Written by: Julie Greenall Secondary English Language and Literature Teacher
It was with some trepidation that our two Year 8 Mainstream English classes went to visit the K4 ECE children. Trepidation? Well, yes, because our Year 8 students weren’t sure what to expect: What would we talk about? How small are these little creatures? What if they hated us? Would they be scary?
Fears were soon assuaged. The students had a great visit! Lots of chat, lots of reading, lots of photos and even a few cookies. The 30-minute visit went by so quickly and the Year 8s can’t wait to visit again very soon.
This was the first stage of our Project Based Learning unit for which our students are creating a non-fiction book for K4 children. Educationally, this is all about learning to adapt language for different audiences. As well as creating this book, the Year 8s are also writing a blog post all about writing for small children, writing an email to the ECE Coordinators and writing a persuasive email to an imaginary literary editor. Each piece of writing requires different language skills, focusing specifically on what is the purpose of the writing and who is the audience.
Added to this is the challenge of working to the brief of producing the children’s book. What do you need to find out? How will you find out? You’ve met a problem. How will you solve it? Etc etc. Real-life skills, rather than total reliance on the teacher.
Visiting the K4s enabled us to meet our audience and find out what they were interested in. And some of the answers were quite surprising. We assumed we knew what sort of topics they would enjoy reading about, but apparently not; these readers are not going to be easy to please. We’ll return very soon with our completed books to see if they meet with approval!
Many thanks to ECE Coordinators Veronica Martin and Michelle Wang, and their wonderful team of K4 teachers.
Here’s what some of the Year 8s thought:
“I enjoyed talking with the K4 children; they were fun. They didn’t let me talk much; they kept interrupting!” Lin Kai Shen
“I learned that I have to re-think my book! I thought I knew what small children liked to read, but apparently I don’t!” Bryce Carey
“The children were very well behaved, but I don’t think they enjoyed the book I read to them. I now know that the book I create has to really grab their attention.” Yilin Chen
“After the visit I decided I should add more pages because they read faster that I expected. I also should put some small pictures in the photos for them to find as they lose interest very quickly.” Shuyang Fei
“One little girl was really intelligent. I asked her a few questions and she could answer them quickly. It really made me feel great because she actually listened to everything I read to her.” Christy Chen
“I learned that the K4 students are really hard to entertain” Bethany Watson