Writing has been challenging this year in our shared space. Mrs Carruthers and I had to split the group into two to allow for the proper scaffolding to take place. We have had to be inventive and come up with exciting ideas to get our students interested in writing.
It is not always feasible to plan an activity or experience for the students to do on a Monday morning that they can then go off and write a recount on. For many of our students who are not independent writers we had to devise a way they could become independent. Sound bites saved us. We decided to create EE's and dictate sentences. Along with the dictation they had to form the words in front of them to make a complete sentence. Once the sentence is correctly formed they write this up in their book.
The next step we did for these students was to get them to do their own dictation. Record themselves saying one simple sentence they wanted to write. We encouraged them to use the yellow writing card words so they would have help with their spelling.
This worked well with most of them. Of course there were the students who thought it would be funny to be silly and say inappropriate things. But once their i-pad was removed and they had to go back to using pencil and paper their attitude soon changed and the next time they were asked to dictate they did so willingly.
Below is an example from a pick-a-path story the students are doing for Creative Space and their Hyperstudio animation. As you can see every child had the choice of what they played on at the playground and the teacher helped them insert this.
Knowing our students love to watch movies on their i-pads we researched and found some great short videos without orations. The students were asked to watch the movie and write a dialogue to go with the movie. The top writers were able to independently go off with their headphones and step by step write their own story line. They were encouraged to pause the video many times and write what they had seen and then restart video. This way they did not miss out any important features.
Once they were finished their story and it was on their blog they then got the opportunity to animate their story using their i-pad. I downloaded scenes from old junk yards and car wreckers and they could chose their own backdrops. Their job was to draw their characters and input them into the correct slides and tell their story.
The students really enjoyed this activity. The students who needed more support were given a simple dictation of 4 slides.
Mrs Carruthers and I swap the writing groups over every 2-3 weeks. This gives us both the opportunity to work with all students and all levels. One thing I have noticed working with such a diverse range of learners. You have to mix things up. You have to make the writing experience new, fun and most of all challenging. Everyone needs to be challenged as it makes you step up and become the best version of yourself. This is the same when writing. Scaffolding each group correctly is really important to draw the best out of our students. Kids love to experiment and try new words and phrases and giving them the opportunity to do so will surely have positive results.