Week of 10/2 (A4, B8)

This week we shifted from whole-class workshop to smaller groups. Essays that don’t get workshopped this week will likely not get workshopped at all before the portfolio is due in December.

Tuesday, 9/26 (A4); Wednesday, 9/27 (B8)

After missing a week of school for a death in my family, we returned to the Creative Nonfiction essays today to get those turned in during the first 15 minutes of class. Then we talked about some of the norms and expectations around workshop before beginning to workshop essays as an entire class. We got through about 1 1/2 essays today, and we’ll do another full-class workshop next time. After that, we’ll probably split into smaller groups to make better use of our time.

Friday, 9/15 (B8); Monday, 9/18 (A4)

In our last day before rough drafts are due, I shared some more information about my expectations for the creative nonfiction piece everyone is working on as well as some suggestions for how to better integrate imagery and setting into these essays. I talked through portions of two chapters in the Burroway text where students could read further. And, everyone was given ample work time in preparation for showing me a 75% complete draft at the start of next class. Homework: rough drafts!

Week beginning Monday, 9/11 (B8 & A4)

We started working on the nonfiction essays in earnest — narrowing down topics, completing outlines, and working on some other drafting activities to improve the use of imagery, setting, and dialogue in particular. We also set up Google Classroom for these first workshop drafts.

If you’re still having trouble coming up with ideas:

Once you’re ready to begin writing, join the Google Classroom class for your block, open the assignment, and begin typing.

To help students add lots of significant detail to their essays, we completed an outline/setting handout and visualized essays as comic strips and people as characters.

Week beginning Tuesday, 9/5 (B8 & A4)

We completed our final pre-writing exercises from the yellow book before students did some independent work examining the similarities and differences among the last three professional nonfiction models we read. We discussed those similarities and differences to develop a list of criteria nonfiction essays should have. We also began using the Burroway text for some new prompts as well as some instruction on the elements of these essays. Homework: complete one piece of pre-writing from ch. 7 of Burroway; spend about 20 minutes on it.

Wednesday, 8/30; Thursday, 8/31

We went back to some writing prompts for pre-writing before returning to the professional sample from last class, “My New Look.” We discussed the author, how he wanted to be perceived, and where we saw this in the text. We also discussed his purpose and some of the hallmarks of this type of writing. To wrap up, students read two new essays in a different style — we will be comparing the style of these three essays in a future class. Homework: try to spend some time soon extending one of the pre-writing exercises you’ve already completed in your journal.

Monday, 8/28; Tuesday, 8/29

We switched up the pre-writing activity today, this time returning to the identity charts students completed last week for some inspiration. Students identified a few anecdotes from their lives that could illustrate their identities with significant detail, dialogue, and setting. These may turn into part of the first workshop draft (or maybe not). While they were working, I checked the homework from last week. Students read a new professional sample at the end of class and spent some time thinking and writing about the author and his intended message so we could discuss this next class.

Beginning of year in Creative Writing

We began the semester with the very beginning of the writing process — pre-writing. Students set up journals that they will write in every day for the next several weeks. The idea is that they will develop a broad collection of rough writing from which they can pick and choose the best ideas to polish for in-class workshop. We also began practicing the skill of reading like a writer with a poem and a short personal essay. And we went over course norms.

Homework: complete the “Quilting” exercise from our pre-writing book. In short, dig through your clothes (especially older clothes), pick a few that evoke strong memories or emotions in you, list all of this information, and then begin writing about one or more pieces — particularly where there might be conflict between two or more.