English teachers have the tough job of helping students grow their comprehension, grammar, argumentation, and persuasive writing skills. While literary analysis, research papers, and basic essays are important in that journey, creative writing projects can sometimes give students a nice break from the more mundane aspects of writing.
But coming up with creative writing projects requires, well, creativity. If you need help to think of ways to introduce this form to your students, we've provided some starting points below.
Why Choose Creative Writing?
High school creative writing projects can be beneficial in many ways. These projects have much more flexibility than other forms of writing, letting students explore things like structure and prose. It can also be an excellent reason to study other creative writing and be exposed to new styles, taking students out of their comfort zone.
These projects can be more long-term and require students to plan accordingly, allowing them to learn time management and planning skills. Meanwhile, the effort required will help them learn class material in a way that feels more applicable to their life.
But what is creative writing in high school? It can come in many forms - these are just some of them to get your students started.
1. Create a Website, Blog, or Podcast
Students may feel writing, or books need to be more exciting or applied in the internet age. If your student needs help to connect, a great path is to help them connect the art of writing with technology.
Students will create a website, blog, or podcast during these projects. The media can be based on an area of interest in their lives, a historical or cultural topic of their choice, or a theme related to a book or set of books they’re reading in class. You can set parameters within this, so long as they have freedom about what they write within the project.
Through this project, students will learn to synthesize and communicate information, write their copy, and exercise creativity and individuality. They will be able to take ownership of the information they choose to share on their website, blog, or podcast and take pride in what they are sharing.
Depending on the type of project they choose, they may also learn the technical skills required to create these mediums. Of course, as the educator, you can choose a medium you are confident can help students develop or even find a way to partner with another educator. These skills may follow them later in life or lead to a long-term project!
2. Give a Speech or Presentation as a Book Character
When you're focused on a particular work of fiction in class, asking students to embody the characters can be a great way to engage with the text and exercise their creativity. This can be done with a book the whole class reads, or you can allow students to choose their text and characters.
Crafting a speech or presentation from a character's perspective requires students to understand the story itself and deeply think about the character they choose--their personality, wardrobe, speech patterns, interests, etc. Not only will this help with understanding the text, but it's also a great exercise in empathy and walking in someone else's shoes.
Creative writing comes in once students have developed this understanding when they need to craft the speech or presentation. There can be a lot of freedom in what they write, and you may or may not require them to present in front of the class. If they do, it's also a great way to practice public speaking!
3. Turn a Book Chapter into a Short Film
Often, students better understand a book when they see it acted out as a play or film. To add another layer of understanding, you can ask the students themselves to convert the text into a short film. This is a great group project, though it can be done individually. You could allow students to turn material into a talk show or reality show to add more creative elements and variety to the project.
Like the character exercises, this will require students to understand the text they’re reading more deeply than if they were just discussing the material, taking a test, or writing a standard essay. Students will have to register scripts for their short film or talk show and create a concept for their reality show, which will help them learn more about writing in a different format.
Then, students can choose which role they want to play in the project, if they wish to spend time behind the camera writing, producing, directing, or filming, or if they want to act in the film. Once completed, their project will also be a teaching tool for their classmates!
Creative writing in high schools can be more than simply coming up with project ideas for a book or asking students to write a simple story. Ideas like these three help students synthesize information, work collaboratively, and ultimately learn to think outside the box.
When your students begin creative writing, you're likely to be surprised and delighted by the things they come up with that you couldn't have imagined!