In their recent ELA (English Language Arts) unit ‘Describing Characters’, Grade 2 students have been learning about narrative story writing. The unit encompasses looking at what makes a good story, and how individual characters add to it. “We found that when we describe characters as an author, it makes a really clear image in the reader’s mind and helps them follow the story better,” Clare Owens, Assistant Head of Primary EY 3-Grade 1 and Grade 2B Homeroom Teacher, explains.
This being a big part of their writing focus, the students have been pulling apart sentence structure and looking at the four parts of speech constituting them: pronoun, noun, verb, and adjective. Visual learning aids as well as combining a special movement with each part of speech support student understanding of sentence building. Ms. Owens shares an example:“Say, the first level of learning was identifying characters in a story like ‘gray hair’, ‘old man’. Then we took small descriptions and placed them into a sentence structure, which could become ‘the old man has gray hair’.”
Next, the students determined certain success criteria in their readings that helped them reflect on how best to describe the character, for instance how it looks, walks, feels, etc.
The Writing Process
After the reading segment of the unit was completed, the students were given the opportunity to write their own stories. This module was connected to the Grade 2 IPC unit ‘Communities’. Students had to plan a story with a central character, and a problem/situation, and they had to involve a community helper in their story.
The linear approach to the unit, i.e moving from strengthening student understanding through reading, followed by a writing assignment, builds a solid foundation critical to language learning.
So far, the students have delivered very interesting stories about astronauts, vets, and hospital staff, among others. If you would like to know more about the unit and ELA at the FIS, please reach out to Clare.Owens@the-fis.de.