Level 2: Developing Writing Skills - Story Maker's Chest

Teacher as Researcher - Action Research Project

OVERVIEW:

The Story Maker’s Chest is a selection of multi-sensory resources to stimulate creative writing, extend vocabulary and improve grammar. There is a 124 page guide for teachers that describes how to use the materials to develop students’ writing skills.

TARGET GROUP:

This teacher used the Storymakers Chest with a group of six boys in 1st year, two to three times a week, for six weeks. While quantitative data collection in this action research project was limited, data collected by the NBSS through a semi-structured interview with the teacher provide some insights into the ways in which this resource can be effectively used to encourage and develop the oral and written literacy skills of young people.

QUALITATIVE FINDINGS:

“Because we do a lot of work here in the school on kids with low reading ages and you know in building up exam technique. But we don’t actually look at actually building up stories. And me, just from working in the school, I found that one of the scariest things for kids, I think, is the blank page. They are fine with ticking boxes, they are fine with joining up pictures and letters and stuff. But when it comes to a blank page where they have to write an essay or say where they have to write a letter or postcard…kids freeze because they see this blank page and they know that they have to fill it. So I thought to myself we’ll get kids that would have a low spelling age and that it would improve their spelling, their punctuation and also get them writing. Kids that we knew wouldn’t be writing very much. So we got a cohort of six I think it was... Six first year boys and together we decided to build some stories.”

“Because for them writing is almost like a punishment to them. What they do in this school is that they get penalty work if they are not behaving. So I wanted to make it that writing isn’t always you know a penalty. Because you can see it when they go in to class and they say ‘Oh we don’t have to write again today…like we’ve been really good.’ And yet writing isn’t always a punishment. Sometimes writing can be fun. And that is what they got out of it. They got it.”

“… other boys were saying ‘Can I come up to that? Can I do the Story Maker?’... But they wanted to come and there was never a time when you would have to say ‘Oh come on lads.’…there was never a time when I had to cajole them… they would all sit around the table. And even to have six boys, there would be two at each side and one at each of the tops…that is close proximity. Six boys of different abilities really, different behaviour wise you know. But all in the one group. Even sitting in such close proximity and not tearing each other apart I thought was even something good. And they all helped each other. They never laughed at each other’s stories which was great as well. And then we had the presentation down in their English class of the scrapbooks and I did them a certificate… to say that they were now an author, they had written a story. A little speech was made."