Writing Like the Dickens

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SWBAT write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequencing by writing a narrative, using Dickens' style as inspiration.

Big Idea

The creative writing process empowers students and excites them about writing.

Getting Started

5 minutes

We haven't spent time writing our stories in several weeks (W.9-10.10). We only work on these narratives on Friday afternoon classes, as a kind of reward for hard work all week. But between the vacation, snow days, and early releases, we haven't had a Friday afternoon class in awhile. Therefore, we will start class by located and familiarizing ourselves with our stories and outlining. I will also spend a few minutes reviewing the elements of a successful story: there needs to be conflict; the audience needs to care about at least one character and root them them (W.9-10.3b); it needs to be clear and organized. 

Let's Write

40 minutes

Most of the period will be spent writing independently (W.9-10.3). Each student is at a different place in the writing process, so independent work is the most useful at this time. They need to focus on their own words and make their own decisions. I will encourage students to separate themselves from each other, in order to minimize distractions. Plus, it's good practice to work in a quiet setting, without computer and television screens begging for their attention.

I plan to circulate around the room, giving ideas and helping to clarify. Most students have a great start and will get right to work without much directions. Others are struggling more: either they can't figure out how to analyze their abundance of ideas or they cant seem to come up with any ideas. I don't want to overstep my bounds, but each of those problems, while different, is equally frustrating. I want to give them enough support that they feel capable and find success. I can listen while they talk through all their ideas and help them establish a timeline or order (W.9-10.3c). I can also pose questions or suggest scenarios to those who are "stuck."

Let's Share

20 minutes

In the last 15-20 minutes of class, we will share our work as it stands thus far. Students will work in pairs, but they will be directed to match up with someone whom they haven't spoken to today (we will have had two hours of class together today). They will read their story to the other person and receive informal feedback. Here's what it looks like. 

I want to make sharing a priority because I know how easy it can be to get stuck in our own heads when writing creatively. It may make sense to us, but not to anyone else. The pairs will, therefore, act mostly as a sounding board, to make sure that everyone is on the right track (SL.9-10.4). It is also helpful to hear our writing aloud; this process alone may help writers see inconsistencies or unclear sections. Plus, they have been quiet for 40 minutes; they will get restless if I don't let them move around and talk in the last part of class. 

Wrapping Up

2 minutes

At the end of class, I will remind students that will was the last class for writing. We will continue to work on the stories, but it the next class, we will start the editing process, so they want to make sure they have enough written to work with when we pick these stories back up together.