12 January 2014

Writing Challenge: Observe!

In conjunction with my Learners' Reading Challenge, I have also decided to start the year with a writing challenge.

Inspired by a student's blog post, shared by @intrepidteacher, about noticing the sunset and the importance of paying attention to our surroundings, I decided it was time to cajole my learners into noticing more about their world. Everything I read about writing starts with a) reading and b) observing. I think we have the reading part covered, so I want to get my learners to begin to be more present.

Writers all say that we must take note of everything around us - to fuel our characters, plot, dialogue etc. But I am not sure how present my learners are. We have made a great start in writing, and spend time every lesson working on our Spilling Ink journals (see Christmas, Halloween, Inspiring a Writing Community and Spilling Ink Journal agreements). This year, I am also going to include some mentor texts in Spilling Ink time, to develop close reading skills AND model great writing for inspiration. As a mini-project to kick off writing this year, I am setting them a challenge: to chronicle their lives for one week.

They must include a photograph of something significant from their day, accompanied by a paragraph explaining what the image makes them think, feel and wonder. They will do this every day for one week, and they will publish their work on their blogs.

I have included a list of what they MUST include, as well as ideas of what they MAY include. I have many diverse learners and using a MUST and a MAY list, ensures clarity of expectations as well as room for individuality and development.

Learners will use a checklist to self-assess and peer-assess their work, in conjunction with the RUBRIC*, which will be used to assess the finished piece. Final work will be published on their blogs for sharing with the school community. It will also be referred to and revisited in Spilling Ink time throughout the rest of the year, to try to embed the practise of observation into their everyday.

*Assessment focus and progression derived from the English National Curriculum.

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