I also like to have students write
some of their own creative work as
a way for them to look at literature
from the perspective of an author.
Why do poets or writers make the
choices they make in their writing?
When students create their own
literature, they better understand
figurative language and literary
devices, for example.
Students have to understand concepts, such as protagonist or stream
of consciousness, before they can
illustrate these terms in their own
writing. ThumbScribes can be a
great resource because it gives
students criteria, through prompts,
for a specific piece of work to write
and post on the site. As an assignment, you can post a prompt such
as: “Write a piece of flash fiction
that illustrates the theme of ‘
American identity reinvention’ using first-person narrative, an antihero, and
popular slang terms from the past
two decades.” Another part of the
assignment could be to add a plot
conflict to one of their peer’s stories.
ThumbScribes not only offers students an authentic audience, but it
doubles as a collaborative platform
for teaching literary concepts.
Interacting with Established Writers
Under the Featured tab on the home-page, a newsfeed shows prompts submitted by notable ThumbScribes users,
including published writers or students
studying for their master’s of fine arts
degrees. For example, Lauren Beukes,
a South African author and winner of
the 2011 Arthur C. Clarke Award, has
created “exquisite corpse” prompts.
Exquisite corpse is a group-writing
exercise where each person adds a
line to a text, usually without seeing
all of the words that came before.
Students who are interested in becoming writers can make their first
connections and learn about other
writers on ThumbScribes. They can
chat, rate each other’s work, or collaborate. Often, getting another perspective can help young writers develop their skills, and having access to
online literary journals with top-notch
writers gives students a vision for
what they can do with their writing
as they develop.
Freedom of Expression
My students like ThumbScribes because they enjoy choosing a medium
to express their ideas. One of my students remarked that the site would be
something she would share with her
friends and that she liked that other
people could see her work and contribute to it if they wanted.
Perhaps the best part of all is that
ThumbScribes is easy to use. Students
need only an email address to sign up
for the site. Once they register, they can
sign in using either Twitter or Facebook.
As a preservice teacher and aspiring fiction writer, I have observed that
many students and writers stifle their
own ideas before they have a chance
to develop them. With the help of
an online community that promotes
good writing and understands the often painstaking process that it entails,
students learn that writing starts with
seemingly insignificant ideas. Students
need an audience that allows them to
develop their ideas and provide feedback. Critique of writing is important,
but vision is the essence of writing. Fostering this vision means motivating students to express themselves creatively.
—Jennifer Cooper is a middle school English
teacher working in the suburbs of Detroit,
Michigan, USA. Her passion is writing and encouraging people around her to embrace writing.
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