If you teach writing or incorporate writing into your classroom, then you know how important it is to make sure you have a solid grasp of all kinds of different types of writing. Staying up-to-speed on many different kinds of writing can feel overwhelming. The good news is that there are many options for online courses for teachers that will help you upgrade your skills in whatever areas you feel you need improvement. And you needn’t even spend any of your hard-earned money on them, as all the ones listed in this article are free!
1. Writing and Reading Short Stories
From the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), this course introduces you to the short story form. You’ll sharpen your skills by writing your own short stories as well as short descriptive sketches. You’ll also learn from the masters of the form by reading plenty of awesome short stories. Everyone has the opportunity to engage in lively discussions with your peers about each other’s writings, as well as assigned short story readings, including the social and historical contexts in which they were written. Keep in mind that the short story will always be an important literary form, especially for beginning writers.
2. Writing and Reading the Essay
Also offered by MIT, this important course recognizes how the essay is enjoying a major revival as a form of writing. In fact, right now it’s probably easier to get a well-crafted essay published through traditional means than either a novel or a short story. Whether it’s taking a humorous approach or a an investigative journalistic style, this is one form of writing that everyone should make sure is a solid part of their good writing skills.
3. Writing What You Know
Offered by the UK’s Open University, this 8-hour introductory course will totally turbo-boost your descriptive writing abilities. This course helps you sharpen your ability to draw on your own senses, memories, and observations in your writing. You’ll learn new ways of deepening your ability to see the myriad details around you in the world. This includes learning how to look at something you think is very familiar in a whole new way, including your own personal history. Sometimes the best writing is about something mundane that you finally turn on its head to see it in a whole new light.
4. Start Writing Fiction
Also by the UK’s Open University, this course features material from The Fiction Writer’s Workshop by Josip Novakovich. The course helps you map out characters and settings, including how the two interact to form compelling narratives. It also gets into leveraging the choice of genre and how that informs your writing.
5. Writing for Children
Available through University College of Falmouth’s OpenSpace initiative, this is a two-part YouTube series that will get you up-to-date on the huge variety of possibilities that exist in the world of children’s books, from choosing among the many options in style and genre, as well as how to go about getting published. This course aims to get you building up a portfolio of ideas across a range of ages. Many people think they have a children’s book in them, so taking this course will show you how to make that dream a reality.
6. How Writers Write Poetry
Need to upgrade your poetry writing skills? If so, then this course from the University of Iowa is a great place to start. It offers a well-sequenced review of everything you need to keep in mind when writing poetry, including all the standard practices and principles. You’ll enjoy a carefully selected series of presentations by a couple dozen critically acclaimed poets who all write in English. You can even get an official certificate of completion for this course, which will look great on your resumé.
7. How Writers Write Fiction
Another offering from the University of Iowa, this six-week course takes a similar approach to the poetry course, drawing upon real authors to present how they engage in their craft. Some contributing authors may even offer live online question-and-answer sessions with enrolled participants. There’s no substitute for learning from those who have already experienced success in their writing efforts.
8. What is Poetry? and Approaching Poetry
The UK’s Open University offers two great courses on poetry, one that is for beginners ( What is Poetry) and one that is more for intermediate writers (Approaching Poetry). The introductory course reviews many of the techniques that support a wide range of poetical forms. This is an intermediate course focused on developing the analytical skills needed for a deeper examination of poems.
9. Cleaning Your Copy: Grammar, Style and More
This is a great course to take in order to beef up your editing and proofreading skills from the perspective of journalistic writing. It’s super-short, but packed full of great information. If you’ve never experienced the true satisfaction that comes from taking a person’s written work and helping them polish it into a high shine, you owe it to yourself to take this course. You may just find out that you love editing!
10. Creative Writing
Another offering from the UK’s Open University, this one is a big commitment, but completely worth it to take your creative writing (and teaching) skills to the next level. Over the course of 32 weeks, you’ll experience all kinds of exercises that will help you get the most from your writing sessions, including how to reach and maintain your creative edge. The course begins each year in October.
With free courses like the ones listed above, you can easily upgrade your writing skills in ways that will greatly benefit your efforts to teach better writing to your students, so start taking advantage of them today!