As part of our CoL meeting last week, we heard from Dr. Janni van Hees and she shared with us some practical ways to get our kids using higher level vocabulary. One of the strategies she shared with us was referred to as Say More. Tell the Detail.
Dr. van Hees suggested showing students a simple statement like:
A bird flew into our house.
After showing this to the class, have a discussion about what else we could include as the author to allow the reader to understand (and see) exactly what the author was trying to say. Then, show them this improved paragraph.
A bird flew into our house. We had a window open and it just flew in. It was super scared 'cos it felt trapped.
Taking this concept into consideration, I knew from the writing samples I had recently scored that many of my students were not including detail of this type in their writing. I have also observed that my students were not used to sharing colourful language when brainstorming and looking at a picture before they begin writing. As a result, I decided to focus my writing lesson this week on painting a picture with our words.
We began by looking at this picture and sentence:
I saw the sun.
I then asked the class what else they wanted to know. They came up with things like,
- When did you see the sun?
- Where did you see the sun?
- How did you see the sun?
We then discussed ways that we could add personification to the description and what other descriptive words they could use when talking about this picture.
We pulled together this list:
- When: On my way to school this morning
- Where: over the river
- How: rays through the clouds
- Figurative Language: Personification the sun is greeting me
- Descriptive words (adjectives): *sparkling river *bright rays *morning sun
Then, we were able to construct the following detailed sentence.
This morning, on my way to school, I looked over the sparkling river and saw the bright rays of the morning sun shining through the clouds to greet me as I started my day.
Students have been provided with three more pictures to consider while making sentences that paint a picture. I am hoping as a result of this we will begin to see words and phrases from the Goldilocks zone emerge when we are brainstorming for our digital word bank prior to starting our writing tasks each week.