High School

1302 North Street
Olympia, WA 98501
Phone: (360) 596-7000
Attendance: (360) 596-7003
Fax: (360) 596-7001

Welcome to Creative Writing and Poetry

Week of May 30-June 2

Tuesday and Wednesday: Poetry Writing! Poetry Auction and Surreal Ode to an Object.

Thursday: Print your work from both semesters for your final portfolio.

From 1st semester:

  • College essay
  • Short story
  • Memorable portions of NaChoWriMo
  • Vignettes
  • “Compelling” story (finals)

From Poetry

  • Writing workshop from April
  • Group poems
  • Spoken word poem
  • Poetry auction
  • Ode

Friday: Begin Stranger than Fiction

Week of May 22-26

Song lyrics as poetry: Group discussions and presentations

Week of May 15-19

Song lyrics as poetry. Make a playlist and a poster.

Song Lyrics as Poetry Assignment

Week of May 8-12

Monday- Finish Louder than a Bomb and type your spoken word poem from last week.

Tuesday-Friday: Write a graduation speech or advice to a freshman.

Week of May 1-5: Spoken Word Poetry Week!

Brian McCracken will be here Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Tuesday and Thursday we'll watch Louder than a Bomb, a documentary about the high school poetry slam in Chicago 2008.

Writing Workshop, Last two weeks of April (April 17-April 28)

During these two weeks, you can be working on any or all of the following in class:

  • Writing new pieces (poetry or prose)
  • Trying new forms/genres
  • Revising/Reworking older pieces
  • Continuing something you’ve already started
  • Collaborating with group members
  • Working with your writing group to seek/offer feedback on writing
  • Polishing/perfecting your work.

PROMPTS/ASSIGNMENTS: If you would like a prompt or a suggested topic/project, etc. I will be more than happy to provide that to you.

REQUIREMENTS: You will need to be writing/revising/collaborating and/or working with your writing group every day. You may not work on things for other classes. You are required to complete the accountability record every day. Everyone must work with their writing group to seek and offer feedback at least once per week.

GRADING: At the end of the two weeks, your writing is due along with a reflection on which the activities above. Then we will reassess and decide what to do next.

Accountability Record. Each day, please complete the following:

Date: _________________________________

Beginning of the period: my plan for today: _________________________________________

End of period: what I did in class today (be specific):  __________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Plan for tomorrow: _____________________________________________________________

*If you are absent, you need to make up work at home. Write in your Googledoc so that you can be held accountable for completing the time you missed in school.Week of April 10-14

Generating material for metaphors and similes. 

Two poems due Friday: "I am not" and "I am."

 Week of March 27-31

Monday-Tuesday: Finish discussions.

Wednesday: Print all of your original poetry and complete the reflection assignment.

Thursday: Poetry game!

Friday: 1st period is attending an author presentation in the library. 4th period will be watching spoken word poetry.

March 6-March 30:

Mondays through Thursdays: Student-led poetry discussions. Annotate 4 poems each day and write about one of them. Fridays: Writing poetry.

Week of February 27-March 3

Working on the Extended Poet Study project. Research page is due Thursday - the rest of the project is due Friday.

Poetry Extended Study Project: Portfolio and Discussion

Choose a poet and create a bound portfolio that includes:

Cover Page: (10 points) create a cover that reflects the contents of the portfolio. What is the overarching theme or motif in this poet’s work? The cover needs to include: the poet’s name and your name, and feature full-color design.

Page 1: (10 points) Biographical details (Where was the poet born? Describe his/her education, family, work, include significant life events, circumstances of his death, etc.) Use the biographical details of the poet’s life to compose a poem about him/her! Include a picture of your poet.

Page 2:  Research. (30 points) Write at least a full page addressing the following. Use parenthetical citations to cite your sources in this document. Include at least one interview via YouTube in your sources. Every source cited in your research needs to be included in your annotated bibliography.

