More constrained writing... Hiding messages in writing!

Today I used the following clip to inspire some writing -

I had to edit the original clip as the man uses inappropriate language at the end.

I knew this would be a great short clip to use to build tension in children's writing. I shared the clip stopping at 10 seconds explaining that what the man is doing is wrong and clearly something you should never do, hence the reason for the barriers. At 20 seconds, I asked the children to list some adjectives to describe how the man may feel? At 30 seconds, I asked the children to suggest what would be the worst thing that could happen now? We then watched what happened.

After watching the rest of the video, I asked the children whether they thought it was real or not? This video has duped millions of people but has since been exposed as a fake. I showed the children some of the suspect elements before introducing the writing challenge. I suggested to the children that they write a first person recount as the diver, however, there would be a little twist!

I am a massive fan of constrained writing and previously blogged about it here and here. Today, I wanted to see whether my class could add a hidden sentence within their story. We decided that the sentence would be - THIS VIDEO IS NOT REAL, IT IS FAKE. The children had to then drop a word in from the sentence into every sentence of their story. We first tried to create an example where each word could be the 1st, 2nd or 3rd word in the sentence. After giving it a go, it was a real challenge so just asked the children to include the word somewhere in the sentence. Here is an example -

As you can see the word in each sentence in capitals spells out the sentence - This video is not real, it is fake.

We were a little stretched for time, but a couple of children who finished early were able to then narrate their writing over the original video adding another constraint to make their writing fit the action from the video. Here are a couple of their examples -

This idea of constrained writing can easily be applied to any sort of writing task. Imagine writing a book review where the hidden sentence reveals the true opinion on the book. Or a mystery story where the ending is revealed through a hidden sentence within the story. The difficulty of the constraint can also be made trickier by asking the children to make the first word or last word of the sentence be the hidden message. 

Please do share any examples if you use this idea in your classroom, would love to share more examples. 


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