Planning a simple composition
This activity trains young learners to plan a very simple story by looking at the brainstorming process prior to writing, then allowing them to select ideas, and guiding them to the actual writing of the story through a clearly staged plan.
Find a picture of the hero of your story in a magazine or on the internet, big enough for your teaching situation.
Stage 1: Brainstorming
- Write the title 'Anna's wet day out' at the top of the board. Check students understand the meaning.
- Divide your board into four quarters and title these: Anna, Day out, What happened and The end.
- Show students the picture and ask the following questions: How old is she? Where is she from? What does she like doing in her free time? write down all the suggestions in the part entitled Anna.
- Tell students Anna is going on a day out. Again brainstorm ideas, guiding students using the ideas they gave in Anna, for example, if they said she likes going to the park ask them to give concrete ideas such as a park they know and who she went with. Again, write down as many ideas as time allows.
- Tell students Anna got wet on her day out and ask them how this happened. Guide them using as many of the ideas in Day out as you have time for eg. how did she get wet at the park? Did she fall in the pond? Why? Was she running away from a scary dog? etc.
- By now you should have several possible stories on the go. Move on to the The end box and continue to ask for ways for the various stories to end, get some ideas but don't write anything in the box. The students will have the opportunity to finish the story themselves.
Stage 2: Think about your audience
Establish that the aim of a story is to entertain. Ask students how they would like to do this. Do they want their story to be funny? scary? exciting?
Stage 3: Selection of ideas - story plan
Ask students to copy the grid from the board and then in each part to choose and copy just the information they want to include in their story. Give them time and assistance to fill in the fourth part 'The end' as we left this blank in Stage 1.
Stage 4: Story feedback
Ask students to tell their stories in small groups. Each group chooses one they like to share with the class.
Take students' plans in and mark them to show you consider the plan itself to be important and to give them any advice you think is needed.
Stage 5: (Optional)
Students choose a story from their group and write a first draft in the following class. Once you have corrected this, students then work alone and each complete a final draft, perhaps with illustrations if you feel this would be motivating. If story writing is Important in the students’ curriculum you can repeat stages 1 to 4 with three or four other titles so students build up a number of plans. You can then ask them to choose one to write the story. Their story ideas should improve greatly with practice and the resulting story should be a better one.
Stuart Wiffin, Teacher, France
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