One of the biggest issues that plagued most budding young writers would be their disorganised thoughts. They would be everywhere…and I really mean EVERYWHERE.
Their thoughts are often jumbled and disorganised. Many students, who have little confidence in their writings, often take their teachers’ words either too seriously … or not seriously at all. Here are some of the more common ones that I had come across:
The Warped Time Machine
This common mistake often leaves many readers scratching their heads. Somehow, the student assumes that every reader is extremely intelligent and is able to either 1) read his/her thoughts or 2) fill in the blanks by themselves. When I interviewed one student on the rationale for writing like this, he replied, “I thought the examiners will know what will happen! There’s no need for me to fill in so many details!”
The Explicit Information Provider
This particular student of mine would provide every single detail..to the end. It would start with her waking up in the morning before having her breakfast. After which, she would talk about how her family would be waiting for her at the car and so on.. by the time she got to the plot, it would be her third page.
The Scene Jumper
Imagine watching a movie. Within the first five minutes, the scene jumps to another scene without warning. This second scene has no relation to the first one and guess what, it returns to continue the initial scene. It then goes back and forth repeatedly with some cameos by some other unrelated ones. By the end of the movie, not only are you confused.. you have a splitting headache. This is what it’s like to read stories from students who write like these.
Why Mindmaps or Sequential Timelines don’t work…alone
Teachers would often use the mind maps or sequential timelines for students to draft out their thoughts and ideas. However, I find that most students struggle with basic mind maps or these time lines because they tend to write in words. While they may help in one way, they are best complemented with sketches and doodles to help them visualise details and ideas.
Do you notice yourself doodling when you are listening to a lecture? Do you find your students doodling when they are distracted? If we doodle, can we stop our kids from doing something that may appear natural to them? This appeals to the visual learning style in many of us. Some may say ‘nay’ to learning styles but the truth is, most of us are multimodals; we utilise more than 1 learning style to help us learn. The doodling action helps to activate our brains as well.
If you read my earlier articles on the different learning styles, you will realise that many students don’t process leaning in words. In fact, most of us process this information visually. In short, they visualise information in pictures.
Try Doodling a quick Storyboard to Accompany
One way to do it is to create an extremely quick storyboard with doodles and sketches to accompany the written words. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate sketch. In fact, stick figures may be all that they need. The doodling helps them to visualise things in their heads and clarify their views in their minds.
Storyboarding is a tool that is often and frequently used by moviemakers, animators and such. However, the true purpose of it is to help organize and focus a story. By having a visual representation of their thinking, the story board helps the student to stay on track before they lost focus and add/omit details that hampers the story lines.
This technique is so useful that once the general picture can be obtained, they can advance it by using them for paragraphs.
Hope this tip helps! Next week, we will be progressing to Reading.