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Creative Writing as a Tool

Language Arts

Writing may be a daunting task for students to get excited about but I have found creative writing to be a useful tool to get students to share unique ideas and push themselves beyond the bare minimum required to fulfill an assignment. Reading student’s creative writing is comparable to peeking through a window of their soul, without having to make them feel too vulnerable. And creative writing is fun, no one is wrong when they are sharing what comes from their imagination.

Students may want to know how long a poem or story has to be and I usually say, “when the story is all told.” Whether that takes one page or ten, you will know when you have nothing else to say. I also hear, “what if I can’t think of anything?” I respond with don’t think, just feel. For this process to be authentic it can’t be rushed. If you are giving your students free range with their topics, be ready to get a wide variety of writing, from silly to magical to emotionally telling pieces. Here are some ways to incorporate creative writing into your teaching.

If you are just starting out creative writing with your students, considering writing a poem that has a sentence starter for each line. An “I am like” simile poem or an “I ___ (am, fear, see, hear, love) ” poem is manageable for you as an educator to facilitate and give students a jumping off point. To delve in a little further, the students can include the who, what, where, when, how to each line. For example, if it says I am like a tree, write what the tree is doing, seeing, and feeling that make you like that tree. As you introduce the poem, be sure to share one you have written so the students have an example for their writing, whether exemplifying vulnerability or great detail. If you want to turn poems into a class piece, try having students select a couple of their favorite lines of the poem to encompass the ideas of all your students in a single poem; “I am like” poems are a good way to do this. This type of writing and the next one discussed can be especially helpful when writing with ELL students to help express some ideas because it offers plenty of scaffolding and structure.

Poetry can be some of the finest ways to share creative writing. If students are ready to move on from prompted poems consider introducing different poem styles and having students explore from there. For example, introducing a haiku style poem gives students template guidance but allows them to write about whatever they feel is appropriate or whatever you may be focusing on in class. Consider using new vocabulary words as themes to the poems students are writing. Acrostics, limericks, ballads or cinquains are all examples of poem styles you can incorporate in your teaching.

To take creative writing a step further, perspective stories or letters to oneself can encourage creativity while teaching you something. Students can write perspective stories about the life of a bee or from the perspective of a raindrop that you can use to assess understanding of concepts. A letter to a future or past self can give insight on how the student views themselves or where they hope to be in ten years. Creative story writing can take us to worlds only our students can imagine and help us better understand our students point of view to help them succeed.

Creative writing can take a long time to perfect but like everything, the more we practice, the stronger it becomes. It takes a lot of courage to write vulnerable pieces but even more courage to share, so set the expectation that students are in a safe space that is respectful. Alternative activities can be planned if a student is struggling to meet those expectations. Lastly, don’t force anyone to share if that expectation wasn’t clearly set from the beginning, students may not be ready to reveal so much in front of peers. Remember to have fun. Creative writing may spark a love of writing in your students that could last a lifetime.

For more resources in writing with ELL students visit: http://www.colorincolorado.org/article/14539/

Writing may be a daunting task for students to get excited about but I have found creative writing to be a useful tool to get students to share unique ideas and push themselves beyond the bare minimum required to fulfill an assignment. Reading student’s creative writing is comparable to peeking through a window of their soul, without having to make them feel too vulnerable. And creative writing is fun, no one is wrong when they are sharing what comes from their imagination.

Students may want to know how long a poem or story has to be and I usually say, “when the story is all told.” Whether that takes one page or ten, you will know when you have nothing else to say. I also hear, “what if I can’t think of anything?” I respond with don’t think, just feel. For this process to be authentic it can’t be rushed. If you are giving your students free range with their topics, be ready to get a wide variety of writing, from silly to magical to emotionally telling pieces. Here are some ways to incorporate creative writing into your teaching.

If you are just starting out creative writing with your students, considering writing a poem that has a sentence starter for each line. An “I am like” simile poem or an “I ___ (am, fear, see, hear, love) ” poem is manageable for you as an educator to facilitate and give students a jumping off point. To delve in a little further, the students can include the who, what, where, when, how to each line. For example, if it says I am like a tree, write what the tree is doing, seeing, and feeling that make you like that tree. As you introduce the poem, be sure to share one you have written so the students have an example for their writing, whether exemplifying vulnerability or great detail. If you want to turn poems into a class piece, try having students select a couple of their favorite lines of the poem to encompass the ideas of all your students in a single poem; “I am like” poems are a good way to do this. This type of writing and the next one discussed can be especially helpful when writing with ELL students to help express some ideas because it offers plenty of scaffolding and structure.

Poetry can be some of the finest ways to share creative writing. If students are ready to move on from prompted poems consider introducing different poem styles and having students explore from there. For example, introducing a haiku style poem gives students template guidance but allows them to write about whatever they feel is appropriate or whatever you may be focusing on in class. Consider using new vocabulary words as themes to the poems students are writing. Acrostics, limericks, ballads or cinquains are all examples of poem styles you can incorporate in your teaching.

To take creative writing a step further, perspective stories or letters to oneself can encourage creativity while teaching you something. Students can write perspective stories about the life of a bee or from the perspective of a raindrop that you can use to assess understanding of concepts. A letter to a future or past self can give insight on how the student views themselves or where they hope to be in ten years. Creative story writing can take us to worlds only our students can imagine and help us better understand our students point of view to help them succeed.

Creative writing can take a long time to perfect but like everything, the more we practice, the stronger it becomes. It takes a lot of courage to write vulnerable pieces but even more courage to share, so set the expectation that students are in a safe space that is respectful. Alternative activities can be planned if a student is struggling to meet those expectations. Lastly, don’t force anyone to share if that expectation wasn’t clearly set from the beginning, students may not be ready to reveal so much in front of peers. Remember to have fun. Creative writing may spark a love of writing in your students that could last a lifetime.

For more resources in writing with ELL students visit: http://www.colorincolorado.org/article/14539/

About the Author
Jacquelynn  Hilton