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Don't Forget to Write for the Secondary Grades: 50 Enthralling and Effective Writing Lessons (Ages 11 and Up)

826 National, Jennifer Traig (Editor), Dave Eggers (Foreword by)
ISBN: 978-1-118-02432-4
240 pages
October 2011, Jossey-Bass
Don
Fantastic strategies for getting high school students excited about writing

This book offers 50 creative writing lesson plans from the imaginative and highly acclaimed 826 National writing labs. Created as a resource to reach all students (even those most resistant to creative writing), the off-beat and attention-grabbing lessons include such gems as "Literary Facebooks," where students create a mock Facebook profile based on their favorite literary character, as well as highly practical lessons like the "College Application Essay Boot Camp." These writing lessons are written by experts—and favorite novelists, actors, and other entertainers pitched in too.

  • Road-tested lessons from a stellar national writing lab
  • Inventive and unique lessons that will appeal to even the most difficult-to-reach students
  • Includes a chart linking lessons to the Common Core State Standards

826 National is an organization committed to supporting teachers, publishing student work, and offering services for English language learners.

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FOREWORD XV

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS XVII

THE AUTHORS XIX

THE CONTRIBUTORS XXIII

LESSON PLANS

1 DETAILS (GOLDEN), CHARACTER (IMMORTAL), AND SETTING (RURAL INDIA)  1
by Dave Eggers

In this three-part lesson, students learn to draw details from real life to create unforgettable characters and compelling stories.

2 LITERARY FACEBOOKS  7
by Kathryn Riddle

Curious what Elizabeth Bennet’s, Harry Potter’s, Bella Swan’s, or Percy Jackson’s Facebook profile would look like? In this workshop, students create a mock Facebook profi le based on their favorite literary character.

3 SUBURBAN EPICS  10
by Tom Perrotta

The author of Little Children and Election shares his tips for finding inspiration in your own neighborhood.

4 BUSTED  12
by William JOHN Bert

Writing about the time you didn’t get away with it.

5 HOW TO WRITE SCIENCE FICTION  15
by Cory Doctorow

The Nebula Award–nominated author shares his tips for crafting fascinating science fiction.

6 WRITING FROM EXPERIENCE  18
by Stephen Elliott

Students learn to transform their own life events into compelling fiction from an author who’s mastered the art.

7 TOO MUCH MONEY! AN ETHICAL WRITING EXPERIENCE IN 10 EASY STEPS  20
by LouAnne Johnson

This lesson introduces students to the benefi ts of journaling, using an ethical conundrum to keep them invested and involved.

8 THE TALK SHOW CIRCUIT  23
by Ellie Kemper

The Office actor shows how to use the talk show format to practice the elements of good storytelling.

9 THE FIRST DRAF T IS MY ENEMY: REVISIONS 26
by Sarah Vowell

You spend hours grading papers. You give great feedback. You offer tons of suggestions to improve the piece—and then you never see it again. A favorite essayist shows you how to put all that work to good use.

10 SEE YOU AGAIN YESTERDAY: PLAYING WITH T IME  29
by Audrey Niffenegger

The author of The Time Traveler’s Wife shares her tips for working with tricky time lines.

11 LOOK SMART FAST: COLLEGE APPLICATION ESSAY BOOT CAMP  35
by Risa Nye

A college admissions reader outlines the dos and don’ts of great application essays.

12 WRITING ABOUT PAINFUL THINGS  39
by Phoebe Gloeckner

The author of Diary of a Teenage Girl: An Account in Words and Pictures walks students through the diffi cult but redemptive process of writing about pain.

13 MUTANT SHAKESPEARE  42
by Kyle Booten

Reading Shakespeare is hard. Lucky for us, we won’t be reading Shakespeare. We will take him apart and put him back together the wrong way. We will lose some of his pieces. This class assumes that one good way to understand something is to see how it could be different.

14 HOW TO WRITE A ONE-PERSON SHOW ABOUT A HISTORICAL FIGURE  45
by Kristen Schaal

The Daily Show correspondent and actor shows us how to research and write a great play about a real person.

