Jessica Wilson


Return to: ETAP 623 Spring 2019 Section 5933 (Byrne) | Creative Writing in the Modern Classroom

About Me

This is my face!

Hello all! I currently hold a Bachelor's degree in Childhood Education from SUNY Fredonia and an initial certification from NYS for teaching grades 1-6. I'm pursuing a Master's in Curriculum Development in Instructional Technology from SUNY Albany and am excited to explore some new technological methods of instruction through this course. I work in the Jamestown NY area substitute teaching while I do my Master's work online and hope to be employed as a full-time teacher next academic year. I also work for Panera and am happy to answer any questions you have about the cafes! In my spare time, I like to cook, draw, garden, play D&D, and sing. I'm an advocate for queer rights and LGBT education in schools and spend a good deal of my time with my friends being the "queer person of knowledge," and am happy to discuss any questions my fellow educators might have about the community. I can't wait to learn and grow through this course, and to share ideas and gain new insight about technology!

My Topic and Purpose

I'd like to design my course around "world-building" and creative writing. It will incorporate research and promote engagement and motivation through the concept of an open-world. The purpose of this mini-course will to be to show educators how to create a meaningful creative writing lesson by incorporating world-building elements to promote active engagement and ownership.

Learning Outcomes

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.

Needs Assessment

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.

Examining the introspective and academic affects creative writing has on young students shows how it is clearly beneficial. Creative thinking and writing encourage new problem solving strategies and increases student interest in course material. “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. What would science be without creative thinking skills? How could we teach history without students having a sense-of-self that they could relate to past historical figures, real or fictional? When we fail students at the primary level, it carries onward through their higher education careers- “40 percent of those who took the ACT writing exam in the high school class of 2016 lack the reading and writing skills necessary to complete successfully a college-level English composition class” (Goldstein, 2017). When students are taught the writing “strategy instruction,” they engage in “self-regulatory strategies including goal setting and self-talk” (McQuitty, 2014, p.484) which can promote better in-class behavior and general cooperation among students. Creative writing is very beneficial to students, but why don’t we include it in our curriculum?

For the purpose of this analysis, I’ve chosen to examine the EngageNY modules that align with the Common Core State Standards. It is clear that the English language arts curriculum is stuffed full of skills in phonics and phonemes and parts of speech, things that help primary students understand the syntactic conventions of English writing. One author reflects that “we’re teaching them [good writing] means stuffing writing with adjectives, rather than that good writing is about communication [between the author and the reader]” (Flood, 2015) and this is often true when after these basic skills lessons we don’t ask students to think like authors as they write, to examine what they’re trying to communicate to the reader. While asking them to find the parts of speech of a sentence, “research finds that students exposed to a glut of such instruction perform worse on writing assignments” (Goldstein, 2017). In the EngageNY modules, there is no creative writing present besides the “Pausing Points” activities in elementary school literacy skills lessons. Often teachers don’t have time to do these “Pausing Points” because they fall behind with the cluttered and there is little time to do “extra” assignments. Educators need the help including creative writing lessons without making them too cumbersome.

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.”


Akkaya, N. (2014). Elementary Teachers’ Views on the Creative Writing Process: An Evaluation. Educational Sciences: Theory and Practice, 14(4), 1499–1504. Retrieved from

Goldstein, D. (2017, August 2). Why Kids Can’t Write. Retrieved from

Flood, A. (2015, June 23) National curriculum is damaging children’s creative writing, say authors. Retrived from

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

Mossing, S. (2013). The Importance of Creative Thinking and the Arts Education. Retrieved from

Analysis of the Learner and Context

In order to determine the prior knowledge of the learner for this mini-course and assert the need for the course’s goals and objectives, an anonymous Google Form survey was conducted. 29 educator responses were submitted. Of those, 51.7% were elementary educators, 24.1% were middle school educators, and 27.6% taught high school. Overlap in these demographic percentages represent educators who have taught multiple grade levels.

Out of the 29 responses, it was found that over 79.3% felt that they did not have support from the state required curriculum to teach creative writing in their grade level, and 55.2% felt that they did not have adequate supports from additional teaching resources such as websites, workbooks, and professional development. There was an overwhelming response of “yes” to the question of “do you feel it’s important to teach creative writing in your classroom?” of 89.7% and a general appreciation of a new solution to incorporating creative writing into daily curriculum of 79.3% in favor.

