Just attended some fantastic training from Therese O’Sullivan (EMA consultant for Leeds – she is fab) where she shared some super ideas which got me thinking about stretching and challenging more able writers in manageable ways.
Here are some ideas I have used and some I have still to try…
*Numerical challenges – how many connectives can you find in this text etc…
*Time challenges – how many connectives can you find in 3 minutes…
*Lipograms – where a chosen letter is banned (don’t choose ‘e’ if you ever want them to finish!). I have asked children to re-write the last paragraph without a specific letter – vowels are obviously the toughest.
*Syllabic poetry – tanka (5/7/5/7/7 syllables) and hendecasyllabic (11 syllables in each line) give a challenging framework for the children to express an idea in.
*Ways to start or end a story – I have asked them to start with questions (using ‘The Iron Man’ as an example)
*Ensure you use challenging texts as a model for ‘reading as writers’ – one of my favourites is ‘Skellig’ which has the brilliant example of an effective start to a story.
*Use guided writing groups to model more technical aspects of writing.
*Get your most able to type directly into the class computer / iboard. This means that other children can see their writing and magpie ideas and processes – it also gives the writer an immediate audience.
*Use film – this can provide complex story telling structures. Ask the children how an author would represent that on paper in words. My favourite short film is ‘Francis’ which I have blogged about before. How would you create the tension seen in the film on the page? Use the music from films too as a creative writing stimulus.
*Use challenging ‘slow writing’ sentence challenges (see my previous blog on’Slow writing’).
*Use the most able as editors for others, buddy them up with those in need of some support (they seem to listen to the suggestions of their peers over the teacher!)
*Play with words. Get them to investigate the history and origins of words (use etymological dictionaries). Explore new words or phrases added to the English dictionary. Collect homographs / homophones.
*Just found this ‘write a story in two sentences idea’ – brilliant challenge!
*Create a writing challenge box. Pictures and ideas from Pobble 365 could be printed off and laminated as could ideas from my pinterest board ‘Stuff to Write About’ – there are some fantastic prompts on there from ‘writingprompts.tumblr.com’