A great collaborative activity we trialled was a project based on NSW Education Department ‘Through My window’ activity. In this activity that was conducted over 6-8 weeks with Year 3/4 student, the children exchanged written descriptions of the scene outside their school windows with children from another school. On receiving the descriptions they drew the scene, with only the written word as a clue to the scene they were drawing. They then exchanged the drawings and photos (Scanned and emailed) and assessed how well their descriptions had painted the scene and vice versa. Each school group drawing one scene and writing one written description. We used SuperClubsPlus to connect to a school in rural northern Victoria and another in metropolitan Melbourne. This fitted well into our Inquiry Unit on Discovering Victoria.
Sounds complicated but it was really only
1. One Piece of descriptive writing
2. One sketch of the descrition they receive
3. One photo of their scene
4. Uploading to SuperClubsPlus and Emails to and fro
This activity could easily have been achieved by use of snail mail and printed photos. However it was greatly enhanced and immediate due to digital photography and email and web based forums.
The descriptive writing was a challenge for the children, however they persevered as they knew that what they wrote would be used by other children to draw the scene. The activity provided a great opportunity and need for explicit teaching of vocabulary of direction, as well as adjectives.
When sketching, the children took great care to read with careful detail to make sure they included all the described elements. This attention to detail was enhanced due to the collaborative nature of the project – they knew there was a positive reaction from a well written description, so they worked hard.
The activity culminated in a short forum session with the children interacting on-line (via SuperClubsPlus) . A simple concept that gave the children a ‘real’ purpose to practise their descriptive language and connect with others beyond their school.