The Hallgarth Odyssey: A Teacher's Tale of StorySpinner in Action...
Our writer communicated with us via the web, becoming a 'mystery' voice from behind the interactive whiteboard in the classroom. My students and I had entered into a partnership with a professional writer. We felt that we were writing for a purpose, a feature which all pupils responded to with enthusiasm, both boys and girls.
Writers in the Making
Students eagerly awaited the next session and began to regard themselves as writers and recognise that the potential to be creative is within us all once we recognise how to harness and develop it. In particular, students began to understand the essential processes of editing and re-drafting.
There were plenty of opportunities for group collaboration which gave a support and encouragement for pupils of all abilities to contribute their ideas without feeling inadequate. In one session our writer asked the pupils to draw a map with imaginative and diverse landmarks. This fired up one Y7 boy with such enthusiasm when he then had to imagine how his character might connect with part of the map that he insisted on reading out his story with such drama and expression that he held the class spellbound in our seats until he had finished.
"...I climbed to the top of the slimy, marshy stairs and jumped the foul swamp with one almighty leap. A tremendous noise sounded that shook the crooked earth. I wondered who it was following me. Dungeon keeper Duggie, the pill taking druggie or, more likely as the sewer was open, it was Ratman. Who could it be? Bang! The gunshot sounded ..."
Bringing Stories Alive...
As students built up their stories from setting to character and then plot development, the writer brought it alive for them in visual form at the start of each session by an updated trailer together with a letter praising their acheivements from the previous lesson and giving instruction and assessment targets for the next with his advice for improvement and focus.
Viv Elland, teacher at Hallgarth School