"Teaching Creative Writing Effectively" addresses the challenges of teaching creative risk-taking, setting goals for creative, ideative aspects of writing, and valuing those aspects for feedback and assessment. It shows how to apply an immersive quality teaching framework to the challenging and seemingly abstract pedagogy of imaginative work.
Although teachers frequently report wanting to encourage creativity, in classroom practice it can be a challenge to encourage (and value) creative learning. Additionally, students will often add their own hurdles to creativity (preparing the page, frequent questions about spelling and so forth) – in practice, these function as blocks.
Encouraging risk-taking across all subject areas leads to more effective and faster learning, provides opportunities for gifted and talented students and offers new ways into learning for struggling students.
Creative writing can be used as a robust source of knowledge and enquiry in the classroom. Recognising writing as a creative practice allows its use across the syllabus and not simply as a corner of the English curriculum. Creative writing can be an effective way of boosting creative thinking across multiple subject areas, including empathetic thinking in the social sciences and thought experiments in the sciences.
The course offers a critique of the “Orientation, Complication, Resolution, Coda” narrative model and instead suggests concrete strategies for teaching children to establish settings, events, characters (as points-of-view) and structures; for understanding the interrelationships among these elements; and for rethinking of the relationship between text and audience/reader.
About the presenter
Dr Bernard Cohen is the author of five novels and a picture book. His awards include the Australian/Vogel Literary Award, Sydney Morning Herald Best Young Australian Novelist (three times) and UTS Alumnus of Distinction award.
Since founding The Writing Workshop in 2006, Bernard has worked with over 45,000 children across all NSW school sectors, and many dozens of teachers. As well as from his extensive experience, Bernard's practice as a “teaching artist” is informed by Eric Booth’s The Music Teaching Artist’s Bible: Becoming a Virtuoso Educator, Oxford UP, New York 2009 and “Teachers and Writers Collaborative”, a New York organisation placing authors in schools (twc.org).
Here is a recent Sydney Morning Herald article about Bernard's teaching.
A sample masterclass is available at DET’s Centre for Learning Innovation’s Writers Talks series here.
How the course addresses the endorsed standard descriptors
3.1.2 Set explicit, challenging and achievable learning goals for all students.
The course addresses creativity within a quality teaching framework: how creativity should be valued and modelled, how to provide feedback for creative tasks.
3.2.2 Plan and Implement well–structured learning and teaching programs or lesson sequences that engage students and promote learning.
Teachers will complete the course with a template for a sequence of 8-10 creative writing sessions. The sessions offer a novel approach to understanding the make-up of creative work, with inter-dependent elements of setting, event, character (point-of-view) and structure. As importantly, we address how to create more creative classrooms and learning environments.
3.3.2 Select and use relevant teaching strategies to develop knowledge, skills, problem solving and critical and creative thinking.
Teaching creative writing successfully means not only modelling the basics of writing and literacy, but modelling creativity and bringing in knowledges from across many subject areas – research can become open-ended and research-based learning can follow paths based on curiosity and branching rather than on focussing on a single sought-after answer.
3.7.2 Plan for appropriate and contextually relevant opportunities for parents/carers to be involved in their children’s learning.
The course will suggest substantive and meaningful ways to involve parents and carers.