Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Near The Home Straight

This week I had a visitor in my Creative Writing Class. We have to do this, it's compulsory.

We read Wild Africa, by Justin D'Ath before going on to the writing. The learning intention was ""To learn from reading".  It really is a good idea to do this, because they can discuss the good and bad points of someone else's story before going on to their own.

I asked the class's lowest student to do another outline, which is all he is capable of doing.  Next week, which will be the second last session of this subject for most of the class, I will see if I can persuade him to write an extra sentence with each of the questions. But that's about all I can get out of him. He has missed a lot of classes anyway.

I rejoiced when one student finally finished her story, but it needs a LOT of fixing of punctuation, spelling and grammar. I began by pasting it into a Word document. I spent at least an hour on editing, but it's nowhere near finished. I might ask her to begin by doing a spelling and grammar check. That won't do all of it, but will help.

Still - it's finished! This student has been slow but steady. Only one story, but she got on with it.

The others got something done, anyway, though not complete.

I think I'm learning as much as they are how to do this and how NOT to do it.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Two Classes ...

A double period yesterday of Creative Writing, another, today, of EAL.

I wanted to give my Year 7 EAL class a break from the grammar folders through which they're working - you can't do a double period of grammar worksheets anyway and they get restless doing the same sort of stuff every week. Lily, their regular teacher, agreed. She had suggested some spelling exercises from a book she is checking out, but hasn't gone very far with it yet and it's a "course" you're supposed to do weekly. It also, as I found when I opened it, has references to "your rules booklet" (what rules booklet?).

In the end, I used her ESL Games book and a literacy exercise on syllables. They picked up the syllables very quickly - some had already done syllables in their home countries, but even those who hadn't done it before got it right once I put the rules up on the board.

The Games book included a vocabulary exercise on transport and a game board using the vocab. They played the game and seemed to enjoy it.

The second half of the lesson we went online to do Freerice, a vocabulary game in which for every right answer 10 grains of rice are donated to charity. They all got decent scores and enjoyed the game, learning new words as they went.

Next week, back to grammar exercises, but with some extras.

I only had four students in Creative Writing yesterday. That gave me the chance to sit down with each individual student and discuss what they were working on. Two of the boys admitted that their stories were just not working for them. One of them said he was working on a story in his literacy class - he had just begun and it was about a puffer fish, a la Finding Nemo. We went through the outline together and broke it down till he had an outline from beginning to end. I begged him not to make it more than a few hundred words.

The other boy had actually started his replacement story, but wasn't sure where it was going. Again, we discussed it and wrote out an outline, beginning to end. He came up with some ideas as we talked and became quite excited about it. Fingers crossed!

The next student refused to admit the story was too much for him, said he liked it - but has only done a few paragraphs. So we discussed it and I wrote the outline and just as I was writing "and he goes home" my student said, "Oh, but that's not the end, Miss!" Finally, I suggested - firmly - that he write the story to the ending we had done so far and, if he had time, he could do a sequel, "The Return of ..." . He won't, of course. But if I can get him to finish this one, I will heave a sigh of relief.

Inaam, the only girl, was bogged down in her horror story. She told me what she had in mind for the ending and we worked out how to get there. Hopefully, the outline will help her. She is the only one who hasn't been weaving from past tense to present and back again - most of her errors are punctuation and lack of capitals at the start of sentences.

I think that class worked well - let's see if those individual discussions made a difference.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Creative Writing yet again

So, last week, we read The Leather Jacket at the start of the period and that went over quite well. The story involves a boy following a girl around. She asks him to run naked in front of a gold game to prove his love for her - and then nicks off with his expensive leather jacket which belongs to his brother. The kids were highly indignant about it, but it made for a good discussion before they went back to their own stories, about how well it worked as a story.

Aravinthan finally completed his autobiographical outline, about all I was going to get out of him. I think Miller managed one more paragraph. Derby and I sat down to discuss what her next story will be(zombies) but she has to see the doctor tomorrow and will be off in New Zealand the week after next, for a family event. Inaam was still having trouble with the Internet at home, but got some more typed up. One student was absent. The others had - yet again - forgotten to bring in the USB sticks with their stories, and did I mention more Internet troubles? And writer's block... sigh! I wish I hadn't told them that term.

 "I have writer's block, Miss!"

"Okay, we'll have a look at it and see what we can do."

"Um... I forgot to bring my USB stick and I'm having trouble with the Internet connection at home."

"Well, can you write an ending for it and fill in the rest?"

"I'm having writer's block about the end..."

AAARGH! And this is a perfectly nice student who does write quite a lot when he has his story with him.

I have prepared another outline for Aravinthan, on sport, on the recommendation of our integration aide head honcho.

When he's filled in the current one...