My KS3 classes have been running with their projects: texts have chosen and analysed, and creative writing has been produced. Most are beginning their investigations into the abstractions of a particular language technique with the intention that such language manipulation will be more meaningful, and therefore consolidated.
During the previous project run, this required students to identify a principle/aspect of the technique that existed outside language. For example, when analysing the technique of varying sentence length, some students investigated patterns of passing in a football match involving Barcelona. Through Opta analysis statistics, they discerned that a series of short passes would draw in the other team, therefore leaving them vulnerable to a longer pass.
To identify this aspect of the technique in the first place was somewhat of a quantum leap for some.
After identifying and investigating this aspect, the students need to apply their findings to an actual manipulation of language – that is, they need to redraft their analysis and their creative writing with an annotated example of how they have applied the aspect of that technique.
That is, also, a quantum leap for some.
For our students above, the analysed the significance of a particularly short sentence that seemed to shift the focus or tone of the text. This was a suitably precise application of their investigative findings. Not everyone, though, can do this so well.
An excellent conversations yesterday with Owen Fidler – a technology integrator at a long-standing international school in Asia – raised the usefulness of analogies in structuring the process above. So, for example, one of the more straightforward conceptualisations of language is the variance of sentence length for effect. A more structured way of exploring it would be to ask:
a) To what things might variance of sentence length be compared? e.g varying sentence length is like a tree/car/cloud…
b) Why might variance of sentence length be compared to that thing? e.g varying sentence length is like a tree because the longer branches are needed to support the twigs, and there are less branches than twigs.
c) Asking ‘why’ five depths deep. e.g. why is it important that there are less branches than twigs? What is more important, the twigs or branches?
As the intention of the project is to make students more receptive to their use of language manipulation, this seems like an excellent way to structure such creativity. More on this later, and thank you to Owen!