  • How did/does your poet define poetry? Include a quote from your poet about poetry. Be sure to cite your source for this quote and be ready to share it with the class when you lead the discussion.
  • Characterize the type of poetry (part of a poetry movement such as fireside poets, imagist poets, etc.)
  • What was the time period during which the poet was writing? How was this poet’s work typical or atypical of the time period? Why?
  • How was the poet’s work received? Did he/she profit from his/her work?
  • What other poets influenced his work?
  • How did this poet’s work influence other poets or make an impact on poetry as a genree?
    2. Poems and Analysis: (30 points) Read a body of his/her work. Read his/her work widely (from many different books or collections, different periods of his/her writing career.)
  • Choose four of this poet’s poems to write about. Include typed copies of each poem. For each poem, consider the following: word choice/connotation, tone, imagery, speaker and occasion, structure (stanzas, repetition/refrain, rhyme and meter, enjambment, etc.)
  • Write an original poem that mimics the style of one of the four poems you wrote about.


  • Last Page: (20 points) Annotated bibliography. Write an entry for each of the sources cited in your research page. Use several credible sources – Wikipedia is a place to find information, but cannot be used as a source in your bibliography. Be sure to include: How useful was the source? What information did you find that you included in the portfolio? How did you know the source was credible?

Due Thursday March 2. This project should reflect a week’s worth of work. The work you submit should be your best, most polished and thoughtful writing.

Poet Portfolio: Discussion

You will lead a 30-minute discussion on two of the four poems from your paper. For your discussion, you will need:

  • Your portfolio and copies of the two poems.
  • Know your poet! Know your poems! The class will have questions and you need to anticipate them to be ready with answers.
  • Be prepared with ideas about the poem you’d like to discuss.
  • Be prepared to field questions about the poet.
  • Re-direct the discussion when appropriate. If you feel the discussion is “hitting a wall” or straying from focus on the poem itself, be ready to offer a new aspect of the poem to discuss
  • Be prepared to define vocabulary words and allusions (historical or biblical or literary references)
  • Propel the discussion by sharing your ideas about the words, structure, imagery, meaning, speaker, occasion, tone, etc.

To make it even better! Go above and beyond to get an “A” on the discussion portion.

  • Include the audience in a new, exciting way.
  • Bring visuals: pictures of the poet, images that relate to one or both of the poems, images that explain literary/historical/biblical allusions.
  • Bring background music that puts the class in the “setting” (time period or geographic place) of the poet

Week of February 22-24

Wednesday: Explore poetry books to search for a poet for the extended study project.

Thursday: Lesson on research/plagiarism from Ms. Biglow

Friday: Select a poet for extended poet study project.

Week of February 13-17

Monday: Discuss the four poems from last week.

Tuesday: Make Valentines with love poetry!

Wednesday: Read four poems by African-American poets.

Thursday: Discuss the four poems.

Friday: All annotated poems due. Watch spoken word poetry.

Week of February 6-10

Monday and Tuesday - Snow days!

Wednesday-Friday: Read four love poems and annotate, then write two love poems. One should be a sonnet and the other can be free verse.

Week of January 30-February 3

Monday:Share your feedback from finals with your group members and other classmates. Read your feedback. Submit one of your pieces from first semester to the literary magazine. (Share a googledoc to "Olyliterarymagazine@gmail.com"

Tuesday: Read Billy Collins' "Introduction to Poetry." Then read four poems of Mrs. Gilman's choosing and take notes on them and discuss them in your groups.

Wednesday: Socratic Seminar-style discussion on the four poems from Tuesday.

Thursday: Write a poem inspired by one of the four poems we read this week.

Friday: More writing!


January 2017


Creative Writing Notebook: January

  1. 5 ideas for a short story (1/3)
  2. Wild Mind Writing. 2 “long sentences” hopes and dreads. (1/6)
  3. Notes on compelling stories. 8 tips with examples from your writing for each. (1/9)
  4. Feedback on the beginning of your short story: A question about your own writing for your group and positive, specific feedback to each (at least 2) group members. (1/11)
  5. Feedback: Something positive, then remark on three things from the notes on compelling stories. (1/17)


Week of January 17-20

Writer's notebook due on Friday. This week we alternate giving feedback and working on the story for finals.

