My graduate studies were saturated in writing classes. It makes sense that it would be since my degree is in Creative Writing. Sure, there was a course on publishing, and also, one very interesting class on teaching creative writing. It was this course that challenged me to step out of the comfort zone of a student and into the realm of a teacher, advisor, mentor, and instructor.
We have entered an era in which more students are arriving in the online, or virtual classroom, as opposed to traditional seated lectures, and with them comes the need for virtual instructors. I instantly knew that I would center my focus on the creative writing practices within the virtual classroom having been that student and experienced the pros and cons. Here are 5 tips for teaching online writing courses, and perhaps, some solutions to issues instructors may be encountering:
- Establish a Presence Day 1
The first day creative writing forums open teachers should prompt students to reflect on current writing practices and the goals each student has in place with, or for their writing purposes, and respond to them in a timely manner. Stay close and attentive throughout the day/week that students enter and post this important foundation to what it is they wish to achieve and where they think they are presently.
- Give Students a Fun Topic to Write a Short Bio
A good icebreaker in any writing class is a short fictional piece using themselves as the character. Generate a few fun topics and set a strict word limit for students to create stories that contain biographic bits in a fictional context. Then have peers (and you the instructor) respond to prompts with what, you as the reader, believe to be truth versus fiction. This can be beneficial in gauging how and where students are within their current techniques and also in engaging students to interact.
Teaching the importance of pre-writing strategies, in many cases, requires visual aids. The virtual instructor should look for visual aids and interactive software that contains both fundamental approaches to pre-writing (researching the practices of iconic authors) as well as the newest, most innovative approaches (researching the practices of millennial authors) that remain present and easily accessible within the online-forum.
- Guts and the Glory
The body of what is being written should always be an area that every writing teacher focuses heavily on. This is a list of assignments that can assist students in technique, word limit, proper peer-feedback, and the plot, arc, resolution.
- Required and Alternate Writing Prompt Assignments
- Genre Writing
- Fiction and Memoir – turning real-life into fiction
- Character-creation, Setting, Using the Five Senses
- Indirect and Direct Characterization
- Revision, Editing, and Proofing
Another important area that teachers should spend ample time on are the differences between revision, editing, and proofreading in the writing process. This is an essential tool that creative writing students should learn the benefits and how it strengthens their work. Teachers should break down the concepts behind each, and encourage students to embrace practicing them all with suggestions and examples they themselves use in their own work. Don’t be afraid to show your students you’re human.
Creative writing classes are an important and integral part of how writers continue to build skills, confidence, and strong writing habits. These classes are the blade in which we sharpen our tools, provide priceless peer feedback, and the accountability to actually write. These tips are a guide to successful approaches when attempting to hold the online student’s focus while prompting new writing techniques, ideals, and confidence to find a voice and entertain their audience.