Something I have been working on this term is making stronger and more efficient links between reading and writing, and authentically including the class blog into those sessions so we don’t need a whole session allocated to blogging each week. Here is an example of what I have done this week.
My students are learning about writing setting descriptions to use in narrative and descriptive writing.
In reading, we worked on identifying literal information about a setting. I modelled reading a setting description from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (first six paragraphs of this). Students visualised as I read and then noticed the way the Chocolate Room was described using some of the five senses.
In another session, we read a book called Anzac Biscuits (it describes a little girl and her mum making biscuits at home while her father is away in the war and the perspective swaps between the characters very vividly). Students noticed the various ways the setting and action was described, again through the five senses, and noted them on a sense-o-gram.
In writing I used the blog as the launch point for all the learning we would do for this lesson. Students read the learning intention from the blog and we used the picture prompt on the post about the five senses to refer back to what we already had noticed in the mentor texts.
We then travelled through The Secret Door from a link on the blog post. The Secret Door is THE COOLEST EVER tool! It takes you through the door to a real place that could be anywhere in the world! It gives a 360 degree view and allows you to walk around as you would in Google Maps Street View. The students were each taken somewhere different, including a theme park, underwater in the Great Barrier Reef, the South Pole, inside a telescope, and the middle of a baseball field during a game.
From here students brainstormed some words they could use to describe the setting they ended up in, using the five senses as a prompt.
In reading the next day, students looked for setting descriptions whilst reading independently, and in particular for phrases rather than just single words. They either marked them with sticky notes or took photos using their iPads.
In the next writing session, students went back through the secret door to a new location, took a screenshot of the view and wrote a descriptive paragraph about setting, using the five senses as a starting point, and reflecting on the types of descriptions we had been discovering in books and mentor texts.
Students added their setting image and a description on a Padlet (an online shared pinboard) which was embedded into the blog post we were using. Here’s our setting Padlet. This way student can go back and access the ideas collected on the Padlet anytime they want to use an idea.
I am really happy with this series of lessons; I linked literacy lessons so that what was covered in reading spilled over into writing through the mentor texts we read and analysed. The writing flowed easily from students as they had seen authentic author examples of what they were trying to do, and the blog fitted in perfectly. Students can now access the Secret Door tool on the blog, as well as their own and their classmates’ setting descriptions to use in the future when writing narratives.