Letters from Literary Outposts

Hoppers Crossing

English teachers at Hoppers Crossing Secondary College recently journeyed down the trapdoor on a quest for tips, tricks and tools to transform Year 8 students into brilliant, majestic talespinners. Ernest Price, Director of English, sent us a letter sharing all the fun the teachers and students have had since. 

This year has been an exciting year for Year 8 English teachers and students at Hoppers Crossing Secondary College, who have participated in a collaboration with 100 Story Building to work on narrative writing. Our English teachers are conspiring with 100 Story Building on a professional learning program to make teaching more joyful, engaging and creative for the students!

The unit of work began with an engaging incursion that gave students the tools to produce their own choose-your-own-adventure books. In one very fast-paced period, students were able to generate complex, interesting and (most importantly) hilarious stories.

Term Three began with students personalising their own narrative portfolios and choosing their designated audience for their work. Over the course of Term Three students filled these portfolios with a range of artefacts that provided the building blocks of their own narratives. They created ‘Top Secret’ files about their characters, drew the world of their story and created storyboards using sticky notes, words and pictures. For every choice that they made about their stories students logged their decision-making process, showing high-level of reflection about their work and, crucially, the interests of their audience. The results were messy, crazy and more interesting than their teachers could have imagined.

Towards the end of the term, students began to turn these portfolios into narrative pieces. With a focus on playing to their chosen audience, students are working on a broad range of narrative styles. We have seen horror, romance, action and some stories that simply refuse to be classified. At each step of the journey, students are working on refining their work – changing the order of events, finding the best choice of words possible and ensuring that they keep their audience in mind.

The narrative project is nearing its conclusions and students and staff all agree – this has been the most fun we have had in a long time!

Ernest Price is the Director of English at Hoppers Crossing Secondary College and an Year 8 English teacher.