15 WRITING FOR GAMERS  47
by Tom Bissell

The author of Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter leads a lesson on narrativity and video games.

16 HUMOR WRITING: AN EXERCISE IN ALCHEMY  49
by Dan Kennedy

This is the lesson plan to engage the bored, disinterested students rolling their eyes in the back row. A humor author shares writing prompts that are pretty much guaranteed to provoke great material.

17 ON PINING: WRITE A VERSE TO MAKE THEM STAY  54
by Thao Nguyen

An indie musician leads a workshop on writing the words that make those you miss come back.

18 ADDING INSULT TO POETRY  56
by Nicholas Decoulos

Anyone can say, “Same to you, buddy!” In this class students learn why it’s not wise to cross a poet.

19 BAD WRITING  58
by Neal Pollack

This inventive lesson by a noted writer and satirist shows you how to do it right by trying to do it wrong.

20 WHERE STORIES COME FROM  61
by Julie Orringer

The thought of writing a short story from scratch can be so daunting. An author shares her secret: don’t start from scratch. Find inspiration in art, news, and real-life events.

21 WORD KARAOKE  63
by Matthue Roth

In this highly engaging lesson, a slam poet and author invites students to do “cover” versions of other writers’ work—like hip-hop sampling—to create fresh new poems.

22 TALL TALES AND SHORT STORIES  66
by Steve Almond

The assignment to write fi ction can feel like an overwhelming mandate. This exercise turns that mandate into play. Students are asked to tell the best lie they can. Suddenly, it’s a short story.

23 WELCOME TO THE FUNHOUSE: WRITING FUNNY SCENES  68
by Mark O’Donnell

The Tony-winning author of Hairspray shares 12 weeks of funny scenewriting ideas.

24 VOICEMAILS FROM MY FUTURE SELF  74
by Mark Sipowicz

In this workshop students creatively expand and explore their sense of who they are by thinking about their futures. The workshop culminates with an audio-recorded “voicemail” from each student’s future self.

25 HOW SHORT IS SHORT?  77
by Vendela Vida

This is storytelling distilled down to its purest essence. An author shows students how to write a story in 20 minutes or less.

26 COMIC COMPOSITION CHALLENGE!  79
by Steven Weissman and Jordan Crane

Two professional cartoonists challenge students in a fast-paced, highly entertaining comic-strip-writing game.

27 MY BORING LIFE  82
by Micah Pilkington

Everyone thinks his or her life is boring. Th is class proves that it’s actually full of great stories.

28 COLONEL MUSTARD IN THE LIBRARY WITH A CANDLESTICK: HOW TO WRITE A MYSTERY  84
by Julianne Balmain

Mystery writing solved! A mystery author shares her secrets.

29 CREATING CHARACTERS  88
by Jonathan Ames

A novelist shares his techniques for creating memorable, well-rounded characters and off ers exercises to help students hone their skills.

30 HIGH SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL: HOW TO WRITE A YOUNGADULT NOVEL  90
by Matthue Roth

A young-adult author helps students write modern comedies of manners.

31 GET YOUR HAIKU ON  93
by Daphne Gottlieb

This very modern take on the ancient classic invites students to borrow from hip-hop and pop culture to create one-of-a-kind haiku.

32 THE ESSAY  95
by Meghan Daum

Essays don’t have to be boring. They can be as exciting as fiction, as moving as poetry. Here, an acclaimed essayist shares her essay-writing tips.

33 THE STORY OF ME: WRITING ABOUT YOUR LIFE AND YOUR FAMILY  99
by Jason Roberts

You don’t have to be old or famous to write your life story. Th is class invites you to trace how your family and experiences have shaped who you are today.

34 MEET YOUR PROTAGONIST!  101
by Ryan Harty

An author teaches students to create well-rounded characters that readers really care about.

35 ALL WITNESSES EVENTUALLY DIE: EMBARRASSING STORIES  104
by Erika Lopez

In comic panel form, an author and graphic novelist shares her tips for turning your mortifying experiences into good reading.

