Modelling Creative Writing: A Model Example and How We Got There

For the last few lessons with my GCSE class, we’ve been working on creative writing. Up until now, we’ve done a lot of work on refining and rehearsing certain sentence stems, most of which have been taken from Chris Curtis’ superb book, How to Teach English.

This has included doing tasks such as the below with the stem ‘A Year Ago, A Month Ago, Today’.

However, we’ve recently started rehearsing overall text shapes and practising general approaches to planning and generating ideas. One such task included students completing the below planning document (although not for this specific bus image), with this template offering a useful scaffold for prompting the kind of thinking and approach they ought to take.

Whilst the students used the exact same format, the above is actually one that I completed and live modelled. They had another image — the one asking students to write a description suggested by a busy market. The idea was to see how I approached it, but to then apply the same principles to a separate image.

Once we had done this, I then live modelled the first paragraph of my response. As I did so I verbalised the choices being made and even noted these down in the margin so they become more obvious and hopefully clearer.

Once I had live modelled this paragraph they then wrote their own first paragraph, but using their original plan and the market image. Again, as I explained to them, they were seeing from me the underlying approach and principles, but applying that to their own plan and a separate image.

And so we went on: I did the next paragraph, then they did it, and then I did another, and they did another, and so on.

By the end of this process I had incrementally live modelled a full response and they had, in steps, produced their own response to a different question.

Below you’ll find my full version for you to use, if helpful, with your own students.

The Model Response

A year ago I stood brightly polished on my platform. My number 8 shining, twinkling in the sun. A month ago my wheels started to creak. They started to break. They started to crack. My paint chipped. My windows splintered, a long fracture running the length of my shiny skin. Today, I sit waiting. Waiting to be picked up. Thrown away. I sit waiting, the dust and broken mud blowing through the cracked skin of my leather seats. I can hear the magnet hover above my bruised head. Today, my time is up.

20 minutes left.

My headlights, once shiny but now dull, swivel in my steel skull. I stare back into my engine. Once it glistened with oil, slick with grease. But, now it is caked in dust and dirt. I feel the cracks in my mind, splinters of metal sticking into me. My tubes force themselves into my plastic eyes. I feel the groan of my metal bones, the dried oil spread thickly across my rusted mind. Slowly, my eyes swivel outward and I see it again. Hovering. The magnet.

10 minutes left.

As the noise of the magnet grows louder, I remember what it felt like to be brand new. Proudly stood on my platform the now rusted number 8 would shine in silver. My tyres were pumped full of air, almost bouncing jubilantly on the road as I drove through wind. Unstoppable. Through hail. Through rain. Through snow. My mirrors glistened and my seats seemed to hug and cradle my many passenger. Now I am empty. Deflated. Abandoned. My life has been measured in miles and now I have reached my final stop.

5 minutes left.

The magnet snaps onto my back. I feel my steel skin press itself tightly against the metal disk. Pulling. Tearing. Pressing. It begins to lift me high into the air. I hear its chain groan but still it winds me in. Pulls me forward. My eyes swivel downwards and I see what has been left behind. A wing mirror. A bulb. The broken rubber of a broken tyre. A door. I see the pieces of myself discarded in the dust. My number 8, once so bright, is left crumpled on the floor.

One last journey. One last stop. No minutes left.

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