Here are five ways to encourage creative thinking in secondary ELA while also targeting essential reading and writing skills. Some of these activities are collaborative while others are for independent work. All of these activities can be integrated into the curriculum for any literary unit of study.
In screenwriting (writing for movies and TV), the logline is key to brainstorming story ideas and also selling them or "pitching" them to buyers. Crafting loglines can help the writer to flesh out new plot ideas before writing the entire script. It's much easier to revise the logline rather than an entire hundred page script!
Essay shaping sheets are essentially templates for writing that guide students through the writing process. A shaping sheet can be as small as a sentence template or as large as an entire paragraph or even essay. But are these tools helpful, or do they ultimately hinder student development? Well, the million-dollar answer to this question is… it depends.
Motivating struggling writers can be quite a challenge. With struggling writers, it is important to create high-interest assignments that students will want to work on, assignments that they will want to put forth the effort on in order to succeed. If struggling students are bored with a writing topic, they won’t be as invested in it and won’t want to put the time and effort in to make it the best it can be.
Writing is a process. It is recursive. No piece of writing is ever "final." Something can always be better. I often feel this way whenever I read back over my own old essays and inevitably find a sentence that could be better, a paragraph that could be stronger, or a word that could be more precise.
You may find yourself in agreement with Frost's famous quote when it comes to teaching poetry in the secondary classroom. However, love it or hate it, poetry can play a helpful role in teaching students how to write! Famous poems can serve as mentor texts for students and showcase key literary and rhetorical devices in action.
Book club is now considered to be one of the “best practices” in English Language Arts. Book clubs differ from traditional literary circles in that they are less teacher-directed. The students take on the responsibility of selecting their roles, making their assignments, keeping track of their reading, and much more.