In relation to this mini-course’s importance and the background that these educators have with creative writing, some additional responses included:

“My kids request it almost every year, but I usually can't do it due to the time it takes to teach the Common Core modules.”

“Writing curriculum is seriously lacking in NYS modules and other resources my school has provided”

“Student have limited opportunities to do any sort of writing and all of it is curriculum based. It is a travesty”

“NYS hinders good creative writing by its approach to testing. Students are not graded on creativity.”

This analysis of the learners for the mini-course proves that there is a large demand for better material on creative writing instruction and an obvious need for the instruction to be adaptable for current curriculum. Using world-building elements and resources through this mini-course, educators can come to a better understanding of how to introduce creative writing into daily lessons.

Performance-Based Objectives

The course objectives, without the written lesson plans, are as follows:

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.

Task Analysis

Through this mini-course, there will be quite a bit of writing done by participants. As a mini-course that revolves around creative writing, participants will create informal journals to record their thoughts as they progress through each unit. There will be 2 informal journals created, and a culminating lesson plan drafting project.

Curriculum Map

Creative Writing in the Modern Classroom

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

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

Lesson 2: Student Engagement and “World-Building” - The importance of student engagement and how world-building elements 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

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

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

Culminating Lesson (Unit Final): Workshopping a Creative Writing Lesson Plan - A guide for workshopping a lesson plan on creative writing in a group setting

References and Resources

A. (2016, April 30). How to Let Student Choice Drive Your Writing Workshop (Even When You Teach the Primary Grades). Retrieved from

Akkaya, N. (2014). Elementary Teachers’ Views on the Creative Writing Process: An Evaluation. Educational Sciences: Theory and Practice, 14(4), 1499–1504. Retrieved from

Boss, S. (2019). Gaming as a Tool for Narrative Writing. Edutopia. Retrieved from

Christenson, S.L., Reschly, A.L., & Wylie, C. (2012). Handbook of Research on Student Engagement. Springer Science & Business Media. Retrieved from

Cronin, A. (2016, December 12). Student Engagement: Resource Roundup. Retrieved from

Darvasi, P. (2018, October 8). Leveraging the Lore of 'Dungeons & Dragons' to Motivate Students to Read and Write. KQED. Retrieved from

Flood, A. (2015, June 23) National curriculum is damaging children’s creative writing, say authors. Retrived from

Galloway, B. [Bek Galloway]. (2016, October 1). The choices writers make [Video File]. Retrieved from

Goldstein, D. (2017, August 2). Why Kids Can’t Write. Retrieved from

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

HanoverResearch. (2014, November). Impact of Student Choice and Personalized Learning. Hanover Research. Retrieved from

Higgins, E. (2016, February 4). World Goin’ One Way, People Another: Subcreation and Politics in The Wire. Comparative Media Studies. Retrieved from

Hillerich, K. (2016, April 21). Writing 101: Setting and Worldbuilding. Retrieved from

Lishak, A. [TEDx Talks]. (2014, June 20). Creative writing, why bother?: Anthony Lishak at TedxManchester [Video File]. Retrieved from

Magnenat-Thalmann, N., Kim, H.S., Egges, A., & Garchery, S. (n.d). Believability and Interaction in Virtual Worlds. MIRALab - University of Geneva. Retrieved from

Marzano, R.J. (2019). Tips From Dr. Marzano. Retrieved from

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

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

Mossing, S. (2013). The Importance of Creative Thinking and the Arts Education. Retrieved from

ReadingRockets. (n.d). Reading 101: A Guide to Teaching Reading and Writing. Retrieved from

Reedsy. (2018, August 30). Worldbuilding: the Master Guide (with Template). Retrieved from

Robinson, K. [The RSA]. (2010, October 14). RSA ANIMATE: Changing Education Paradigms [Video File]. Retrieved from

THEALIENNEXTDOOR. (2017, May 26). The Art & Science of World Building: The Tools You Need to Make a Believable World. Retrieved from

Wolpert-Gawron, H. (2018, November 20). What Giving Students Choice Looks Like in the Classroom. KQED. Retrieved from