Hey teachers! Kids too! Are you writing any nonfiction stories in class these days? Lots of schools are trying out this approach to writing in general, and they’re studying the different ways good nonfiction books are written in particular, especially in light of the CCSS. So what different kinds of writing might work nonfiction-wise? There are plenty.
Try doing live interviews or writing a journal, for example—they both count as nonfiction. A few ideas:
Maybe your class can interview various folks who were on the scene during a great or terrible historic event, such as the Summer Olympics or even 911. Or try interviewing somebody who has an unusual job; maybe the old Santa Claus at the mall or a fireman (naturally) or your mayor or a local musician or a TV personality or your own bus driver.
And maybe you can pen some truly amazing journals during a field trip to a museum or a festival or an historic site. (Of course if you aren’t going on any field trips, you can always write some pretty entertaining journal entries about the food in your cafeteria.)
Or take a stab at uncovering the true story of how your own family came to America. Whether they got here last Wednesday or 300 years ago, doing the research is a hoot…and be sure to ask your parents or grandparents. You'd be surprised what they know and what you don't.
Or you can write research papers about things you’re learning in class—some examples might include compiling all sorts of comments about the frogs (living or dead) in your science lab, or researching and writing about a disterous Civil War battle for your history class, or making like a professional critic who’s writing book reviews for your English class, or examining the statistical issues behind today’s economic crisis in your math classes without putting anyone to sleep. Now there's a challenge for you.
IT IS OK TO HAVE FUN WHILE YOU DO THIS…YOU DON’T NECESSARILY HAVE TO GET ALL SERIOUS (UNLESS YOU WANT TO.)
Yup, your writing has to shine; that’s a given. But here’s an outstanding tool that lets you spice up everything you write, gets people interested in your stories and papers, helps you learn faster, makes sure readers remember your most complex material in a flash, and entertains your own self at the same time:
JUST STIR IN ALL KINDS OF PICTURES AS YOU GO ALONG.
Really? Most definitely! After all, just think about it. Whenever you go online or watch movies or TV or play video games or look inside certain books, they’re all about the pictures. Lots of you are probably taking pictures yourself today by using a cell phone, or you’re adding pictures to online sites like Facebook. So while you’re busy writing papers and journals and stories at school, why not think the way you do in the real world…whenever you write, stir plenty of artwork and photos and other visuals of your own into the mix.
Here are a few tiny examples of the gazillion ways to add pictures to your writing:
TAKE THE JOURNALS, FOR EXAMPLE:
When you bring your journal along on a school field trip – or even on a regular day – be sure to bring some colored markers or colored pencils or just regular lead pencils. Then draw the coolest things you see. Try to show the real world and still use your artistic imagination at the same time. Put pictures next to the words you just wrote or use pictures to make a rebus or spread pictures into the margins or make them into cartoons or make them extremely realistic. Let some of the pictures fill a whole page or two or three of their own. They can most certainly be funny. They can most certainly be serious or scientific. Doodling is just fine. Cartoons are just fine. Beautiful pictures are, well, beautiful and wonderful. And of course you can draw all kinds of fancy lettering in your topic headings along the way.
Trust me, people will want to see what you wrote if it’s illustrated. When explores like Lewis and Clark or scientists like Charles Darwin wrote journals, they did these exact kinds of things. Their writing was incredibly fun to read and was informative to the max at the same time. Yours should be too.
Another idea is to take photos during the day, print them out, and tape them in later. Or collect small stuff you find and glue that in too—for example, add brochures or cut them up and tape some of the picture into your journal. Or add small parts of the plants you see on a farm visit. Or leaves you pick up on a hike during the fall.
AND HOW ABOUT ART FOR YOUR INTERVIEWS?
One idea is to draw the person you are interviewing yourself! Or take your own photos of them doing something verrry cool and then paste or tape them into your written work. Or if they have any pictures taken when they were kids, make photocopies and add them to the mix. Even if you write your interview (or any other stuff) online, you can scan in your pictures and imbed them.
GEOGRAPHY CAN BE MEMORABLE IN SPADES:
Make colorful illuminated maps of the places you’re studying and add them into the mix. To see exactly how this works, go here and check out the pictures
Think of cool and colorful pictures you can add to your charts and graphs:
If they look great, they can offer readers a fast and entertaining way to learn a lot of boring stats in a single glance.
FAMOUS LAST WORDS: