Monday, 26 November 2012

Original Lesson 30: How to Build a Creation of Your Choice

I'm teaching procedural texts at the moment and, having first introduced the text type using some mentor texts during our reading hours (particularly the book entitled: How to Catch a Fish by J Thornton), I thought up a lesson that I'm sure is not overly original but worked reasonably well nevertheless.
99.9% Guaranteed Guide: How to Catch a Fish
I spread out the resources from my backroom across the classroom floor and then pondered what I could create. I decided to build a giraffe, using a variety of the different resources. As I made it, I wrote my procedural text.

For the lesson introduction the following morning, I had a volunteer try to create a replica of my giraffe - this works best giving the student your procedural text but without the picture, otherwise it's generally too easy for a 5/6 student.

My modelled procedural text:

How to Build a Giraffe


Is your classroom lacking in animals? Well, read on to make an appealing, stable giraffe that will be a valuable addition to your classroom chaos.


·        34 plastic, connectible blocks; preferably 17 yellow and 17 brown, however if there is an insufficient supply of these colours choose a similar combination that is available, such as red and grey

·        One MAB hundreds block

·        Two bright white single unit (ones) MAB cubes

·        A stable surface on which to commence and complete construction, such as a flat table that will not be wobbled by troublesome classmates


1.   Collect all required materials listed above from the classroom resource room or wherever they can be found in your school.

2.   Place all building materials on your stable surface and decide on a designated area to start construction. Tip: This should be the same area where you want to display your giraffe because if you attempt to move it later it is likely to collapse to the laughter of your competitors.

3.   Grab four of the coloured plastic blocks, two of each colour. Connect them in one straight line, with alternating colours; for example, brown, yellow, brown, yellow.

4.   After you have completed one four-block line, repeat the above step three times. Now you have your giraffe’s four legs!

5.   Carefully place the legs in a square configuration, approximately five centimetres apart from one another, with the connectible part of the square facing upwards.

6.   Once the legs have been placed upwards and are stable, you are prepared for your first real challenge. Gently, with hands as steady as a fire-fighter jet pilot, ease the MAB hundreds block on top of the four upward standing legs. If it falls over, you are DOOMED! Just kidding, simply stand the legs up and reattempt the manoeuvre until you succeed. Once your giraffe body is on and secure, you’re halfway there!

7.   Now, without wobbling your work bench, pick up 10 more of the plastic blocks. Again, use five from one colour and five from another. Build your giraffe’s neck by connecting them in one straight, elongated line. Finally, place an eleventh block perpendicular to the others, so that it is jutting outwards, horizontal to the floor and your work bench, to represent the giraffe’s mouth and nose. (This eleventh block can be whatever colour you choose).

8.   Summoning the most delicate senses within you, tenderly place the neck and head of your giraffe on top of the body and legs. WARNING: Do not try to put the neck too significantly towards one side of the body as you will soon discover that strategy ends in a trip to the vet for your half giraffe. No, instead try to place the neck fairly in the centre of the body, perhaps a centimetre or two towards the front so that it doesn’t look too odd but still maintains its balance atop the delicate stack you have created.
9.   Finally, once your eyes and neck are in place, collect your remaining three plastic blocks and connect them in a straight line. This will be your tail to place at the rear of the hundreds block.  

10.    Your final hurdle is now before you. With more gracefulness than ever before, you must now lightly plop the two bright white MAB ones blocks atop your giraffe’s head in an eye-like formation. WARNING: Ensure that you place these above the top block of the neck (not on the edge of the nose) as otherwise you will meet a very depressing end to your thus far successful feat.
11.    Finally, you may decoratively place some smooth, plastic blocks around the body at your discretion.
12.    Name your creation.

Success! You now have one ferociously handsome (although herbivorous and plastic) classroom giraffe. Yes, I know, your friends will be so jealous that they will stop talking to you.

Never fear,

Giraffe will be here!
Students were asked to make their own creation, write a detailed procedural text and - to ensure its accuracy and effectiveness - challenge a partner to create the exact same object. Prior to dismantling their creations, students digitally photographed them so that these images could be used during our publishing process on the laptops.
Students who produced the creation provided valuable peer feedback to the authors of their procedural pieces, such as that certain sections did not contain enough detail or that they requried example diagrams or specific language such as 'connect the two straight columns of blocks in an L shape' instead of phrases like 'connect the blocks.'
The published pieces students produced were generally excellent quality and evidenced good revising and editing after the initial drafting phase, as prompted by the partners who created their pieces.
How do you teach different text types to motivate your students and make tasks real and/or activity-based?

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