Hi, everyone! I have something new that I am excited to debut on the blog today.
Often I get emailed questions about writing, teaching, editing, book recommendations, and general questions about the literary life, and I was thinking that other people might be interested in these questions, too! So I had an idea to start a new feature on the blog called "Q&A Friday" where I will answer one of these questions every week or so. I hope you find it to be helpful and inspiring!
If you have a question, please feel free to email it to me at dallaswoodburn <AT> gmail <DOT> com with "Q&A Friday" in the subject line. Also, if you have thoughts to add to my answers, I would LOVE if you would share your ideas in the comments section below! My aim for this blog is for it to be a positive resource and community-builder for readers, writers, teachers, and book-lovers of all ages!
Question: When teaching
a creative writing class, how do you manage the class time?
My answer: It depends on how long the class is, but I
like to mix things up every 20 minutes or so. Usually we do a short
"freewrite" prompt at the beginning to get kids in the "writing zone"
-- for example, at my Summer Writing Camp, I have a prompt written on the board when kids come in.
When everyone has arrived and has written for 5-10 minutes, I give time to share if anyone wants to read what they've
Then, we spend another 15-20 minutes or so going over the topic/lesson
of that day -- maybe it's a class discussion about favorite literary
characters and how we think the writer created such a memorable
character, or talking about ways to re-start the story's plot if
you're feeling stuck, or a compilation of descriptive-writing prompts to really delve into the setting. It's great to do class brainstorming where
you write down what students say on the board so you have a wonderful
list at the end full of ideas.
For the remainder of class, I
usually use one or two writing activities/prompts that relate to that
topic -- for example, dialogue activities or character-creating
activities, with time in between for students to share their writing
if they wish. A lot of the younger kids REALLY enjoy sharing and it is
a big motivation for them, so if you can it's great to build in that
Of course, during sharing it is important to only encourage positive comments and
positive feedback. As a teacher, you can set this environment by
asking, "What did you like about xxx's story/poem/etc?" and have the
class raise their hands to share compliments. It's a great way to
build each other up. And of course you the teacher should give them
compliments, too! It means a lot to them, believe me. They will be
looking up to you!