• Choose a suitable image for the age and maturity level of your students.
• An opening sentence(s) has been provided with the author’s turn (My Turn) in italics.
• The image selected is discussed with the students: What is happening in the image? What happened before and after the “picture” was taken?
• Brainstorm different words with students that can be used in their own story. Encourage use of a dictionary/thesaurus to discover and correctly spell new words.
• Students create their own version of the sentence(s) by changing the word(s) in italics with their own word(s). (Please feel free the make your own choices of the word(s), phrases or sentences that your students will change.)
• Students then continue the story based on the new opening sentence(s). You will be amazed at the variety of stories that emerge using this technique.
Young students have limited life experiences from which to draw.
Unusual images create scenarios that are not common place so help students explore their own imagination. They are a “godsend” for teachers who are tired of reading student’s work that starts with “One day", “Once upon a time” et cetera.
In a Creative Writing scenario, “My Turn, Your Turn” provides opportunities:
a. for teacher-student dialogue.
b. for students to think outside the box.
c. for students to discover new words and their meanings.
d. for students to experiment with different ways to begin short stories that engage a reader by taking them away from mundane, trite and stereotypical alternatives.
e. for students to develop unusual characters and unusual character developments.
f. for students to begin stories at different junctures, rather the traditional starting point…at the beginning.
This concept has been developed by Janet Gravlev, recipient of the Prime Minister of Canada’s Award for Mathematics, Science and Technology, through her teaching of Creative Writing (and other subject areas) to Year 4 Extension students in private school settings in Canada and Australia. Finding unusual images is a device she has used for many years in teaching creative writing to students of all ages.