This post is crossed-blogged from www.nearlygettingthere.blogspot.com
So, I’ve got a group of Year 10s who have a Controlled Assessment to complete. They are bright, targeted mostly Bs with a couple of As and Cs in the mix. We’ve been looking at different stories and analysing effective techniques, and today my aim was to push that deeper into their own writing and reflection.
Inspired by @redgierob and his Literacy Shed Story Starters, and @Learningspy’s Slow Writing task (http://learningspy.co.uk/2012/05/12/how-to-improve-writing/), the lesson went thus:
I placed A4 sheets of paper around the room, each containing only the first line of a story. The pupils had two minutes to read them all before standing at one. I then issued an instruction: they were to only write the next sentence of the story, and that had to be a complex sentence. Cue inevitable discussion about different types of sentence. The pupils had to really think about this one, before we moved on.
Once they had written their first, they moved onto a second sheet: here, the instruction was to begin with an adverb. On their next sheet, three simple sentences all under four words long. The next sentence had to contain some character point or detail, and be a compound sentence; and so on. I gave them 90 seconds thinking time at each sheet before asking them to commit to paper, which felt like a really long time, but they could have actually taken longer, as the task became more complex the longer the stories became.
After a lot of pondering, some clarification over sentence types and some discussion over clues in the text, the pupils then chose one final story for themselves. This sheet was the one they evaluated, wrote feedback on and discussed as groups and then as a class.
The lesson finished with them then taking the principles they had learned this lesson and writing the opening for their story.
All in all, it was an interesting lesson which threw up some surprising discussions about genre, immersing the reader and when writing needs to be tight or loose. Hopefully the pupils’ work will improve as a result!