This is a little update on how our class writing project Persuasive Letters (for personal gain) is going.
Having spent several days studying the genre and coming up with our product goals (see below), today it was time to start generating some ideas for our letters.
What a range of change!
In this session, using a mini-lesson idea (Make a Change!) from The Big Book Of Writing Mini-lessons, the children generated scores of unique ideas. Here are some of my favourites:
Ideas for changes at home
- Have my own TV in my bedroom
- Change my bedtime to 8.45pm so I can watch Tracy Beaker: The Next Step
- Get a bigger dining table
- Be responsible for taking care of the strawberries
- Go shopping on my own
- Get my own bedroom
- Have some of my own TV time
- More storage in the house
- Visit our house in Peterborough
- Go to bed earlier (7pm)
- Get more responsibility for jobs around the house (hoovering)
- Get rid of the bunk beds
Ideas for changes at school
- Have juice in our water bottles
- Change the end of the school day to 2.45pm
- Be able to choose our desserts
- Do more coding lessons
- Have a class pet
- Get more playground equipment
- Play Roblox on the school computers
- Watch cartoons while eating our lunch
- Have more PE lessons
- Change the lunch menu more often
- Enter more competitions like the British Library superhero comic one
- Come to school by myself
How useful did the children find this mini-lesson?
There were quite mixed reviews for this lesson in terms of its usefulness. Some children found this lesson ‘very useful‘, but several found it to be ‘only a little bit useful‘ or ‘not at all useful‘. The reasons given are insightful. For instance, one girl thought that there were just not many things that she wanted to change at home or school. I should point out though that she still had six of her own ideas for the writing project.
When asked what she wanted a mini-lesson in next, she said, “I don’t know!” This can happen in any writing classroom. I will probably conference with her tomorrow to dig deeper into what she needs. I often ask the children their opinions on the instruction I’m giving them. This way, I can build up a more accurate picture of the collective and individual needs of my pupils.
When we invite children to generate ideas of their own, they develop as writers in profound ways. Missing out this part of the writing process means that children are only ever writing about someone else’s idea. In doing so, we risk alienating children from writing. Far better to give them the strategies and techniques that can support the formulation of their own ideas in a socially sympathetic community of writers. I look forward to seeing which unique idea they each choose to take forward for their persuasive letter.
By Tobias Hayden