My goal was not to produce great writers in half an hour. My goal was to give the kids something they could write about, that they could check against to see if they had written in the most detail possible. It's hard to do that with a picture, when you have to make up the story yourself - there's nothing to compare to because you have to make the story up.
(Make sure you watch up till 1:10 on the clip before reading this, to really grasp whats happening..)
It was a sunny, windy Autumn day. The wind gently blew the leaves off the dark green table onto the dusty ground.
Boom. He slammed the chessboard onto the table. The sunlight shone down and made the pieces glisten as the man set them up. Pawn, pawn, knight, rook, queen, king. Each piece in the right place.
The wind blew colourful leaves from the gigantic oak trees. The old man in a dark brown suit gently rubbed his hands together. "Hmmm... which piece should I move first.. pawn? knight? rook?" He thought to himself. He reached a wrinkly hand behind himself, grabbing the top of the green wooden chair as he softly sat down.
Are you as impressed as I am? That, from kids who typically forget to even tell you where it was, let alone what season it was in. So stoked with what they came up with in a half hour session!
To finish up, I asked them to watch the clip again as I read our writing aloud. Their task was to judge wether we had written in detail about what had happened, and had given detail about the setting. Each scene was great! They all agreed they had given lots of detail to the story about what the man did and where this happened. They wanted to keep going but alas...lunchtime!
Next, I want to video the kids in the next lesson to show how excited they really were while doing this activity - it was intense! I also want to get the kids to write for themselves, as I was the one dictating the story today. That will help them get in their head it is their writing (not mine), and see their contributions in a physical way.