You still might not have warmed up to poetry and fiction writing because while it sure is fun and great for younger grades, or fine for a warm up exercise or a Friday treat, you think it isn’t rigorous or useful.
My take is that you can’t afford to skip creative writing in the classroom. It is THAT essential in providing transferable skills in a challenging, intriguing and engaging way.
Whether you provide creative writing prompts, teach actual poetry forms, introduce particular fiction elements and have students write to that element (say dialogue, setting, or a character scene), you are allowing students to hone essential skills that are transferable to other writings, but are also FUN. The items listed below may be true for the essay, but are even more effective when used with fiction and poetry due to the structure, size, and nature of the form. In this way, working with fiction or poetry may actually strengthen one’s essay writing over time.
Just SOME ways in which creative writing is invaluable:
- “Strongly encouraging” economy in students who are prone to being “run-on” writers
- Encouraging proper word choice (Especially in poetry, where words are minimal)
- Advances in critical thinking
- Cause and effect
- Explanation (background information, and relationships).
- Using logic (structure, organization to a much deeper degree)
- Use, proper placement and amount of detail
- For poetry proper use of sound devices, scansion, subject, and to a certain extent how certain elements might relate to content
- Argument: if the teacher decides to use the common core standards and create a poetry or creative writing prompt around this device.
- Research: it is standard procedure for writers to look up background information in order to make a story, poem or scene more believable. No one asks them to do this they want to because the story demands it. Provide intriguing enough prompts and I guarantee you, they won’t mind doing some research.
In short the multitude of requirements necessary in an organic story and in a poem (organic or very structured) are such that to ask students – to challenge them – to write creatively is really to help them be their best and smartest selves.
Do not be surprised if, when they return to the essay form, they find that it is surprisingly much EASIER to do!
Gina Perfetto is a contributing writer and blogger, who publishes fine teaching products. She lives in New Jersey with her husband Gene and cat Dude.