I came across mini sagas in Neil Watkin and Johannes Ahrenfelt’s The Exam Class Toolkit [which I can highly recommend]. Mini sagas are stories that are exactly 50 words and have the same construct as a regular story in that they have a beginning, a middle and an end. They were first promoted by Brian Aldiss and The Daily Telegraph in the early 1980s. As Watkin and Ahrenfelt state mini sagas are most successful when they are cryptic and students must work out their meaning.
Mini sagas offer many different opportunities in lessons to explore stories and their meanings. They can be used in lessons as a starter in order to introduce a story, a person or an event. Because of their cryptic nature, students have to work out or guess their meaning, but also mini sagas as a starter can create curiosity and there is engagement right at the beginning of the lesson.
However, my main use of mini sagas recently have been for students to write mini sagas themselves as part of the revision programme. The lesson begins with outlining what a mini saga is and then I present one of my own making. Students have to guess what the mini saga is about, what the meaning of the mini saga is and also what is left out. The interrogation of a mini saga could centre around these questions –
– Who is involved?
– What is the subject of the mini saga is about and how does this relate to the exam?
– What has been left out?
– What else could have been included?
Once students are familiar with mini sagas and their construction, they then write their own based on any event, person or development that relates to the course. When the mini sagas are completed, each read out their mini saga to the rest of the class who then have to answer the questions above in evaluating each mini saga. Therefore, all students are involved and that each are peer assessing each others work.
For History, mini sagas work on a number of levels –
– If students are writing their own then the literacy OFSTED box is ticked especially as you are using creative writing as a device.
– Mini sagas is a another way of introducing content.
– Mini sagas can also offer reviewing and revision opportunities which are different and engaging.
– Mini sagas can utilise important source skills. In writing and evaluating mini sagas students are deploying skills such as applying their own knowledge to understand the meaning of a mini saga.
Please find below PowerPoints written for Key Stage 3, 4 and 5 lessons on writing mini sagas. If you try them let me know how it goes.