Monday, November 19, 2012

Over + Explain Everything= Powerful Writing Practice

It's always been an interest of mine to help my students develop their writing voices. While many of my 4th graders seem to learn from the fabulous authors they read, others struggle to transfer their strong vocabulary and oral language skills to their writing. I've been playing with the app, Over, as a way to use images to generate vivid sentences. 

Using Over, students can select an image already provided, use one of their own, or choose a Creative Commons image to use as a prompt for writing rich and vivid sentence. The image below was one of the images in Over's image bank. I added the text, choosing the font and color, as well as the alignment to emphasize my words.

 Here are the steps to a fun lesson using this app along with Explain Everything, a screencasting app.

First, students use an image to brainstorm verbs. Of course you can use this idea with any part of speech. I chose verbs since my students seem to get in a rut with verb use. 

Second, students brainstorm modifiers for those verbs. These can be adverbs and/or phrases. 

Finally, students can add vivid adjectives and play with creative sentences using Explain Everything to record themselves saying the sentences aloud. This takes some of the burden off always having to write, giving students who might have big creative ideas but who struggle with producing their ideas, an opportunity to further refine and develop their voices. It also gets students in the habit of reading their writing aloud to hear its powerful cadence.

Here are some sentences I might use to model for my students:
I plunged fearlessly into the sparkling frigid water.
Do you float easily or plunge like an anchor to the bottom of the deep lake?
I floated effortlessly as my friends frolicked in the cool clear water. 

How do you use visual literacy to inspire your young writers? I would love to hear your great ideas! 


Jennifer Wright said...

I love this idea and can't wait to apply it poetry writing as well. See, this is why you blog--to inspire teachers miles away to try new things!

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