Creative Writing: Everything You Need to Know

This is a form of writing that is usually based on the history and personal experiences of a writer. In other words, creative writing refers to the artistic expression in words, where the author writes without the constraints that are integral to other forms of writing like expository or persuasive. Forms of creative writing include drama, fiction, and poetry.

Creative writing aims to evoke the reader’s emotion by communicating a theme. In the context of storytelling, including movies, literature, graphic novels, etc., the theme stands for the central meaning the work conveys. For instance, in Peter Benchley’s novel Jaws (on which the film by the same name is based), the story revolves around a shark that threatens a beach community and the men who try to kill it. However, the novel’s central themes include tradition vs. innovation, the desire of humans to control nature, and how prospective profit can push people to make dangerous, even lethal, decisions.

Creative writing isn’t solely defined by a central theme. Several other elements too can be noticed in such writing, such as:

  •         Building or attempting to build a connection with the reader’s emotions
  •         Setting the text around a narrative framework, which is either simple or complex, and helps in shaping how the reader interacts with the content
  •         Writing based on a particular point of view
  •         Using descriptive and/or imaginative language

Typically, creative writing uses literary tools like foreshadowing and metaphors to create a narrative and convey the theme, but this isn’t a mandatory requirement. Even dialogues aren’t compulsory, though most fictional works have them. It’s not essential for creative writing to be fictional. Dramatized presentations of memoirs, true stories, and observational humor pieces are all forms of creative writing. However, analytical essays, research papers, and personal and professional communications (such as official emails, social media posts, etc.) aren’t creative writing. Though such forms of writing convey specific messages, they often lack a central theme. Additionally, their primary goal is to inform, educate, and sometimes, collect information, not evoke emotion in readers.

To excel in creative writing, students should focus on the vital elements that will make their write-up great. These include:

  •         Creating a unique plot
  •         Proper character development to tell the story
  •         Focusing on an underlying message or theme
  •         Using visual and vivid descriptions
  •         Deciding on the point of view (first, second, or third person)
  •         Leveraging imaginative language with the use of anecdotes, metaphors, similes, etc.
  •         Evoking reader’s emotions

Collaborative Writing: Everything You Need to Know

This is a writing activity where students are allowed to write in a social context. Here, there are usually partner(s) and a lecturer guiding the students through the process. Collaborative writing draws on the energy and expertise of the group’s members, which often leads to an outcome that’s better than the sum of its parts.

There are various reasons why collaborative writing is a good exercise for students. For one, it helps them view writing as a public, communal act instead of an isolated, private one. Several students write their class assignments in a way that makes sense to them but isn’t persuasive or clear for others. Working in a group and getting feedback from peer reviewers will help them understand that their writing isn’t intended for themselves, but for their readers. This way, collaborative writing will help students develop a concrete sense of the audience and the reason behind why they’re writing what they’re writing.

Through collaborative writing, students get better clarity about the conventions of academic discourse. When working with their peers, students will learn where their readers falter and even find the reasons. Thus, via collaboration with peers, students realize that academic conventions aren’t mere arbitrary rules, but reflect the readers’ expectations. The conversations and discussions that usually happen in collaborative wiring pave the way to a better understanding of the writing conventions that the students may have either misunderstood or neglected.

Collaborative writing offer students practice in analyzing writing. Typically, it’s easier to notice where a classmate’s writing is going off track than it’s to locate flaws in their own prose. It’s also easier to critique the writing of peers than analyzing the published write-ups that teachers frequently give their students as models.

When they work in a group, students feel encouraged to talk about their writing, explain their points of view, and even defend their ideas, opinions, or writing strategies in peer review sessions. This helps them understand writing as a process better and even boosts their sense of mastery in it. According to an oft-quoted saying, the best way to learn anything is to teach it. When students direct their peers during collaborative writing sessions, they gain new insights and even understand how they can strengthen their own prose.

Collaborative writing draws upon the strengths of all members. While a student may be stronger in organizing and presenting the facts, another may excel in editing or critical thinking skills. When these students come together to work in groups, they learn from each other while completing their assigned tasks.

Author’s Chair: Everything You Need to Know

This chair is where students sit on – one after the other, while expressing their writings in words, in front of their peers. It is also referred to as the “chair of distinction.”

An Author’s Chair can solidify learning by letting students fully comprehend their original work. Any chair like a spare teacher’s chair, a student’s chair, or an oversized executive chair can be designated as the Author’s Chair. Each student takes a turn to sit on it, faces the audience that typically consists of their classmates, and reads their narrative aloud. Once the author finishes the narration, the peers in the audience will be asked to share their feedback, ideas for revision, or suggestions as part of their critiquing. 

The strategy of using an Author’s Chair has several advantages, which are as follows:

  •         It’s an effective formative assessment
  •         It enhances students’ comprehension of a text and apply what they have learned to their own writing
  •         It helps develop students’ perception of authorship
  •         It encourages peer editing and collaborative learning skills
  •         It emphasizes that students’ experiences and ideas are of value
  •         It inspires students to write more as they get a willing audience to listen to them and critique their creation
  •         It develops listening skills, along with critical thinking and reflection
  •         It enhances students’ overall writing and speaking skills

The first step to using an Author’s Chair is to select a special chair that stands out. In case there’s no spare teacher’s chair or big executive chair, a student’s chair can be labeled with a colorful sticker as the ‘Author’s Chair.’ The key is to make it inviting and exciting for students to look forward to sitting on it and sharing their writing with their peers.

