Creative Writing

CLASS INFO

Metaphor. Irony. Plot. Setting. Theme. Imagery. Symbolism. These and other elements of literature should by now be familiar to you. They exist in all types of writing — from poetry to non-fiction essays, from novels to scripts. You have spent time studying them through the words of other writers. Now you get to try to use these tools for yourself.  

This class will be an opportunity for you to express yourself creatively through writing. You will get a chance to try many different genres of writing and practice the writing process. You will get to help others improve their writing, and the favor will be returned to you with your own writing. By the end of the class, you will develop a portfolio of your best, most polished work.

Note: I teach two sections of this class on different days. When possible, I will use the same entry for both Red and Gold days. When impossible, I will post a separate summary for each day.

Friday, 12/13; Monday, 12/16

Portfolio work day

Wednesday, 12/11; Thursday, 12/12

Workshop day for the short story

Go over portfolio

Begin work on portfolio

Monday, 12/9; Tuesday, 12/10

Work day for short story

phase 3 due at the end of class

workshop draft due next class

Thursday, 12/5; Friday, 12/6

check phase 1

work on phase 2

check phase 2

hw: work on phase 3

Tuesday, 12/3; Wednesday, 12/4

pre-writing

details of fiction assignment & checkpoints

character names

work on Phase 1

HW: phase one due at start of class Thursday/Friday

Monday, 12/2 (Red day)

“Interpreter”

check eavesdropping

character

Thursday, 11/21 (Gold day)

“Interpreter”

character

HW: eavsedropping

Tuesday, 11/12 (Red day)

Today we went back and caught up on workshopping the creative nonfiction pieces. Students worked in small groups and read/made comments through Google docs. There was a little bit of time at the end of class for revision work.

Tuesday, 11/5; Wednesday, 11/6

Today was the typing day for the nonfiction essay. Homework: your essay needs to be finished by the start of class on Thursday/Friday.

Friday, 11/1; Monday, 11/4

I collected the nonfiction planning document today for a grade. While I was checking these, students started some pre-writing from the Burroway chapter on setting. We alternated between discussing different aspects of setting (Setting as Camera, Setting as Mood and Symbol, Setting as Action) and some additional pre-writing exercises around these topics. Then I returned the planning documents, reviewed the timeline for completing the nonfiction essays — rough drafts due Tuesday/Wednesday, workshop draft due Thursday/Friday — and gave students time to work on their rough drafts. Homework: have a mostly complete (≈80%) copy of your essay with you on Wednesday for typing.

Wednesday, 10/30; Thursday, 10/31

After some pre-writing around developing voice and setting, we talked through the details of the creative nonfiction assignment. I also gave students a planning handout to help them start to gather their thoughts and begin the nonfiction essay, and everyone had a little bit of time to begin working on this. Then we talked about the two essays from last class and how the settings of these essays is connected to their mood/tone/atmosphere and even their themes. Homework: complete the nonfiction planning document for next class — both sides!

Monday, 10/28; Tuesday, 10/29

After some pre-writing exercises from Burroway ch. 7, I discussed further some aspects and techniques of the creative nonfiction essay. Students then read “At the Dam” (p. 143) and “A Wind from the North” (p. 145) as our last two sample essays, which we will use to talk about setting next class. Homework: complete Try This 7.7 from p. 245 in the Burroway text (Interview someone at least a generation older than you are about an event that took place before you were born; write the story and scene of your interview, rather than just giving me a back-and-forth dialogue, and let the event emerge through the conversation and your reflections on it).

Thursday, 10/24; Friday, 10/25

We tackled three warmups in Burroway’s ch. 7 before wrapping up our discussion of “The Knife” and going over the attributes of the nonfiction essay. Students began looking at a second professional example, “The Inheritance of Tools.” 

Tuesday, 10/22; Wednesday, 10/23

Poem #3 workshop wrapped up today. Students also read “The Knife” in the Burroway text, and we discussed it a little bit at the very end of class.

Friday, 10/18; Monday, 10/21

Today was a poetry workshop day. We finished workshopping Poem #2 and began Poem #3. We’ll finish those next time.

Wednesday, 10/16; Thursday, 10/17

Today was a typing day for Poems #2 and #3. These were due in your shared Google Drive by the end of class. Anyone who wasn’t finished with one or both poems, will need to bring their own copies — 10 of each poem not in on time — on Friday (gold day)/Monday (red day).

