In June and July, Bay Area high school students in grades 9 and 10 bolstered their writing skills at Harker’s Creative Writing Workshop. Working remotely with upper school English teacher Chris Hurshman, students explored various literary concepts and styles and how to apply them to their own writing.
Students studied various forms of writing, including short stories, poems and screenplays, and used them as models for their own compositions. “Students read and discussed representative models and were encouraged to write in imitation of them using a variety of prompts,” said Hurshman. After completing their drafts, students reviewed one another’s work and received feedback from their classmates as well as Hurshman.
When writing and offering feedback, students were given guidelines on what to use in their works and in discussions. “For example, they might be asked to return to a draft of a short story and to expand on the methods of characterization they’ve used,” said Hurshman. “They might be challenged to draw a character entirely through dialogue, for example, or to flesh out the telling details of that character’s appearance and environment.”
During one exercise, students workshopped a poem in class by examining its structure, themes and other features and sharing what they noticed. They then continued to critique each other’s work in small groups.
Hurshman said the students enjoyed having a place to have conversations about writing and develop their skills. “Most students don’t have much experience thinking about literature and creativity from an authorly perspective,” he said. “I think they enjoy seeing the many elements that go into producing a beautiful bit of writing and pushing themselves to achieve that goal.”