How can we apply literary themes, five act plots, and types of conflict to upgrade students’ personal narratives?
Let’s write a persuasive essay about one holiday from the point of view of another holiday’s “mascot.” For example, what would the Easter Bunny think about Christmas, how would Santa feel about Valentine’s Day, and what would a Turkey have to say about St. Patrick’s Day?
This week, we’re tackling the comprehension skill “story structure” featured in the Houghton Mifflin reading program. It’s absolute nuts and bolts (identify setting, character, and plot) and is part of the reading program beginning in Kindergarten. A quick pre-assessment verifies that my sixth graders have a thorough understanding of this material.
Ask your students to write about their summer breaks, but remix their activities into a new genre or setting. Perhaps they vacationed at Hogwarts, Mordor, or Tatooine? Not interested in a writing assignment? Have them rewrite a Beatles song about their summer vacations.
Have your students write to a narrative theme established through imagery. Allow them to view some exciting photos, and then develop a well-structured story. Embed an enjoyable and meaningful writing process, and you just might have a fun monthly system established.
Teaching our students to prewrite, write, and rewrite is a difficult process. Much like getting students to show their work in math, process writing is a challenge for gifted students who work intuitively and are annoyed by artificial processes. What better motivation is there than the chance to point out someone else’s errors AND be rewarded for it?
Conflict is an essential tool for analyzing literature, understanding history, and improving as a writer. Each year, my 6th graders discuss the types of conflict commonly found in stories and analyze writing using the content imperatives.
Another example of “structure that increases creativity” is character archetypes. An archetype, according to Wikipedia, is “an original model of a person, ideal example, or a prototype upon which others are copied, patterned, or emulated.” Let’s use an inductive lesson to teach our students about these literary tools.
We’re continuing our journey through a writing unit focused on the patterns of great writing. This lesson, number three in the series, covers commonly used themes. Be amazed as your students begin developing stories around themes of redemption, coming of age, and the hero’s journey.
We’re continuing our unit about patterns in writing. This time, let’s examine the traditional five-act dramatic structure through the modern classic, Finding Nemo. Remember, we’re also framing the whole unit around the big idea that “structure increases creativity.”