Creative Writing in the Modern Classroom

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Overview and Purpose

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The broad learning outcomes or goals for this course are to have educators become more familiar with how to use "world-building" writing concepts in their creative writing lessons. By the end of this mini-course, educators will walk away with not only familiarity with broad "world-building" creative writing elements but also knowledge of how to incorporate these into pre-built curriculum. It will conclude with participants workshopping a lesson plan on creative writing to demonstrate clear knowledge of the benefit of this pedagogy.







Why Do We Need This Course?

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This course was created when a gap was seen in current elementary education curriculum. As an educator myself, I walked into classroom after classroom in district after district and watched students struggle to write creatively and more importantly saw educators struggling to teach these skills that adults seem to inherently have within them. All over the internet and throughout schools conversations were popping up… “Why you are wrong if you think creative writing is a ‘frivolous waste of time,’ ‘A Passionate, Unapologetic Plea for Creative Writing in Schools,” “The importance of creativity and arts in education.” While education and food service take the front seat in my life currently, I get time on occasion to enjoy pursuing a hobby of the classic and past hysteria-inducing game of Dungeons and Dragons. Looking to my two friends who pursued creative writing in higher education and adding in my background as a Game Master for the not-so-popular role-playing game, I created this mini-course with hopes that I could show educators an easy way to incorporate creative writing in their curriculum.

“Research shows that one of the largest factors of students dropping out of school is a frustration or boredom with the classroom material being taught” (Mossing, 2013, p.4) which means that teaching critical thinking alone isn’t giving intrinsic motivation to students to continue their education. When creative writing is introduced, “findings reveal that [it] ‘develops students’ imagination, creativity, thinking skills, their ability to express themselves freely, and their written expression skills while also helping them to realize a certain level of self-confidence’” (Akkaya, 2014, p.1502) and all of those skills carry over to other academic areas.

Without creative writing in our curriculum, we can never expect to have great fictional writers, poets, lyricists, and any other job revolving around the mastery of creative dialogue. Written language is tricky for young students especially, but adding small projects into normal curriculum to promote creative writing after the basic writing elements of syntax are taught is a great way to motivate students to continue to write for the rest of their lives. This mini-course seeks to fill the gap in current curriculum where creative writing is not present through elements of “world-building.”

References:

Akkaya, N. (2014). Elementary Teachers’ Views on the Creative Writing Process: An Evaluation. Educational Sciences: Theory and Practice, 14(4), 1499–1504. Retrieved from https://libproxy.albany.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eric&AN=EJ1045114&site=eds-live&scope=site

Mossing, S. (2013). The Importance of Creative Thinking and the Arts Education. Retrieved from https://scholarworks.bgsu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=https://www.google.com/&httpsredir=1&article=1038&context=honorsprojects

Prerequisites and Materials

Participants in this course should enter with:

1. College level education

2. Knowledge of the field of education

3. Experience with Google Drive

4. Experience with creating lesson plans


Materials needed for this course:

1. Internet access

2. A Google account

3. Printer access/consistent internet access in the classroom

Performance Objectives

The course objectives are as followed:

1. Participants will recognize how adding world building elements to a lesson plan adds depth and texture to a normal creative writing lesson by reading online sources found by the course administrator.

2. After gathering information on student choice and draft-writing projects, participants will respond to questions about worldbuilding in 2 projects for a cumulative S/U score if sufficient understanding is found in the journal responses.

3. Following the discussion of two different types of lesson plans with creative writing worked into them, participants will be able to draft their own creative writing lesson plan incorporating world-building elements and receive above a 6/8 on the corresponding rubric.

Course Units

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This course is broken into 4 Instructional Units

Unit 1: The Importance of Creative Writing: What is World-Building?

Participants will recognize how adding world building elements to a lesson plan adds depth and texture to a normal creative writing lesson by reading online sources found by the course administrator and will self-assess throughout the unit by filling out a journal.

Lesson 1: Creative Writing and Teacher Education - Why creative writing is important and the gap in creative writing pedagogy

Lesson 2: Student Engagement and Its Importance - The importance of student engagement and how to help students become engaged

Lesson 3: The Importance of “Believable Worlds” - What is “world-building” and the importance of “believable worlds”


Unit 2: Student Choice, a Tool for Better Lesson Plans

After gathering information on student choice and draft-writing projects, participants will respond to questions about worldbuilding in 2 projects for a cumulative S/U score if sufficient understanding is found in the journal responses.

Lesson 1: Benefits of Student Choice - Examples of studies where choice in creative writing benefited students

Lesson 2: “World-Building” and Choice - How to give students choice through world-building


Unit 3: World-Building Elements in Practice

Following the discussion of two different types of lesson plans with creative writing worked into them, participants will be able to draft their own creative writing lesson plan incorporating world-building elements and receive above a 6/8 on the corresponding rubric.

