The final meeting this term of Writing Teachers Sydney was held at the Powerhouse Museum (Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences) in Ultimo on Saturday, March 25. Greeting us with a warm welcome was Peter Mahony, Education & Digital Learning Manager for MAAS. This was an unexpected and pleasant surprise and gave us an insight into the future possibilities of the site, both for ourselves and our students.
As a museum that celebrates technology and various applications, I was inspired to create writing stimulus that would fit within these collections. I assembled a range of tools and objects from my garage and attached tags, and at the last minute, gathered writing prompts used with my Year 12 English class. We are currently studying The Black Balloon an Australian film prescribed for Module C: Texts and Society Elective 1 – Exploring Interactions. On the Friday afternoon, we developed characters and wrote interactions according to a choice of four different criteria (these criteria can be found as part of an activity worksheet in The Black Balloon ETA Teaching Resource).
We began by choosing an object, then conducting a close examination. We wrote six descriptive words, shared these – one word at a time – with the group, then wrote another six words on the other side of the tag. This time, we thought more deeply about connotations. Again, we shared different words. This sharing always leads to an opening up, a freeing of ideas and creates a supportive writing space.
We chose a different object and wrote ideas about its use in the workplace, aiming for imaginative situations rather than obvious uses. This lead to further discussion, laughs and praise for some very different ideas. Some people made character associations, some made links with possible plots. This worked nicely with my next instructions:
Read and consider the criteria, then write an interaction in our 30 minutes of writing time. The space was large enough to accommodate people on comfortable chairs and lounges, or sitting at the group table.
We re-formed and read our stories. It was exciting to hear each contribution: poignant vignettes, prose poetry and elaborate plans. Ruby, a familiar character of mine, made an unexpected appearance after an absence of some years. In discussion, I mentioned that sometimes, an idea can percolate over time and present itself when the time is right.
The more we write, the more we allow ourselves to be there when the unanticipated happens.