Writing an adventure Year level: 5–6

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Writing an adventure Year level: 5–6

Unit of work contributed by Amanda Wong, Spring Parks Primary School, Vic



R7813 'Lift off' - Teacher eater. With permission of the Australian Children’s Television Foundation, Film Finance Corporation Australia Limited and Heytesbury Pty Ltd. Produced by The Funny Farm. Animation by Maggie Geddes and Neil Robinson.

About the unit

Unit description

This unit of work takes students through a series of scaffolded activities in which they construct and write an adventure story for younger children. Students learn about:



  • types of adventure stories

  • narrative time structures

  • processes for structuring narratives at the stages of orientation, complication and resolution

  • language choices for effective story writing.

Knowledge, understandings, skills, values

  • Students explore different ways of portraying characters, setting and events.

  • Students explore imaginative literary texts based on structures, approaches and ideas that have been listened to, read and viewed.

  • Students explain structural and language decisions.

  • Students collaborate in groups and support peers.

Focus questions

  • What are different types of adventure stories?

  • What do I need to know about structuring a story?
  • How do I select content and language suitable for a young reader?


Resources

Digital curriculum resources



R6841 'Lift Off' - Bip, the snapping bungaroo (additional ‘warning’ adventure story)




R7813 'Lift off' - Teacher eater (additional ‘quest’ adventure story)




    R6762 'Lift off' - Molly's sock




    R6752 'Lift off' - Snookle







R7361 Doesn't Everybody Want a Golden Guitar, 1995: How to be a country music star

Software

  • Presentation or slide show software such as Microsoft PowerPoint

  • Word processing software such as Microsoft Word or Google Docs

Internet

Story star chart at Everything ESL: http://www.everythingesl.net (search for ‘story star’)



Print


Chronological structure

  • Miranda the explorer, James Mayhew, Orion Children’s Books, 2002

  • Into the forest, Anthony Browne, Walker Books, 2002

Circular structure

  • Long night moon, Cynthia Rylant, Simon & Schuster, 2004

  • The new land: a first year on the prairie, Marilynn Reynolds, Stephen McCallum, Orca Book Publishers, 1997

  • This is the sunflower, Lola M Schaefer, Donald Crews, HarperCollins, 2000

  • This is the rain, Lola M Schaefer, Jane Wattenberg, HarperCollins, 2001

  • The stranger, Chris Van Allsburg, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1986

  • The napping house, Audrey Wood, Don Wood, Red Wagon Books, 2000

Flashback structure

  • The true story of the three little pigs: by A. Wolf, Jon Scieszka, Lane Smith, Viking, 1999

  • Miss Rumphius, Barbara Cooney, Puffin, 1985

  • The Lorax, Dr Seuss, Collins, 1999

  • The butter battle book, Dr Seuss, Random House, 1984

  • Kamishibai Man, Allen Say, Houghton Mifflin, 2005
  • The wreck of the Zephyr, Chris Van Allsburg, Houghton Mifflin, 1983


Other resources

  • Computer with Microsoft PowerPoint software

  • Class computers with word processing software, slide show software such as Microsoft PowerPoint, and internet access

Attached resources

The following teacher-created learning resources referred to in the unit of work are available for you to modify, print and use in your own teaching and learning context:



  • Story structure chart

  • Three types of adventure story

  • Downloadable PowerPoint presentation: Tips for story writing

Teaching the unit

Setting the scene

Resources

  • Class copies of a short adventure story suitable for years 5–6. See suggestions on page 2.

  • Class copies of the Story star chart at Everything ESL: http://www.everythingesl.net (search for ‘story star’)

  • Class copies of the Story structure chart (page 17)

  • Access to computers, word processing software, slide show presentation software

  • Interactive whiteboard

Teaching and learning activities

What is an adventure story?

Provide all students with a copy of a short adventure story.

Read the story with the class and lead a discussion to elicit information about the content and structure of the story, using appropriate metalanguage relating to narratives.


Who was the main character?

What conflict was there in the story?

Name some of the events.

What was the most exciting moment?

Where and when was the story set?

Let’s talk about how the story began (the introduction or orientation).

Which event marked the complication that lead to the events that follow?

What were some of the crisis moments in the story?

How was the story resolved? Are you satisfied with the resolution?

Arrange students in pairs where they re-read the story together and complete a Story star chart and a Story structure chart (page 17).

Revise with the class the features of an adventure story, being sure to include that an adventure story:


  • places someone, usually the hero or heroine, in a dangerous and unpredictable situation

  • takes readers to unusual, sometimes exotic, places

  • involves some problem or challenge that has to be resolved

  • includes events that make it difficult for the hero or heroine to solve the problem or succeed in the challenge

  • resolves the situation, usually by having the hero or heroine eventually achieve their goal

  • entertains the reader by being exciting and tense and providing an experience different from their everyday lives

  • is written in a particular way so as to engage readers.

Arrange students in different pairs and ask them to improve the adventure story in some way, while still keeping true to the adventure genre; for example:

Think of an event that you could add to increase the interest or show us more about the hero or heroine.


Add description or detail to one of the events to increase the tension.

Rewrite the opening paragraph to make it more exciting and ‘grabbing’.

Change the ending to make it more realistic or exciting.

Lead a session in which students share their ideas with the class and get feedback on whether their ideas would improve the adventure story.



Assessment

Ask students individually to select an adventure story they have read or viewed. Give them time to prepare a two-minute presentation to the class in which they ‘sell’ their adventure story as a great example of the genre. They could use a slide show presentation, posters, charts or any audio or visual tools at their disposal to liven up their presentation.

On the agreed day, students make their presentation and can then be assessed on how well their presentation demonstrates that they understand the adventure story genre.

Investigating

Resources


  • Class copies of Three types of adventure story (page 18)

  • Copies of adventure stories using different time structures. See suggestions on page 2

  • A set of story books for younger children. See suggestions on page 2

  • Three fairytales representing the three types of adventure story

  • Access to computers, word processing software, slide show presentation software such as PowerPoint and internet access

  • R6762 'Lift off' - Molly's sock

  • R6752 'Lift off' - Snookle

  • R6774 'Lift off' - A nightmare in my cupboard

Teaching and learning activities


Quest, warning and suspense adventure stories

Give each student a copy of Three types of adventure story (page 18).

Read and discuss with the class the nature of and differences between quest stories, warning stories, and suspense stories.

Brainstorm examples of each type of adventure story from students’ reading and viewing.



Who knows a ghost story? What type of adventure story is that (usually a suspense story)?

What adventure stories do you remember reading when you were younger? What type of adventure story were they?

What about the ‘Harry Potter’ books?

What adventure stories have you read recently? How would you classify them?

What movie have you seen that is an adventure story? What type of adventure story is it?

What about television shows such as CSI, Doctor Who, Sea patrol and Medium?

Reality television shows are a sort of adventure story. What types of adventure story are The biggest loser, Idol and MasterChef?

At the end of the brainstorm ask students to make a list in their journals of books, films and television shows under the three headings ‘Quest’, ‘Warning’ and ‘Suspense’.

Revisit the adventure story previously read in class then ask students to classify it as one of the three types of adventure story.

Explain that many traditional fairytales are quest, warning or suspense adventure stories; for example, ‘Puss in boots’ is a quest story, ‘Jack and the beanstalk’ is a warning story, and ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ is a suspense story.

Divide the class into three groups to represent the three types of adventure story. Give each student in the group a fairytale that represents one of the three types. Then subdivide each group into groups of four. Ask the new groups to analyse their fairytale as an example of that type of adventure story.


Quest fairytale

Describe the hero or heroine.

What is the hero’s or heroine’s goal?

What challenge or challenges does the hero or heroine have to overcome?

Does the hero or heroine eventually achieve the goal? Does he or she achieve anything else?

Can you find a paragraph that you think works well in creating excitement and suspense, and identify words or images that would make young children feel tense or excited?

Warning fairytale

Describe the hero or heroine.

Explain the warning. Who receives the warning – the hero/heroine, the readers, or both?

What event marks the complication (the moment when the warning proves to be correct and the hero or heroine is in trouble)?

What challenge or challenges does the hero or heroine have to overcome?

Can you find a paragraph that you think works well in creating excitement and suspense, and identify words or images that would make young children feel tense or excited?

Suspense fairytale

Describe the hero or heroine.

What does the author let us know at the beginning that sets up the suspense? What danger does the hero or heroine face?

List the suspenseful situations that follow.

Find two examples where the author hints at disaster to come. Do these hints come true?

Can you find a paragraph that you think works well in creating excitement and suspense, and identify words or images that would make young children feel tense or excited?

Re-form the three larger groups and ask each to prepare a slide show presentation on their fairytale. Their purpose is to:



  • briefly retell the fairytale
  • show how the fairytale fits the classification of its type of adventure story


  • read to the class the group’s chosen paragraph

  • comment on the words or images in the paragraph that work well for the purpose in the fairytale.

Assist each group to divide up the tasks and manage the process. Remind them about cooperative learning roles, discussing the roles of leader, recorder, timekeeper, presenter and errand monitor.

When all groups have completed the task, arrange for each to present its findings to the class.

Lead a summary session in which the class revisits the explanations of each type of adventure story and reflects on what they have learned.

Which type of adventure story do you particularly like? Give us an example.

Why do you think people, including young children, enjoy reading adventure stories so much when they’re usually so scary?

Writing a young children’s adventure story: the scenario

Explain to the class that they will be writing an adventure story for young children.

Provide the students with a selection of stories for young children that they then read.

Arrange the class into groups of four. Their task is to make a list of:



  • the topics that young children like to read about

  • the language used in young children’s books, including the level of difficulty; adjectives that help young children to imagine and understand; verbs that make the action lively; and the use of repetition to help young children navigate their way through the story.

Bring the class together and compile a list of features of content and language that are suitable for young children’s stories. Explain that they should use these books for reference throughout the rest of the unit of work.

Arrange the class into writing pairs. Their task is to think up a scenario for an adventure story for young children using one of the three types of adventure story. Later in the unit they will be developing the scenario into a story. At the moment they limit themselves to creating an outline.

In their pairs students view and discuss three simple adventure stories for young children: 'Lift off' - Molly's sock (quest story), 'Lift off' - Snookle (warning story), and 'Lift off' - A nightmare in my cupboard (suspense story).


Who is the hero or heroine in each story?

What happens in the story?

How is this an example of a quest, warning or suspense story?

What does this story tell you about what young children like in their stories?

Ask pairs to decide which of the three types of adventure story they are going to write.

Arrange a free-writing session in which students individually write in their journals for 15 minutes, listing ideas for characters, setting and action for their type of adventure story.

At the end of the 15 minutes, bring pairs together again to tell each other their ideas and reach agreement on an outline for their young children’s adventure story.



Chronological, flashback and circular time structures

Explain to the class the concept of time structure in a story – the sequence in which an author decides to present the events of the story. Explain that there are different ways of doing this.



Chronological order is the simplest and most straightforward time structure. This is when the events are placed in the story in the order in which they would happen in real life.

Flashback is when the action of the story moves backwards to an earlier time. Flashback explains or fills in details in the story. It can also create a second storyline as events continue to happen in the present while the reader also hears about events that happened in a previous time.

Circular structure is where a story begins and ends at the same place or time. For example, a story might begin and end in a character’s home, or a story might begin in spring, with events occurring during all four seasons and then ending in the next spring.

Explain that not all narratives are written chronologically and that varying the structure can add interest and suspense to story writing. Illustrate by referring to stories that demonstrate the different structures. See the Resources list for examples.

Arrange students into groups of four. Give each group an adventure story that has one of the three time structures. Their task is to:


  • read their story as a literature circle

  • highlight each stage in the story – orientation, complication and resolution

  • decide whether the story is written with a chronological, flashback or circular structure

  • create a chart that shows the events and indicates the sequence. For example, they might use a straight line for chronological, a circle for circular, and a straight line (or lines) for flashback – presenting the events in chronological order but with arrows indicating where the events appeared in the story.

Arrange for groups to exchange their annotated stories and charts with another group and analyse each other’s work. They should decide whether they agree with the previous group’s analysis. Finally, two members from each group come together to form two new groups of four to discuss the two stories and their differing or similar opinions.

Writing a young children’s adventure story: plot line and time structure

Arrange the class in their writing pairs. Their task is to develop the plot for their story and decide which time structure they are going to use.

Explain that if they have chosen a chronological time structure their story should begin as close to the main event as possible. If they have chosen a circular or flashback structure, the topic of the opening must include the complication (for a circular time structure) or the resolution (for a flashback time structure).

Arrange a free-writing session in which students write individually in their journals for 15 minutes, listing ideas for events and experimenting with different time structures.

At the end of the 15 minutes, bring pairs together to tell each other their ideas and reach agreement on a draft for the plot of their story, including some of the events and the time structure.


Assessment

In order to assess students’ understanding of how they are developing their story, ask them to write a report that contains a list of the steps they have taken so far in developing their story, and the decisions they have made about the content and structure of their story.



