Chris Van Allsburg
  • The Quiltmakers gift: Jeff Brumbeau
There are many creative activities that can be done by the students after they have read a picture book.
  • Imagine that you are the author of the book you have just read. Suddenly the book becomes a best seller. Write a letter to a movie producer trying to get that person interested in making your book into a movie. Explain why the story, characters, conflicts, etc., would make a good film. Suggest a filming location and the actors to play the various roles.
  • Write a letter to the main character of your book asking questions, protesting a situation, and/or making a complaint and/or a suggestion. This must be done in the correct letter format.

Nicholas Bourgeois says:

Creative Writing

Creative writing in the middle school is an excellent tool to be able to assess your students’ writing ability as well as the complexity of their thinking. Through creative writing students are able to freely create their own worlds and put their ability on display through their use of figurative language, grammar and abstraction. However whilst some students who thrive in text-based situations will also thrive in the creation of creative writing, many students who do not posses such skill in this discourse will struggle. For this reason I suggest that rather than asking students to create just a 1000 word short story for example, students should have the opportunity to use multiple modes to portray their ideas. The loss of the rigidity of purely text based creative pieces will allow students who have complex thoughts (however poor writing skills) to be able to produce a piece that accurately
reflects their ideas, in a mode that is:

- 1. More easily accessible to them and,
- 2. Will allow them to avoid the boundaries of their low writing skills that may not accurately reflect their ideas.

Whilst there are many examples of multi-modal texts, I will use picture books for this post.

Picture books have two sets of meaning, from the text and the pictures themselves. Because of this, students must be able to deconstruct and comprehend both texts and images. Another important note about picture books is their ability to enable students to create their own understandings.

’Once students have understood the meaning of a text varies from person to person because of the experiences that each reader brings to a text will vary, they are encouraged to produce their own interpretations, rather than passively wait to be told by the teacher what to think.’ (Watson, p. 264)

For this reason, students are actively constructing their own understandings whilst reading picture books. By seeing many examples of picture books, students may be able to begin adopting this multi-modal text into their own creations after evaluating what elements create a picture book (Blooms). The ability to use both imagery and text to display students’ ideas may bridge the gap between their lack of certain literacies and build the accurate reflection of their complex ideas.

Watson, K. (2004). Picture books in the secondary classroom. In W. Sawyer & E. Gold (Eds.), Reviewing English in the 21st Century (pp. 262-268). Melbourne, Vic: Phoenix Education.
Deouet, L. (2010). Using picture books in middle years classrooms. Literacy Learning in the Middle Years, 18(1), i-xi.

Adrian Skewes Says

Here are some more tools that I would like to suggest that might help students still having issues coming up with ideas for story telling.

For creative writing in general, it might be helpful to take a cue from drama improvisation theorist Keith Johnstone. As drama improvisation is as much about developing a story and doing so instantly, a lot of aspects which where developed for the stage can easily be applied to the page. There are two aspects specifically that I want to share from his work, the first of these which I will mention briefly discuss the idea of spontaneity (for full detail you would want to read the chapter on Spontaneity in his book impro, check the references below for full detail). In this chapter he outlines how we 'block' ourselves from being creative and suggests some ways in which we might be able to address these problems through perception and some drama ‘games’ which deal with creative inhibition. For more drama games that deal with issues around spontaneity, you could also check out the book, Improvisation by Lyn Pierse, as this has a number of games in it that can be incorporated into Johnstone's discussion on spontaneity that can be used to foster creativity.

The main point that I wanted to make about telling stories are from Keith Johnstone's chapter on Narrative skills. For some students, working from theme and what you want to tell will work very well, but other students may have no idea what to write. Keith Johnstone would say that rather than start from theme, focus on structure and start from whatever comes into your head. Don't worry about what you want to write, just write.

There are two elements from Johnstone, which can be adapted from stage to page: Free-association and Reincorporation.

