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UBC Theses and Dissertations

In my backyard : stories of identity, community, and curriculum through creative writing House, Liisa Terell


The thesis, In my Backyard: Stories of Identity, Community, and Curriculum through Creative Writing, is a collection of three narratives of finding voice and community through creative writing and using these discoveries to shape a vision for writing in the classroom. Themes that emerged through this personal and pedagogical research included: the dichotomy between in and out of school writing, writing as an exploration of identity, and the ability of a classroom writing community to promote reflection and risk-taking. The thesis is written in three parts. The three parts in summary are an archive of my learning, a record of student voices on creativity and writing, and a practical teaching and learning tool for teachers of creative writing. Each part of the thesis vividly paints the landscape it represents and captures the characters who play with words in each context. Part One is an exploration and an archive of my matrilineal roots and what I learn from the writing on the dog-eared index cards in my grandmother's recipe box. I am transported back to a time when wives and mothers cooked dinner and desserts, like my grandmother's lemon squares, and kitchens were places of female wisdom. Parts Two and Three tell the story of students learning about their identities through creative writing. This research included personal observation, the experience of co-teaching, student interviews and student surveys. I learned that our classrooms are important places for creative writing as self expression can build self esteem. This can ultimately lead to a sense of community and personal freedom for young writers. Part Four is a curriculum for a new course, Creative Writing 10, inspired by Atwell's writing workshop approach (1998; 2002). Students look at English through the lens of writer and learn to play with words in the context of a cooperative teacher and student writing community. Together, as students and teachers, we hone the craft of creative writing; the stories in our bones becoming the curriculum from which we learn about who we are and the world we live in.

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