Lesson Plan by Christine Spillson
Featuring: Issue 19.1, The First Folio
Audience: High School, College, or Continuing Education Writing Class
- To discuss the relationship between personal storytelling, image, and language.
- To learn what “flash” nonfiction is.
- To create/draft flash personal nonfiction in response to generative image pools.
- Use poetry and visual art as models for how image can be used in a prose genre that also emphasizes precision and concision.
- To have students engage with the portfolio of broadsides and weave together multiple points of inspiration and experience to explore an idea.
In-Class Time: ~50 minutes
- Have students read the poems and respond to the art in the portfolio of broadsides prior to class meeting.
- Have them pay close attention to sensory details and imagery in both the poetry and art.
- Have them identify moments of storytelling and acts of mythologizing in the poetry and art.
- During class, discuss student observations and ask questions about themes of storytelling rooted in image and language that are present in the portfolio poetry.
- Introduce “flash” nonfiction (short prose, anywhere between 5 – 1,000 words, sometimes called “micro-(non)fiction” or “short-shorts”; here’s a definition from Writer’s Digest).
- Ask students to select at least five of the images (from either the poems or the art) in the portfolio that instigate a memory of a personal experience or instigate an emotional/intellectual response that connects to a memory.
- Provide a short amount of time for students to respond to the images—emphasizing first reaction and quick response—no more than a couple of minutes to write a couple of sentences responding to each (approximately 10 minutes).
- Discuss with students what they gravitated towards and why—did they stay rooted in the original image or take a sideways step into another image that was associated because of their own personal context?
- Discuss how flash nonfiction can often move associatively and have areas of sharp transition or juxtaposition.
- Ask the students to look at their responses and select at least three that could share thematic unity—what would that be?
- Provide students at least 15 minutes to respond to this prompt:
- Reverse it! Drawing from the (at least) three responses that could share thematic unity, reverse the process—don’t describe your reaction to the image, but rather describe/concretize the image using your response to it. Let that memory or emotional response influence the language that is chosen and what is focused on.
- Now there is a core of a flash essay to work with that is already rich in imagery. Ask the students to take the draft home and expand into a flash piece of 750 words while prioritizing those images.