4 Tips for Creative Writing in Class
**The Edvocate is pleased to publish guest posts as way to fuel important conversations surrounding P-20 education in America. The opinions contained within guest posts are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of The Edvocate or Dr. Matthew Lynch.**
A guest post by Michael Yarbrough
What it’s like to be a teacher? You present new material to students, keep track of their academic progress, and manage their behavior in the classroom. If that’s all you did, you might be considered a good teacher. But if you want to be a great teacher, you have to add something to that list: inspiring students to be creative. When it comes to writing instructors, this is an especially important thing to cultivate.
Creativity is the most essential thing for writing classes. Here students learn where to find new ideas, how to structure their story, what writing techniques to choose, and so on. Students certainly can learn all these things, but if they aren’t inspired, if they don’t see how you personally love writing with all your passion, they won’t learn to love it themselves.
The starting point for you to assist students in releasing their creativity is to show them your own love to writing. Teachers are models for their students, so it’s absolutely fine if students imitate their educator and treat writing the way their teachers do. In cases where the classroom environment is friendly and pleasant, and a teacher is a good mentor to every student, there’s a strong chance students will be happy to follow the example of their educator and adopt positive attitudes about writing.
Also, you should certainly let students know about great authors and their best works. Talk about what inspired famous writers, how they gained their writing success, what strange habits they had, how they treated writing, and many other interesting details. Always emphasize that students must not try to copy the writing manner or style of other authors. Each student must develop and cherish his or her own unique writing voice.
And of course, suggest that your students do a few helpful writing exercises. Choose any of the following:
Free Writing. Introduce your students to a topic and tell them they will free-write during some specific period of time (such as five minutes). Students are supposed to write without stops and without over-thinking – they write whatever is in their heads at the moment. They can disregard punctuation and spelling as well as storyline. They shouldn’t edit anything at the time, though you’ll have enough time to discuss their free-writing a bit later. This exercise is perfect as a writing warm-up, and you should do it at the beginning of the class.
Associations. Distribute sheets of paper among your students on which you have written a list of words. Their task is to write the first association that comes to mind for each one. Again, students mustn’t think about it at all, they should note immediately what image they see or whatever association pops into their minds. Since this exercise is good for increasing imagination and expanding vocabulary, use it at the beginning of the class as another warm-up that gets them ready to work.
Group Writing. Have your students write a story together. You will be the first to start. Jot down a thought provoking sentence and let your students continue the story. Each student contributes one sentence to the story. The rule is that every single sentence should move the plot forward. Finally, read your group writing aloud so students can enjoy the work they created together.
Role-playing. In this exercise your students get the chance to become fictional characters for a while. Your task is to choose characters for each student. Don’t take just protagonists or antagonists, use plenty of minor characters from well-known novels as well. Students need to describe some of the novel’s major events from the point of view of the character they take on. Thus, you will be able to see alternative points of view concerning events in the plot.
A few final tips: Don’t be afraid to experiment while teaching how to write, listen to the unique writing voices of your students, and don’t forget that if you love what you do, students will love it too.
Michael is a former school teacher, currently working as an ESL tutor. Teaching is his favorite way of finding inspiration. In spare time he enjoys volunteering and provides a lot help to wild and homeless animals. Connect with Michael via Twitter and Linkedin.