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Lesson Plan

Rummaging for Fiction: Using Found Photographs and Notes to Spark Story Ideas

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Rummaging for Fiction: Using Found Photographs and Notes to Spark Story Ideas

Grades 9 – 12
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Six 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Junius Wright

Junius Wright

Charleston, South Carolina

Lisa Storm Fink

Lisa Storm Fink

Urbana, Illinois


National Council of Teachers of English



Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice



Found notes and photographs can provide inspiration for pieces of creative writing. After reviewing a sample story written from a found note and image, students search the Web for found images and notes that they find interesting. They then sketch the found image and label the parts they identify.  They select one character from the image and write questions about how that character relates to other elements in the image. Next, students imagine what would happen if the character they identified in the image found the note they selected. They then write an interview with the character from their image or a description of the image from the character's point of view. Students use an online tool to further develop the character they identified and to map the setting and conflict for a short story. Finally, students draft a short story based on the character, conflict, and setting they created.

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Online Photograph and Document Resources: Use these resources to search for interesting found images and notes.

Literary Elements Mapping Tool: Use this online tool to map out the key literary elements of character, setting, conflict, and resolution.

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In "Literacy in the Arts," Peggy Albers argues that "if we want children to represent meaning visually, musically, and/or dramatically, along with their written texts-in other words, to create a semiotic system-we have a responsibility to teach them how to create meaning in many sign systems" (8). Albers' work provides useful theoretical background to support offering students the opportunity to connect art, existing text, and their own writing in the classroom.

The NCTE Position Statement on Multimodal Literacies supports Albers' claims, noting that the "[i]ntegration of multiple modes of communication and expression can enhance or transform the meaning of the work beyond illustration or decoration." The implication for teachers and the students in their classrooms is the need to study and produce an "interplay of meaning-making systems."

Further Reading

Albers, Peggy. "Literacy in the Arts." Primary Voices 9.4. (April 2001): 3-9.


NCTE Executive Committee. 2005. Position Statement on Multimodal Literacies. Web. November 2009. http://www.ncte.org/positions/statements/multimodalliteracies.

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