More Learning WITH my students

A fellow teacher gave me a book a few weeks ago titled, Story Starters on Ancient Japan.   She is the middle school humanities/history teacher at ISS, and I am the writing teacher.  She thought we could collaborate – I would teach the eighth graders to write a story, and she would bolster the content.  It seemed like a grand idea.

The book goes through a series of steps to writing a narrative – just like I would teach my kids.  First, create a character and get to know him as well as you know yourself.  Figure out his name, how he looks, what he does – everything about him.  Then, figure out where he is – at home, at work, in a garden – anywhere.   And then give him action – a plot.  We need an introduction, rising action, climax, falling action and a resolution.

Because it focuses on ancient Japan, it gives examples in that vein.  It lists details about shoguns, samurai, geisha and other ancient Japanese stereotypical people.   The settings involve shrines, battlefields, or music halls.  The plots involve intrigue and battles and the occasional espionage.

On Monday, I enlisted the help of my children and I actually photocopied the pages onto card stock and cut out to create the character, setting, and plot cards.  Then on Tuesday, in my eighth grade class, I threw them across the table, telling them to choose – match them up – and create the bones of a story.

Well, the students ate it up!  They found a cool guy, put him in a weird spot, and made him do radical stuff – as they said.  I just sat back and watched as they were off and running.  The process is going to take the better part of this week as they create the outline of what they want to accomplish – and then next week they can start drafting.

It’s a purely methodical way to write a story – matching ideas until they come out whole as the story in your head.  But whatever works for these kids is what I’m going to try.

And then, lo and behold, I am going to put together a few story cards of my own; stack a deck, if you will.  Because my own writing could use a little kick.  A formula might be just the push I need.

4 thoughts on “More Learning WITH my students

  1. when I taught Idea Development we taught our students an observational system of creating basically a dictionary or encyclopedia of content that would help them create stories – CLOSAT – C- Characters – basically just a physical description of someone they observed in some way – gender/age/clothing/physical manifestation (90 something female, curly gray silver hair covered with a bandana, wears the same necklace each day, has a carpet bag purse that looks like Mary Poppins) L-location – same physical description of a place (bus stop in Tokyo, green benches with glass rain covers), O – object – same but of an object (battered cell phone with Hello Kitty dangle), S – situation – description of an interaction between either 2 people or a person and a place that struck them as memorable (a fight, a meal, walking along the river), A – action – a physical action to be recorded (a limp leaning to the left side, the thump of newspapers being tossed to the news stand as the truck goes by) and T – theme – the classics – Love everlasting, good triumphs, etc.

    Each student would come in with 2 full sets of cards (each item would be recorded on a separate index card) then we would shuffle in class and give small groups a couple of characters, one location and at least one of each other card and they would have to create a story that they would share at the end of class. I loved hearing what they would come up with in such a short period of time, then each student would go home with their own sets. By the end of the first half of the term they would have between 8-10 sets and could use them in writing their scripts, and we would encourage sharing cards, as well, when it came time to writing the 5 min. scripts they would produce in the next class in the curriculum.

  2. Pingback: facebook123

  3. Pingback: Location Villa Maurice

  4. Pingback: Location Villa Ile Maurice

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s