Mini-sagas and 100-word stories

The idea for mini-sagas came from an excellent book by Puchta and Schratz, Teaching Teenagers, one that I highly recommend if you ever have to teach teens.

Their rules for this creative writing exercise are:

  • Each saga must have exactly fifty words
  • The title can contain up to a maximum of five other words
  • The saga can only be a story (not a joke, description of someone, etc)

100-word stories
This idea came from Michael Lewis's The Lexical Approach, another book that all language teachers should read, and is similar.

  • Each story must have exactly 100 words
  • The title can contain up to a maximum of five other words
  • None of the words can be repeated

Yes, that is what is meant: if your title was 5 words, your story would contain a total of 105 words, none of which would be repeated.

You'd obviously require a fairly decent level of English to do this second one — around Upper Intermediate at least, I would suggest.

What's this got to do with technology?
Of course, both of the above creative writing exercises you could do without ever going near a computer.

Whether or not you used technology for them, I would recommend a collaborative, process writing approach, with students reading each other's work, and commenting on it, before they ever hand it in to you, "finished" (another recommendation: Process Writing, by White and Arndt).

Personally, I would get my learners to write on computers — apart from anything else as it makes it so much easier for them to edit and correct. Ask students to make amendments to something they've hand written, and they'll understandably be a bit put out. Ask them to amend a Word document, and it's just so easy!

Computers were just made for process writing…

Blogging projects
Both of the above would make great blogging projects. Have all your students as authors on the same "team blog", and get them to write their stories as posts, which they can save as drafts until they are ready for others to comment on them.

They could write new posts for second versions, and perhaps a separate one for final versions.

Important that they do use the comments feature… Blogging was just made for collaborative writing.

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  1. An example of a 50-word mini-saga:

    Two dancers
    Two dancers were drawing synchronized movements, finding themselves at the scene's center to return, afterwards, each one to one side. They seemed two lovers who meet, to come back, later, to their daily life.

    It finished raining and the windscreen wipers stopped, waiting for another rain to dance together again.

    Miriam Cendra

    (From a competition we ran at IH Barcelona, in which students in our A6 — approx. First Certificate — classes wrote mini-sagas.

    They were published on the noticeboard in the school, not on a blog.

    Miriam's entry took first prize.)

  2. no comments but writing on the same topic

    there were two dancers who had a compedition in dancing throuout the
    year. this was the last day of their compedition they did had practised very hard for their dance but none won at the end. they were upset and sad about it but they cannot do anything about it.

  3. How about using a wiki rather than a blog? Wikis are fantastic collaborative writing tools.
    All the best.

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