Princeton educator Lisa McGhee was awarded a $2,500 grant to implement a creative writing project with her students at John Witherspoon Middle School in Mercer County.

Seventh-grade students will be given a survey to ascertain their knowledge of fiction writing and will meet with a published author for workshops and mini-lessons. Using fun exercises and activities, the author will take students through the process of building memorable, dynamic characters. The author will analyze characters with whom students are already familiar (for example, Harry Potter) and then students will create their own. The author will then take students through the process of building fictional worlds—whether those worlds are realistic or fantastical. The author will analyze a world with which the students are already familiar (like the world of The Hunger Games) and then students will create their own.

The author will conduct an interactive, technical presentation about revising. Students will learn about story structure and general revision tips such as tightening language, eliminating crutch words/phrases, and the importance of peer review. Students will learn about voice, language, and writing style, as well as the importance of word choice when writing, how it determines a story’s tone and atmosphere, and how it can tell the reader important things about the story, the characters, the author, and historical context. As a group, students will analyze excerpts from beloved books. Then, working from a prompt, students will create their own mini-stories, which the author will analyze as a group to determine each story’s voice. Students will sign up to meet with the author for individual feedback and constructive criticism of their writings.

Students’ stories will be printed and published into a class book through Scholastic. At the end of the project, students will be given the same survey to ascertain what they learned about fiction writing and the process as well as how they see themselves as writers.

For more information, contact:

Lisa McGhee, Project Coordinator
(609) 806-4270 (school)

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