Creative Writing

Mission Statement

The Creative Writing Department at SCPA is dedicated to creating an imaginative, inspirational and productive environment focused on the process of writing. In our community of artists, the objective is to write honestly, producing professional quality pieces resonating with life and voice. Through daily practice in reading, writing, listening and speaking, students will mature artistically and aesthetically while reaching a wide audience through numerous performance and publication opportunities.

Course Sequence

  • Fundamentals 4-6 
  • Techniques 7-8 
  • Global Issues 9-11 
  • Dramatic Process 10-12 
  • Advanced Media Communications 11-12 
  • Critical Concerns 11-12 
  • Pandora’s Ink: Honors 12

Dramatic Process provides students with a foundation in theatre/film script writing. Students analyze and explore Dramatic Structure as it applies to theatre and film. Students work on script projects culminating in a theatre performance or film piece.

Advanced Media Communication is a continuation of the Dramatic Process class. Students conceptualize, write, revise and direct a play or film that is performed for the public and entered in local, state and national competitions.

National Standards: English/Language Arts

(Revised {see italics} by Dr. Joy A. Fowler for SCPA Creative Writing Department, 2002)

Students read a wide range of print and non-print texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; to tap into the potential and power of literature and writing as an art, and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, poetry and drama, classic and contemporary works.

Students read a wide range of literature from many periods in many genres to build an understanding of the many dimensions (e.g., philosophical, ethical, aesthetic) of human experience, reflected by the evolution of literature and the changing societal role of the author.

Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, create and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence,, sentence structure, context, graphics).

Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.

Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.

Students apply knowledge of language structure, language conventions (e.g., spelling and punctuation), media techniques, figurative language, and genre to create, critique, and discuss print and non-print texts.

Students conduct research on issues and interests by generating ideas and questions, and by posing problems. They gather, evaluate, and synthesize data from a variety of sources (e.g., print and non-print texts, artifacts, people) to communicate their discoveries in ways that suit their purpose and audience.

Students use a variety of technological and information resources (e.g., libraries, databases, computer networks, video) to gather and synthesize information and to create and communicate knowledge.

Students develop an understanding of and respect for diversity in language use, patterns, and dialects across time, cultures, ethnic groups, geographic regions, and social roles.

Students whose first language is not English make use of their first language to develop competency in the English language arts and to develop understanding of content across the curriculum.

Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.

Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for becoming an author of literature, learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).

Copyright 1996-2002 by Education World, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Italics added 6/1/2002 by Dr. Joy A. Fowler

Writing Department Policy


Boards proficiencies will be held in the Writing Department during January. All students will read a brief selection for other writing majors and teachers available during each particular class bell. All students will prepare a portfolio, the content of which is to be determined by the teacher. All students will critique the readers they hear. All students will receive the critique sheets from staff and students. Students taking more than one writing class will read and prepare portfolios for each class.  For juniors, this portfolio will be developed into an entry for the Corbett-Meyerson competition whether that student competes or not. The format and content will be similar to that of the National ARTS competition and Scholastic competition portfolio requirements. A similar portfolio review will take place after mid-term of the fourth quarter without the department-wide reading, but culminating in the Spring Festival recital.

Purposes of boards

  • Assess student progress
  • Assess artistic growth
  • Provide a pathway to excellence
  • Emphasize the importance of maintaining an up to date portfolio
  • Provide an audience for student work
  • Allow all teachers and students to hear a variety of work, practice audience skills, practice critiquing skills
  • Practice presenting skills
  • Demonstrate a continuum of writing skills and techniques
  • Create a community of writers across age levels
  • Teach and encourage professionalism

Boards requirements

Prepare portfolio items per class as assigned by teacher at beginning of quarter

  • Arranged in chronological order
  • Best of representative genre typed (depending on class and grade level)
  • Selected by student with teacher input as requested for all drafts available to show strength in one area
  • Two-minute reading limit  

Accompanying reflection in literary terms may include

  • Written rationale for the choice of the piece
  • Compare/contrast
  • Critique

(Public speaking rubric will be provided beforehand.)

Portfolios will be evaluated according to their completeness; adherence to the individual teacher's stipulated content, format and deadlines; and demonstration of artistic growth as a writer.  Individual pieces will be evaluated by the following department wide rubric developed from those used by Power of the Pen, CPS, Career Technical Education and the State of Ohio Proficiency tests. The scale will run from 1-4, with 1 indicating inadequate performance; 2, minimal performance; 3, acceptable performance; and 4, exemplary performance.


