Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Our learning intention today was to make a list of adjectives to help describe a setting.We started looking at adjectives and descriptive sentences for the beginning of the fairy tale and describing the setting.
We began by talking about places we liked to visit around our region. After some thinking time, the class were asked to write down their favourite five places ie: Kihikihi Speedway, Lake Whakamaru, Waitomo Caves, The beach etc.
From their I modelled and asked them to brainstorm words that would describe: what it looks like, how it smells/ feels, and where it might be. I worked alongside my lower ability students supporting them by encouraging them to visualise and verbally describe their place. During this brainstorming stage I realised it would have been a great video session and I didn't have it set up (Note to myself - get the video set up before school each day ready for these teaching moments).
We shared some of our places and the keywords. We also shared some of the beginning words for fairy tales ie: Once upon a time, A long time ago etc.
The Learning Intention for this piece of writing was: to write a descriptive beginning of the story so that the audience can picture the setting;to write 2 - 3 sentences adding some of the adjectives to introduce the beginning of their fairy tale.
The children were asked to decide on a starter and then using some of the keywords begin to describe their setting. After they had written 2 - 3 sentences we came together to share our beginnings. I got the children to think about giving reflective feedback (refer to Shirley Clarke - Unlocking formative Assessment - Chapter 4 Feedback) specifically to do with the WALT. To do this we modelled the process by asking 2-3 students to share their piece of writing. When each child was sharing their beginning, the children were asked to shut their eyes and try to visualise what the reader is sharing. This strategy worked really well as you could see students facial expressions when they were confused or understood the readers description. The children were honest with their feedback and gave good suggestions which helped the writer make improvements confidently. I then got the students to continue with this strategy in pairs. I have given further feedback for their next writing session.
My reluctant readers have been reading and practicing fairy tale plays which has been a great way for them to understand sequencing, the importance of expression, getting the message across and have fun with reading.
We have also been discussing the online fairy tales that some of the children are reading for home learning. I asked what they found good about them. I received comments like: "my brother will help me with the hard words because its on the computer"; "I don't have to worry about looking for my books somewhere in my room"; "My dad wants to see what I'm doing and comes over and reads with me". "We don't have many fairy tales at home so its good because I just need to go online".I also asked them if there was anything that could make it better: "The pictures could move to help us with some clues for the words"; "The text size could be bigger"; "I would like to have a sound button for the really hard words, in case no one can help me"; "The story could be recorded and play at the same time as the text".
Listening to some of the parents, the online fairy tales has had a twofold effect. Firstly the children are motivated to get their reading and home learning completed and secondly the parents are becoming involved in the online activities and familiar with the class wiki.

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