English - For writing out loud

18th November 2011 at 00:00
The pen is even mightier when the stories it tells are spoken

The blinds are closed and the lights are out. The glow from a single candle casts menacing shadows over the Jabberwock collage, causing its eyes of flame to burn with malicious intent. Melissa widens her own eyes, lowers her voice and begins to read in her best writer's voice.

"In a scary, scary cave was a scary, scary tunnel. And down that scary, scary tunnel ..."

Many years ago, when I was a small, grubby and permanently dishevelled schoolboy, I dreamed Miss Rosewater would delve into the pile of stories we would write in our composition books every Friday morning, and select mine to read out to the class.

Don't get me wrong, I loved it when she wrote glowing words of praise at the bottom of my page. And I adored the gold stars that were her stamp of approval. But most of all I longed for her to read my words out loud.

Miss Rosewater was good at reading stories. And when she did, she read them in just the same way she would read stories about the Famous Five or The Borrowers. She varied the pace at which she read, she changed her voice to signify different characters and situations, she paused at the right moment in order to let our minds imagine what might happen next, she whispered when a whisper was called for, and when the tension was at breaking point she suddenly ... let out a ROAR!

Writing can be a lonely business. A story that is conceived in the imagination, and whose birth often involves messing up several perfectly innocent blank sheets of paper, is nothing if it goes unread. A tale unheard is a tale stillborn. If we want our children to enjoy writing, their writing needs to be enjoyed by others. In other words it requires an audience.

But an audience needs to be entertained, which is why I urge my children to put as much effort into telling as into writing stories. Read them aloud, in your best storyteller voice, as Miss Rosewater would. Practise, polish, rehearse, and finally perform them in front of your peers.

"... and in that deep, deep hole was a ... SPIDER!" shrieks Melissa, to squeals of laughter and tumultuous applause.

Novelist Terry Pratchett says: "Writing is the most fun you can have by yourself." That may or may not be true. But one thing is for certain: it's even more fun when you do it for others and write out loud.

Steve Eddison is a KS2 teacher at Arbourthorne Community Primary School in Sheffield

WHAT ELSE?

To understand the verbs of the Jabberwocky try teacherontherun's PowerPoint, which offers a useful explanation.

Encourage pupils to improve their story-writing with some step-by-step resources and worksheets from asadler79.

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number

Comments

The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now