Friday, 10/11; Tuesday, 10/15

We returned to Shakepeare’s Sonnet XXVIII today, reviewing the various patterns of meter and rhyme we discovered last class. Students wrote their own sonnets using a pre-determined rhyme scheme, trying to match his pattern of syllables/lines/stanzas. Then we looked at a different model to talk more about line breaks. Students inserted their own line/stanza breaks in a copy of Sylvia Plath’s “Lady Lazarus,” and then we talked about why she made the choices she made and why students made the choices they made. We ended the class with some pre-writing and a review of the requirements of poems 2 & 3. Homework: we’re typing poems 2 & 3 on Wednesday (Gold)/Thursday (Red).

Thursday, 10/10 (Red day)

After checking homework and doing some pre-writing, we did an exercise with personification. We discussed the sounds of poetry and the difference between formal and free verse. Then we looked at an example of formal verse and examined the patterns and effect of the rhythm and rhyme scheme.

Wednesday, 10/9 (Gold day)

After checking homework and doing some pre-writing, we discussed the sounds of poetry and the difference between formal and free verse. Then we looked at an example of formal verse and examined the patterns and effect of the rhythm and rhyme scheme.

Tuesday, 10/8 (Red day)

We began work on Poem #2 today. Students did some new pre-writing, we talked about the Plath poem “Stillborn” and figurative language using the Burroway text. We also did an exercise with personification. Homework: complete a handwritten rough draft of poem #2 for Thursday.

Monday, 10/7 (Gold day)

We began work on Poem #2 today. Students did some new pre-writing, we talked about the Plath poem “Stillborn” and figurative language using the Burroway text. We also did an exercise with personification. Homework: complete a handwritten rough draft of poem #2 for Wednesday.

Friday, 10/4 (Red day)

I walked everyone through several revision activities to try and encourage substantial revision to Poem #1.

Thursday, 10/3 (Gold day)

The counseling staff gave a presentation on college stuff during the first half of class. Then during the second half, I walked everyone through several revision activities to try and encourage substantial revision to Poem #1.

Wednesday, 10/2 (Red day)

Today was regrettably our last day for Poem #1 workshop. The class again split in half to speed things up a bit. At the end of class, students started some of the revision work we’ll do together on Thursday.

Tuesday, 10/1 (Gold day)

Today was regrettably our last day for Poem #1 workshop. The class split in half to speed things up a bit. At the end of class, I previewed some of the revision work we’ll do together on Thursday.

Monday, 9/30 (Red day)

The counseling staff gave a presentation on college stuff during the first half of class. Then we held day three of workshopping Poem #1, this time in two large groups instead of the entire class. Once again, if you’ve had your poem workshopped, don’t wait until next week (or later!) to review the notes and start thinking about revisions — do it now.

Friday, 9/27 (Gold day)

I was at a training all day and therefore away from school. With the sub, students completed pre-writing exercises and read ch. 9 in the Burroway text.

Thursday, 9/26 (Red day)

Day two of workshopping Poem #1. If you’ve had your poem workshopped, don’t wait until next week (or later!) to review the notes and start thinking about revisions — do it now.

Wednesday, 9/25 (Gold day)

Day three of workshopping Poem #1. Once again, if you’ve had your poem workshopped, don’t wait until next week (or later!) to review the notes and start thinking about revisions — do it now.

Tuesday, 9/24 (Red day)

We workshopped students’ Poems #1 together as a class.

Monday, 9/23 (Gold day)

Day two of workshopping Poem #1. If you’ve had your poem workshopped, don’t wait until next week (or later!) to review the notes and start thinking about revisions — do it now.

Friday, 9/20 (Red day)

(Today was our first day back following the week-long flood break.)


Students typed Poem #1 in class, submitting it via Google Drive shared folders that I helped everyone set up during the start of class.

Thursday, 9/19 (Gold day)

(Today was our first day back following the week-long flood break.)


We workshopped students’ Poems #1 together as a class.

Wednesday, 9/11 (Gold day)

Students typed Poem #1 in class, submitting it via Google Drive shared folders that I helped everyone set up during the start of class.

Tuesday, 9/10 (Red day)

After reviewing the details for Poem #1 and discussing how workshop of these will work, students completed their last pre-writing for a while. We then talked about how to choose from the journal, making the intangible tangible, and how to start writing the poem. Students also prepared their folders and documents in Google Drive as I will be absent on Thursday, poem typing day. Homework: begin work on Poem #1, which you will type and turn in by the end of class on Wednesday.

Monday, 9/9 (Gold day)

After reviewing the details for Poem #1 and discussing how workshop of these will work, students completed their last pre-writing for a while. We then talked about how to choose from the journal, making the intangible tangible, and how to start writing the poem. Homework: begin work on Poem #1, which you will type and turn in by the end of class on Wednesday.

