Create a Guided TourJulie Blake
This sequence of activities is designed to form a self-contained project lasting several lessons. Its primary focus is on writing reflectively about texts, taking account of the needs of others who might read it. Its pedagogical method is to give students a structured experience of research and development of a text for a real audience and purpose. The key outcome is an online guided tour document, using the same format as those on the Poetry Archive website. These could be published in school or submitted to the Archive to be considered for publication on the website!
To read a range of poems and select six to prepare brief introductions to; to write a well structured Guided Tour of the Poetry Archive; to use talk to develop drafting processes; to share their enjoyment of particular poems with a real audience.
Computers, internet access and headphones for each student (unless choosing poems is set as a homework task)
Teaching sequence of activities
Introduce the idea that some museum and archive websites have adopted the idea of offering "guided tours" as a way of introducing new visitors to their online collections. List similarities and differences between a real guided tour and an online guided tour, and how the differences might affect the needs of online visitors. Key issues to focus on might include: the need for greater clarity as there is no interaction; a live tour can accommodate to the language needs of the participants but an online one has to try and meet everyone’s needs; the need for lively and dynamic writing to avoid the reader clicking off somewhere else.
In an ICT suite, or with a class set of laptops, introduce the Poetry Archive website as an online archive with Guided Tours. Model how to:
- Find the Poetry Archive website
- Get into the Children’s Archive
- Find and open a Guided Tour
- Read a Guided Tour, including general introduction, poem titles and descriptions, Tour Guide biography and photo
- Open the poem page to see the poem and the audio player
- Play the recording
- Get back to the Guided Tour
Set pairs the task of opening and reading Jean Sprackland’s Guided Tour. In her introduction Jean Sprackland describes her purpose as sending the online visitor on “listening adventures”. Invite pairs to consider how she has used techniques of language and organisation to engage and sustain children’s interest and to make the chosen poems sound like “listening adventures”?
Review ideas together as a class and annotate the page to show techniques such as: short descriptions all of about the same length, clear and consistent headings, use of poem titles, phrases that signal the start and end of the text, links between poems; personal style shown by personal pronouns and incomplete sentences, trailing dots to leave you wondering, use of questions, use of short tasty quotations, reference to experiences both exotic and everyday, varied lively vocabulary, etc. For more structuring, use a list like this as the basis for a colour-coding activity in which students simply find the examples to go with the idea. As a class, review the techniques used and link these back to purpose and online readers’ needs.
Devising a new Guided Tour
Explain the task: to write their own Guided Tour to the Poetry Archive website. Show students how to find and view a variety of poems in the Children’s Archive using the different interactive tools. Then set individuals the task of finding 6 “treasure” poems in the Children’s Archive for their Guided Tour. Encourage talk, sharing poems and looking over shoulders. When the selections have been made, have students writing draft text for each poem, even if it’s just in brief note form to start with.
In small groups individuals rehearse their choices, saying what they chose and why they think it’s treasure. Have the others give constructive feedback in the form “if this were in a guided tour, I’d like to know more about…”. Students to note feedback for further development and then redraft.
Next, have students cut up their sections of text (or do this electronically) and try out at least 3 different sequences. Choose the one they think works best and add markers of beginning and end, and links between the poems, as in Jean Sprackland’s Guided Tour. Remind students of the audience and purpose, get them to see what aspects of language and organisation they can enhance, and encourage proofreading appropriate to formal publication. Then publish!
Peer review of the finished products in the same small groups. Set evaluation criteria to guide this, such as: selection of poems, completion of all drafting tasks, use of the template, language shows understanding of audience and purpose, organisation shows understanding of audience and purpose, quality of presentation.
This activity could be re-worked so that the outcome is an audio guided tour rather than a written one, with students scripting, rehearsing and recording files for podcasting.
Students could as well or instead produce some creative writing in response to one of the poems in the Children’s Archive, perhaps short story text transformations.