Don't Forget to Write for the Secondary Grades: 50 Enthralling and Effective Writing Lessons (Ages 11 and Up)
October 2011, Jossey-Bass
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 expertsand 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.
THE AUTHORS XIX
THE CONTRIBUTORS XXIII
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.
EVALUATION RUBRICS 154
SELF-ASSESSMENT CHECKLISTS 156
COMMON CORE CURRICULUM STANDARDS 160
826 CENTERS AND STAFF 209