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Stranger Sagas

Lesson Plan for KS3/4

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Mini Saga Lesson Plan

Preparation


  • Separate the 8 postcards with the story starters on (these were posted with your pack or you can download them) and place them around your classroom
  • Each student needs an entry form (you can photocopy them, download them or request them online)
  • All resources can be downloaded for free at www.youngwriters.co.uk/competitions/stranger-sagas

Introduction (Slide 1)

Explain to your students that today they will learn what a mini saga is and how to inspire their story writing with a single sentence before creating a mini saga for Stranger Sagas.

Activity Name Slide Reference Activity Details
What is a mini saga? 2

A mini saga is a story told in just 100 words. There are three golden rules of mini saga writing your students need to stick to:

  • Be original! Students can be inspired by other stories, but add a twist, make it their own!
  • Keep to the 100 word limit - less is always more!
  • Remember that mini sagas must have a beginning, a middle and an end!

Using a Sentence to Inspire a Story... 3-6

The story starters we've provided give students an idea of how a brief sentence can begin a story and how using a narrative hook can be effective. The story starters have been designed to be exciting yet vague, so students can explore endless possibilities of where a simple sentence can take their imaginations and inspire their creative writing...

Split the class into groups. With the story starter of: 'KEEP OUT. DANGER! the signs around the electric fence said...' ask each group to write down as many ideas for stories as they can think of. (Aim for at least one idea per person in the group.) The idea is to get students discussing genres and styles of writing from adventure and sci-fi to dystopian and mystery, there is lots to explore!

Once students have done this, bring the class back together and discuss all their ideas. Can students identify the different genres? Can they suggest any narrative techniques (e.g. flashback / cliffhanger)? Which plot idea is their favourite? Why?

Here are some keywords that may be mentioned during your students' discussion:

DystopianSupernaturalFlashforward
FlashbackMysteryAction
ParodyHistoricalPlot Twist
Parallel UniverseCliffhangerSci-Fi
ThrillerApocalyptic / Post-ApocalypticFantasy
BackstoryGhost StoryTime Travel
AdventureMyths & LegendsDisaster

Using a Sentence to Inspire a Story... 7-10

Share with your students this mini saga, it has been inspired by the story starter... 'KEEP OUT. DANGER! the signs around the electric fence said...'

The hums and crackles were hypnotic. I was drawn to it. Hairs on my arms slowly lifted up as the static electricity blanketed the air. The metal fence almost shimmered in the moonlight, shiny and new, yet sturdy. It had been built quickly, but it was there for a purpose. Crack! Someone else was here! My heart beat wildly, my breath shallow, rapid. What was on the other side? Why the secrecy?

'Maggie, come on now, back to your room.' A firm hand led me away from the fence as I wondered, is the fence keeping us out... or in?

Next, ask your students to get up and look round the classroom for the 8 story starter postcards, they need to read each one and decide which one they'd like to inspire their mini saga:

  • At birth everyone's tattooed with their date of death. Mine's dated yesterday...
  • The last thing I remember is...
  • I unravel the family portrait, if these are my parents, who's that downstairs...?
  • I need to tell someone the truth before it's too late...
  • The sun was blazing, I took out the map, I must be close...
  • There was a noise coming from the basement...
  • We watched from the Space Station as Earth exploded...
  • I got off the plane, the terminal was empty...

We encourage students to get up and move around, to interact rather than be handed a postcard. Looking for the story starters means students are intrigued, they will probably whisper ideas and generally it creates a buzz in the classroom and this energy will translate into their writing.

Next, show students the story example:

The scientists thought they finished this. The President gave them billions; everything they needed to remove the threat. The case file had finally been laid to rest, I might only be a sceptical janitor, but an Area 51 janitor needs to be educated. I've been conducting my own research and experiments. I'm looking at the only live, dormant sample of the parasite the labcoats call 'Hatred'. An outbreak would be cataclysmic. Hatred clings to brainstems of human subjects, feeding on negative emotions and influencing behaviour to incite hostility in others. Well... I've discovered a carrier.

The President has gone AWOL.

Can they guess which story starter has inspired this mini saga?

(It was: I need to tell someone the truth before it's too late...)


Composing a Mini Saga 11‐12

Now it's time for your students to write their own mini saga. Their work can be inspired by the story starter or they can use it in their story. They are welcome to use their own ideas, we don't restrain imagination, we love originality!

Ensure your students understand the task and answer any questions they may have before they start writing.

Plenary (Slide 12)

Ask students to work in pairs to read their mini sagas to one another. Their partner is to provide feedback; something they like and something that can be improved. The partner can help edit the work down if it exceeds the 100-word limit. Provide students with a few minutes to make any changes to their work.

Notes: This is a 60-90 minute activity, depending on the size and ability of the class. Introductory work can be done in the lesson and the mini saga can be written as homework.

DIFFERENTIATION

Challenge more advanced students by asking them to write their own story starter, then have them swap their idea with another student.

Less able students can work in pairs / their group on their mini saga and focus on sharing ideas. If they are able to, they can then write their own mini saga, even if it shares similarities with their partner / rest of the group's work.

To extend the activity, ask students to edit their work.

To link this activity with a book currently being studied, provide (or ask students to write) story starters inspired by the book and genre.