Bringing it all together

Resources

  • Microsoft PowerPoint

  • PowerPoint presentation: Tips for story writing

  • Class printouts of the PowerPoint slides

  • Opening of The subtle knife by Philip Pullman

  • A short adventure story to read to the class – see suggestions on page 2

  • Class copies of a short adventure story with the resolution and ending removed – see suggestions on page 2.

Teaching and learning activities

Orientation, complication and resolution

Conduct staged workshops that take students through the process of drafting the orientation, complication and resolution to their stories. Use a similar approach at each stage.



  • Present the PowerPoint presentation: Tips for story writing.

  • Provide students with copies of tips and charts from the PowerPoint presentation to refer to as they draft their stories.

  • Provide a model or activity as stimulus.

  • Analyse the model or activity with students and extrapolate its important features.

  • Ask writing pairs to apply the learned strategies to their own story.
  • Allow pairs to discuss their drafts with other pairs or the class to get feedback, including advice on how to improve their draft.


Orientation: opening

Read to the class the opening of The subtle knife by Philip Pullman.

A
sk students to identify what the author has done to produce such an effective opening. Include discussion of what happens and the vocabulary and images used. Show the PowerPoint slide: ‘An attention-grabbing opening’.

Please refer to PowerPoint for image acknowledgements.

Arrange students in their writing pairs, hand out copies of the tips, and ask pairs to draft an opening sentence for their story. They should try each of the strategies and decide which works best for their story and their audience.

Hold a class discussion in which students talk about their opening sentences and get feedback from other students, including advice or more ideas.



Orientation: characterisation and setting

Explain that they need to establish their main character and setting briefly but clearly.

Display the ‘Character chart’ and ‘Setting chart’ PowerPoints slides. Explain how students can use these charts to create their characters and setting.

D
isplay the PowerPoint slide ‘Introducing a character’ and work through it with the students, brainstorming with them examples for each tip.

Please refer to PowerPoint for image acknowledgements.

P

rovide all students with copies of the PowerPoint slides ‘Introducing a character’, ‘Character chart’ and ‘Setting chart’. They should use these in their writing pairs as they create their main character and setting. They then decide how much of this detail to include in their orientation.

Please refer to PowerPoint for image acknowledgements. Please refer to PowerPoint for image acknowledgements.

Remind students that their children’s story needs to be short with simple vocabulary, but the storytelling must excite and hold the attention of young readers or listeners.

Ask some pairs to volunteer reading their descriptions of character and setting aloud. Other students draw on what the students have described. Students give feedback on the descriptions and whether they are clear and interesting.


Complication

Revise the concept of a complication as the moment that triggers the series of events that take up most of the story.

Display the PowerPoint slide ‘Complications that a character can face’. Brainstorm examples w
ith the class and emphasise that the complication they use in their story must fit with the character and setting, and also be surprising and worrying for their young readers.

Please refer to PowerPoint for image acknowledgements. Please refer to PowerPoint for image acknowledgements.

Display the PowerPoint slide ‘Writing a complication’ and work through it with the class.

Provide students with copies of each slide. Ask writing pairs to experiment with the various tips and select the sentences that work best for them.

Combine two writing pairs into groups of four where they listen to each other’s complication and provide feedback on both the content and the language.

Sequencing events

Explain that by now their readers should be well and truly hooked by their effective opening and complication. Their next task is to entertain their readers by providing a series of events that lead on from the complication towards the resolution.

Ask students to think of a time when they went through a challenging time or faced a problem in their life. Using the ‘Think pair share’ strategy, students share their problem and resolution.

Explain to the class that the complication must not be simply and quickly resolved. There must be a series of increasingly tense events that lead to the resolution.

Give students the following complication:

John's boat was stolen.

Ask students in groups of four to devise a series of events in the form of a flowchart that leads to the resolution of this problem. They use the following questions as a guide:


Action: What did John do to try to find his boat? What did he do without the boat? Where did he go? Who did he go to for help?


Description: What was John feeling?

Dialogue: What did John say to someone about the boat? What was he thinking?

Arrange for students to share their flowcharts.

Compare and contrast the different flowcharts, using the best examples as models. Discuss how to improve the flowcharts by adding more information or adding or removing events or information.

Arrange students in their writing pairs where they decide on the sequence of events that follow on from the complication in their story. They draft the series of events and share them with another pair and get feedback.



