The uses of images and language within this piece provide an excellent stimulus for both analysis and autobiographical writing.
Teaching each other about the text
Divide the class into small groups and give each group a section of the text to work with. Ask the pupils to produce a short "Digital Video Clip" of this extract. This is done by creating a Still Picture, followed by an Action Reading of the story, concluding with a Still Picture. Produce this sequence of extracts as Rolling Theatre. Use music to guide the pupils. All the groups freeze in their initial Still Picture and then the first group unfreezes, adds the action and then freezes again. When they freeze, the next group knows that they can begin. This continues with all the groups producing their Digital Video Clip, until all groups have shown their pieces.
Working in the same groups, ask them to present a Still Picture, which portrays the most important sentence in their extract. They are to write the sentence on a piece of card, and place it in front of their Still Picture. They must then distil this to one word that they feel is the most significant word from their extract and place this in front of their Still Picture. Working with the text in this way encourages the pupils to focus on specific words and their effects. A discussion about the writer's use of 'w' words (wonky, wiggly, whiz) could then take place.
If an outline of a tree is placed on a large sheet of paper, or projected on to an interactive whiteboard, a tree of quotationswords can be built up to present a guide to the character, issues or themes in the story. This can then be used throughout the work to record ideas and act as a reference.
Writing about places
A series of questions, to be answered in the place's voice, or the use of sentence stems can be effective stimuli for writing about places, encouraging pupils to concentrate on how perspective and language can create atmosphere. Ask pupils to complete sentences (I feel.. I can see... I rememberI) in the voice of the place. These can then be developed into poetry, prose andor autobiographical writing. Creating the voice of the tree in the garden described in "My favourite Place" could provide an effective example of this.
About the author
Marcus, only seven when he wrote this piece, is one of the youngest Write Away competitors to have his work published in The TES. He attends Kimbolton Preparatory School in Huntingdon, and enjoys sports - running, playing tennis and football - but if he is ever a professional sportsman, he will be a cricketer as he's a good batsman and bowler. He likes reading and mentions Roald Dahl as well as Jacqueline Wilson and Michael Rosen.
Marcus's teacher, Heather Cardwell, says she knows that he took the assignment very seriously and walked thoughtfully around his garden before writing about it.