This week we have been reviewing student learning, following an extended unit of work based around stories from fantasy settings. As part of our professional learning, we are also begining to work with the APP Materials published by the DCFS. We decided to see how the students would respond independently to creating a narrative of a slightly different type building on the experiences of the unit. We used the dialogue free narrative, "Bert" to extend the students' recent work exploring how the feelings and actions of characters help create mood in settings and stories we create. Using this non dialogue based text as a frame to hang their story on, we hoped to draw on the available design repertoire developed in one narrative context while applying them in another. Rather than writing a whole story, we also focussed on a "burst" write, that was based in one scene from the the story, a point where there was a change in mood and setting, in order to help us see how the students would use opener choices as section links before moving on to develop their description, through use of vocabulary collected during our previous unit, and within talk for writing sessions building to the task.
Examples of talk for writing
Throughout the week we used the whole movie in sections to support our build up to the writing session and vocabluary collection.
Using no image and only the sound track students discussed what they could hear from selected parts of the story, and worked in pairs to develop word showers, inferring and creating noun/verb or noun/adjective phrases from the opening scene, eg taps squeaking, birds singing, doors clicking/clunking, feet thumping, piano music. We discussed how characters might be feeling at this point in the story and what clues lead us to think this, the upbeat, light nature of the piano music for example.
These ideas were then applied to the movie without sound, by asking the children to predict where their sounds fitted movements and actions in the movie, focussing on the visual elements. The children also added to their word showers things they had observed before drawing together how visual clues such as the light airy nature of the kitchen, the sunshine and blue sky might provide clues as to the time of day, and add the music in suuporting ours and the feelings of the characters .
Finally we played the clip with sound and action together, to review with our talk partners, how our thoughts about sound and visual elements worked together.
Throughout the week we also wanted to link how visual ideas from the story can be used when we read other text types, helping us to understand what "written" stories are telling us, by visualising a scene we have just read, imagining what it would look/sound like. To help with this we chose other scenes to explore, and presented these in other formats, such as frame captures, placed in IWB notebooks to rub and reveal, collecting descriptive words and phrases for the setting, exploring character gesture and movement. We also shared teacher models of "written texts" based on scenes from the film and worked with these using ideas from the video task to support visualisation and inference based on personal experience as we engaged with comprehension exercises.
As start the day tasks, children were provided with example vocabulary they had collected to create "Super Sentences" with, some of these were stolen for use throughout the week in activities where students worked to expand and develop verb choice and addition of adverbials.
In my class I have a large number of boys (2:1 male to female) many are reluctant writers. They will talk for England, act out stories as part of structured talk for writing and reading activities. They have some fantastic ideas but getting them to submit these to paper has been a mammoth task.
Below are a few of the short paragraphs developed Friday in response to the work of the week and although not extensive when combined with other similar tasks provide insight into what as a group they have gained from the work we have done and are capable of.
Bert was frustrated and stomped to the park. He sat on an old rusty fence. Smack! He was hit by a rock. He turned around and to his surprise he saw his family. He ran into his mums arms. They went home and lived happily ever after.
Bert was walking slowly with his head down under the purple clouds. He sat down on the grey bench From nowhere a solid stone hit him. It was his real mum and 5 children. Bert was happy, jumpy jolly and excited, but most of all he had his family. They all went home and watched a movie with popcorn, and they all lived happily ever after.
Bert slowly dragged himself across the grass, thinking why his family had left him behind. He sat down on the bench, still wondering. Maybe he didn't have a family. He sat there just thinking. Suddenly something hit him. he felt winded..
Bert was so sad because his family didn't like him. He was different to everyone else. He thought he would go and take a stroll in the park. He came to a bench. He sat down and started to cry. Something moved behind him.
One Grouchy day Bert was walking about. He was feeling lonely so he sat down on the rusty broken fence. Suddenly something pushed him off it. So he turned around, he got the shock of his life at what he saw. It was his mum and dad and sisters. They ran around playing happily. It was time to go to bed so they all settled in for the night.