“So we all know how it goes in the secondary English teaching world; read the book and then watch the film adaptation. This tried and tested method has been used by teachers since time in memoriam (or at least since the birth of the VHS tape).
After spending a particularly frustrating evening reading a set of narratives written by my year 8 class of which the majority ended with the immortal words: “And then I woke up,” I realised two things. Firstly, my comprehensive lesson on creating an interesting and cohesive narrative had been unsuccessful and secondly, something else had to be done. During the same academic year I was also teaching AS and A2 film studies and realised that the storytelling element of films could be applied to improving my students’ narrative writing.
The following week each English lesson was spent analysing the opening 20 minutes of Edward Scissorhands with pauses to write dialogue between the characters, create vivid descriptions of Edward’s garden and discuss the impact of the film’s non-chronological structure. At the end of the week, I gave my class a timed assessment and I was pleased to see that their narratives had improved greatly with non-linear structures, improved character descriptions and settings; although some students still stuck to their favoured “and then I woke up” ending.”