Don't Forget to Write for the Secondary Grades50 Enthralling and Effective Writing Lessons (Ages 11 and Up)
Fantastic strategies for getting high school students excited about writing This book offers 50 creative writing lesson plans from the imaginative and highly acclaimed 826 National writing labs. Created as a resource to reach all students (even those most resistant to creative writing), the off-beat and attention-grabbing lessons include such gems as "Literary Facebooks," where students create a mock Facebook profile based on their favorite literary character, as well as highly practical lessons like the "College Application Essay Boot Camp." These writing lessons are written by experts—and favorite novelists, actors, and other entertainers pitched in too. Road-tested lessons from a stellar national writing lab Inventive and unique lessons that will appeal to even the most difficult-to-reach students Includes a chart linking lessons to the Common Core State Standards 826 National is an organization committed to supporting teachers, publishing student work, and offering services for English language learners.
FOREWORD XV ACKNOWLEDGMENTS XVII THE AUTHORS XIX THE CONTRIBUTORS XXIII LESSON PLANS 1 DETAILS (GOLDEN), CHARACTER (IMMORTAL), AND SETTING (RURAL INDIA) 1 by Dave Eggers In this three-part lesson, students learn to draw details from real life to create unforgettable characters and compelling stories. 2 LITERARY FACEBOOKS 7 by Kathryn Riddle Curious what Elizabeth Bennet’s, Harry Potter’s, Bella Swan’s, or Percy Jackson’s Facebook profile would look like? In this workshop, students create a mock Facebook profi le based on their favorite literary character. 3 SUBURBAN EPICS 10 by Tom Perrotta The author of Little Children and Election shares his tips for finding inspiration in your own neighborhood. 4 BUSTED 12 by William JOHN Bert Writing about the time you didn’t get away with it. 5 HOW TO WRITE SCIENCE FICTION 15 by Cory Doctorow The Nebula Award–nominated author shares his tips for crafting fascinating science fiction. 6 WRITING FROM EXPERIENCE 18 by Stephen Elliott Students learn to transform their own life events into compelling fiction from an author who’s mastered the art. 7 TOO MUCH MONEY! AN ETHICAL WRITING EXPERIENCE IN 10 EASY STEPS 20 by LouAnne Johnson This lesson introduces students to the benefi ts of journaling, using an ethical conundrum to keep them invested and involved. 8 THE TALK SHOW CIRCUIT 23 by Ellie Kemper The Office actor shows how to use the talk show format to practice the elements of good storytelling. 9 THE FIRST DRAF T IS MY ENEMY: REVISIONS 26 by Sarah Vowell You spend hours grading papers. You give great feedback. You offer tons of suggestions to improve the piece—and then you never see it again. A favorite essayist shows you how to put all that work to good use. 10 SEE YOU AGAIN YESTERDAY: PLAYING WITH T IME 29 by Audrey Niffenegger The author of The Time Traveler’s Wife shares her tips for working with tricky time lines. 11 LOOK SMART FAST: COLLEGE APPLICATION ESSAY BOOT CAMP 35 by Risa Nye A college admissions reader outlines the dos and don’ts of great application essays. 12 WRITING ABOUT PAINFUL THINGS 39 by Phoebe Gloeckner The author of Diary of a Teenage Girl: An Account in Words and Pictures walks students through the diffi cult but redemptive process of writing about pain. 13 MUTANT SHAKESPEARE 42 by Kyle Booten Reading Shakespeare is hard. Lucky for us, we won’t be reading Shakespeare. We will take him apart and put him back together the wrong way. We will lose some of his pieces. This class assumes that one good way to understand something is to see how it could be different. 14 HOW TO WRITE A ONE-PERSON SHOW ABOUT A HISTORICAL FIGURE 45 by Kristen Schaal The Daily Show correspondent and actor shows us how to research and write a great play about a real person. 15 WRITING FOR GAMERS 47 by Tom Bissell The author of Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter leads a lesson on narrativity and video games. 16 HUMOR WRITING: AN EXERCISE IN ALCHEMY 49 by Dan Kennedy This is the lesson plan to engage the bored, disinterested students rolling their eyes in the back row. A humor author shares writing prompts that are pretty much guaranteed to provoke great material. 17 ON PINING: WRITE A VERSE TO MAKE THEM STAY 54 by Thao Nguyen An indie musician leads a workshop on writing the words that make those you miss come back. 18 ADDING INSULT TO POETRY 56 by Nicholas Decoulos Anyone can say, “Same to you, buddy!” In this class students learn why it’s not wise to cross a poet. 19 BAD WRITING 58 by Neal Pollack This inventive lesson by a noted writer and satirist shows you how to do it right by trying to do it wrong. 