Lesson Plans

Sample Lesson Plans for Literature and Creative Writing Courses

Lesson plans, readings, and resources to inspire your students. 

 

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Bring The Common into your classroom: poems, essays, stories, and images that provide fresh perspectives on place and placelessness, home and belonging, migration and exile. Our issues frequently feature works in translation and special portfolios, including annual portfolios of contemporary Arabic fiction in translation published each spring.

    • Connect students to the global literary community.
    • Develop critical thinking, close reading, and rigorous analytic writing skills.
    • Inspire creative expression and encourage students to think of themselves in the roles of writer, editor, and publisher.

 

Lesson Plan: Group Assignment & Student-led Exercise 

Divide students into small groups (trios work well) and give them a week to:

  1. Meet together outside of class with their copies of The Common in hand;
  2. Select, as a group, a poem they particularly like,
  3. Prepare to read that poem aloud to the class, and
  4. Design and lead an in-class writing exercise for their classmates and teacher that is inspired by a technique or aspect of that poem.

Example

One group chose Fatimah Asghar’s poem “Kul” from Issue 14, read the poem aloud, and noted that it was based on one word that could mean several, potentially opposite things – a contronym. The students had generated a list of contronyms in advance and projected them on the board (e.g., “sanction,” “oversight,” and “left”). They then invited their classmates to write at least a few lines of a poem that would, in their words, embrace these opposite meanings.

“I like this exercise not only because it gets students engaging with the fresh texts in detailed ways (at the same time we are all receiving and getting into our new issues) and working together, but also because it gives them a sense of what it is like to be in front of a class, teaching (potentially useful information for those who may be considering that path.)” – Amy Weldon

Adapted from Amy Weldon, Professor of English, Luther College

 

Lesson Plan: Discussion

Student-led discussion:

Ask student groups or individual students to lead discussions on essays and poems from a single issue, identifying specific attributes of place-based writing and how that might apply to their own writing and/or how they perceive the places they inhabit.

Workshops:

Ask students to read all the poems, stories, or essays in a single issue, and to discuss them as a group—how they fit together and/or form a cohesive group across the whole journal, almost as if discussing a collection of poems, stories, or essays by a single author. How do they fit together with the rest of the issue?

Assignment

Identify a poem (or story or essay) from the issue that uses memory to link a past and present experience with place; write a poem (or story or essay) that functions in a similar way, but draw from your own experience.

Adapted from Curtis Bauer, Associate Professor, Texas Tech University

 

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Sample Lesson Plans for Literature and Creative Writing Courses
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Sample Lesson Plans for Literature and Creative Writing Courses

Lesson plans, readings, and resources to inspire your students. 

 

Enter your email to receive more sample lesson plans and a guide to our resources for teachers.

Bring The Common into your classroom: poems, essays, stories, and images that provide fresh perspectives on place and placelessness, home and belonging, migration and exile. Our issues frequently feature works in translation and special portfolios, including annual portfolios of contemporary Arabic fiction in translation published each spring.

    • Connect students to the global literary community.
    • Develop critical thinking, close reading, and rigorous analytic writing skills.
    • Inspire creative expression and encourage students to think of themselves in the roles of writer, editor, and publisher.
Sample Lesson Plans for Literature and Creative Writing Courses
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Sample Lesson Plan for Literature in Translation

Learn more about teaching The Common and request a free sample issue.

Living with an Author and a Translator

Adapted from Curtis Bauer, The Common’s Translation Editor, and Director of Creative Writing Program and teacher of Comparative Literature at Texas Tech University.

In this exercise you will explore the multidimensionality of a poem, essay, or story by “living with” the author and translator: reading and thinking about their work every day for a week. This is a multi-step assignment so read carefully and make sure you plan in advance.

Sample Lesson Plan for Literature in Translation
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Sample Lesson Plan for World Literature: Arabic Literature in Translation

Learn more about teaching The Common and request a free sample issue.

