Using Myst to understand how paragraphs can help organise a build up

In Literacy we are focusing on how writers create tension in their writing. Our main stimulus is a Chinese story written in poetry form to link in with our topic, but on the success of the recent Wii lesson, I wanted to use Myst to build on the idea of magpie-ing words and phrases to use in writing. I then wanted to help children apply these to a structured format to have a better understanding of how using paragraphs can organise their writing.

I used a section of Myst V I have used before for setting descriptions, but the fact it starts in a room, then goes down a corridor before you are faced with glowing bubble form, linked well with the idea of a trapped/escape/surprise structure. So the focus was to build tension with a descriptive setting, before using the corridor to have a fast paced escape and then a sudden surprise/question which had the possibility of moving to a climax.





I created a magpie sheet with three columns, one for each section. We used the game as a structured word/phrase collection exercise with lots of speaking, listening and note-taking. I had children who were genuinely frightened of the rumbling and shaking effects within the game, so we ended up turning the volume down for the the last half of the session. However enough had been heard to influence their writing. Following the initial slow walk through with note-taking we reversed back to the beginning and did it in real time. Slowly walking around the first room before running frantically down the corridor and stopping still at the vision before us.

The class then helped me to ‘box’ up the sequence and we co-wrote some paragraph openers for each section, before leaving them with and independent write of  25 minutes with their notes. We ran through assembly time (with permission!) as they were working so well. Here is an example of the work of one of my 2A SEN writers – all completely independent…

Myst Build Up – Katie (mp3)

and she left the last sentence off her recording which was fab. ..Then I turned and frantically ran….

I think the combination of pace-altering action, sound and visual effects as well as the ability to give children ownership over where they look/visit and then be able to replay the whole event really inspired them. As inconvenient as it is to change the tables and sit them all facing the front as Tim Rylands suggests is worth it, everyone was focused and engaged.

The fact we did this on Thursday and went on to apply the skill (magpie-ing/note-taking/boxing up and then orally retelling) before writing a completely different build up on Friday was evident in this subsequent writing. Marking this weekend, I have had children using language we discussed in Thursday’s session in their writing on Friday. The general standard of the writing has definitely improved this term through using a variety of mediums to inspire children.

As an aside, I am really enjoying teaching my whole class ‘unset’ this year. The ability to share good language and examples sets higher expectations for those less able, as shown in the Boo above. There is more spark in the class and I think it amplifies progress for all.

One Response to “Using Myst to understand how paragraphs can help organise a build up”

  1.   R Martin Says:

    Wow what a great project. Katie that is some really good writing – well done. Sounds like you really enjoyed Myst.


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