Building Confidence and Self-Expression through Creative Writing

Fast facts

Publish date: May 31, 2019
Categories: AUSL Innovates
Post author: ausldevelop

Never miss a story!

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Creative writing is one of the many supports offered to our network of students through AUSL’s wholistic approach for ‘whole child development’. This past school year, ten creative writing teachers from eight elementary and two high schools met regularly on Saturdays to learn how to better support their students’ reading and writing development. These professional development sessions, led by Tina Boyer-Brown of the Chicago High School for the Arts, emphasized fiction writing, with topics including plot, character, setting, point of view, sensory description, and voice. Teachers then brought their new skills and inspiration back to the classroom, where they guided 75 students in after-school creative writing clubs throughout the year.

Often overlooked, new evidence confirms the benefits of arts education on academic, social, and emotional outcomes. Take a look at the way creative writing has transformed student experiences in our network.

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Many of the stories and quotes contained in this blog came from Mr. Tyler’s Creative Writing class at Tarkington School of Excellence. 7th Grade Students: Alexander Regalado (Alex) , Jennifer Castro, Francisco Guzman, and Ariana Gutierrez- Soria

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Creative writing has shown me to myself. It allowed me to expose my feelings without fear of being judged

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– Sandra Ortiz, Student at Morton School of Excellence

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Beginning with teacher training and ending with student writing, our creative writing program uses modeling and guided release to build independent writers. Each Saturday, teacher training used a model text to focus on one aspect of fiction-writing (ie. Character, plot). Teachers then brought the text back to their classrooms, where they lead discussion on story elements and assisted students with guided practice. Throughout the year, students gradually required less direct instruction and reported improvements in all types of writing – even in science class. They received both feedback from the teacher and learned how to engage their peers in the feedback process as well.

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The skills students learn are transferable. We had a 6th grader join because he was struggling in writing. After two weeks, his ELA teacher reported both his effort and ability really improved.

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Mr. Tyler, 7th grade Social Studies teacher at Tarkington SOE

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One of my struggles was with transitions because I always want to write about the next section immediately. Mr. Tyler gave me feedback on how to make sure the next sections flow with the story.

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– Francisco Guzman, 7th grade, Tarkington SOE

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I had trouble giving background information to my characters. We would share documents with Mr. Tyler and he would make comments to give us feedback.

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Ariana Gutierrez- Soria , 7th grade, Tarkington SOE

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Students in our creative writing program are able to express themselves in a way not typically required for traditional school-based writing assignments. Through this process, they learn about themselves, their peers, and the world, using fiction and poetry to communicate larger ideas and commentary on society. At Fuller School of Excellence, students read the works of famous African Americans and identified similar themes in their own lives. Students in Mr. Tyler’s class said they joined creative writing to express themselves, learn about their peers, and to become better writers in general.

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Creative writing gave us a chance to experience what we like about writing without having such a rigid structure around what we write

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– Francisco Guzman, 7th grade, Tarkington SOE

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Creative writing helps me to have a keen worldview on real-life situational problems.

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Harmony DeJesus, Morton SOE

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Our creative writing program also brought a diverse group of students together. Students who would not have met outside of this program formed a strong bond and built trust through sharing their stories. The ability to trust a new friend or peer with their work helped students open up to each other and built confidence.

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Not only was I able to meet new people and see what their feelings are –  I also got to see what they are able to accomplish.

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– Francisco Guzman, 7th grade, Tarkington SOE

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I really liked Francisco’s story. Our classmates kept asking him when he was going to finish because he just left us on a cliffhanger. We would bug him every week to finish the story- we need more!

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Ariana Gutierrez- Soria , 7th grade, Tarkington SOE

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When I first started with creative writing, I felt really shy and couldn’t trust anyone with what I wrote. Because of this classes, I feel like I can share more.

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Jennifer Castro, 7th grade, Tarkington SOE

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I got a lot more confidence. Before I didn’t really like sharing my work.  Now, I want to start making movies as a career.

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Alexander Regalado, 7th grade Tarkington SOE

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A collection of student work for each participating school was compiled into a short story/poetry book. Check out the hard work of these Tarkington students here.

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