36 WICKED STYLE AND HOW TO GET IT  106
by Micah Pilkington

Students always tell us they want to develop a unique voice, a literary style all their own. This class helps them find it.

37 PRESIDENT TAKES MARTIAN BRIDE: WRITING TABLOID FICTION  108
by Alvin Orloff

Tabloids might not be high literature, but they’re awfully fun to read—and even more fun to write. In this off beat lesson, an author encourages wild storytelling and out-there stories that, we promise, will be really, really fun to grade.

38 LYING FOR FUN AND PROFIT 111
by Emily Katz

Good lies are a lot like good literature. This class helps students turn falsehoods into fiction.

39 THIS CLASS SUCKS  114
by Kazz Regelman and Andrew Strickman

Students learn the basics of criticism by reviewing everything from CDs to cookies.

40 SCREENWRITING  117
by Noah Hawley

A professional screenwriter shares his secrets, and invites the class to go Hollywood by practicing their story-pitching skills.

41 HOW TO WRITE A GHOST STORY 120
by Lisa Brown and Adele Griffin

Two professional ghost story writers share their scariest tips.

42 826 UNPLUGGED: SONGWRITING  125
by Chris Perdue

The whole class collaborates to pen a guaranteed hit. No musical experience necessary.

43 SPORTSWRITING: THE LIFE  127
by Sam Silverstein and Jason Turbow

Two professional sportswriters share their expertise.

44 HOW TO WRITE A FAN LETTER WITHOUT GETTING A RESTRAINING ORDER  129
by Lisa Lutz

A young-adult author and self-confessed superfan shares her letterwriting tips.

45 EXQUISITE STORY LINES  133
by Jeremy Wilson and Kait Steele

This lesson adapts the Exquisite Corpse poetry technique for short fiction.

46 SOUL PROWLERS: THE ART OF WRITING NEWSPAPER PROFILES  135
by Rona Marech

Ordinary-seeming people can have extraordinary, heroic stories—it just takes curiosity and the will to excavate them. In this class, students learn how to identify good subjects, conduct interviews, fi nd inspiration in the details of a life, and write compelling stories about both regular and famous people.

47 HOMESTYLE: WRITING ABOUT THE PLACE WHERE YOU LIVE  138
by Tom Molanphy

This lesson teaches students to see home in a fresh way, to walk through doors and open windows they never noticed, and to fi nd the stories that home holds.

48 AGITATE! PROPAGANDIZE!  141
by Julius Diaz Panoriñgan

Sometimes a clear, convincing argument isn’t enough. You need to stir things up just a bit so that people pay attention and you can get your message across, whatever that is. In this workshop, students craft propaganda—speeches, pamphlets, and posters—all of it hard-hitting.

49 TASTY MEDICINE FOR WRITER’S BLOCK: MINDFUL WRITING EXERCISES  144
by Brad Wolfe and Rebecca Stern

From the editors of Essays for a New Generation, an anthology of essays for young readers, come these techniques for writing mindfully.

50 HIGH SCHOOL INK: GETTING PUBLISHED  147
by Lara Zielin

An author of young - adult fiction shares her tips on getting your work out there.

APPENDIX

EVALUATION RUBRICS 154

SELF-ASSESSMENT CHECKLISTS 156

COMMON CORE CURRICULUM STANDARDS 160

826 CENTERS AND STAFF 209

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826 National (San Francisco, CA) is a nonprofit tutoring, writing, and publishing organization founded in 2002 by author Dave Eggers and educator Nínive Calegari. 826 assists students ages 5 to 18 with their writing skills, and helps teachers get students excited about writing. With centers in S.F., Ann Arbor, NYC, Chicago, L.A., Seattle, Boston, and DC, 826 provides free drop-in tutoring, class field trips, writing workshops, and in-schools programs.
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November 11, 2011
Dont_Forget_Write

Authors Daniel Handler (Lemony Snicket), Lisa Brown, and Santiago talk about why they like to write and how 826 National helps them. 

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