Haluz – playing with words!

  I noticed many times during our work with Haluz that the kids were re-working paragraphs or sentences to get better effects. They would start off with an OK paragraph, sentence or idea, and then have another try, often changing the word order around.Sometimes they would try out various emotions and the associated vocab or language that went with the emotion. Over the years I’ve been constantly frustrated by my students inability or unwillingness to work on their writing – to improve the meaning, even to edit their work. Yet I have noticed that many students seem to enjoy working at making their sentence or paragraphs interesting, clear and entertaining.

This playing about with words and language – either to experiment with the power of the words, or to try out different effects of words – is really positive and encouraging. 80%of my class speak another language at home, and have rarely had the time or the confidence at school to experiment and play with English.

In our hurry and intent to “teach” non-English speaking students as much English as possible, we haven’t allowed time to use language for “play” purposes. I noticed my students were excited to try out different ways of writing the orientation, or about a character, or about an event they had experienced in the game. Was it the control over their writing? over their ideas? over the language? that was most exciting? Or was it the confidence of being in charge of English and being in charge of their story? What do you think?

Haluz – Creating A Colourful Character!

  In this session we looked at the various characters in the game.We discussed (as we moved through the game, often retracing our steps, or jumping ahead to see/watch/view the particular character we were talking about)

  • the lack of main or “big” characters in Haluz
  • what each character added to the game
  • the personality characteristics that each character had/showed
  • how we knew what the character was like – and what made us think that way
    • background music
    • way the character moved
    • what the character did
  • what the character might have been feeling/ hearing/thinking at different points in the game
    • and how this influenced the characters movements
    • how the words we used to describe  changed according to how the character was feeling/acting

During this session we couldn’t help but act out different ways of moving, of reacting, and of thinking whilst we were “in character”.

The kids then had some time to work on writing about one of the characters. I think they made some great attempts at actually “being” the character …… what do you think?

“Sendrick the snake had never heard music before, so he hastily pulled himself out of his basket when the strange music began playing”  Sarah.

“Zaffa the hungry snake ferociously swallowed the cute furry mouse like a racing car going at great speed” Moustapha.

“Watching the mouse as carefully as a shark spying on it’s prey, Valisa, the suspicious snake waited for the mouse to peek out of the tiny hole” Momtahina.

“George excitedly popped out from his basket when he heard the beautiful music”  Steven.

“I stomped outside to see what was going on. Even though a vulture-like predator had my satellite dish I couldn’t help but smile. I was about to embark on a miraculous quest …” Timothy.

“Peeping out of the ancient box, one eye after the other, I rise carefully with caution, to the roof of the slimy lizard’s mouth. Jerking upwards towards the lizard’s dirty, disgusting tongue, I shake my head sideways and bump into the lizard’s throat, giving him a constantly sore throat” Naomi.

“Carelessly, I sprang out of the straw basket swaying to the music, not thinking of what I was doing. Only one thought was on my mind, “sway to the music” for I had not heard the marvellous music that I was swaying to right now for what felt like a hundred years”  Natalie

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Haluz and Narrative Writing Part 1

 In May, Australia is undertaking, for the first time, national (as opposed to states-based) literacy and numeracy testing for students in Years 3, 5, 7 & 9. In the follow-up information received after last year’s state based testing (the NSW Basic Skills Test) my school identified a variety of areas we needed to focus on this year to improve our school results.

In the Literacy – Writing area our Areas for Focus were identified as:

  • Text Processes: Effective orientation
  • Text Processes: Effective resolution
  • Topical language
  • Figurative language
  • Paragraphs
  • Sentence structure
  • Punctuation

The genre of Narrative is the only text type required this year, so my time has been spent working on my students’ narrative writing.

Last year I explored the use of the on-line “point and click” game Samorost with my class, and used it to work with my students on their writing skills. The results were inspiring and very exciting – you can read about what we got up to here ….

I was keen to use a computer game again to explore writing, and to motivate, engage and involve my students in writing narratives. However, I didn’t want to/ couldn’t just repeat what I’d done last year (two thirds of my class this year were in my class last year) as I was interested in a number of areas:

  • to explore what other areas of writing lend themselves to using a game
  • to investigate if more structured, text-based writing skills could be learnt/taught/practised using a game

Fortunately I came across another post from Ewan , who threw out a link to Haluz – a “point and click” game in the same genre as Samorost – which has meant that I can explore some more with my students  ……  and teach writing as well   🙂 

You gotta love that don’t you?

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