In basic to free-associate is to link things in a story together. Teaching this idea will hopefully stop students writing the 'and then' story which is just a continual sequence of new events and objects. It teaches storytellers that when they create something, an event, character or place, that they establish a story pattern; this pattern then develops as the different events, characters or places are linked i.e. free-associated together, usually with an effect on each other. The pattern, or story, is completed when all of the elements have been linked together and have cause either positive or negative changes.

Of course mixed in with this process is often Reincoperation. Reincoperation teaches students that an idea that they may have used at the start needs to be put on a shelf while the story deals with a different element. But that later that element is reincorporated back into the story and that the reincorporation is actually still an means of free-associating.

Keith Johnstone says that what matters is the 'ease with which I 'free-associate' and the skill with which I reincorporate'. (Johnstone , p. 113) He explains this in great detail in the first part of the chapter.

Adapting from Johnstone it is possible to create pair work through which a one student starting a story, with no free-association or reincoperation and the second student finishes the story using free-association and reincoperation to link it together and complete it. You only need allow for a minute (30 seconds each student) to do this, as the time limit helps them from getting bogged down in trying to be too clever. You can get them to do this multiple times with multiple partners.

Johnstone also likewise gives a number of other examples later in the chapter, which build on these ideas. This might help students who are stuck during the writing process.


Johnstone, K 1989, Impro, Methuen Drama, London.
Pierce, L 2006, Improvisation : the guide, Improcorp Australia, Sydney.

Lucy T Says:
here are some great tips for teaching creative writing!

Edited by Judith Avory

How to teach creative writing

  • Inspire the students with an appreciation of fine literary works from great authors. Creative writing students will probably arrive with a keen appreciation for great literature and favorite works, but the savvy teacher will review and introduce new literary works of art. Students will learn from the teacher and the masters who preceded them.
  • 2
Introduce the important elements of storytelling. Great works of literature share elements across the genres. Theme, setting, plot, characterization, conflict and dramatic action are present in creative literature. Students will concentrate on adding these elements to their creative projects.
  • Encourage students to tell a story with their writing. Great poems, movies, novels and other works of literature tell a story. The more engaging the story, the more creative the __work__ will be as a whole. The story ties together the important elements of the literature.
  • 3
Discuss the triggers that engage readers in an effective story. Most great stories start with a problem, which is solved with the resolution or conclusion of the story. Encourage students to create an engaging problem that will hook the readers in the first few pages of a short story or novel and the first minutes of a movie or play. Show them through examples from the masters how readers turn pages in order to find out the solution to a problem introduced effectively at the beginning of a literary work.
  • 4
Review the elements of great storytelling before students begin their first drafts. After students create a great hook by introducing a problem, they should add all the other elements strategically. Guide them to create a tone and atmosphere with the setting of the story.
  • 5
Gather the first drafts and comment on the student work to encourage excellence in writing. Remind them that the great writers usually wrote several drafts before they were happy with their stories.
  • 6
Organize editing groups where students share their work with others in the group. Students should benefit by listening to the reactions of an audience to their work. Provide guidance so students contribute constructively to the group discussion.
  • 7
Require a final draft from each student at a specific date. Provide constructive comments to the finished work so students will __continue__ to improve their skills.
  • 8
Publish the work of the group so all can read the final products. Publication does not have to be expensive or glossy. Copies can be made in the school workroom if possible or each student might provide a copy for each of the others in the group. A collection of the stories can be bound with a simple stapler or brads.


