Archive | January, 2016

Recount Writing & Creativity

1 Jan

For whatever reasons, we all have our preferred writing forms.  Again, for whatever reasons, recount writing doesn’t always factor high on our list.  Maybe it’s because we had to write one too many “What I did on my summer vacation” recounts in elementary school.  Maybe it’s because we didn’t really do anything on said summer vacation to make it an interesting recount.  Do you recount every book you read? Every time your brother annoyed you?

Maybe our own lacklustre history with recount makes us approach the unit with all the excitement of a dental check-up (without the benefit of that super clean teeth feeling and the improved gum condition report at the end).  As we started into the unit, we used suggestions from other teachers to inspire us.  Ideas that they swore their students “loved.” Again, for whatever reasons, our students (and us) didn’t seem sold on the activities.  They dutifully did them – they just weren’t as excited as they could be.  Perhaps this comes down to teacher enthusiasm. Maybe we just need to ramp up the gusto. Or maybe we just need to get a bit more creative.

One activity that did go very well is one where we stepped out of the box (and not even that far out of it) was a movie recount.  First, we watched a short film together and created a recount of the film. We watched The Bear and The Snowman (available on YouTube). It was great for allowing us that connection piece in that we used the moral of the film.  It also helped us work on trying to eliminate that horrible summary sentence some previous teacher drilled into them (… “and that is my summary of …” – great for some things but not meant as a universal ender!).

Then, students watched two more short films. We used two Pixar shorts, Partly Cloudy and For The Birds. Students had the option of working independently or with a partner to write or orally summarize the movie. They had their outline if they wanted to take jot notes to help them remember the sequence of events. We used two different organizers – one for students who were going to write a summary and one for students who were going to create a summary outline and then record their recount. Both organizers are included here:

Brownlee and Belanger Recount Movie Review PDF

If they worked with a partner they were encouraged to approach it like movie reviewers with each partner taking one of the movies watched so both films were summarized. We used the iPads – always popular – to record their reviews (students were able to use their choice of app) and they handed in their notes.

It was an activity that the students enjoyed.  One where I had little difficulty getting students to stay on task and submit quickly – I think the cute Pixar shorts were the draw but it makes for a nice writing and/or oral communication piece in your classroom (you can also tap into media literacy).  We have added the graphic organizers to our download section for you to use.  We plan to revisit this concept during persuasive and have students persuade which was the better of two short films.

Next round, we are going to look for other ways to do some recount writing.  Try to be a bit more creative in our approach so that maybe we (and our students) gain a greater appreciation and love of the genre.