One of my favorite ways to get students to the Synthesize level of Blooms, is to create “remixes” of an existing idea. Students take an existing story, tinker with it, and eventually end up with a whole new idea. This is an example of synthesis It encourages them to explore the stories behind existing_ _stories, helps them to understand how real writers work, and gives them a creative way to explore literature.
Expose Them To The Idea
I first introduce students to the concept that all artists are influenced by former artists. Even famous stories are often retold versions of earlier stories. For example:
- Lion King – a retelling of Hamlet (written 400 years earlier) which itself is a retelling of earlier stories.
- Star Wars – a western set in space, heavily influenced by the Akira Kurosawa film Hidden Fortress.
- True Story of the Three Little Pigs – a retelling of The Three Little Pigs, told from the wolf’s perspective
Depending on your students’ age, this is in itself could be an in-depth project – trace the _origin_s of a classic story.
Give A Starting Point
I often ask students to create a remix of the selection we just finished in our Houghton Mifflin reading books. However, begin with any story that your class is familiar with or ask students to pick their own favorite stories to rewrite.
Give Them Options
The task of rewriting a story is quite formidable, so I give students a menu to choose from. They must change at least three of the following:
- Change time
- Change place
- Change characters’ gender
- Change characters’ species
- Change beginning, middle or, end
- Change intended audience
- Change the universe (ie, move a story into the Star Wars universe or the Harry Potter universe)
- Change point of view
Consider Your Product
Although a simple, written story is certainly good enough, consider taking this project to the next level. Have students:
- Grab pictures from Flickr and build a narrated movie in iMovie.
- Mold props with Play-Doh, take pictures, and build a narrated movie.
- Create an illustrated book – order blank hardbacks from barebooks.com.
- Build a webpage, complete with pictures.