"Stefan completely revolutionised my teaching of writing - not an understatement!"
Sarah, Deputy Head & Literacy Leader, Leeds

"I believe I have seen a genuine correlation between children involved in the ARTiculate workshops and target children making Age Related Expectation (ARE)...Every child benefited with progress, clearly evident in their school books."
Simon, Y4 Teacher, Leeds

"Very inspirational and creative - lots of new ideas to improve writing and unlock children's imaginations."
Nadia, Year 4 teacher

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

A galaxy far, far away... EPISODE II

Turn your most wayward apprentices from scruffy-lookin’ nerf herders into Jedi Masters with this creative writing and illustration workshop.
Creative writing workshop -- six sessions -- fiction


Darth Vader illustration by Victor in ink, charcoal and watercolour

Picking up this tale from where we left off, six boys who find writing challenging were chosen to join a creative writing workshop using Star Wars graphic novels as their inspiration. After having time to watch snippets of Episode IV and freely pore over various graphic novels, their enthusiasm for Star Wars had been well and truly tapped into. It was time to start the process of producing a piece of writing.

My basic ethos with writing is not revolutionary. Guiding children through a detailed and immersive process rather than springing a writing assessment on them might seem like an obviously, preferable route. It is, however, surprising how seldom this approach is really followed in the classroom and too often children are dragged through, rather than flowing through, the process.

So here is how my young Padawan writers were introduced to writing about Star Wars…

Important, vocabulary is
A great writer has the right words at their finger-tips. As well as needing descriptive language to bring a story to life (using a thesaurus can help here), to make a science-fiction story believable, the children need to have some specific nuggets to drop into their stories. They need to know that a Stormtrooper carries a BlasTech E-11 Blaster Rifle. Oh, and don't worry of they know more about this than you! Letting them be the experts only enhanced their enthusiasm. I allowed plenty of time for them to indulge in such geekery and for our first step we used Star Wars encyclopedias to design fact-file posters for each character. The children were asked to develop three types of word for their characters: equipment and technical words; adjectives to describe their appearance; adjectives and adverbs to describe their personality.
Displayed on the classroom wall, these posters were a constant source of inspiration as we wrote our stories. 

Luke Skywalker in ink and watercolour by Aman

 A Jedi feels the words flow through them…
If you cannot explain what you mean, you will never be able to write it down. Discussion and collaborative work oil the wheels of thought and help children organise their ideas mentally. It cannot be missed out of literacy work.

The children returned to the short scenes they had chosen from the graphic novels and admittedly they could not imagine how they were going to turn it into a piece of writing. So, as with any story, you need to make a plan or in this case, a storyboard. The children cut up the (photocopied) pages of the graphic novel and, in pairs, arranged the different pictures into an order that made sense to them. Scenes could be deleted, added or swapped around but at the end, the children were expected to explain the plot of their short story scene. The children were given time to annotate their storyboards with notes, words and new dialogue and they were rather impressed to discover that this is how movie plots are developed including The Force Awakens.  

Next time... Taking the writing one step at a time and using a model text.