Fun and Games - Day Six Online

Part of today's class inspiration.

I spy with my little eye something beginning with... "s". Thinking? Got it?

Students! My students today played this as our roll call game. I'm a firm believer in active roll call. My students have to answer questions or play games as their response to check who has arrived on time. This does three important tasks to start the class off: helps me remember their names (I'm TERRIBLE with names, even though I remember the face and past events); helps students get to know each other; helps us all start to think creatively.

Thinking creatively is important for all of my classes, but particularly for my writers. Playing "I spy" might seem like a dumb thing for a bunch of 20-year-olds but they always humour me and got into it even more this time. Some of the spied objects could only be seen by the speaker, so the guessers had to think outside their own visible boxes on the screen.

After this, it was story writing practice all day. Usually, I introduce the element of writing we're covering and then give them exercises, but we've covered enough that they just need time and opportunity to do it. 

We started with sharing a story from our week. When other students listened, they had to note down questions, then ask these at the end. What did the storyteller miss? Students needed to consider how they had chosen to explain events, but more importantly, what did their audience pick up on and care about.

A time of editing was followed by a second reading and more listener notes. Students were critically thinking about how each other writes and how to advise or challenge each other.

With this practice, the students were grouped to write a story together. They were told this time to deeply consider the elements we've covered so far: plot, character, POV, tense, figurative language, genre and philosophy. They also had to incorporate three things: a blanket, a puzzle and fake money.

Something amazing when they came back to share their stories.

Nearly there!

We had fake money used in a childhood game playing market, to woo a best friend. A puzzle contained a map for a special birthday surprise during lockdown (yes, even my students are bringing it into their writing), and then...

A man lost his wallet, only to have it returned with extra money.

This was the perfect conclusion to the class, leading me so easily into rounding up with gives writing depth: our humanity. We love to read because it shows us or asks us to consider who we are and what it means to be human. When that scenario was introduced, every student picked up slightly, already curious about what they would do in that situation. Then, as they hard the events, they related it to themselves - "I wouldn't do that." "I'd buy something else." "I'd give it back." "I'd...". 

Thinking through their own perspective, they reacted to the fictional actions and then waited for the consequences. 

As Mark Twain wrote, "There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations."

None of the ideas my students suggested were completely original (although they were thoughtful and creative; I was very pleased). It was how they played with them and then engaged us and brought us into the stories that mattered.

Finished! A surprise from a close friend - hard to explain this in-joke.