Archive | March, 2015

Narrative Writing and Creativity

20 Mar

A slight change in teaching assignment has made this teaching year more of a challenge for one of us.  As the new assignment covers two different positions it’s a constant juggling act.  Unfortunately, due to my lack of coordination, I’m not the world’s best juggler! There’s always that feeling that something isn’t being done as in-depth or as on time as it should be. It’s meant later nights spent relearning methodologies as well as learning new ones. I am constantly grappling with the technology piece as I seek to find ways that authentically enhance learning.  Since I spend forever thinking about something before taking action it’s been a baby-steps process which makes me feel even further behind.

It’s been a lot of stress.  It means not enough time spent on much needed outlets.  For the most, I tend to think my family takes the brunt of this change. The “just let me finish this” refrain is heard way too often.  With an eight and a four year old I feel like I am missing out on their development and quality time.  In short, that I spend too much time planning for my students, whom I adore, but will be fleeting in my life at the expense of family and creativity.

Writing, my favourite way to relax, has largely fallen to the wayside.  Maybe that’s why I was so excited when we finally started into our narrative writing under our Board’s writing continuum.  Not surprisingly, it’s my favourite form.  Then it hit me.  I wasn’t going to be writing what I wanted when I wanted.  How was I going to transfer my love of narrative to my students?  Once again, the ongoing struggle of making certain I meet curriculum yet allowing time to explore student interests and engage them in a writing process in a limited time.

As always, I turn to the internet when looking for inspiration. I am always amazed at the creativity and enthusiasm that teachers bring to their classrooms.  Their generosity in sharing ideas and teaching concepts to help other teachers and educators.  This blog entry is an effort to help continue that sharing and help others not to feel as if they are alone in their circus act.

Initially we started with small group narratives. Each student contributed one word at a time to start up the narrative – you will have to stress listening to the person before you not just saying something for a laugh.  As a class, we selected our setting.  My class decided that alien cows were attacking earth.  Each group had to start their narrative with the same first sentence the class generated and make certain to use the story elements we agreed upon.  After their first draft, we studied various ways to “hook” a reader and the groups did their first revision to make certain they included a hook.  These hooks were then posted in the hallway, where we asked others to vote for the best hook (winning introduction to be announced Monday).  For the technology element, these could easily be posted in a padlet as well.  My students loved sharing and hearing how each group took a different approach to the same story.

After reviewing story elements with a narrative plot diagram (found easily under Google images), we completed the narratives.  Then, we moved on to adding voice to their writing.  My students have been enjoying looking at figurative language to help enhance the voice in their writing.  We have completed a variety of activities including:

  • 4 Pics, 1 Idiom – posted a list of idioms for the students to select from – students used PicCollage to create a 4 Pics, 1 Idiom post on Edmodo.
  • Name Alliteration – students posted an alliterative sentence using their names on Edmodo.
  • Comic Strip Onomatopoeia – we created short comic strips making sure to include onomatopoeias. I took pictures of the students to place in the first box of the comic strip to make them part of the action.
  • Pop Art Onomatopoeia – We looked at the some of the work of Roy Lichtenstein (search Google images) and created our own onomatopoeia pop art. Students used Word (Word Art) to make the word they wanted to illustrate.
  • Figurative Language Homework – music, movies and TV are great ways to look at figurative language. We have used song lyrics in class to review throughout. You can find some good videos on YouTube.
  • Simile/Metaphor – draw a picture and write a simile for it; same with metaphor. They could draw whatever they wanted. Similes come a lot easier for my students. Metaphors continue to be a struggle.
  • Hyperbole – we watched the Stormalong Video (Rabbit Ears Video) on Youtube and worked in small groups to create a tall tale using graphic organizers (found online through a tall tale organizer search). The students enjoyed the mad lib style of the work and sharing their own tall tale with the class.
  • Kahoot Quizzes – always a favourite! Students like playing as well as creating their own.

Students then returned to their narratives to see where they could add figurative language.  They had to add at least 2 types to their work. We used different coloured highlighters to highlight and label the types. Of course, they are now liberally peppered with onomatopoeias!

Hopefully, the pages provided and the activities listed will help you structure your kick-start to narrative or provide some inspiration in your planning. As we work through narrative I will continue to post any created materials or ideas that work well with my students.  Thank you to all of you who post your ideas and show that creativity is not something that you have to set time aside for.  If you teach, your creativity is on display everyday