Creative writing tips for teachers: ideas and activities to inspire your class
Literacy co-ordinator and ideas magpie Kate Parietti explains how she uses video, drama and real-life experiences to help students develop their creative writing skills

Engaging children and encouraging them to write has become increasingly difficult in the classroom. My children are bombarded with interactive and visual images constantly through the media and the internet and, as their teacher, it has become much harder for me to compete. Who wants to read or write an emotional descriptive piece when they can be fully immersed in this feeling through interactive __game__ play?
This challenge has led me to look at how I can use these media, and more dynamic approaches, to engage children in wanting to use their __literacy__ skills and to hook them into becoming creative and thoughtful writers.
Using video
One way which is sure to engage children is through the use of video, in particular TV and film. There is a __wealth__ of materials on YouTube, and other platforms, which will help children to explore and fully develop ideas. Always begin with the learning objective and ensure that video clips can fulfil the language and structural features of the relevant text type.
For example, with my year 3 class I used the Jason and the Argonauts films to help them to explore the key features of the myths and legends genre. Using the films I was able to cover everything from monsters to settings to quests to heroes in a much more inspiring manner than simply using a text based resource. Another year 3 activity harnessed the power of Doctor Who to look at character emotion. I then used it as a way to discuss the role of pace, movement, setting and character to help the children to structure their writing.
Non-fiction can be dealt with equally as well. Recently a number of documentaries on the second world war soldier and footballer __Walter Tull__, enabled the children to gain a timeline of the events in his life to support them in the creation of a biography.
By using visual prompts the children feel more confident and ready to write. They have had time to build up and discuss their vocabulary and then adapt this to the writing they want to create. It also allows comprehension, text organisation and sentence structures to be taught in an exciting and meaningful way for the children.
Real life experience
Another approach that can help children to connect emotionally is for them to experience it for themselves. I've had great success in helping the children to build up their vocabulary and to create exciting emotional writing using this method. For example, I worked with my year 6 class on the theme of 'the race'. I armed myself with a starter gun and took the class into the playground to enable them to experience what it felt like to prepare for a race, to hear the starter gun and to then run the race – watch this lesson in a video created with Teachers Media.
It resulted in many of the students using much more vivid language immediately after the race which they could draw on when back in the classroom. We also looked at how to adapt their sentence styles and structures to follow the flow of the race.
Cross curricular writing
Engaging children and encouraging them to write has also been boosted since the introduction of a creative __curriculum__ in school. This offers more opportunities to extend and develop children's writing through hooking them into a topic that is being taught across the curriculum. This full immersion into a subject can be very powerful for children and enables them to explore and understand concepts previously reserved for secondary school pupils.
Our year 5 topic on South Africa was linked to the book Journey to Jo'Burg and allowed for full exploration of both the country and the time period of the book. This topic led to writing on apartheid, character description and biographies on Nelson Mandela.
Traditionally this sort of activity would have been reserved for KS3 however the consistent link between the foundation subjects and __English__ enabled the children to access and enjoy them and create __work__ that was far superior to anything they might have created in a separate stand-alone literacy hour.
Adding drama
Many drama techniques enable the children to become immersed into the life and world of a character. Encouraging hot-seating, __conscience corridors__, debates and improvisation engages children can increase their understanding of a text and their ability to express their opinions in written form.
For example, taking a dramatic approach to understanding how it feels to be a soldier can lead to a far deeper understanding of war and how this might have affected the soldiers. In turn this helps the children to write more thoughtfully and creatively.
Rather than feeling that I compete with the interactive games and digital media that engage children, I feel more like a magpie. Stealing the ideas and approaches and using these as hooks and new ways to stimulate the children, gets them excited in a lesson and it's this excitement and engagement that means they'll achieve the most.
Take a look at Kate in action in the video Visible Improvement Primary Literacy. A film created by Teachers Media as part of its __Visible Improvement series__