World Literature: Arabic Literature in Translation

Using Issue 11: Tajdeed

Adapted from Marilyn Sides, Senior Lecturer and Director of Creative Writing, in the Department of English and Creative Writing, Wellesley College

1) Read: Mohammed Rabie’s “Burdens,” Muhammad Khudayyir’s “The Hush Void,” and Mahmoud al-Rahabi’s “The Passing Carts,” as well as the “Contributor Notes” for these authors and their translators.

Sample Lesson Plan for World Literature: Arabic Literature in Translation
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Sample Lesson Plan for Writing & Publishing: Encountering the Literary Journal

Learn more about teaching The Common and request a free sample issue.

Discussion Questions:

What is your first encounter with this magazine, as an object?

What do you think about the physical and aesthetic features of the magazine: the weight, the paper stock, the cover, the cover art, the font? What, if anything, would you change?

How do you read it? In order? Piecemeal? How do you think this affects your reaction to the magazine?

How do pieces (poems, essays, stories, images) relate to each other? What is the effect of their placements on you as a reader?

Sample Lesson Plan for Writing & Publishing: Encountering the Literary Journal
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Sample Lesson Plan: Exploring Place through Literary Homage

Asking students to create homages to several of the works in The Common Issues 01 and 07 promotes a further exploration of the city in which they live. In fact, it requires it of them.

In Issue 01 of The Common, Ted Conover delivers an immersion essay in which he delves into the past and present of a nearly forgotten road near his home in New England. The first prompt of the semester, therefore, compels the students to write their own Conover-esque immersion essay by walking/exploring a street, building, or landmark in their city or town, seeking out written resources on this place, and gathering up the courage to probe living memory. The second prompt, handed out several months later, encourages them to become creative with what they have so far discovered in their town or city by selecting the works that most interested them inThe Common and emulating these.

Sample Lesson Plan: Exploring Place through Literary Homage
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Sample Lesson Plan for Personal Essay: Developing Voice, Exploring Roots

Assignment:

Using these essays from The Common as inspiration, bring your completely current voice to an exploration of history; write a concise personal essay exploring your personal history or the history of a place.

Coastlines” by Teow Lim Goh (may also be presented in conjunction with other California authors: Fante, Didion, Jeffers, Hong Kingston, Mori, Himes, etc.)

The Teak House” by Lamtharn Hantrakul

The Town with the Golden Future” by Will Preston (Issue 14) 

Sample Lesson Plan for Personal Essay: Developing Voice, Exploring Roots
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Sample Lesson Plan for Creative Nonfiction: The Personal Essay

Assignment:

Choose an essay from The Common and prepare and deliver an oral report in class on the piece, focusing on an aspect of craft: research, voice, style, place, point of view, and the development of the “I” character, as well as characterization of other characters in the piece.

Adapted from Rebecca Chace, Director of Creative Writing, Fairleigh Dickinson University
 

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Sample Lesson Plan for Creative Nonfiction: The Personal Essay
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Sample Lesson Plan for a Graduate Level Practicum

Assignment: Report on 2 Issues of The Common; select and discuss various, particular elements of the literary journal. 6 pages (1,800 words) minimum.
You will select and discuss 6 items, one from each of the categories below. You must write about at least one item from each issue. Choose from among:

The Common Statement
 Fiction
 Essays
 Art
Poetry
Elsewhere (Bombay/Mumbai, New Poems from China, etc.)

Sample Lesson Plan for a Graduate Level Practicum
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Sample Lesson Plans for Undergraduate Advanced Poetry

Learn more about teaching The Common and request a free sample issue.

Group Assignment & Student-led Exercise: Divide students into small groups (trios work well) and give them a week to:

  1. Meet together outside of class with their copies of The Common in hand;
  2. Select, as a group, a poem they particularly like,
  3. Prepare to read that poem aloud to the class, and
  4. Design and lead an in-class writing exercise for their classmates and teacher that is inspired by a technique or aspect of that poem.
Sample Lesson Plans for Undergraduate Advanced Poetry
Read more...