Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Imaginary Camera

The following strategy can be used for helping students getting more in touch with their surroundings and with details.

This is a really fun activity for not only writing, but reading as well. The students will all take their "imaginary" camera with them and go outside. The teacher should model this at least once. Take the two pointer fingers and the two thumbs to form a "camera lens" with your hands. Now, take a picture of something big and general like a playground. Next, "zoom" the camera in to see close details of the pictures. In this example you could zoom into the slide. Now, describe every little detail that makes up the slide. What is the main idea? What are the details?

It is very important that the students verbalize and discuss their pictures as they are "snapping" their pictures.

The Five Senses

The following activity can be done independently, but is even more fun when done in groups. Tell your students to trace their hand and to label each finger (over the finger, not inside) with a sense: see, hear, feel, taste and smell. Now, have the group brainstorm a place/moment. They need to shut their eyes and imagine the place. Now, they can fill in the information inside the pictures. Next, have each student practice turning the 5 senses hand into a paragraph. The next step can involve drawing the setting on a piece of construction paper to generate even more ideas (details.)

Finally, we are really ready to write. Students can now write a paragraph on the construction paper.

Carry A Scrapbook!

One very useful and simple way to brainstorm without picking up a single writing device is the scrap book. That's right! Often times we go about our business, and suddenly.....magic! Encourage the use of scrapbooks. They are super simple, but yet really help generate ideas. For example, over the course of a weekend, a student may collect a movie ticket, a ticket stub from a sports event and a small leaf they picked up at grandma's house. These little "mementos" are perfectly fabulous topics that they might otherwise forget to share through their writing.