Sunday, January 31, 2010
Creative Writing Idea: Shorten That Autobiography Assignment
When I started teaching, I had the notion that a great creative writing assignment would be the ever-popular "write your autobiography in an original way". Some students did a great job; others not so much. The point that I missed in this whole writing exercise is that it really had no point. I was not sure about how this assignment fit into the curricula and/ or my philosophy of teaching. Now, I firmly believe that I need to work with students to form a vision of who they are and who they hope to become. My entire four years with students has become a journey in five questions:
Who are you?
What are your thoughts and beliefs?
What are your dreams?
Where are you going?
How will you get there?
These questions reflective my philosophy that my teaching should be student-centered and should work to value the experiences that my students bring to the classroom. Also, these questions fit in nicely with our district curriculum, which requires a certain amount of career and/or prep and experiences with a variety of writing styles.
Now, as I become more cognizant of my goals and objectives in asking students about their autobiographies, I have decided that less is more. I don't really want them to labor over drafts of writing that start with their birth and end with them graduating high school. One way yo get them to pare down their writing is to narrow their focus. Here are two options of several that I've employed in my lesson planning:
The Six Word Memoir: As simple as it sounds. There are a series of books, an online site, and lots of youtube videos for use as samples.
Your Life Story on a Postcard. Allows for more writing than a Six Word Memoir, but not the pages and pages that a traditional autobiography assignment requires. Helps to narrow down thinking and adds an element of creativity with the choice of postcard.