Usual holiday stories.
Or maybe not.
After the holidays the kids are always keen to share their holiday happenings, but for a lot of them not so keen to do this in writing. For my writers at the moment, choosing one idea and working with it is a hard task... distractions galore and we end up sharing a million things in one story. So, these holidays we aimed to create a holiday video about one event that happened in the holiday.
We looked carefully at success criteria which included surface and deep features as well as context to get started. I pulled out 2 areas in each part that as a class we needed to concentrate on. For this piece of writing we talked a lot about the order of the event and describing the event using interesting words. These are two keys areas as writers we need to work on.
In class we call boring words - 'wicked words'. The students are working towards creating a working wall in the classroom where replacement words can be found to help them during writing. The students can go up to the wall and find for example, words to replace over-used words for example replacing 'said' with words like shouted, growled, grumbled and more. This wall is being built up as the year goes on and students are learning to identify words that they use a lot in their writing - these then become class 'wicked words'.
The best tool that I have used to date in writing this year has been telescopic text. It's an extremely simple site that allows you to expand your ideas from something simple into something elaborate. Using the telescopic text writing site students are able to change and expand their ideas by editing words to create a story which grows in concepts and length. Check out some examples that they created here.
Unfortunately, you cannot save these without taking a screen video via a separate program e.g. Jing, so we used a screen shot to record the first and last piece of telescopic text. I can't wait until the registration opens on the site. It was amazing to see the changes and editing to their writing that the students made along the way, so it would be good to be registered so you can save these and review this later.
To start with we began with teacher modelling. I created my own holiday story that began quite simply with 'I went to the beach'. I then showed them how I could add descriptive words and how I had to think carefully about the order of events to expand my story into something amazing. We discussed the images that came to mind in the students because of the words I, the author, chose to use. The kids were buzzing!
(The grey text is where you click and the changes you made unfold - to be viewed)
Final piece of writing...
But of course, like all things... it's much more fun when you try for yourself. So off the students went in pairs to create their own telescopic text example using the write programme. They chose a simple sentence to explain their holiday - 'I went to the pools' etc They worked through adding different elements to their text so that it became more interesting and descriptive, moving text around and adding text in, so the order was correct. It was amazing to see the kids working with their buddies to edit and replace words along the way. The best part for them was folding the text back to their original, simple sentences and then watching click, by click, the changes they had made to create an amazing piece of text.
After several mistakes were made, we realised that we couldn't delete them. The really interesting thing for me was that after this was spoken about, the kids instantly began to check and re-check their words before they clicked to add the new ideas to their telescopic text example. They set their sights high and aimed for them, without anything needing to be said by me... brilliant stuff.
The kids spent 2 sessions working through their telescopic text examples before they went back to their original piece of writing to edit independently and then with a buddy. It was great to see a lot of changes made in their original piece due to the work we had created with telescopic text.
Today was the final stage - recording their video using photo booth to be uploaded to the blog. The learning objective of these lessons was not the video, but rather the way they were communicating and sequencing their written ideas for an audience. The video was a hook for getting the students to write and share their writing to a wider audience than myself.
It was really great to see the kids buzzing about their holiday video's rather than moaning about writing it!