Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting Australian children’s author, Libby Gleeson. I was looking forward to Libby’s visit to Australian Catholic University and her humbleness, passion and knowledge truly inspired me.
I took a few things away from her visit, including:
- writing a book is not an easy process
- even the best of us have feelings of uncertainty and doubt
- if we look beyond stories we can find hidden messages, e.g. human truths
- illustrations in books often show what is in between the lines
- narrative is fundamental to the way we think
- teachers need to:
- encourage writing and reading
- challenge students
- encourage students to ask ‘what if?’ and play with ideas
- ensure students know it is okay to make mistakes
- encourage students to take risks, question and imagine
In order to encourage writing, Libby suggested allowing time for students to write creatively. This may be describing or writing about an image, completing sentence starters or oral story telling.
Writing about an Image
Students may be provided with an image and they are given time to respond to it in any way they choose. The students may describe it, write a story about it, put themselves into the image … the possibilities are endless. The images may range from insects and animals to landscapes.
Students may be given time each day to complete creative stories in a journal that begin with a provided sentence starter. Here are some examples:
- If I could fly, I would …
- When I grow up …
- If I was an animal, I would be a ____ so I could …
- Two boys were called to the office …
Oral Story Telling
Students may be given time to share a story with a peer. It might be about their weekend, something they remember from when they were little and so on. The teacher may choose to provide the students with sentence starters.
These activities and much more can be found in Libby Gleeson’s book for teachers, ‘Writing like a Writer’ (I can’t wait to get my copy!).
The following quotes really point out the importance of creativity and imagination that creative writing and stories can support and inspire.
Imagination is more important than knowledge. – Albert Einstein
Creativity is not a talent; it is a skill that can be learnt. It empowers people by adding strength to their natural abilities which improves teamwork, productivity and where appropriate, profits. – Edward de Bono
It is definitely something for teachers to think about.
Do you read to your students and allow them to write creatively each day?