Monday, 15 February 2010

A travel writing class

So why not take you right through the two hour creative writing class that went so well (mentioned last week)? The subject was travel writing. Here goes...
On my class plan (I always write one out, to keep me focussed and on track), I listed the following Learning Outcomes/Objectives:

  • To list and develop travel writing ideas
  • To consider outlets & styles of travel writing
  • To practice vivid sense-experience travel writing
  • To begin a travel article

P.S. You should know that I write those objectives AFTER I have thought and doodled up my ideas for filling the 2 hours with a good pacing of exercises, interaction and straight lecture. Once the draft ideas are tightened I can see that they add up to sensible "objectives" (teaching jargon..., but actually, it helps)

5 mins to intro myself and what we will do and ascertain that they do have a break, when & how (as a substitute I wanted to fit into their patterns, not impose mine -- might make them unhappy...)

Jumped right in and gave them 5 minutes (or less) to LIST 5 PLACES YOU HAVE BEEN TO AND WANT TO WRITE ABOUT... that is, would like to share, tell people about. Someone asked, and my answer was, Yes, as well as holiday places they might be a place you know well, like one you used to live in or visit every year; can even be places right here in your own home area.

When I glanced around to see that most had a list, or at least a list of 3 places, moved right on to CHOOSE ONE, one that speaks to you right now, and SHARE WITH YOUR NEIGHBOR for 5 minutes, then SWAP AND THE OTHER SHARES for 5 minutes. The task each time is for the listener to ASK QUESTIONS. Note-taking isn't necessary, but do, both of you, notice what questions are asked... what do people need and want to know?

The numbers were initially uneven, so I partnered a young woman who had been to Jerusalem just this Christmas. I didn't get to share my Nepal trip with her, because a latecomer arrived and became her partner. It can be hard to join in a chatting exercise as tutor because half your attention has to be on the rest of the class and the clock... Got to remind all to swap roles midway.

Then, 5 minutes for REFLECTIVE NOTES. Pulling them back from the chatter is a challenge! But, hey, they're having fun. This is a little space to calm down and jot down what you spoke of, and to note the questions and what your listener wanted to know, what you wanted to know. (I didn't get round to mentioning it directly, but this brings out the famous 5 Ws of journalism -- Who, What, Where, Why, When -- the keys to clarity and communication.)

It's about 20-25 minutes into the class, and they are well 'warmed'. I'm feeling comfortable and they are fizzing with thoughts. Time now for me to talk at them.... but this blog has gone on long enough, I have to get on with Ephraim (and my morning caffeine fix), so the Travel Writing Lecture, on openings and styles, will continue next week...

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