Wednesday, 4 March 2015

5 Tips to help Children process their Writing

Yesterday I posted a Home School post on the work that William and I have been doing in Literacy for Captions and Storyboards; I felt when writing it that I needed to put more information in and explain the importance of it. I, personally, feel it is something that children of all ages, whatever their educational background, could do as it promotes a lot more than just a literacy topic.
Stories and poems that have a familiar structure can often create a more rounded context for learning about the writing process, building students' understanding, and supporting their creation of original stories.

However; there is also the added understanding that it helps your mind to process things. Everyday activities can create a mass of confusion; I know now, for example, that I write with the purpose to create something with a beginning, middle and end but to process what is going on in my mind.
Looking back at school reports I would often see: “Martyn has a clear idea of how to begin a story and it seems apparent that he knows where he wants it to end but can often become confused and takes his work into a different direction”
It is something that I know a lot of adults struggle with too; when I first started blogging it was just there for me to rant and get everything out. Friends and family would joke that “Martyn has done a blog post let’s make a cuppa and sit down first!”
It’s difficult though because you do, at times, want to write and let out all you have but, just like me as a child, it can become very muddled. I knew though, when it came to blogging, that there was a point that I would shorten my posts but it was still incredibly difficult. After some research I decided to aim for a particular guide within a maximum word count (850). 
So imagine then that you’re a child; how do we expect them to process and create a formulated writing structure if we struggle?
Teachers tend to support pupils to explore the concepts of beginning, middle, and ending by reading a variety of stories and charting the events on storyboards. As they retell the stories, students are encouraged to make use of sequencing words (first, so, then, next, after that, finally).
The problem with this is that some children just do not like writing! From this we are potentially allowing an important technique to under-develop.
So what can we do to help? Is there any other way to use storyboards?
Here are a few of my suggestions:
I find as a teacher, and as a blogger, that photos help massively; each photo captures a moment in time and is easy to create a beginning and end and then anything in-between can be captured as our middle point. Yesterday’s Home School post was an example of this.
As a Teacher, Parent and trained Art therapist I know the importance of using drawings as an alternative expression of conveying events. These too, like Photos, can be placed in order and vocalised.
Again, like drawings, this is solely based on being artistic or at the very least artistically creative. But you can extend the use more than just a beginning middle and end. A perfect example of this is Lego; every box would contain a manual and the first page would list the pieces and the last page would show you what it looked like. Every page in the middle then would build upon the story and progress to the end.  
And then….
This was a literacy game that I used with my classes as a teacher. The principle is this; you start it for them “Daddy went to the shops when suddenly” they at this point say what would happen at the end they say “and then” and it passes on to the next person. Depending on the age and the ability of your child use other sequencing words (as listed above) and make it more challenging suggesting that they cannot repeat it straightaway.
Captions and Bullet points
This is always a good place, especially for me, when writing; create a minimum step of points to follow. Try to keep each point short to provide a more visual aide to processing.
Producing alternatives to writing, like the above, will always be engaging for the child. Not every child or adult will enjoy writing but it can be a valuable tool when trying to process what’s around us without becoming confused or losing track to where we are. Storyboards, in whatever form, will do this.
The most important thing through all of this is the vocalisation; children, as well as adults, need to vocalise what they would like to achieve through each stage creating a clear route. I found these above examples helpful as a teacher, parent and Home School Educator.
Does your child shy away from writing stories?  Or do they have a habit of writing to much? Do you have any tips that worked for you?
850 words ;-)


Ashley Beolens said...

Great ideas, my daughter loves to write stories, I think we'll sort out some story boards like these so she can try creating more cohesive tales.

Unknown said...

Great post! With our youngest we've been using a velcro story board with 'first', 'next' & 'last'. I remember as a child doing paper games and they really did encourage writing and random thinking. I feel a new post coming on.....!

Martyn Kitney said...

Thanks for commenting Ashley! its an important lesson and process to learn. Cohesive writing is definitely something people struggle with even as adults. Would be interested to know how you get on with your daughter.

Martyn Kitney said...

Velcro Storyboards are great. We've used them too when the boys were younger.
Great am glad that it's inspired a post for you! Let me know when you've done it. Would be good to read. Thanks for commenting

Plutonium Sox said...

This is really interesting. I don't really recall studying structure until I had to write essays in French, where structure is both regarded as more important and taught properly. Great to do it with young children as you are.

Martyn Kitney said...

Thanks for commenting Natalie! its interesting as well from a teachers point of view to learn how to help structure. I really had no idea until university. Like you its when you face it in writing that you realise it as a valuable resources. And as you said great to do when children are young!

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