The second step is where the teacher explains how they will use the Author’s chair to the students. This will be followed by a student who’s the first to sit on the chair and share his writing. Once the narration finishes, the teacher will invite listeners to raise their hands if they want to comment or suggest anything to the author of the text.

The teacher could let the author decide which classmates get to critique his writing. For instance, the author may get to call on three classmates, two of whom share positive feedback or comments, while another talks about something confusing or unlikeable in the text that has just been read.

20 Activities To Boost Pincer Grasp Skills

The pincer grasp is a critical skill for developing small muscles in the hands and fingers that are important for many everyday tasks such as writing, drawing, and picking up small objects. The pincer grasp involves the ability to pick up and hold small objects between the thumb and index finger. As a parent, it’s important to encourage and develop this skill in children. Here are 20 fun activities you can do to boost pincer grasp skills:

1. Play with chopsticks: Pick up small objects like cheerios, grapes, or beads using chopsticks. This will help children develop their pincer grasp skills while having fun.

2. Use tongs for picking up objects: Give children tongs and ask them to pick up small objects like cotton balls, pom-poms, or marbles. This will help them develop the muscles in their hands and fingers.

3. Play with playdough: Roll small balls of playdough with your fingers and then pinch them using your thumb and forefinger.

4. Play with tweezers: Use tweezers to pick up small objects like beads or buttons, or even tiny pieces of paper.

5. Practice with clothespins: Use clothespins to pick up small objects like pom-poms, cotton balls, or beads.

6. Play games with buttons: Play games like button sorting or button matching to help children develop their pincer grasp skills.

7. String beads: String beads onto a shoelace or piece of string. This activity will help children develop their hand-eye coordination and pincer grasp skills.

8. Finger painting: Use finger paints and have children practice making small dots and lines using their fingers.

9. Play with pegboards: Use a pegboard and small pegs to practice picking up and placing pegs in the board.

10. Make crafts with stickers: Have children peel off stickers and place them onto paper to develop their pincer grasp skills.

11. Play with small puzzles: Give children small puzzles with pieces that they can pick up and manipulate with their fingers.

12. Play with play food: Use small play food items like grapes or blueberries to help children practice their pincer grasp.

13. Make paper fans: Fold paper fans and have children practice holding the paper by the folds using their pincer grasp.

14. Use cookie cutters: Have children practice pressing cookie cutters onto playdough using their pincer grasp.

15. Cut and paste with scissors: Cut small shapes from paper and have children paste them onto a piece of paper.

16. Use pipettes: Use pipettes to transfer water from one container to another. This activity will help children develop their pincer grasp skills while also improving hand-eye coordination.

17. Make friendship bracelets: Use embroidery floss to make friendship bracelets, which require children to use their pincer grasp to manipulate the threads.

18. Play with fine motor toys: Use fine motor toys like lacing beads, nuts and bolts, or geometric shape puzzles to develop pincer grasp skills.

19. Play with coin banks: Have children drop coins into a coin bank to practice their pincer grasp.

20. Practice handwriting: Have children practice writing letters and numbers using a pencil or crayon to develop their pincer grasp.

Overall, these activities promote improved fine motor development and prepare children for a successful future. Consistent practice will improve pincer grasp, helping children become confident and capable individuals. So, let’s get started! 

20 Inspiring Narrative Writing Activities

Narrative writing is an exciting way for students to explore their creativity and express themselves. It allows them to tell stories, imagine new worlds, and communicate their thoughts and feelings. However, coming up with ideas for narrative writing can be challenging. Here are 20 inspiring narrative writing activities that can make the task easier and more enjoyable for students:

1. A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Show your students a compelling picture and ask them to imagine what happened before and after the picture was taken. Encourage them to write a story based on their thoughts and observations.

2. Create a Comic Strip

Comic strips are a fun and simple way to teach narrative writing. Take inspiration from popular comic books and encourage your students to create their own characters, plot, and dialogue.

3. Write a Diary Entry
Ask your students to write a diary entry, either from their own lives or from the point of view of a fictional character. They can reflect on their emotions, thoughts, and experiences.

4. Retell a Classic Story

Ask your students to reimagine and retell a classic story, such as Cinderella or Little Red Riding Hood, from a different perspective. This activity develops creative writing and critical thinking skills.

5. Write a Letter

Encourage your students to write a letter to a friend, family member, or even a fictional character. They can express their feelings, share their experiences, and explore various writing styles.

6. Current Event Story

Discuss a recent news story, and then ask your students to write their own story inspired by the events. This helps students to understand complex events while developing writing skills.

7. Interview a Character

Ask your students to interview the main character from a book they have read or a movie they have watched. It encourages students to interpret character development and explore their imaginative skills.

8. Write a Memoir

Students can write a memoir about their own life, reflecting on significant events from their childhood, adolescence, or adulthood. They can explore their emotions, memories, and reflect on their own experiences.

