This summer, students in READ 6313 Literacy Development and Language Study were asked to contribute a post to this blog.
By Jacquelyn Zambrano
Students in my fourth grade class were always reluctant in writing sentences; much less writing a story. In my first year of teaching writing and incorporating the writing process, students would zone out and not much meaningful learning was going on in my classroom. I quickly learned that the best way for students to grasp the writing process was to model it. I have found that my students enjoyed and were engaged in giving me ideas to create my story. Teaching the different types of writing was an exciting process for me. I particularly enjoyed teaching creative writing and would see the benefits it would give my students.
Since creative writing could be fictional, fantasy or pretend, my students enjoyed the pre-writing step. As a class, we would decide the setting of the story. I would usually begin with a fantasy story. They would get so excited to pick the premise of the character, place, and problem. Starting the rough draft step was always a teachable moment, from reminding them to indent to it’s ok to make mistakes and erase and/or draw a line through the deleted words. Students would have a hard time understanding that page was not their final draft. Getting their ideas to flow and make connections to form the story was sometimes a challenge. They would get ahead of the story and would not build up to the good points. I would have to slow them down and guide them in elaborating their ideas. At times, we would revise our work as we wrote by cutting ideas or adding extra information. Editing would occur if the students caught the grammatical error along the way or at the end of the story. Creating our final draft was always ceremonial. I would type it up and place in a sheet protector with a nice border. Other students would read it, and my students would have a sense of pride. In my school, I would team teach with another teacher. I had two classes that I would write a different story with. You would find them comparing their stories and deciding which one was better.
I would do this several times before they attempted to create their own story. One prompt I completely enjoyed using was “How did a zebra get its stripes?” Every year, it would amaze me the ideas my students would come up with. One student wrote that the zebras earn their stripes by being responsible. The main character was irresponsible and struggled with earning its stripes. Another student wrote that zebras were once all white. At school, the milk that was being served caused them to get stripes. Once the other zebras saw how beautiful they looked, they wanted some too. My students were very inventive with their ideas in creating a story. Even though it was fictional, they were problem solving within their story.
Creative writing has a special place in the exposure of what students learn in the classroom. Sadly enough, many teachers don’t have the luxury of teaching this to their students because of their other obligations to the standardized test. Narrative and expository writing are very important types of writing, but creative writing allows the student to explore their imagination. It is endless the stories they can write. I only wish that students are given the opportunity to write more in the classroom.