Tips on Teaching Creative Writing

by Shirley Kawa-Jump

It's finally happened. You've reached the pinnacle (or at least a peak) of your career: you've been asked to teach a creative writing class. Sounds easy, doesn't it? After all, isn't writing in your blood, with words flowing from your fingertips every day?
The problem is that what comes so naturally on paper is hard to explain, difficult to define and even more impossible to teach to others. You can make the process easier, however, by following these nine simple steps:
1. Plan ahead. Scour past issues of writer's magazines, pulling ideas for each class from those pages of infinite wisdom. Line up your schedule in chronological order: covering the basics, developing a plot, creating characters, etc. Find materials that match each week's theme and help reiterate your points. Make copies and lay out the entire course plan before the first class. Having a clearly defined curriculum relieves the pressure of coming up with something new each week.
2. Plan twice as much material as you think you're going to need. You may be counting on class participation and end up with a room full of Marcel Marceau wannabees. Or the brainstorming session you allotted 30 minutes for only takes 30 seconds. Rather than filling dead time with complaints about your cat, make sure you have additional handouts and exercises. Find a book of quick writing exercises and use those as a springboard for a few of your own. These are great ways to revive a class and to help your students apply what you are teaching them.
3. Plan activities that will involve the whole class. Part of the problem with a creative writing class is the diverse group of people who sign up. Poets may not be too interested in writing short stories and vice versa. Develop lectures that can encompass all the writers in the room. After all, writing is writing. The lessons I have learned in my fiction writing -- show and don't tell, bring characters to life, integrate scenery as a character -- have all been applied to my articles and, in my opinion, add a depth that would be lacking if I didn't have a background in fiction, too. A session on character development, if delivered right, can help everyone from the journalist to the poet make their writing come alive.
4. Share a little of yourself. Go beyond telling how you made your first sale or how great it is to go to work in your sweats every day. Show some pieces of your work before and after -- with the typos and crossouts. It shows the class your evolution as a writer and helps you vocalize what is essentially an internal process. In addition, this helps writers realize final drafts don't magically spring from the author's fingers without many, many revisions and several staged executions of favorite lines and entire scenes.
5. Develop several brainstorming activities. When I was in creative writing classes, the "assignments" that the teacher gave us (go look in a mirror and write a poem about what you see, write a story about this painting, etc.) inspired me well beyond that night's homework. I count a few of those pieces among the best work I've ever done. There's just something about a room filled with writers that jump-starts the creative muse.
6. Do a few "get to know exercises." I had my class "interview" each other for mock newspaper articles -- a great method of developing characters, because each "reporter" had to gather all the background information before putting pen to paper. The interviewee was allowed to be anything he or she wanted -- a bordello madam, a mystery writer, etc. It was fun to listen to the interviews but even more entertaining to hear the finished newspaper articles. This exercise helped others in the class open up and share a bit of creative flair.
7. Don't push for the class to participate. I had two people in my class who never turned anything in for critiquing or read a single sentence to the class. I understood their reluctance. Some writers are naturally reticent while others aren't quite ready for the critical swipe of a red pen. Encourage the shyer students to submit work via e-mail or after class and opt for a private critique, rather than a class-wide discussion of the piece. When the entire class analyzes one student's work, be sure to emphasize as much positive criticism as negative. Remember, it's hard to be the one in the spotlight, with your "baby" being dissected by others.
8. Cover the basics of the business. I went over synopses, queries and copyrights with my students, showing them how to use the available information and where to do research. Although many members of my class were writing for pleasure, the thought of future publication of their work generated hundreds of questions. You don't want to just teach your students how to write a story and then leave them fumbling blindly in the dark, looking for the light at the end of the publishing tunnel.
9. Learn from your students. I don't think any writer ever reaches the point where he or she has nothing else to learn. Some of my students were better at dialogue than me and we had some great discussions about how they made their scenes come alive. I found each member of the class had a strength that the others could benefit from and I encouraged them to share it.
That give and take in the classroom resulted in a lecture that was enjoyable for me, both as a teacher and as a student. There were moments when we sat in a group and simply discussed the joys of writing or the different routes to publication. A relaxed, friendly atmosphere gives everyone a chance to create their own education. And finally, the number one lesson to remember: in the best creative writing classes, everyone should get a chance to be both student and teacher.