We are very excited to learn that Taylor is going to be teaching a creative writing class based on his first book, Stories Without End, at his Intensive English Program (IEP). Many IEPs offer flexible elective classes periodically. Stories Without End is uniquely well-suited to this kind of extra-curricular class. It can fill 2 weeks or 2 months. Because you can pick and choose stories based on your students’ interest or a topic you want to cover, you can create a very flexible and adaptable modular class. While I don’t have the exact syllabus Taylor is using, here is a one way to use Stories Without End as the textbook for a creative writing class. Feel free to take this sample framework and adapt it to your classroom logistics.
Sample Schedule for a Creative Writing Class With Stories Without End
Needs Analysis: Day 1
On the first day of class, it’s a good idea to check in with students on their goals for the class. Do they want to improve their overall writing skills? Are they hoping to become creative writers? Or apply what they’ve learned to other forms of writing, such as academic writing? Maybe they see this as a fun way to learn to write more fluently. Or perhaps they want to learn to read fiction more effectively, and pick up more vocabulary. They may even want to get better at predicting the structure of a story.
Beyond their needs, it’s helpful to know their experience in reading and writing. How much do they like to read? What genres are they familiar with and which do they like? You might include movies, TV, or podcasts here since we can’t assume our students do much reading in English. How fast do they read? Do they have experience writing? Do they like to write? What part of the writing process is difficult for them: Generating ideas, actually writing, editing, thinking of the right word, using proper grammar? Have they ever done a creative writing class before?
Digging in to the stories: 2-3 days each
Generally, each story will likely take 2-3 days to go over fully.
On the first day of starting a new story, have students discuss the Before You Read questions in pairs or small groups, then go over them as a class. They can then move on to the vocabulary questions, which they can do in groups. You might have them do it for homework the night before, and just check them in class. Then you can move on to the stories, which you can read in class in a number of different ways. At this point, you may move on to the After You Read questions or ask them to reread the story individually and start sketching out some ideas for their ending idea. For homework on the first day, they can look at the After You Read questions, reread the story, or work on a summary (using one of the guides in the back of the book)
On the second day, go over the After You Read questions if you haven’t already and start the Project work. In class, students can plan their ending in pairs or groups. You might want to also give them a chance to write in class, so that you can monitor. They can also share their drafts with each other to get peer feedback. For homework, they can finish their stories.
If you need a third day, do a writers workshop where they share what they have written and maybe have class time to write final drafts. At this point, you could collect their story endings or give them a chance to finish them for homework.
Alternatively, on the third day, you could start a new story in class, or as homework.
You could have students chose a project to do for each story or every other story and work on that on the third day. Alternatively, each week, students could pursue a project independently, using one of the supplements. If you read 2-3 stories a week, students can choose on the stories and one of the supplements to pursue independently. Schedule some class time for these projects so that you can check in and monitor their work.
You might also have students do a group project over the period of the class. For this option, I’d recommend using one of the longer more involved projects such as a film or drama, or a longer rewrite.
Vocabulary Journal: It’s a good idea to encourage students to keep a vocabulary journal—You’ll find an example in the supplements section that you can photocopy or adapt. Be sure to collect this regularly to make sure they are doing it and to check their definitions.
Creative Writing Evaluations: Depending on the goals for the class, you may want to evaluate their writing based more on language accuracy or on the content and creativity. Generally, it’s probably best to balance both areas however. There are a variety of assessment tools to grade writing such as single-point rubrics.
Check out our Guide to Stories Without End, which dives into a bit of depth about each section of the book in some detail. And if you do use Stories Without End, in class, feel free to share some activity ideas for other teachers to use here.