Social Conversations: Topics that Matter
These workshops are structured, topic focused sessions that explore and initiate conversations on topics that matter in our society including politics, religion, morality, the environment etc. The workshops will teach the students how to develop their thinking on specific issues and how to present their point of view to each other and to the world. The sessions are engaging, interactive and fun!
"Our Town” is one of my favourite creative projects to work on with students. It allows for multi-faceted creative challenges for the students including, creative writing, fictional character development, expansion of their imagination and importantly creative empathy.
The students are asked to create one character (often a stereotypical character) and develop them. They are set a series of writing assignments over several weeks that push them to really look at who their character is beyond the stereotype. The character, who lives in a fictional town, is assigned a role that the students decide on as they create them.
Once the characters are formed, conflicts are introduced. The students identify potential conflicts for their characters, often ones that they face in their day-to-day lives. The conflicts include, bullying, loneliness, anxiety, family troubles, shyness, and more generally trying to find their place in the world.
Through the process of creating fictional characters the student writer can explore issues that are important to them and 'figure out' how to resolve conflict for their fictional character.
Creative expressive writing serves the imagination and creativity of the individual. Writing fosters self-expression and allows students to communicate their feelings and experiences on topics that matter to them through the medium of the fictional character. The act of writing focuses the curator of ideas to think deeper and confront conflicts and solve problems on behalf of their fictional characters.
This course allows the student’s creative voice to be expressed outside of the rigidly of exam preparation. The freedom to express creatively fosters emotional intelligence while honing writing skills that will serve the student across all careers.
The opportunity to be creative, to create something from the well of the imagination, can reflect and nurture emotional health.
Introduces the elements of story and story structure
Encourages and develops imagination through the creation of fictional character and settings
Explores self expression and problem solving through the development of conflict in characters
Prompts critical thinking
Cultivates emotional intelligence
Develops language versatility
Creative writing allows students to delve into their creativity using the tools at their disposal: words and imagination.
Week-by-week this creative writing course will introduce the main concepts of writing a fictional story though a series of creative exercises, text-led discussions and practice.
Introduction to Story Writing
Language as the medium
Building a Fictional Character
Observation, originality and description
Expressing emotions on the page
Where in the World?
Imagining a story setting
Past, present or future?
What’s the Problem?
Story planning and decision making
Joining the dots
Putting your story together
I was lucky enough to observe Sheila's lessons with the TY class this year. Sheila did a great job of engaging the students and the topics she introduced for discussion were very relevant to the student's lives and interests.
Sheila brought great energy and examples to the lessons. The students were very comfortable and supported to contribute without judgement or pressure. All contributions were welcomed and the students were very passionate about the topics being discussed.
The students appeared to be a little inconsistent with their written contributions, so Sheila adapted her approach to voice notes which was something the students responded well to.
The course was extremely beneficial for the students, it taught them to consider things from other perspectives and to be patient and tolerant of different opinions. The limitations placed on the course due to COVID were a little frustrating as I feel the face-to-face element would have been very useful to the students and should definitely be reintroduced when the guidelines allow.
I feel there is scope and potential for the course to be extended if the funds were available. I feel that the 12ish weeks of the course allows the student's voice to grow, develop and to be heard but an extension of the course would provide the students with the opportunity to put shape and structure to their thoughts as well as learning to temper those opinions.
I feel very privileged to have been a small part of these classes and want to thank Sheila for the hard work she has put in over the last number of weeks.
TY English Teacher.