Creative writing with year 11: online, and outside

You know how you’re not meant to pick favourites? Well, I definitely stick to that rule, but if I was allowed to have a favourite class it would certainly be my year 11 English Advanced class. We’ve only known each other for four weeks, but already I feel very comfortable with them, as they do with me.

They’ve happily embraced me idiosyncratic approach to teaching, and are reveling in our unconventional learning practices. So far they have had a silent discussion via Edmodo, collaboratively deconstructed a short story and shared their ideas via Google Docs, made a video showcasing their analogies for journeys, and spent time learning outdoors. Oh, and they’ve also set up blogs through which they’ll be writing with, and for, a year 11 class in another school.
Here’s their journey video:

Last week my class participated in a couple of cool creative writing activities. The first one was our first ever Creative Writing Challenge. Each week I’ll be posting a writing prompt and some constraints, and students will write a 300 word response and post it to their blogs. The class they’re connecting with will be entering the competition too. This week it was super hard for me to pick the best writer, so I turned to my English teacher colleagues via the NSW English Teachers’ Association Facebook page. One lovely teacher, Amanda Hannah, spent a couple of hours reading through my students’ writing, giving them feedback and then choosing the winners. What an awesome human! So cool! My students were stoked to know someone would be that committed to their writing. You can see the challenge here:
The winning writer was Katie.

On Friday afternoon (last period) I decided that more creative writing was in order. It was hot, and we were all tired, so the outdoors was a must! We’re studying journeys, so I decided to take them on a journey into their school. Each student was given three or four ‘constraints’ for their writing – basically stylistic features they HAD to use – and sent to the ‘setting’ for their 100 word narrative. I sent them to the canteen. Haha! So what were the possible constraints? Narrator (third person omniscient, third person limited, commentator, first person or unreliable narrator) mood (depressed, surprised or angry) character (teacher, student or stranger) imagery (natural or artificial). It was so fun, seeing my students think a lot about their writing and being really challenged by their constraints and their surroundings. They produced some great writing.

Maybe someone has a similar activity, or might modify this idea for their classes… let me know by sharing via a comment below 🙂


One thought on “Creative writing with year 11: online, and outside

  1. It was my pleasure to look at your students’ work, Bianca! The privilege was all mine…and my students thank you and your students as well! I have now embarked on a modified version of your activity with my Year 11 kids, and I have been able to share my learning experience with them. What a wonderful professional learning opportunity which has been provided through the use of technology! Thank you!

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