Lesson 1: Starting From Scratch - Writing lesson plans from the ground-up with creative writing elements in them

Lesson 2: But My Curriculum is Already Established? - Adding in creative writing elements to pre-established lesson plans


Unit 4: Reflections and Application of Concepts

- Sharing and reflecting on knowledge gained from the course in the cumulative Unit 3 project by subjecting work to criticism

Extended Resources

A. (2016, April 30). How to Let Student Choice Drive Your Writing Workshop (Even When You Teach the Primary Grades). Retrieved from https://learningattheprimarypond.com/writing/student-choice-in-writing-workshop-primary-grades/

Akkaya, N. (2014). Elementary Teachers’ Views on the Creative Writing Process: An Evaluation. Educational Sciences: Theory and Practice, 14(4), 1499–1504. Retrieved from https://libproxy.albany.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eric&AN=EJ1045114&site=eds-live&scope=site

Boss, S. (2019). Gaming as a Tool for Narrative Writing. Edutopia. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/article/gaming-tool-narrative-writing?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=socialflow&fbclid=IwAR1hLlS6cUtuXCMzyHD9qGck8RWDAgsiBlMpVD-P3nga4eoIH0iMnun5Mzo

Christenson, S.L., Reschly, A.L., & Wylie, C. (2012). Handbook of Research on Student Engagement. Springer Science & Business Media. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/2H5NU3O

Cronin, A. (2016, December 12). Student Engagement: Resource Roundup. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/student-engagement-resources

Darvasi, P. (2018, October 8). Leveraging the Lore of 'Dungeons & Dragons' to Motivate Students to Read and Write. KQED. Retrieved from https://www.kqed.org/mindshift/51787/leveraging-the-lore-of-dungeons-and-dragons-to-motivate-students-to-read-and-write

Flood, A. (2015, June 23) National curriculum is damaging children’s creative writing, say authors. Retrived from https://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/jun/23/national-curriculum-is-damaging-childrens-creative-writing-say-authors

Galloway, B. [Bek Galloway]. (2016, October 1). The choices writers make [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uqob8dhDYww

Goldstein, D. (2017, August 2). Why Kids Can’t Write. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/02/education/edlife/writing-education-grammar-students-children.html

Guethert, K.S.W. (2016). Believable Worlds: The Rules, Role and Function of Magic in Fantasy Novels. Research Commons at the University of Waikato. Retrieved from https://researchcommons.waikato.ac.nz/bitstream/handle/10289/10242/thesis.pdf?sequence=3&isAllowed=y

HanoverResearch. (2014, November). Impact of Student Choice and Personalized Learning. Hanover Research. Retrieved from https://www.gssaweb.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Impact-of-Student-Choice-and-Personalized-Learning-1.pdf

Higgins, E. (2016, February 4). World Goin’ One Way, People Another: Subcreation and Politics in The Wire. Comparative Media Studies. Retrieved from https://cmsw.mit.edu/subcreation-and-politics-in-the-wire/

Hillerich, K. (2016, April 21). Writing 101: Setting and Worldbuilding. Retrieved from http://inkandquills.com/2016/04/21/setting-and-worldbuilding/

Lishak, A. [TEDx Talks]. (2014, June 20). Creative writing, why bother?: Anthony Lishak at TedxManchester [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nwjxDtVeibk&feature=youtu.be&t=181

Magnenat-Thalmann, N., Kim, H.S., Egges, A., & Garchery, S. (n.d). Believability and Interaction in Virtual Worlds. MIRALab - University of Geneva. Retrieved from https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/8053/8b6607ad0118f453c5e00ea628e227a3c128.pdf

Marzano, R.J. (2019). Tips From Dr. Marzano. Retrieved from https://www.marzanoresearch.com/resources/tips/hec_tips_archive#tip20

McQuitty, V. (2014). Process-Oriented Writing Instruction in Elementary Classrooms: Evidence of Effective Practices from the Research of Literature. Writing & Pedagogy, 6(3), 467-495. Retrieved from https://libproxy.albany.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eue&AN=110799543&site=eds-live&scope=site

Messner, K. [TED-Ed]. (2014, January 9). How to Build a Fictional World - Kate Messner [Video File]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/ZQTQSbjecLg

Mossing, S. (2013). The Importance of Creative Thinking and the Arts Education. Retrieved from https://scholarworks.bgsu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=https://www.google.com/&httpsredir=1&article=1038&context=honorsprojects

ReadingRockets. (n.d). Reading 101: A Guide to Teaching Reading and Writing. Retrieved from http://www.readingrockets.org/teaching/reading101-course/modules/writing/writing-practice

Reedsy. (2018, August 30). Worldbuilding: the Master Guide (with Template). Retrieved from https://blog.reedsy.com/worldbuilding-guide/

Robinson, K. [The RSA]. (2010, October 14). RSA ANIMATE: Changing Education Paradigms [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDZFcDGpL4U

THEALIENNEXTDOOR. (2017, May 26). The Art & Science of World Building: The Tools You Need to Make a Believable World. Retrieved from https://ninamunteanu.me/2017/05/26/the-art-science-of-world-building-the-tools-you-need-to-make-a-believable-world/

Wolpert-Gawron, H. (2018, November 20). What Giving Students Choice Looks Like in the Classroom. KQED. Retrieved from https://www.kqed.org/mindshift/52421/what-giving-students-choice-looks-like-in-the-classroom

A Short Questionnaire

If you are finished with this entire course, please consider completing this short survey.