Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Round Robin Story - It Worked!

This week we did a round robin story session.

Last week, I had to go to a colleague's mother's funeral and by the time I got back, there wasn't time to run a formal class, so I sat down with them individually to talk about work they had done. But clearly, some had run out of ideas.

Yesterday, we began with a story reading as usual. The story, "Andromeda" by Jenny Blackford, was a version of the Greek myth with a twist. Andromeda IS the sea monster when she gets angry. And poor Perseus is unable to rescue her because of what happens to him. It occurred to me that maybe they didn't know the myth, so the twist wouldn't mean anything and we started by talking about myths and which ones they knew. Anthony, the sole boy, did mention "Medusa" so I was able to use that as a starter. After reading the story, I told them that this was an example of a classic story that the author had been able to play with and make her own, just as they, the class, had made fairy tales their own a few weeks ago.

Then we started the writing. One of the students had something to finish editing, but everyone else just couldn't think of anything, even with the prompts I'd given them.They've done well so far, but exhaustion hits us all and the Year 10s have a lot to do before their final week of classes, then exams.

"Right," I said, "we're going to do a group story." I had found some prompts written especially for round robin stories and gave them the choice of prompt. Each of us wrote for five minutes, then passed on the paper to the next person to continue.

And you know what? It worked! Students who had had no ideas scribbled away furiously. When we had finished, each of us picked up a story to read. In fact, there were five group stories on different themes. Tez, the one who had had difficulties with ideas for the last few weeks, cheekily killed off the characters in her last slot and happily wrote "the end."

There was much laughter when the stories were read and afterwards I promised to type up the lot and post them on our blog. The kids had a ball yesterday and everyone actually wrote something! And, silly as the stories were, they were actual stories, not the equivalent of a game of Consequences.

Such a pity the subject has been given one year and dropped for next year. I have learned almost as much as the students and could have done a wonderful class next year. I have treated my students as adults and assumed they were all writers. I've kept my promise that it wasn't going to be "English extensions."

C'est la vie!

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