Wednesday, February 24, 2016

How Creative Writing Can Build a Love for Writing and Increase Test Scores

I know many of you have a limited writing time and you are pushed to focus on teaching students how to write for that writing assessment.  Making time to teach creative writing can build those writing skills and make writing more fun, and have students perform better on the writing assessments.

Creative writing is fun. It allows for choice and it allows students to try out new things.  When teaching students creative writing it is important to give them time to plan and think about what they are going to write before they start the first sentence.  Mapping out character, setting, and plot can help writers understand what they are going to write.

1. Creating a Character
Creating a character is one of the most important parts of the writing process in fiction. The character is what drives the story and if the readers care about the character they will keep reading.  I tell my students that their character should be a best friend to them.  The character should be someone you know more details about than you would tell.  Writers should know the characters favorite food, color, what they fear, what they love, and much more.  I create a questionnaire with my students each year.  I will give them the name of my character and they ask questions about this person.  I then take the list I created with them and give each of them a list of the questions for them to answer about their character.  Here is a sample of the questionnaire I use. This video can give you more information about developing character.

By taking the time to get to know their characters they are thinking through details before they start writing.  This is a great tool for writing assessments because it gets students in the habit of asking questions and writing the details they know about a topic before they begin drafting.

2. Developing a Setting
Setting is the part many students skip.  They don't think about where and when the story takes place and as a result details jump around and confuse the reader.  To help students fine tune their setting I have them complete several tasks.

Setting Map
With the setting map students draw a map of the world the character lives.  If the story takes place in a specific season, then I have students draw details to show that season.  If the story takes place 150 years ago, students draw the details appropriate to that time period.

This is a lesson I like to do on my Interactive White Board.  I have my students call out questions and I draw as I go.  I also think aloud as I draw the details I don't want to forget and to model how I plan my own writing.

Setting Questions
For the students who need a little more focus or those who don't enjoy drawing, I have them complete these questions. This helps them narrow down when and where the story takes place.

Taking time to plan the setting helps students on writing assessments by making them think about the when and where an event or story takes place.  Students will learn that the action of their writing doesn't take place with a white background.  

3. Mapping Out the Plot
Students get excited, they have a lot of ideas, and they dive right into the writing.  Unfortunately many of them get a few sentences in and get stuck. They aren't sure which path they are taking.  I have two ways I use to help students plan the plot before they tacke the first sentence.

The Writing Guide
This is great for grades 1-3.  I like to use colored pencils to help them learn about new sentences in the lower grades and about paragraph development in other grades.

The Plot Outline
This is great for 4th-6th grade.  They learn about outlining and are able to organize their writing in a way.

Using these two methods are great for the writing assessments because students have tools they can easily recreate to plan their writing.  After practicing this tool all year the students really get in a habit that you will see them using in all genres of writing.

I have all of these prepared and ready for you to download. Use these Writing Guides and Graphic Organizers to get your Writer's Workshop up and running.  

Want to save this post for later?  Pin the image below. 

Want to learn more about running a successful writer's workshop? This post 4 Ways to Run a Successful Writer's Workshop may help. You will also find free conferencing guides and editing checklists.

For more ideas and tips follow me on Pinterest.

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Photo Credit in Header: karendaev/Dollar Photo Club 


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