Generating Ideas for Information Texts: Thinking ‘Faction’

By Tobias Hayden

Classroom display showing the number of sessions available until the publication deadline

Today was session two in our class project and we were generating ideas using a technique called Thinking ‘faction’. This is where you use your knowledge of fictional worlds, settings, characters and events and use them as inspiration for a piece of information writing. This was the first time I have taught this mini-lesson. As usual, I had a go at it in advance, so I could talk it through with the children before inviting them to try it out for themselves. I surprised myself at the ease with which my ideas flowed.

My ideas span interests from my childhood, my teenage years, adulthood and some recent experiences shared with my daughter

To give some structure, I created a sheet divided up into sections: things from films, things from books, things from TV, things from games/YouTube etc. I set myself a finish line of twenty ideas and it took me about ten minutes to generate fourteen ideas. I explained to the children that this would be a great opportunity to do lots of talking (talk for writing is extremely important throughout the writing process) while we were doing it and that I would be joining in with them to cross my finish line during today’s writing time.

This child has assigned both a knowledge score and an interest score to his two favourite ideas to help him decide which one to write about
What is interesting about this page is that this child has set themselves a finish line (goal setting is an extremely effective practice) of sixteen ideas and managed to meet it
I know that Warriors: Graystripe’s Adventure by Erin Hunter is this child’s favourite book at the moment, so this was a great opportunity to connect her own reading and writing for pleasure.
One child’s current reading book

What struck me at the end of this session was just how many ideas we had generated as a class. Twenty-eight children, each with at least ten ideas on their pages, had generated many hundreds of ideas in less than twenty minutes. Who says children won’t have anything to write about? Not me.

Tomorrow in session three: Planning using ‘speedy’ books


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