Thursday, 9/5; Friday, 9/6

I discussed the details of Poem #1 (B6, A1) with students today. This poem will be typed in class on Wednesday (B6)/Thursday (A1) next week. Then students did more pre-writing while I checked the homework due today. We discussed the Komunyakaa poem in the Burroway text as our last example of concrete details communicating abstractions, generalizations, and judgments. Students also started looking through their journals for possibilities for Poem #1. At the end of class, I shared instructions (B6, A1) for signing up for class announcements through Remind101.com. Homework: pick any one pre-writing exercise from the semester; spend 20-30 minutes extending it.

Wednesday, 9/4 (Red day)

Classes were shortened today due to our late-start schedule. We completed two pre-writing exercises in the Smith & Greenberg text today in preparation for the first poem next week. Then we revisited “Snow Day” in the Burroway text to talk some more about the connection between concrete images and abstractions/generalizations/judgments. We read and discussed the Ted Hughes poem “Hawk in the Rain” in the same way. Homework: from the “Caught Up in the News” exercise on p. 84 of Smith & Greenberg — “Look through several issues of newspapers and magazines and copy down leads and headlines that strike you as provocative, amusing, or absurd. Link them together [think mashup] in semi logical ways.

Tuesday, 9/3 (Gold day)

We completed three pre-writing exercises in the Smith & Greenberg text today in preparation for the first poem next week. Then we revisited “Snow Day” in the Burroway text to talk some more about the connection between concrete images and abstractions/generalizations/judgments. We read and discussed the Ted Hughes poem “Hawk in the Rain” in the same way, and we read the Yusef Komunyakaa poem “Facing It” in preparation for discussing it on Thursday. Homework: from the “Caught Up in the News” exercise on p. 84 of Smith & Greenberg — “Look through several issues of newspapers and magazines and copy down leads and headlines that strike you as provocative, amusing, or absurd. Link them together [think mashup] in semi logical ways.

Thursday, 8/29; Friday, 8/30

Students completed pre-writing from the Burroway text, and then read ch. 1 about imagery. We discussed this a little bit, focusing on using vivid details to help our readers understand abstractions, generalizations, and judgments, and then we began looking at three poems full of imagery in the second half of the chapter.

Tuesday, 8/27; Wednesday, 8/28

Students completed three more pre-writing exercises today; meanwhile, I checked the homework assigned last week and was pleasantly surprised that the vast majority in both classes had it done on time. In B6, we briefly discussed Burroway’s “Invitation to the Reader.” Both classes finished up with the last two of three poems on last week’s handout.

Monday, 8/26 (Red day)

Students spent five minutes of pre-writing time extending any part of the writing they did last class. Then they read the “Invitation to the Writer” section of the Burroway text, wrote down three takeaways, and completed Try this 0.2 and 0.3 as additional pre-writing. At the end of class, we returned to the three poems handout to finish talking about the Frost poem. Homework: don’t forget that the “Quilting” exercise assigned last Thursday is due this Wednesday.

Friday, 8/23 (Gold day)

I was away from school today. Students worked some more on the handout with three poems, paraphrasing and looking for examples of imagery, sounds of poetry, and figurative language. We will discuss this further on Tuesday. Then students read the “Invitation to the Writer” section of the Burroway text, wrote down three takeaways, and completed Try this 0.2 and 0.3 as pre-writing. They also returned to their pre-writing from Wednesday and spent another five minutes extending any part of it. Homework: don’t forget that the “Quilting” exercise assigned on Wednesday is due next Tuesday when I am back at school.

Wednesday, 8/21; Thursday, 8/22

Using the Smith and Greenberg text, I introduced students to the journalling (pre-writing) we will be doing all semester. Students read and shared out different pre-writing tools, and then spent some time writing. Afterwards, we started examining a set of three very different poems. Homework: please complete the “Quilting” exercise as described on p. 63 of the Smith & Greenberg text (students copied this down during class). In a nut, look through your closet, dresser, wherever you keep old clothes. Create a list of the clothes that have special meaning for you. Then, label the event(s) that each item on your list makes you remember as well as feelings each item evokes for you. Due Tuesday/Wednesday of next week.

Monday, 8/19; Tuesday, 8/20

After having yearbook photos taken, students helped me learn their names. We also reviewed the course norms and expectations for the year, and we wrapped up our discussion of the Collins poem from last Friday.

Friday, 8/16

For our first day of classes, students completed a writing sample and we began paraphrasing together the Billy Collins poem “Introduction to Poetry.” We also discussed the new school-wide policy on personal electronics.


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