Thursday, May 1, 2014

Lesson Share - 'Best Friends Forever': Using a Song Clip to Teach Narrative Writing

One of the boys in my class told me that he's crazy about Bruno Mars. "I know most of his songs," he said proudly. "Teacher, we should sing Bruno Mars' songs in class." Whenever my students tell me that they like something, I will take the time to find out more about it. I want to see if I can use that interest to help them learn. So once I got back home that evening, I turned on my computer and searched for Bruno Mars. I found a song that I thought would be appropriate for my primary school learners. It's a nice song, the children would love it. I searched for a video clip of the song that I can probably use in class, and I found this:

I thought it's cute, and I knew my students would love it. The next thing to do was to think about a lesson activity that I can do using the clip.

It has a story

I realised that the arts in the clip not only corresponds with the lyric of the song, but they also tell a story. I decided to use it to teach narrative writing. First, we learned the song by watching the clip together. 

I captured the pictures from the clip and put them on a powerpoint presentation. We looked at the pictures and discussed the story. We also learned the song lyric and talked about the connection between the verses of the song and the pictures in the clip. We closed the lesson by singing the song together. As a homework, I asked the students to try to think of a story that they could write about the song, using the lyric and the pictures in the clip as their guides.

Shared Writing

The next day, the students were ready with their ideas of a story. I decided that we should do a shared writing activity, where we could write the story together. I had printed out some of the pictures from the powerpoint presentation that I made. I put those pictures on the board, and wrote the first sentence. My students volunteered to write the next sentence, and the sentence after that. The children took turns writing the story, until we had a complete story with a beginning, a middle and an end.

While their peers were writing, the other students looked closely for grammar and spelling mistakes, and we corrected those mistakes together. They contributed ideas, too. Once in a while someone would express disagreement about a plot, how something turned out, or how an incident should be written down as a sentence. I encouraged the students to speak up as much as they could. We would discuss those issues together. I tried my very best to encourage all the students to participate actively in the writing process.

The students wrote the first draft of the story in their exercise books.

I let the students bring their books back so that they could reread the story, and perhaps make some changes, add some extra information, spice it up a bit or rewrite the whole thing if they like.

The Final Product

After a few cycle of editing and rewriting, we finally came up with a final version that everyone in the class was happy with:

Title: Best Friend Forever
by: Students of Class 6 Intelligent

Once, there were two best friends, John and Mary. They always helped each other. 
One day, Mary went to the sea. Suddenly, she was stuck in the middle of the sea. John sailed the world to find Mary. He found her on an island. Mary was very happy.
Last week, Mary found herself lost in the dark and she could not see. Again, John came to help her. He became the light to guide Mary. 
Two nights ago, Mary was tossing and turning and she just could not fall asleep. John sang a song beside her. When Mary forgot how much she really meant to John, every day John would remind her.
Yesterday, Mary was jogging. John ran after her and gave Mary a bottle of water. Suddenly, four bad guys came to bully John. Mary came and scolded the bad guys. She said, “What are you doing!!!” The bad guys were scared. John said to Mary, “You look scary.” Mary laughed. She was glad because she had helped John. John said to Mary, “You’ll always have my shoulder when you cry. I’ll never let go. I’ll never say goodbye.”
A few weeks later, John’s family had to move to another town. John said goodbye to Mary and they both cried. Mary ran after the bus that John was on. John said, “I’ll be back.”
Years later, both John and Mary had grown up. Mary was reading a letter from John. Suddenly, she heard a voice behind her. John was there. He was back. The two best friends were together again. They can count on each other because that is what friends are supposed to do. A friend in need is a friend indeed.

Although the story is very similar to the lyric itself, I'm glad that my students were able to learn how to switch the verbs in the song which are in present tense to verbs in past tense in their narrative account. They were also able to learn how to change the verses of the song which is written in the first person to narrative sentences in the third person. In the process, they also acquired some new vocabulary, and learned how certain phrases can be used to make their writing more interesting.

You can find the lyric to the song Count on Me by Bruno Mars here.

Till the next post! -ccj

Update (3/5/2014)

After a successful shared writing activity, I decided to give my students the chance to write the story on their own. So, I did a follow-up lesson where the students work in pairs or groups of three and write a new story based on the same theme. They changed the characters and added some extra information. Some of my students added some twists to the plot and some even put in a couple of extra scenes. The students used the Story Mountain sheet to help them plan and write their new story.

You can read all about how we used the Story Mountain in a previous lesson here.

Here are some pictures from the follow-up lesson:

Till the next post! -ccj

1 comment:

  1. thanks alot CJ...u totally inspiring me up...


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