20 WHERE STORIES COME FROM 61 by Julie Orringer The thought of writing a short story from scratch can be so daunting. An author shares her secret: don’t start from scratch. Find inspiration in art, news, and real-life events. 21 WORD KARAOKE 63 by Matthue Roth In this highly engaging lesson, a slam poet and author invites students to do “cover” versions of other writers’ work—like hip-hop sampling—to create fresh new poems. 22 TALL TALES AND SHORT STORIES 66 by Steve Almond The assignment to write fi ction can feel like an overwhelming mandate. This exercise turns that mandate into play. Students are asked to tell the best lie they can. Suddenly, it’s a short story. 23 WELCOME TO THE FUNHOUSE: WRITING FUNNY SCENES 68 by Mark O’Donnell The Tony-winning author of Hairspray shares 12 weeks of funny scenewriting ideas. 24 VOICEMAILS FROM MY FUTURE SELF 74 by Mark Sipowicz In this workshop students creatively expand and explore their sense of who they are by thinking about their futures. The workshop culminates with an audio-recorded “voicemail” from each student’s future self. 25 HOW SHORT IS SHORT? 77 by Vendela Vida This is storytelling distilled down to its purest essence. An author shows students how to write a story in 20 minutes or less. 26 COMIC COMPOSITION CHALLENGE! 79 by Steven Weissman and Jordan Crane Two professional cartoonists challenge students in a fast-paced, highly entertaining comic-strip-writing game. 27 MY BORING LIFE 82 by Micah Pilkington Everyone thinks his or her life is boring. Th is class proves that it’s actually full of great stories. 28 COLONEL MUSTARD IN THE LIBRARY WITH A CANDLESTICK: HOW TO WRITE A MYSTERY 84 by Julianne Balmain Mystery writing solved! A mystery author shares her secrets. 29 CREATING CHARACTERS 88 by Jonathan Ames A novelist shares his techniques for creating memorable, well-rounded characters and off ers exercises to help students hone their skills. 30 HIGH SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL: HOW TO WRITE A YOUNGADULT NOVEL 90 by Matthue Roth A young-adult author helps students write modern comedies of manners. 31 GET YOUR HAIKU ON 93 by Daphne Gottlieb This very modern take on the ancient classic invites students to borrow from hip-hop and pop culture to create one-of-a-kind haiku. 32 THE ESSAY 95 by Meghan Daum Essays don’t have to be boring. They can be as exciting as fiction, as moving as poetry. Here, an acclaimed essayist shares her essay-writing tips. 33 THE STORY OF ME: WRITING ABOUT YOUR LIFE AND YOUR FAMILY 99 by Jason Roberts You don’t have to be old or famous to write your life story. Th is class invites you to trace how your family and experiences have shaped who you are today. 34 MEET YOUR PROTAGONIST! 101 by Ryan Harty An author teaches students to create well-rounded characters that readers really care about. 35 ALL WITNESSES EVENTUALLY DIE: EMBARRASSING STORIES 104 by Erika Lopez In comic panel form, an author and graphic novelist shares her tips for turning your mortifying experiences into good reading. 36 WICKED STYLE AND HOW TO GET IT 106 by Micah Pilkington Students always tell us they want to develop a unique voice, a literary style all their own. This class helps them find it. 37 PRESIDENT TAKES MARTIAN BRIDE: WRITING TABLOID FICTION 108 by Alvin Orloff Tabloids might not be high literature, but they’re awfully fun to read—and even more fun to write. In this off beat lesson, an author encourages wild storytelling and out-there stories that, we promise, will be really, really fun to grade. 38 LYING FOR FUN AND PROFIT 111 by Emily Katz Good lies are a lot like good literature. This class helps students turn falsehoods into fiction. 39 THIS CLASS SUCKS 114 by Kazz Regelman and Andrew Strickman Students learn the basics of criticism by reviewing everything from CDs to cookies. 40 SCREENWRITING 117 by Noah Hawley A professional screenwriter shares his secrets, and invites the class to go Hollywood by practicing their story-pitching skills. 41 HOW TO WRITE A GHOST STORY 120 by Lisa Brown and Adele Griffin Two professional ghost story writers share their scariest tips. 42 826 UNPLUGGED: SONGWRITING 125 by Chris Perdue The whole class collaborates to pen a guaranteed hit. No musical experience necessary. 43 SPORTSWRITING: THE LIFE 127 by Sam Silverstein and Jason Turbow Two professional sportswriters share their expertise. 44 HOW TO WRITE A FAN LETTER WITHOUT GETTING A RESTRAINING ORDER 129 by Lisa Lutz A young-adult author and self-confessed superfan shares her letterwriting tips. 45 EXQUISITE STORY LINES 133 by Jeremy Wilson and Kait Steele This lesson adapts the Exquisite Corpse poetry technique for short fiction. 