Wednesday, 2 April 2014
Last week, I trialled a new app with a Year 4 Class. The app Path On, allows children to creating a line or shape onto a picture, which they can then fill with words to create a really effective descriptive picture. The children enjoyed the app and the results were really effective -
I was really impressed with the rich description generated from the image, I decided to use the picture again this week with a different Year 4 class to attempt some description with a different twist.
I am a big advocate of developing writing through constraints - adding rules to make children play and experiment with language. I first came across these ideas through Alan Peat and some of his brilliant approaches linked with Oulipo.
I have recently been experimented with different constraints in writing such as creating stories with hidden messages and also using some social media trends that add constraints. Today the children had another constraint to challenge them!
Twitter is a social media platform that seems to be getting more and more popular! Why, because everyday it encourages you to play with language and words. You only have 140 characters to get across your message and so whenever you send a tweet it needs to be concise and direct. I decided to challenge my year 4 class to try and describe the picture in as much detail as possible only using 140 characters. I was strict with this, no more, no less. I provided a grid 14 columns by 10 rows as a template for children to use. I explained that 140 characters means spaces and punctuation count just as much as letters. I then let them have a go, it was great! Straight away they children got to the end but were either a few characters short or over. Then they had to look at some of their word choices, what can they change? What can they add? Which word will carry the most meaning rather than clutter with 3/4 adjectives?
It also made children more aware of punctuation, they questioned apostrophes and commas, discussing whether they should be there? Suddenly children were adding ellipses and brackets to help them reach their target.
It also made the children a lot more conscious of spelling. One word spelt incorrectly at the start of their writing would have a knock on effect for the rest of the description. Suddenly, dictionaries were out, children were checking and rising to the challenge. I was really surprised and impressed with how the challenge engaged and inspired the class. Maybe because I wasn't asking for quantity it grabbed their attention, or the idea of creating a tweet sounded cool. Either way it worked and the children relished in the challenge - here are some efforts:
There are plenty of other ways to use twitter as a constraint - create a book review in a tweet, evaluate a lesson or their learning, retell a fairytale in a tweet, retell different genre stories as a tweet or create a poem as a tweet. Any of these will have your children playing and experimenting with words!