by Chris Van Allsburg
Fourteen formidable black-and-white illustrations, each with a title and caption to decipher in your mind.
Writing Skill 1: I generate ideas in a variety of ways.
Writing Skill 4: I write so my thoughts flow smoothly and are easy to read.
Writing Skill 5: I carefully choose the most effective words to express my ideas.
Writing Skill 7: I use my personal style to make my writing unique.
(1) Read the CBC article “Borrow a ‘Human Book’ and Hear their Story,” then discuss the power of storytelling. Ask students to conduct an interview for homework. They should find someone with an interesting story to tell and take note of what makes their story interesting. Is it the content of the story, or the way in which it is told? Have them discuss their findings next class.
(2) Ask students to write down their favourite word. Have students share words, and ask them to consider what makes a word interesting. Discuss how these words could be considered “power words,” because they are naturally more descriptive or memorable, and explain how it is important to include these types of words in creative writing.
(3) Show students a series of (five to seven) provocative images and ask them to write down a power word for each.
(4) Instruct students to use these power words as the basis for their Free Write activity.
(5) Post four to six pictures from The Mysteries of Harris Burdick, along with their accompanying titles and first lines, around the classroom and have students go on a Gallery Walk.
(6) Ask students to choose one picture and write a story, using the title and first line that goes with it. Remind them to consider the discussion in the pre-reading lesson that illustrated memorable storytelling techniques.
(7) Hand out the Personal Style Inventory Checklist and have students assess their writing as they write their stories.
(8) Split the class into groups of four, and have students share their stories within their groups.
(9) Ask students to partner off within their groups and work together to complete the Creative Writing Revision Checklist.
(10) Assign a final draft to be completed with input from the revision checklist.
(11) Read aloud Stephen King’s short story, “The House on Maple Street,” inspired by one of the pictures in The Mysteries of Harris Burdick.