46 SOUL PROWLERS: THE ART OF WRITING NEWSPAPER PROFILES 135 by Rona Marech Ordinary-seeming people can have extraordinary, heroic stories—it just takes curiosity and the will to excavate them. In this class, students learn how to identify good subjects, conduct interviews, fi nd inspiration in the details of a life, and write compelling stories about both regular and famous people. 47 HOMESTYLE: WRITING ABOUT THE PLACE WHERE YOU LIVE 138 by Tom Molanphy This lesson teaches students to see home in a fresh way, to walk through doors and open windows they never noticed, and to fi nd the stories that home holds. 48 AGITATE! PROPAGANDIZE! 141 by Julius Diaz Panoriñgan Sometimes a clear, convincing argument isn’t enough. You need to stir things up just a bit so that people pay attention and you can get your message across, whatever that is. In this workshop, students craft propaganda—speeches, pamphlets, and posters—all of it hard-hitting. 49 TASTY MEDICINE FOR WRITER’S BLOCK: MINDFUL WRITING EXERCISES 144 by Brad Wolfe and Rebecca Stern From the editors of Essays for a New Generation, an anthology of essays for young readers, come these techniques for writing mindfully. 50 HIGH SCHOOL INK: GETTING PUBLISHED 147 by Lara Zielin An author of young - adult fiction shares her tips on getting your work out there. APPENDIX EVALUATION RUBRICS 154 SELF-ASSESSMENT CHECKLISTS 156 COMMON CORE CURRICULUM STANDARDS 160 826 CENTERS AND STAFF 209
826 National (San Francisco, CA) is a nonprofit tutoring, writing, and publishing organization founded in 2002 by author Dave Eggers and educator Nínive Calegari. 826 assists students ages 5 to 18 with their writing skills, and helps teachers get students excited about writing. With centers in S.F., Ann Arbor, NYC, Chicago, L.A., Seattle, Boston, and DC, 826 provides free drop-in tutoring, class field trips, writing workshops, and in-schools programs.
Getting your students excited about writing begins with offering projects that are interesting, relevant, and challenging. Don't Forget to Write for the Secondary Grades offers 50 creative writing lesson plans for mature young writers developed by the imaginative and highly acclaimed 826 National writing centers. These lessons cover a myriad of skills (developing characters and voice), interests (novel-writing, songwriting, screenwriting), and even interest levels. (Don't believe us? try out "This Class Sucks" or "My Boring Life" for those especially hard-to-reach writers.) Each unique lesson is written by educators, 826 volunteers, celebrated authors, actors, and writers. Don't Forget to Write for the Secondary Grades contains: A treasure trove of proven, field-tested lessons Lessons that are adaptable for all grade levels Tips to keep supplies and prep to a minimum Evaluation rubrics to guide grading Maps to the Common Core Standards The book's activities are based on proven pedagogy that can help students develop the skills to organize their ideas, craft their arguments, revise their work, state their points of view, peer-edit a friend's work, and generally learn an awful lot about the hard work and craft of writing. 826 National is a nonprofit tutoring, writing, and publishing organization with locations in eight cities across the country. Our goal is to assist students ages 6 to 18 with their writing skills, and to help teachers get their classes excited about writing. Our work is based on the understanding that great leaps in learning can happen with one-on-one attention, and that strong writing skills are fundamental to future success. Jennifer Traig is the author of the memoirs Devil in the Details and Well Enough Alone, and the editor of The Autobiographer's Handbook. Praise for Don't Forget to Write "There is a revolutionary movement afoot. We strike soon. Our goal is to take over the world and make it much more interesting. These are the plans right here. Take them and spread the word." —Lemony Snicket, author of A Series Of Unfortunate Events and other dreadful books "We cannot click our fingers for inspiration but turning to Don't Forget To Write might be the next best thing. These simple lesson plans are fun, clever, and relevant to our students. This is a valuable resource in encouraging young people to explore the creative writing process. The book is an essential part of my teaching." —Koye Oyedeji, creative writing instructor, Duke Ellington School of the Arts, Washington D.C. "I'm excited to see yet another unconventionally brilliant development from 826 on the craft of teaching creative writing. 826 has proved, over and over, that a sense of humor and the ability to laugh while writing will produce astonishing results." —Judd Apatow, film producer, screenwriter, and director
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