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The Lonely Island
a hypertext story written by Hellen Leonard's Year 5/6 Class, Porchester Junior School, Nottingham, June and July 2003.
Based on Michael Morpurgo's book "Kensuke's Kingdom".
Classroom case study
Helen Whitehead's comments (Writer/Editor/Facilitator)
The class were studying Michael Morpurgo's book as part of their transition from Primary to Secondary School following the Nottingham and Nottinghamshire LEAs' guidelines.
There are several ways to use this book in class. The pupils had already looked at description, and were preparing a drama based on the book.
In this workshop the children wrote their own version of a shipwreck island story with a beginning from each of them leading into a central narrative common to all, followed by writing their endings each from their own point of view. The hypertext is shaped like an hourglass with 19 beginnings, 3 middle sections, and 16 endings. You can read every section of the story at once or take a random beginning and ending which will give a different story each time.
Ms Leonard worked with the children so that each of them could produce a beginning describing in their own words how they reached the island. They were encouraged to think of as many alternative methods as possible for reaching an island and each one is different!
Helen Whitehead came into the class for a morning, with the following aims:
To decide collaboratively on a title for the work.
Comments from Hellen Leonard, class teacher
My class of Year 5/6 children studied the book Kensuke's Kingdom by Michael Morpurgo as part of our transition work. With no exception all children thoroughly enjoyed reading the book and had to be repeatedly told to close the book and put it down at the end of lessons! As my Performance Management task was ICT based and my headteacher had worked with Helen Whitehead before, he suggested working with her would be a great opportunity for the children to publish their work on the internet. As I strive to ensure the curriculum is interesting and appealing to all children, I jumped at this opportunity.
After having chatted to Helen about the main ideas in the book, both of us becoming excited with this project, we roughed out a plan. My children would write the beginnings of how they ended up on this island, Helen would work with us to write the middle of when they all met up and we would work on our endings of how we got off the island back in the classroom. So I studied the book up to chapter six, following the transition work, so that my children would understand how Michael became stranded on the island and his initial relationship with Kensuke through brief their meetings. My children then wrote their beginnings, ways they might arrive at an island. We used our imagination to pool ideas and then used the best suggestions, each child choosing an idea for themselves and we sent these to Helen through the kotn web site.
Helen then came into school for a morning. The first session we spent finding our way around the kotn web site and drawing pictures to illustrate the children's writing. The second session we worked as a class sharing dramatic ideas as to what may happen once the children meet up. Getting into small groups the children decided how they would leave the island and try to refer back to their beginning to keep their story connected. This worked well as Helen made notes throughout whilst the children came up with the ideas. By the end of the morning we had the middle written in note form that Helen would go away and write up and the endings in rough. Next day my children wrote their endings individually bearing in mind their beginnings and we sent these to Helen via the kotn create site.
The children got a lot out of this project because they could see a definite result, we had someone extremely knowledgeable to work with and they are now published authors! Personally, it brought the story (Kensuke's Kingdom)to life more because the children were involved in purposeful non-linear writing and I think their experiences are much richer for it. This work is possible without Helen coming into school as teachers could manage the work in the classroom through drama but, not possible without her expertise on the web site. I thoroughly enjoyed working with her and my children too!
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