Once their papers are numbered, I tell them that I’ll be showing them five slides. Each of the five slides has four pictures on it. Using any criteria they come up with, they have to choose one picture from each slide and write down their choices on the numbered (and skipped) lines. These will be difficult decisions. Tough choices will be made. I let them know these are personal, so they don’t need to share them with their neighbor. Here are the five slides:
Now it's time to create their own story. The purpose of the story is to demonstrate an understanding of the plot chart, so I make them begin by mapping out their story using a blank plot chart. They have to decide beforehand where their story is going. The stories they write for this assignment are usually extremely and wonderfully weird. Taylor Swift and her unicorn sidekick (because if they picked Taylor Swift, they almost certainly chose the unicorn on the second slide) take on the evil villain Barney in the creepy abandoned amusement park with nothing but the all-powerful magical egg.
Some of the stories are written well, some of them are not. But overall, the students are very happy with what they’ve produced. The day they’re due, I have them share their stories in small groups and discuss the stories with each other. See if their classmates can pick out the initiating event, the climax, etc.
One thing I’m going to do this year is work in some grammar lessons using these stories. I noticed that most of them aren’t capitalizing proper nouns, so that will be something we will address. Since we are doing a graphic novel unit, I’m also going to have them turn their story into a one-page mini-graphic novel.