I have been doing much reflecting, as most teachers do, upon this past school year. To say that there were many ups and downs would be an understatement. However, one of the best – if not THE BEST – thing I did this year was to have my students write, direct, act, and produce their own movie. With a full-fledged Red Carpet Event!
This week my students have been taking the CAASPP Test (SBAC). As you may, or may not, know, there is quite a bit of writing on it. This week we focused on the ELA portion. As a teacher, these tests kill me. I know what my students are capable of and know that they are making simple mistakes that they don’t normally make. That being said, I had several students transferring what they have learned about writing various sentences to this test, and more importantly, to everyday life.
Over the past several months we have been working on writing our own movie script using A Tale Unfolds, which comes out of the UK. I have written about it here and here. One of the strengths of the program is its writing aspect. The kids are constantly writing! Each week they are introduced to another type of sentence. One week it was appositives, another it was complex, and yet another had ‘if, if, if, then’ sentences. The program uses Alan Peat‘s modeling.
These are some of the things the students shared with me, with great pride:
Ms. N., I used an ‘if, if, if, then’ sentence.
Ms. N., I used a 3 -ed sentence.
I used an appositive. (She then showed me. It was beautiful! I got a little teary-eyed. Yeah, it was that awesome.)
I really don’t think my students would have produced the type of writing they did this week without the constant writing they have been doing for their script. The way the different sentences are introduced and the experience the students have with ‘playing’ with the new sentences has been a benefit to my students.
On a side note, I showed the first portion (without beginning credits/title/etc) of their movie to them. They are so excited! They are dying to see more. I even began showing other teachers small snippets. They were impressed. It’s been a fun experience!
At the beginning of February, I began A Tale Unfolds. Since then, I have noticed an improvement in my students’ writing. Their sentences are more interesting and they try to vary the types of sentences they use. Here is a picture of a student who has writing difficulties, practicing her sentences in her spare time!
Photo Credit: Tressa Luke
Another teacher was so impressed, she took these photos and HAD to share with me! This is awsome! Look at all those adjectives.
Next week I will start A Tale Unfolds with my class. It is an 11 week ELA/ELD/Writing unit where the end product is a movie that the class has written, performed, and taped. As this is a UK Standards aligned unit, I looked over the lessons for the upcoming week and was pleased that on Day 1 ten (5th grade) CCSS are covered. While the lessons are complete on their own, I will be able to enrich them with conversations and expectations.
Along with the lesson plans, there are Promethean Flipcharts and SmartBoard resources, a ‘book’ (2 levels), and in certain cases leveled resources (depending on the activity). The focus of the writing is on quality, not quantity.
Overall, I am excited to get the unit started. I think the students are really going to enjoy it.