  1. Inadequate performance: Writing is absent, difficult to follow or lacks intelligibility.  Language and writing are unclear, dull, vague and/or unimaginative. There are irrelevant elements and details. The main idea is not developed or off topic. There is little demonstrated understanding of the purpose of the chosen genre.    Writing contains some concrete details but is not clearly developed. Some ideas are missing, out of order or inappropriate for audience or purpose.  Errors are distracting.
  2. Minimal performance: Writing is clear in the main but lacks creative organization, depth and/or detail. Content is communicated but does not sustain reader's interest. The topic is developed but with more telling than showing, and details are in evidence, but the voice is weak, the style fades and there is no depth. Writing is too personal, preventing audience identification. Language is understandable but unimaginative and/or uninspired.   The potential of the chosen genre is undeveloped. Mechanics involve little variation and contain some errors.
  3. Acceptable performance: Topics are well developed, genre elements are in evidence and details are well ordered and clear. Writing includes appropriate detailed description and fresh beginnings.  Ideas are creative and innovative. Voice and intensity are present but not sustained.  Message lacks universal application. Characters are not fully developed. Plot needs more energy. Poetry needs more power. The strength of the genre is not fully shown. Mechanical errors are rare.
  4. Exemplary performance: This writing is strong, effective, unique and captures the readers interest. The ideas are original, creative, imaginative, resonating and/or thought provoking. The writing is well organized, expressed with clarity and clear individual voice. The writing demonstrates technical mastery using vivid detail, complex imagery and/or subtle literary devices, creating a sustained level of excellence of expression. A strong sense of purpose and audience is evident throughout. The author's voice emerges clearly from the piece. Infrequent technical or grammatical errors.

Review policy

Parents and students will be notified if grades fall below the required "C" average, beginning at first quarter mid-term. In the event a student is not maintaining a "C" average at the end of first semester, the portfolio will be assessed by the teacher, department chair, parents and student, and a progress exam administered to determine the appropriate action. Options range from counseling out of the department for two successive quarter failures, to probation of one quarter, contingent on all missing work being made up at at least a "C" level by the next mid-term. If at the end of third quarter, the student still has not earned at least a "C" average, barring emergency situations, re-audition for another major or attending another school will be recommended.


Suspicions of plagiarism will result in a conference with student, parent, teacher, department chair and principal where pertinent evidence may be brought forth.  Proven plagiarism will result in an "F" for the assignment, immediate department probation and disciplinary action according to the Disciplinary Code for CPS. Department recommendations for inconclusive situations with strongly grounded suspicions include redoing the assignment.

Co-curricular time commitment expectations

All majors are expected to participate in at least one event per quarter outside the regular school day.  Required attendance events are one's own class recital, the BookFair! and Spring Festival. Options include attending other writing classes' recitals, Open House for new students, Fine Arts Sampler Weekend, Power of the Pen and the Corbett-Mayerson competition and/or participation in creating interdisciplinary performances with other departments such as Fireworks, Tall Stacks and the African Dance Ensemble.   Failure to attend an event per quarter will result in an "F" being averaged into the quarter grade. Excused absences, per parent note, may be permitted but must be made up within a quarter to satisfy the obligation.

Arts diploma criteria for writing

Students must:

  • Take both bells of an ensemble level class in grades 11 and 12
  • Maintain a minimum of a "B" average in writing in grades 11 and 12 maintain a minimum of "C" average overall during grades 11 and 12

Creative Writing Department at a Glance

  1. Departmental sequence of classes
    • Fundamentals  4-5-6
    • Techniques  7-8
    • Global Issues  9-10-11
    • Dramatic Process  10-11-12
    • Advanced Media Communications  11-12
    • Critical Concerns  11-12
    • Pandora’s Ink, Honors  12
  2. All Juniors prepare Corbett-Mayerson entries. All Seniors prepare Capstone projects. Both participate in after school practicum, accumulating over 250 hours per year in career path exploration.
  3. To be considered for Pandora’s Ink, students must participate in leadership roles on at least one major publication. Designation to be awarded at end of senior year.
  4. 7-12 graders must submit for Scholastics annually.
  5. All writing majors must submit to every in-house publication they are eligible for including Pandora's, 1310, etc., plus at least four others during the school year in or outside of school.
  6. Students must come to at least four after school events a year. Your recital, the BookFair! and Spring Festival are required. Other possibilities include the New Playwrights Festival, Got A Clue?, Anthology, author appearances at the library and poetry readings at bookstores.
  7. Volunteer service beyond the school day. For example, working on yearbook, auditions, and performances or maybe even sponsoring a poetry slam. For younger students, service might include putting up bulletin boards, straightening the computer lab or recycling.
  8. Boards portfolios are prepared according to individual instructions per class. These usually occur the last two weeks of every semester and are assessed for artistic growth, improved skill level, maturity, emerging voice and increased depth and complexity. Students can receive ratings of excellent, passing, warning, or failure. Boards are designed to help students progress in their arts majors, giving feedback for improvement. For grades 4-6, the process is formative. In grades 7-12, portfolios scoring a warning or failure will put the student on probation and recommend a remediation process. If a student receives scores of warning or failure two out of three times or twice in a row, that student and his or her parents will be counseled about the best course of action for the future, including choosing another major or repeating the class.
  9. Students must maintain an active and in good standing Cincinnati Public library card.
  10. Students must spend time reading and writing every night. Writers need to read like writers, looking for technique, structure and pattern.