INSET session on creativity and creative writing

Really enjoyed leading an INSET session yesterday for an English department in a comprehensive school in Gloucester. The subject was creativity and creative writing: how to inspire students to write, and how it can benefit other areas of the curriculum including reading literature, especially poetry. The session included a writing workshop.

I demonstrated how the techniques of writing worskhops can be used by English teachers in the classroom. Although the emphasis was on poetry, the same techniques can be used to improve all kinds of writing, including non-fiction.  I demonstrated ways into teaching poetry to tap into the creativity of students, so that they see themselves as writers and are confident about discussing poetry ‘from the inside’.I also discussed, in response to questions, how to motivate ‘low ability’ Year 10 boys to write. The key is to make it fun – if students enjoy writing, if it is important to them, then their work can improve beyond recognition.

I was reading something that Michael Rosen said, recently, about only asking questions in class that you don’t know the answers to. I realised that that is exactly how I’ve been teaching. Even in asking focused questions about a particular poem, for instance, it’s possible to do this, eg by asking, ‘What do you think is the…?’ rather than ‘What is the…?’ Like other English teachers I had to teach a particular AQA anthology year after year (before the new specifications were introduced); although I would have welcomed a change, in practice I never got bored with the poetry because every class, without exception, surprised me by coming up with something I hadn’t anticipated when discussing particular poems.

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