Language beyond words

27th June 2003 at 01:00
Understanding that description is more than just words is an important skill. One way to get this across is to ask students to transfer the written word into a piece of art. I find it works especially well for boys.

For example, in Year 8 English we read as a class the first chapter of Charles Dickens's novel Great Expectations. The focus is on the skills Dickens uses to effectively describe Pip, the churchyard and surrounding countryside.

Students then draw Pip and the scene. This requires close individual reading as they must pay attention to what's being described, the adjectives used, the colours, weather, and so on.

When they have finished the drawing they must select quotes from the extract and copy them on to the drawing, close to the images they relate to. The challenge is to fit on as many as they can. The pupils enjoy using different skills to explore descriptive writing and those good at art, but weak in English can really shine.

Next they write their own description, such as "The Haunted House", employing key descriptive skills to present the images they have in mind.

They then swap these with a partner and repeat the exercise they did with Great Expectations, drawing from their partner's description and selecting quotes to write on it. Partners love seeing if what has been drawn is what they were trying to convey to the reader. It can lead to some interesting discussions when the artists ask for clarification from the authors.

Natalie Chyba, English teacher, Cynffig Comprehensive School, Bridgend

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