Lesson: Understanding RESPECT as the basis for Creative writing

I had a Year 8 English session 5 today (the last class for the week). I was wondering how well the boys would do after the incredibly steep learning curve they were on this week.

We have used laptops for a long time but our boys like the classroom and face-2-face times with their peers and the teachers.

I prepared what I thought was a reasonably simple lesson to introduce this year’s Creative Writing competition. The theme for the 2020 Shared Stories project is “RESPECT”.

When we were told about the theme at the end of last year, some of my colleagues were less then impressed. Last year the theme was “Gratitude”. Many teachers disliked that theme but I had a great Year 7 English class last year. They responded very well to that theme so I thought “RESPECT” had the potential to be just as worthwhile.

My idea was to discuss what creative writing was and then give the students time to investigate the meaning of “respect” so that they could devise a working definition for themselves.

Lastly I set them the task of keeping a diary for the next few weeks. The idea is for them to record something respectful that they have noticed each day. They have the option of a written diary or a visual one.  For the second choice, they can create a visual diary in what ever format they like – online – Canva, or a tool on their computer.They must enter an image for each day and then explain why you chose that image. The diary can also combine options 1 & 2 but they must try to have an entry for each day so that they will develop a really rich source of ideas for their creative writing piece.

If you are interested in them, a copy of my slides are available on slideshare. 

When I first thought about how we would do this with the students,  it was going to be a whole class collaboration but here we were today in our own houses.

So I created a a video introducing the slides to the boys and the also got a PDF version they could save. They shared there synonyms for “RESPECT” on the class padlet and also on our class forum.

Toward the end of the session they posted up some reflections. There is a range of skills in the class and some boys normally have a learning support teachers in half of their English classes.

I will share some of the reflections I received from these 13 year old boys, as I received them. I think they are starting from a really good base and that they understand about Respect.

i learnt respect is just ore than being kind or care full. I learnt respect more people than you should and use maners. the more you respect people, the more love and respect you gonna get from people.
Today i thought hard and brain stormed more about respect and wrote what they meant
we need to focus on respect when we are mostly talking to people and playing sport


Patrick Ness – writer in residence

Knife of never letting goDid you enjoy reading of The Knife of Never Letting Go? This was Patrick Ness’ first book written for young adults. It was published last year and went on to win the Guardian Children’s Book Prize (2008). It is a very good (if sometimes confronting) science fiction story, with a lot of thought-provoking stuff. Last weekend I saw that the sequel, The Ask and the Answer, has now been released and is our bookshops. The reader is taken right back to where we last saw the characters, in the amazing, fantastic and frightening world of New World.

If you have students who enjoyed the first novel and want more, or who are interested in writing, try visiting UK Booktrust site, where the author Patrick Ness is the current (and first) writer in residence. (Thanks to CMIS Fiction Focus post) From the beginning of March Patrick has been regularly updating his blog about writing on the Booktrust website and will continue to do so until the beginning of September. In his latest entry Patrick offers a “new set of very counter-intuitive tips on how setting limitations on your writing might actually free it”. This site also contains Q&A videos  (UK students putting questions about writing and his stories to Patrick) and you can also download a lesson sequence for The Knife of Never Letting Go

From this same site can also download, for free, an exclusive Chaos Walking short story written by Patrick and set before the story of The Knife of Never Letting Go. Read The New World here (15 web pages) or you can download a pdf for free (Adobe Acrobat .doc 134Kb) to read whenever and wherever you like.

The Booktrust site is an an interesting one to look around.  It is a site that is dedicated to the promotion of reading. It offers all sorts of resources that may come in useful in a school library or to anyone who wants to support and encourage reading.

Their own description: Booktrust is an independent charity dedicated to encouraging people of all ages and cultures to engage with books and the written word.

Australian War Memorial Photographs on Flickr







This photograph is of an unidentified Australian soldier with French orphan boy ‘Digger’, Henri Heremene. This boy’s story was told in Young Digger,a very interesting and moving story by Anthony Hill.
This book is offered in our Year 8 literature circles. The boy wandered into the Australian airmen’s mess in Germany on Christmas day 1918. He becomes a mascot and is eventually smuggled into Australia by one of the men at the camp.

It is one of a collection that is part of the Australian War Memorial Collection’s photostream on Flickr. I found this today when I was looking for some photgraphs of WWI. I have used many of the AWM photographs to illustrate literature circle booklets that our library prepares for the students and staff or to provide some visual prompts for research assignments, but I never expected to see them on Flickr.

I went back to the AWM site and found a blog post, by Joanne Smedley, about the photostream. The idea is that they will highlight sets of images, thereby increasing the awareness of the AWM’s resources but it will also be able to use use the potential of Flickr to gather extra information about the photographs and extra information, or new information, from a wider audience.


The above group is of an unidentified members of the Australian Headquarter’s staff. ID Number: B01467 Maker: Hurley, James Francis (Frank) Place made: Deiran, Palestine.

Wouldn’t it be great if these men could be identified and their story told. What about the young people sharing this with older members of their families. Who knows where it could lead? Doesn’t it make for some interesting ideas for research assignments for students, or creative writing, telling a story that might have been. It could combine historical research and creative writing for English. The books of Anthony Hills or Ken Catran, or the My story series could be used as examples.

“Do yourself a favour”, have a look at the photostream, the blog post and the AWM site. It’s worth it!