As an experienced practitioner, yet inexperienced English teacher, I have and continue to working hard to learn my refining my craft. The English Twitterati are a constant source of ‘tried and tested’ methods, strategies and ideas as well as encouragement when I strike out on my own.
This week we began with our Year 7a3 Creative Writing assessment piece. The structure and planning is for the first time being delivered via mindmapping webware ‘Popplet’ with the creative writing formula inspired by David Didau (@learningspy) slow writing processes. Combining the two methods, one untested with one tried and tested I hope will make a different to the students attainment.
Here’s how it works.
Spooky music is playing as the students entered the room. I asked the students to log on, access the site, create an account and follow the fab introductory instructions. I then gave then gave them a further 15 minutes to recreate the wireframe or scaffold as set out in Popplet and on display on the whiteboard and find a visual stimulus of a haunted house. Now, I know Google Images can be unreliable at times on school networks so I did create a folder of 10 Haunted House images on the network. 30 minutes, no excuses, wireframe and image. 30 minutes into the lesson and everyone was up to speed, some had gone onto to find a character and problem image. From here we used the wireframe to develop the students setting, drawing on the five senses ‘Sherbet Lemon’ unit of work.
Next we looked at the character and I asked the students to find a suitable image. It was pleasing to see students select a wide range of leading characters. The final task on the day was to write the opening two lines of the story. Introducing the setting and how did the character(s) were position at the haunted house at the start of the writing piece.
Lesson 2 was used to complete the plan, again with popplet. Students shared and developed their ideas on the lead character, the beast (now also extended to demon, spirit, or ghost). The solution, and finally ending. The resource can then be printed and shared as a writing stimulus for all students.
With a thorough plan in place, I had hoped to use David Didau (@learningspy) slow writing process. However, I may need to rethink the final step. This morning I used the ‘Slow Writing’ Triptico App with a top set Year 7b1 class for a fortnightly single skills class. The Prezi is here. I was very impressed by the care and attention the technique enforced. Indeed so were the students, that surprised me a little, who where very proud indeed of their finished writing. That said, the sentence tasks challenge is quite broad, ranging from write a 15 word sentence to embedded suboardinate clause or the sentence must contain an assertion presented at a fact. These tasks presented a real challenge for 7b1, and one would therefore conclude would present an even more significant challenge for 7a3.
The question is, do we ask David Riley for a way to manage the difficulty level or do we support our less able learners?
Without question I agree with David Didau,
Generally speaking, students find it straightforward to write what they want but it’s much harder for them to think about how they’re going to write it. This process forces them to concentrate on the how instead of the what.