My absolute favourite creative writing stimulus is something that I tried about 4 years ago and worked so well that I have used it every year since.
We all know that trying to hook teenagers interest is one of the difficulties of teaching today’s youth (hark at me sounding like an old woman) and we are constantly attempting to find ways of pulling them in for long enough to create a decent piece of writing, or to spark their interest enough to want to do a good job. Four years ago I had created a scheme of work revolving around music videos. There was a lot of media coverage at the time about whether music videos should have age restrictions and the students were interested and opinionated on the subject. We wrote letters to the government, made our own music videos and wrote essays devoted to the subject. Students made massive progress because they were interested and involved.
So when it came to creative writing, I thought about how I could incorporate this idea. One of the massive songs at the time, was a song by Example. The video was shot in black and white and was in a live concert setting. There were hundreds of people in the video and it provided an opportunity for students to imagine how the same situation would feel from a number of different viewpoints
Example – Changed the Way You Kissed Me
So I tried it, and it worked really well. What amazed me was all the different viewpoints that students wrote from as well as there being a constant, positive discussion amongst students about how they could improve their work. They were enthused about writing and loved comparing who or what they were in the video.
A few months later, I went to an Example concert – I’d love to say this was all in the name of teaching the kids, but rather sadly, it was more a case of entertaining myself. I videoed the moment that the same song was played and several thousand people bounced. It wasn’t a brillliant video, but it gave some idea of the atmosphere in the crowd. Of course, I played this to the original year 9 class, who then wanted to re-write their originals and hey, who was I to stop them.
We ended up with pieces of writing like this, far better than anything they had done before. By no means perfect, but it allowed them to learn the skills of descriptive writing and encouraged them to think about how to imagine themselves in a situation.
Boom! The beat of the drum announces his arrival on stage. The screams slide effortlessly off my tongue, piercing my eardrums and those of the people around me. The sparkling lights beaming down on me, flashing every two seconds to reveal the figure on the stage.
Sweat mixed with the stench of body spray wafts through the crowd, filling the air with a heady mixture of aromas. I screw my face up, savouring the moment as my heart hammers faster than ever, creating a buzz which electrifies my body
Suddenly he launches into the crowd, everyone huddling forward to grab onto a national phenomenon, ripping him to pieces. He pulls himself back to the stage, just in time to shout the words to the chorus, sending the crowd into a trance, everyone throwing their hands into the air.
That year 9 class are now in year 13 and still remember those lessons. They like to confuse the younger students by occasionally popping their heads round my classroom door and signing this to me at full volume. I just thought I would share the idea. It worked for me and may work for others. And if nothing else, once a year I get to shout at my class:
“From the front to the back, now scream!”