Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Taking the writing further

When children start to string ideas together, it tends to be more a stream of consciousness rather than a considered project. When it streams, it is either one very long sentence (the unconscious mind doesn't have punctuation) or many short, stilted ones where the object of the story or topic is repeated over and over again.
An example of this would be;

"Jack went into the garden to play. When Jack got to the garden he saw his football and kicked it about. After thirty minutes Jack stopped kicking his football. Jack came inside and had his tea."

the repeat being on the boy's name.
Or we could have had;

"Jack went into the garden and in the garden he found his football so he started kicking his football about and he kicked his football for thirty minutes before he came back inside and had his tea."

the stream of consciousness. In both cases I am presuming we have used capital letters and full stops adequately, but that too can be an issue.
Then there are the pupils who agonise over what they are going to write because they don't want to write something they think will be unworthy. I know of some students who will spend days thinking of the idea and after maybe a few days of tears, worries, and mum almost screaming, "Please, just sit down and write it!" They produce something of exceptional quality.
So how do we break through?

It's all in the planning

When they first start planning, it will be a nightmare, but as they get used to it, and as time proves how successful it is, the process becomes easier and in the end they will complete it in their heads. Take for example the Blog I recently posted, Phrasing the ideas, that student planned his writing, but it was all done in his head and the final tidying of the piece was completed as he wrote. This is what we are aiming for, but to start with it takes time and practise.


Setting up the plan

once the title, or the subject of the piece is decided upon, the next stage is to get a series of basic ideas down on paper. Create 5 boxes big enough to get 5 bullet points in each and a title saying what each is about. Then come up with 5 different stages in the story. Here's and example;
Dara catching and riding the dragon
  • going to find a dragon
    •  climbing into the mountains
    • hate heights, hate looking down
    • hear a horrific noise and get frightened so I hide
    • see a huge, beautiful dragon land just a few metres from me
    • recognise the type of dragon
  • finding and catching the dragon
    • dragon sees me and snorts
    • I give it some food with a sleeping potion in it
    • dragon eats and drifts to sleep
    • put saddle and bridle on it and wait
    • dragon wakes up and is shocked
  • having a problem riding it
    • dragon takes off and loops about
    • hang on with all my might
    • terrified by being high up
    • close my eyes and nearly fall off
    • grab his neck and scream
  • getting organised and riding into the sky
    • dragon realises I am frightened
    • is a female dragon, thinks I am a baby dragon
    • is nicer to me and is careful
    • start to understand
    • fly into the sky and enjoy it
  • showing those who teased me I have done it.
    • fly over the school 
    • see boys on playing fields
    • swoop down
    • frighten them
    • they see its me and can't believe it
.....and now the plan is done, the story is all but written. The more they practise this the easier it gets and in the end they will find they are doing this sort of planning in their heads.

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