Week of January 9-13: Writing a compelling short story.

Monday: Take notes on 8 writing tips "Writing a Compelling Story: 8 Tips"

Tuesday: Read an example of a short story by a student ("Waterboy") and discuss what the writer did well and whether or not she made the story "compelling."

Wednesday: Begin writing. Then share in groups and give feedback.

Feedback example using "Waterboy:

Question: What do you think about the intrusion of the narrator into the story? Does it work or is it confusing or distracting. 

Positive, specific feedback: I like the paragraph about what it means to be a spectator. I like the word choice of “spectator.” It makes it sound really neutral and makes it clear that those who watch a fight or watch someone get bullied are motivated by the need to be entertained. It implies that bullying is something that disrupts the monotony of school and implies that’s why people watch rather than trying to stop it.

Push yourself to develop your feedback into a way that can be useful for your group members. I am looking for you to be specific and thorough when I grade your notebooks. This is practice for finals!

Thursday: Continue working on short story.

Friday: Wild Mind Writing!

Week of January 3-6: Poetry Out Loud.


Vignettes: You should have three vignettes in your Creative Writing folder on Googledocs. You also need to include a paragraph that you revise for intentional use of fragements and identify one of your vignettes as polished and ready to be assessed for quality.


Nachowrimo! Write 20,000 words this month and reflect on the process and where you are as a writer - what are you good at? What skills need more development?

Week of October 31-November 4


Please take the Short Story Feedback survey: https://goo.gl/forms/2HwvVU7JOM74tzE03


Week of October 24-28

Work on your short story this week. Short story is due 10/31. Read about dialogue/narration/description, tension, moving images/images. Be sure your story is in line with the "your story needs" document we created in class. This document is in your "shared with me" on Googledrive.

Week of October 17-21

Monday - Tuesday: "Write what you know" story - outline three possible stories inspired by your 4 categories and/or 10 secret worlds. Each outline needs the following:

  1. A main character.
  2. A “need” internal conflict. What does your character want?
  3. Obstacles. This is more conflict.
  4. Setting.
  5. Another character – someone your character will interact with – there needs to be a dialog between your character and another character.
  6. Climax  - a turning point.
  7. Resolution. An outcome, an ending to your story. *do not kill your main character. 

After outlining 3 ideas, choose your favorite and write a story!

Wednesday -Thursday: Notecard story. Practice leaps and write 12 short sections to create a story. Write each scene on a notecard - you are limited to the space on the notecard.

Friday: Wild Mind Writing! Dialog - write conversations between two people, going down the page (a new line every time you switch speakers.)

What's in the Writer's Notebook: October

10/7: Wild Mind Writing: Short (He never...) Chaining (Her father always told her...) Long - write a whole story in a sentence (Once upon a time or It was a dark and stormy night.)

10/11: Characterization activity. Write several sentences for at least 6 of the characterization prompts. Include a name and age for your character. 

10/12: Write ideas for a story that is primarily dialog between your character and another character.

10/17: Write three outlines of possible stories based on your 4 categories and/or 10 secret worlds. Each outline needs to have all seven parts (see below.)

10/19: List of 12 items for the notecard story.

10/21: Wild Mind Writing - Dialog. 1. Write an argument between a parent and teenager, or a teacher and student, or a teenager and a younger child, or create your own argument situation. 2. Dialog with a start line, "That isn't mine." 3. Partner dialog with the start line, "What happened to you?" 



Week of October 10-13

Monday, October 10

Hello Writers! I am really sorry to be missing your first day of fiction writing. My daughter has a fever. I have a challenge for you - write a complete story, beginning to end, in this one class period. Your story won't be long, but try to make it complete. Set up a conflict, create a climax (turning point) and resolve the story. It doesn't have to be good. It just has to be complete. If you need an idea to get you started, try these links below. But quickly move from these fun websites into writing your story. I can't wait to hear them tomorrow!

