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Personal Writing

Discussion in 'English' started by Mr. Kamikaze, Aug 6, 2008.

  1. Hi there folks. I'm a soon-to-be probationer who's frantically trying to get as many units of work together on as wide a variety of topics as possible, given that I'll be teaching five classes and I don't get to pop off back to teaching college after my initial six-week stint! The one thing that I've realised that I'm lacking is a unit on personal writing. I've made units for discursive and imaginative writing, but not personal. I've done a quick google but couldn't find anything really that useful. Does anyone have any hints or tips, or links to somewhere that would be of use? Thanks!
  2. *bump*

    Anyone here ever taught kids to write about a personal experience before? Any tips as to how to go about it? ;)
  3. Kat2610

    Kat2610 New commenter


    My advice on teaching personal writing would be to get pupils to read extratcs of good personal writing, such as from autobiographies, like Roald Dahl's 'Boy' or Peter Kay's book. You could show them in one that the use of detail and adjectives make it really interesting for the audience and then let them pick out the interesting parts with highlighters or in groups in another extract.

    You could also get them used to writing in detail about small things by getting them to describe last night's dinner, the walk to school, what their bedroom looks like, something mundane that can be written up using techniques for personal writing.

    Hope this helps!

  4. Thanks Kat, those are great ideas! I especially like the idea of getting the pupils to recall in great detail things like what they had for dinner and what their bedroom looks like, as it will give them that much-needed confidence to just start writing... I found during my student year that some pupils would be terrified of either personal or imaginative writing, as they simply didn't know where to begin. With this exercise, they'll be able to write reams and reams without even having to think too much about it, and that should be a help for when they come to write their essays. The one thing I'll have to watch out for is that they don't get the wrong idea and write pages and pages about the flowers on their bedroom curtains!

    I also hadn't even thought about showing them good examples of personal writing... I could show some examples, and then do some work on why they are such good examples of personal writing, along with the above. Thanks, Kat!
  5. I often use the extract from 'Boy' when he has his tonsils out without any anaesthetic - gory and squirmimily gruesome - kids love it! however, it does tend to lead to lots of writing about their illnesses / accidents!
  6. The extract from Bill Bryson's "Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid" where he cuts his head open is also very good because it is very amusing, and the use of hyperbole and great similes often inspires them to write about an event that is quite ordinary in an "extraordinary" way.
  7. Kat2610

    Kat2610 New commenter

    No problem, Yatesy. I've used the extract from 'Boy' where he describes Captain Hardcastle, a mean school master, in such detail that you almost feel frightened of him yourself!
    I've found the kids react well to being asked to write about everyday things without taking it too far.
    Hope it goes well!!
  8. Hi
    Personal writing wants thoughts and feelings - these are often the most difficult thinks for pupils to express.
    I usally start with asking pupils to think of a time when they were really embarrassed - I usually start off by telling them one of my own embarrassing incidents - and to tell the story to their partner.
    We then create a word/expression bank to describe emotions - 'red as a beetroot' 'mortified' 'ground swallowing me' etc...they then write a short account of their own story - I aim to start short and develop over unit.

    I also ask pupils to bring in a photograph of themselves which captures an event that they can remember - I share one of my photo's and model a piece of refelctive writing to go with it - pupils then write about the memories the photo evokes - I have got some really good stuff out of this activity.

    I also use extracts from Clive James' Unreliable Memoirs as examples.

    I think that I may have the whole unit in a form that makes sense to someone other than myself - leave an addy if you want it.
  9. Thanks everyone, really good ideas from you all. Kat, I think I'm going to use a extracts from Angela's Ashes, as there are some really terrific passages in there that the kids should enjoy- a teacher at my last school used it to great effect.

    laceylou- That'd be great!! my e-mail address is flyingoffthetrack@yahoo.co.uk

    Thanks ever so much.
  10. For Year 7 you can adapt the old transition Unit: My Father is a Polar Bear. It's a QCA unit with all the resources and out there are extra resources teachers have made for it. Its final outcome is a piece of personal writing. I have found it quite revealing in terms of what new students will tell you about their own families. You can google it.
  11. Hi Laceylou, I love your idea about the photo that captures an event. Can I possibly have a copy of your unit? Thanks! suzanne.houston@ntlworld.com
  12. I realise this was posted a very long time ago, but I'd really love a copy of this if you still have it! :)


    Many thanks!
  13. Hello Lacylou
    I think the idea of using the photograph and also extracts from texts to help stimulate students in their personal writing is great. Could I also have a copy of your unit?
    Thank you
  14. Hi Lacylou,
    I am about to go on my first teaching placement and like the sound of your unit of work. Please could I get a copy of it...if it's not too late: fionabowie31@hotmail.com.

    Thanks! :)

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