I have always been intrigued by students’ apparent inability to notice things, take in the minor intricacies of their surroundings. Conversations about family outings frequently lacked detail. I’ve indulged in countless surreptitious social experiments over the years attempting to provoke a reaction. Can we please note at this point, at no stage did I do anything or wear anything inappropriate? Did they notice, not once? Hideous colour combinations, unusual behaviour, weird wild wacky wall displays, mismatched earrings, all went unnoticed. Frustrated at the end of many school days, I would ask if they’d noticed anything unusual. I still smile as I recall one particular students response. “You always do weird stuff Mrs Flack, it’s who you are!”
The following juicy writing activity is inspired by these experiences and an exercise in Keri Smith’s book, Finish This Book. I have published my exemplar in an artistic format, my inspiration art journaling, one of my latest pursuits. To cut a long story short, art journaling has no rules, you share a personal perspective using art and words, perfect! There are many stunning examples on the internet, share them with your class.
Once again, this juicy writing lesson follows the same format as previously discussed. (See earlier post, ‘A Light Bulb Moment’.
LO: Use descriptive language, specifically synonyms, to add impact to your writing.
This lesson encourages the use of a Thesaurus, yes there are those that will and those that won’t. Dictionaries and my best friend the Thesaurus were treated like a contagious disease by many of my students. With time that changed. My exemplar uses lashings of synonyms, differentiate your expectations, give heaps of help where necessary, model the use of a Thesaurus and ‘Voila’ magic will happen. Scintillating synonyms will tickle the senses and mesmerise the class as writing is shared. Using synonyms in descriptive writing usually avoids the use of boring overused words that we constantly see.
- Obviously the first thing that should happen here is a discussion about attention skills, why they are important, what does it look like, etc. A bit of a reality check, paying attention has huge benefits, we learn more, information’s collected, processed and ‘Wow’ the skies the limit.
- Revisit juicy writing success criteria ( A Light Bulb Moment)
- A demonstration of what noticing is might go down well here, put on your actor hat.
- Share my exemplar
- Take the class on a meander around the playground. Model noticing, (I really had to practice). I have always encouraged my class to take notes as we walked around.
- Before individual work, use your observations in the playground to model writing on the whiteboard. Encourage class input. Use think aloud, as you choose synonyms to add impact to your statements.
- Individual work on drafts, assist where necessary.
- Teacher conferences with each student, gives positive feedback, discuss next steps if appropriate
My experts writers were always given next steps. Whereas my reluctant writers were encouraged, heaped with praise and as their enthusiasm for the task improved I gently introduced next steps.
- This is where students get creative, publishing in artistic format. Remember there are no rules. With resources in mind I created my exemplar on A4 copier paper. My borders were drawn with a pencil. The writing in a thick black biro. Tempera Paint Blocks (water colours), added colour.
A variety of rich writing experiences supports the development of word consciousness. Integrating Juicy writing into our class writing program resulted in students being more interested in words, they reflected on word choices as they wrote and became more conscious of how to use words in conversation.