Lesson Plans: Creative Writing and the Egg on my Board
I know people scoff at me when I tell them I teach Creative Writing. To be honest, a part of me probably scoffs at me, too. I’m always anxious to throw in, “Oh, but I teach other classes as well – English 9, and electives.” In some way, I think I redeem myself by showing that I’m a “real” teacher. That, my friends, is a load of crap. I shouldn’t have to defend my craft. Creative Writing is as important of a class as any of the others my students take. In what other class does a student get to create (which is the highest level on Bloom’s Taxonomy, thank you very much), and interact with others, and mold each lesson into something that directly inspires them? Not math, I’ll tell you that much.
This week, I wanted my girls (this class is all girls, and it lends credence to the idea of single-sex classrooms; it’s the best class ever) to add more description to their writing. I wasn’t sure how to pull that off. I had tried all the “oldie but goodie” lessons – the explaining a recipe, the describing a dream, the horrific misuse of a thesaurus – but they hadn’t really improved anything in their writing. And then, one day, I talked to a fellow Creative Writing teacher in the district, and she told me about a lesson using a raw egg. At some point, she cracked the egg on the floor, and the students wrote about what the egg looked like.
It was a great idea, but, of course, I had to put my own spin on things. I brought an egg into my class, and we passed it around, writing about what the outer surface looked like. We brainstormed good words, and I guess it was fine, but it was kind of boring. You could see the girls’ eyelids drooping like slightly-less-hairy basset hounds. And then the egg was handed back to me. I walked about halfway back to the middle of the classroom, talking about word choice, and then I suddenly hurled the raw egg toward my white board at the front of the room.
The egg smashed against the board, and pieces of shell went flying everywhere. Yolk dripped down the board, and the clear egg white pooled in the marker tray. The girls let out a shriek, and the ones in the front row physically hopped back. After a few minutes of excited discussion, we started talking about how to write about the egg. How did it change? How could we compare description A and description B? And then, I drove my point home: you can’t really describe anything without thinking about all the parts of it, all of the forms of it. You have to explore and really experience the item.
The rest of the week continued the same way. We played in the rain and wrote about it. We read homemade children’s books to little kids and evaluated their reactions. We simply lived life – and then we wrote about it.
As skeptics, it’s important to impart to students that we should experience before we believe. We need evidence of everything — solid evidence, not just feelings. So if we write about something, we should first experience it as much as possible. I love sneakily teaching my students the skills that they will someday need to see the world honestly.
In the comments, feel free to share creative writing lesson plans about your own ways of slyly sliding skepticism into your lesson plans!