Resolution

E
xplain to the class that the resolution to their story must arise out of the complication and the subsequent events, that it must be true to the personality of the main character, and that it must satisfy their readers. Explain that surprise and an unexpected turn of events must be connected in some way to what has gone before.

Display the PowerPoint slide ‘Resolving a story’.

Please refer to PowerPoint for image acknowledgements.

Arrange students in groups of four for a ‘Placemat’ activity where they think of as many examples as possible of books, movies and television shows that have used these ways to resolve a story.

Ask students to give examples from their own story on how these tips could work for them. Discuss their ideas with the class and give feedback.

Arrange students in their writing pairs where they decide how they are going to resolve their story.

Ending

Tell or read a short story, leaving out the final paragraph. Discuss how abrupt it is to end a story straight after the resolution.

Display the PowerPoint slide ‘Ending a story’.

Brainstorm with the class ways of ending the story effectively.

Provide students with a copy of the slide ‘Ending a story’ and have students in their writing pairs decide how they are going to end their own story.

Ask students to create a title that would appeal to their reading audience.


Assessment

To assess students’ ability to write a story resolution and ending, provide them with a copy of another story with the resolution and ending removed. Their task is to write the resolution and ending.



Drawing conclusions

Resources

  • PowerPoint presentation: Tips for story writing

  • Interactive whiteboard

Teaching and learning activities

Finishing their stories

Revising and editing

Give writing pairs time in class to revise and edit their own stories and assist other pairs in revising and editing.

Display the PowerPoint slide ‘Editing checklist’ and keep it on display throughout the revising and editing stage.

Assessment

To assess how much students have learned about structuring and developing their stories, ask students in pairs to prepare an advice sheet for young writers in which they nominate three important things they have learned about story writing from the workshops, and describe how they used this information when they were drafting their stories.



Communicating

Resources

  • R7361 Doesn't Everybody Want a Golden Guitar, 1995: How to be a country music star

Teaching and learning activities

Publishing their stories

Compile the final published stories into a class book of short adventure stories for young children and make a copy each for each student.

Arrange for students to invite other teachers and parents to come in and read their published stories, and for students to read their stories to a class of young children.

Conduct a debriefing in which students report on how they felt having their stories published in these ways and what they learned from other people’s reactions to their stories.


Extension activities


  • Provide students with computers with internet access and arrange for them to view short documentaries on the theme of fame, including R7361 Doesn't Everybody Want a Golden Guitar, 1995: How to be a country music star. Their task is to use one the documentaries as a starting point for creating a short adventure story on the theme of fame and celebrity. Their audience is students of their own age.

Assessment

To assess students’ ability to apply what they have learned about story writing in other contexts, ask them to list three choices they would make about content and language if they were writing an adventure story for 15-year-olds. They then write a story opening that would appeal to this audience.



Writer: Amanda Wong

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Story structure chart

Name




Class




Date




Plot (what? and why?), Characters (who?), Setting (where? and when?)

Title

Plot

Characters

Setting










Three types of adventure story

Name




Class




Date



Quest adventure stories

The hero or heroine is on a journey to achieve a goal. The journey might be an actual journey or a journey through several experiences. The goal might be to find treasure or rescue someone, or it might be to overcome a personal weakness, or test oneself in dangerous situations. The hero/heroine makes a great effort to achieve the goal, overcoming many obstacles.

The ‘Lord of the rings’ trilogy and stories of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table are examples of quest stories.


Warning adventure stories

The hero/heroine ignores a warning not to do something, or not to go somewhere. Disaster follows and the action in the story revolves around the hero’s/heroine’s struggle to survive.

A warning story can also be based on a warning that the reader is given, such as that a character is afraid of flying, always suspecting that the next flight will crash. The reader waits for the inevitable plane crash and the character’s struggle to survive.

‘Aladdin and his magic lamp’ is an example of a warning story.



Suspense adventure stories

While all adventure stories should be suspenseful, suspense adventure stories follow a particular pattern. The hero/heroine is in immediate danger and faces a life-and-death struggle to survive. Suspenseful situations follow on from one another as the author builds up suspense by hinting at disasters to come. Readers are constantly on the edge of their seats waiting for the next scary thing to happen.

Horror stories and ghost stories are examples of suspense stories.



© Education Services Australia Ltd, 2010, except where indicated otherwise

Writing an adventure by Amanda Wong, Spring Parks Primary School, Vic




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