The deserted land spread out as far as the eye could see engulfed in snow – a white wasteland.
A soaring wind began to pick up as it howled into the last, soulless sky scrapers.
Written by a relatively weak Year 9 set, these are two of my favourite sentences from today’s creative writing lesson based on the LG Optimus image mapping display (lesson plan in earlier post) which was an undoubted success! It was the last lesson of the day and I floated out of the classroom on an absolute high! Bliss.
My objective for the lesson was to try five sentence dictation as a starter. This worked well in terms of engaging the pupils in the lesson and they created their own accurate objective with ease. This objective then became the stimulus for their assessment criteria before they began to write their ten minute paragraphs. From discussion of the five sentences, they independently decided to focus on:
- Using a variety of sentence structures for effect
- Using adventurous vocabulary
- Using strong imagery to create mood and atmosphere
You could have heard a pin drop during the ten minutes writing time (except for the soundtrack of the you tube clip which was playing in the back ground as inspiration) and the pride with which each student read out their favourite sentence and stuck it on the board was so wonderful to see. In many cases this was the best writing they had done all year so this lesson was a total gem in terms of demonstrating progress whilst not sacrifices sheer enjoyment. Thrilled!
I would definitely use the five sentence dictation idea again but leave more time for them to develop their discussion of the text itself. I felt mean cutting them short as they wanted to work out what the extract was about and where it was from etc. A good way of engaging first and then identifying learning opportunities collaboratively. Would work well at all levels.
As a side line however, this activity did raise the question of handwriting and its value and importance in the modern curriculum – and I notice I am not the only one pondering this topic this week:
Of course, I entirely agree with the good ship Guardian that ‘it is ludicrous to say that teaching handwriting is irrelevant.’ However, because we do not teach it discretely any more, students do seem to be less proficient when trying to utilise this ‘personal, creative, individual thing’! It took this set a surprising amount of time to copy down the five sentences from Catch 22 and I wonder if an element of the old school (taking down dictation etc) should not be brought back into the classroom from time to time? All be it used in a different way than it ever was. Ideas on a postcard anyone?
Tuesday’s objective: Place Picture on board and ask ‘any questions?’
This worked reasonably well in terms of sparking a discussion which lead to interesting independent analysis of two articles about sweatshop labour and high street fashions. However, with a top set (year 10) it didn’t go far enough. On balance I much prefer picture starters which demand some analytical thought: ‘which is the odd one out?’ For example or ‘what would the next photo in the sequence be?’ These questions seem to lend themselves to more sophisticated and productive discussion.