As I mentioned in an earlier post about Comic Strips, the literacy target we have shared with our students for this term is to remember to include capital letters and full stops when we are writing, and to begin to use exclamation and question marks.
What has been interesting this week is the slowly emerging realisation that punctuation is not actually for the writer, but for the reader. A full stop indicating where a unit of sense making ends in an oral text, and a new unit begins. But also the "hooky bit" and the "line what comes down," above the full stop changes the effect it has. The full stop doesn't change, what we need to decide is how we want what we have written to be said by our reader, and that this will help us to decide whether our full stop requires the addition of these other parts to the mark. Deciding which mark to use requires us to put ourselves in the shoes of our reader.
This week we have been playing a range of table top games, and carrying out theme based activities, which have required the students to read their sentences aloud, working with a partner to "rehearse and write," and then on the basis of what they make, to first of all decide whether their sentences make sense, and to add the capitals and full stops. Following this using a coding system with highlighters, green for go, and pink for think, they have been encouraged to check each others completed sentences, to see if they have remembered their full stop and capital letter, before together deciding if any additions need to be made to the sentence to turn it into a question or an exclamation. To consolidate and practice this process they have really enjoyed reorganising silly sentences, such as "the bone bit the dog" "good a reader am I", rehearsing these together, the latter leading to some interesting dicussion and debate around the rightness and wrongness of answers, as it can be written, as either:
I am a good reader. Or..
Am I a good reader?
Today I used one of the nice examples from the BBC words and Pictures web site, printing it to a smart book for the students to use as a start of the day task.
We are learning about Henry VIII and his six wives at the moment, and I have decided to use extracts from Richard Brassey's brilliant picture book Brilliant Brits : Henry VIII,to help collect ideas and information for the vodcast we will eventually make. Using scanned images to play punctuation spotter games, and to begin discussing how we might read what he has written to an audience through the punctuation clues and cues he has written.
Today the students used an image of Old Henry from the book, to create simile sentences in a ten minute challenge, to describe what they could see. This was followed by an acrostic activity, where from a portrait of Henry as a Young man they were challenged to write a simile sentence for each letter in his name. Some of the outcomes were really lovely, and I decided to begin recording these, performed during the plenary session by the students who wrote them using Podium. The children were so motivated by this they did not want to go out to play, I eventually had to call a stop to the task by promising we woiuld retun to it at the start of tomorrow's session. The thing that really stood out for me from this activity, was just how hard they tried to use the ideas they had begun to learn about the role of punctuation in their work, for some this was remembering to pause at the full stop, though for others trying to add expression to the performance was also evident. In returning tomorrow, I think I will use the files we have already recorded to begin thinking about how performances might be enhanced, enabling space to rehearse more thoroughly before recording. I will try to publish the final performances to their podcast station later in the week, and to update the blog so anyone who would like to can share the production. I am sure the children will enjoy the idea that they can share these at home with their parents, though it will also be interesting to see what kind of reaction these files will get from the wider school audience if sent for sharing in our celebration assembly on Friday.