First line generator: http://writingexercises.co.uk/firstlinegenerator.php

Conflict generator: http://storytoolz.com/generator/conflict

10 story ideas: http://letswriteashortstory.com/short-story-ideas/

Flash fiction prompts: https://nancystohlman.com/2013/02/19/30-flash-fiction-prompts/

Tuesday: Create a character for a short story using prompts in class. The iceberg theory - the writer needs to see the whole iceberg, while the reader can only see the top of the iceberg above water. You need to know everything about your character and choose what to share with your reader through your short story.

Wednesday: Read the short story "Marzipan" which is mainly dialog, then think of a situation for your character that would create a story featuring dialog.

Thursday: Write the dialog story. 

Week of October 3-7:

Read these two examples of creative nonfiction to define quality:

Quality Creative Nonfiction Essay Examples


Four Principles of Creative Writing Class:

  1. People learn to write by writing. In order to become a writer, you must write regularly. We will be writing in class every day. Be prepared to write for at least twenty minutes during each class period. You will also need to spend time writing at home for homework.
  2. Writing is a process. No piece of writing is perfect in its first draft. Throughout the semester you will have the opportunity to choose pieces to revise. All major assignments must be he result of multiple drafts.
  3. Writing and reading are related. In order to develop your writing craft, its important to read published authors. We will be reading short pieces of fiction and creative nonfiction in class for modeling and consideration of author’s craft. Out of class readings of your choice will be required every four weeks and will be assessed through a conversation with your teacher about author’s craft.
  4. Writing benefits from talking. As with most English classes, Creative Writing will include a significant amount of in-class discussion. We will discuss both the model readings and student work. Be willing to participate daily and avoid dominating in either small group or whole class discussions.


Creative Writing Goals:

Write a lot. Keep writing.

Write in a way that engages the reader. Show.

Revisit and rework your writing.

Share your work.


October 3-7

Monday: Notebooks checked. Finish "Things I've Lost" paragraph. Work on Creative Nonfiction Essay

Tuesday: Notebooks checked. Grading criteria for nonfiction essay. Work on essay.

Wednesday: Work on essay.

Thursday: Final day to work on essay or begin fiction

Friday: Wild Mind Writing! Essay due.


September 26-30

Monday and Tuesday: Work on research-based non-fiction.

Wednesday: Read Brian Arundel's "The Things I've Lost." Blending abstract and concrete. List things you've lost or found.

Thursday: Mimic Arundel's essay. Blending abstract, concrete and allusions. The assignment we're doing in class has been shared to your Creative Writing folder on Drive.

Friday: Wild Mind Writing

September 19-23 Creative Nonfiction - Working on memoir essay

Monday: Time to work on memoir. Suggested topics include reading and the common/coalition app college essay prompts.

Tuesday: Continue working on memoir essay

Wednesday: Creative nonfiction - research-based. Read Doyle's "Joyas Voladoras" and discuss the narrative techniques at work in the essay. 

Thursday: Begin your research-based nonfiction essay.

Friday: Wild Mind Writing!

September 12-16

Monday: We read about writing rituals and wrote a paragraph about what the ideal environment/writing routine would be.

Tuesday: Warm-up - Write about "guilty pleasures." We read about "write what you know" and started a list of four categories of topics and a list of 10 "secret worlds" that only you have access t

Wednesday: We read "Superman and Me" and talked about Creative Nonfiction as a genre.

Thursday: Warm up: the first book you read. Concrete and Abstract Nouns. Begin writing a memoir essay.

Friday: Wild Mind Writing. 

September 7-9: First Week of School!

We are working on generating material. The assignment for this week is Abecedarius - due on Friday.

Fridays: Wild Mind Writing! You are going to love this, believe me!