9. Write a Picture Book

A picture book allows students to write a story and create illustrations to engage young readers.

10. Write a Script

Encourage your students to write a script for a play, a movie, or a TV show. It helps students think about visual storytelling techniques and develop dialogues.

11. Write an Adventure Story

Adventure stories allow students to use their imagination to explore new worlds, characters, and conflicts.

12. Write a Book Review
Encourage your students to read and review books. This will engage them in reading and writing content that could improve their critical thinking skills and provide insight to their peers.

13. Write a News Article

Ask your students to write a news article about an event that has happened or one they have imagined. It will help them develop journalistic writing skills and keep them updated with current events.

14. Write a Short Story

Encourage students to write a short story, focusing on character development and narrative structure. It could be about anything – real life events, horror, romance, or any form of fiction.

15. Write a Poem

Ask students to write a poem, focusing on building creativity, using different literary techniques and word choices.

16. Describe a Scene

Encourage your students to describe a scene, such as a landscape or cityscape, using sensory details. It helps develop descriptive writing and evocative language.

17. Write a Recipe

Ask students to write a recipe for a dish they love, complete with the ingredients and cooking instructions. Writing a recipe requires careful instructions and step-by-step process, making it a great way to exercise their instructions writing.

18. Write an Autobiographical Essay

Ask your students about their goals, achievements, and interests, and then ask them to write an autobiographical essay. This helps them develop and structure their writing skills.

19. Write a Speech

Encourage your students to write a speech, addressing their peers, the school board, or a public audience. It helps them develop public speaking and persuasive writing skills.

20. Create a Narrative Board Game

Incorporate narrative writing in a fun way by creating a board game that involves developing stories from various prompts. It improves creative thinking and collaborative imagination.

In conclusion, these suggestions will be useful in creating an exceptional narrative writing experience for your students. Incorporating fun and creative aspects can be the motivation students need to improve their writing ability further.  

How to Avoid Plagiarism

Plagiarism is the act of taking the ideas or words of others without giving credit and presenting them as your own. It is a very serious offense and can lead to disciplinary action, if not legal action. There are a few things you can do to avoid plagiarism, and here are five.

1. Always be sure to cite your sources. This is the most important step to avoiding plagiarism. Always include your sources. Whether you are quoting a passage from a book or article, paraphrasing someone else’s words, or using information you found on the internet. If you do not provide a reference, your classmates, professors, and employers will be able to determine whether or not the information you are presenting is your own.

2. Be aware of the ethical implications of plagiarism. Plagiarism is unethical, and it can damage your reputation. If you are caught plagiarizing, you may face disciplinary action from your school, your employer, or the legal system.

3. Be aware of the difference between paraphrasing and plagiarizing. Paraphrasing is taking the ideas or words of others, but giving credit where credit is due. Plagiarizing, on the other hand, is taking the ideas or words of others, and presenting them as your own.

4. Do your research. When you are writing an essay, paper, or project, be sure to do your research. This means not only reading the articles or books you are citing, but also researching the topic yourself.

5. Be careful with your words. Use language that is clear, consistent, and free of errors. When you are paraphrasing or quoting someone, be sure to use their exact words, not your own. And when you are writing your own words, be sure to use proper grammar and syntax.

A Guide to Shared Writing (interactive writing)

Shared writing is a unique method whereby an adult and a child share a pencil and write together. While the adult inscribes most of the portions of text and uses inputs and ideas of the child, the child is allowed to write at the level they are able to write. It is an efficient approach for blossoming writers and those who struggle with writing. Thus, in shared writing, the adult serves as the scribe, questioner, summarizer of ideas, and one who takes quick decisions on correct spelling and punctuation.

Since the adult handles most of the writing, the text in shared writing is usually more complex than what the child would be able to accomplish alone. This technique also focuses on all aspects of writing, such as holding the pencil, pronouncing words for spelling, form letters, and space, among others. With shared writing, the child can focus more of his energy and time on the linguistic features and structure of the text as well as its consistency and coherence.

Shared writing can be practiced in time blocks of 15-20 minutes. Its goal is to facilitate true collaboration between the adult and child that maximizes the latter’s involvement. For instance, the adult could ask the child to offer suggestions or ideas within his skill set or relevant to his writing needs. This may include a direct question about punctuation or a synonym for a word that has been excessively used in the written text.

Shared writing offers several benefits for the child, some of which are as follows:

·         It incites his imagination and lets him become an active participant in writing.

·         Due to collaborating on ideas with the adult, the child will learn how to incorporate new vocabulary. Thus, he’ll develop a much richer vocabulary than his peers who don’t use shared writing.

·         The child will get a clear model of what’s expected of his writing in terms of grammar, content, spelling, and punctuation.

·         He’ll be able to practice oral storytelling without the additional stress of writing in a newer language.

As shared writing involves a collaborative approach and rich discussion, the child will develop an understanding of the intrinsic motivation, purposes, and techniques of writing. To benefit the most from this technique, shared writing activities should consider the child’s level of knowledge and the type of support needed to help expand his writing skills over time.