Ernest Pounds
Tennessee
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Subjects:
  Writing skills, General Education development (GED), Adult basic education, Vocabulary development, Literacy, New writers

Learner Level:
  Multilevel...can be adapted to any level

Time Frame:
  30 minutes

Learner Grouping:
  Individual, Small group, Whole class

Setting:
  This class was composed of 15 Families First learners who were attending class to achieve their GED and ultimately will be entering the work force in the community. The class meets five days a week and four hours per day. Families First is the Tennessee program to provide training for those welfare recipients who lack basic education skills. While learners do work toward a GED, emphasis in these classes is shifting toward the knowledge, skills, and attitudes learners need to acquire and keep a good job.
 
Program:
  Trenton Special School District (Gibson County) Adult Education Program

Type of Program:
  ABE

Student Population Served:
  Basic skills (grade levels 5-8.9)

 
Improving writing through the use of imagery

This activity leads learners through the process of adding detail to sentence starters to create mental images of what they are writing. This activity will help to improve writing assignments regardless of the subject matter by drawing on the experiences of the learners and using these experiences to vary and expand the vocabulary they use in writing. __________________________________________________________

Learning Objective:
Learners will visualize what they are writing about in order to expand their use of a wider vocabulary and improve written communication.

Primary Skill:
Convey ideas in writing

Learner Needs & Goals: 
In discussing why learners thought writing was difficult, learners said that they didnít know what they wanted to say.  This lesson was developed to help learners see how visualizing more of the details of what they were writing about would help them incorporate more details into their writing.

Learning Activity Description:
Writing down what is being visualized can be applied in all writing tasks, from simple descriptive assignments to writing work orders or writing plans for the work place.  On certain occasions it might be necessary for employees to write messages to other workers on different shifts about work that needs to be done or changes in work standards that might need to be considered.  An accident report may need to be written.  Employees might need to write orders for products or make notations about items to be shipped.  There is a whole array of possibilities where imagery could be implemented to make oneís writing more detailed.

  1. Spend a few minutes discussing problems learners experience in completing a writing assignment.   

  2. Discuss methods people use to help them write effectively. Remind learners that writing is just speech written down. If they can think what they want to say, half the battle is won.

  3. Discuss the use of imagery (forming mental pictures of what you see or say) in increasing one's writing skill. If an individual can clearly visualize a certain scene or event in his mind, it greatly expands his ability to write about that scene or event.

  4. Put a sentence starter (a subject and a verb) on the blackboard that might tell of an action in their workplace. Example: "Customer chose." Let each learner add one word at a time to complete the thought of the person being described. The final result should be a complete picture of a certain customer buying a particular product. Here's how a class might develop this sentence starter:
    • Customer chose
    • Old customer chose.
    • An old customer carefully chose.
    • An old customer carefully chose food.
    • An old, gray-haired customer carefully chose food.
    • An old, gray-haired customer carefully chose canned food and crackers.
    • An old, gray-haired, stooped customer carefully chose canned food and crackers.
    • An old, gray-haired, stooped customer with a cane carefully chose canned food and crackers.
    • An old, gray-haired, stooped customer with a cane carefully chose canned food and crackers in the grocery store.
    • An old, gray-haired, stooped customer with a cane carefully chose canned cat food and crackers in the grocery store.

    With the addition of each word, the details of the picture become clearer and the picture becomes easier to visualize. The final sentence in the series above shows a much clearer picture of the customer as he picked out his items.

  5. This exercise should be repeated several times with the whole class, each time using a different sentence starter. Suggested sentence starters using the same subject, "customer," and changing only the verbs follow:
    • Customer fell
    • Customer paid
    • Customer waited
    • Customer talked
    • Customer hurried
    • Customer complained
    • Customer bought
    • Customer searched
    • Customer crashed
    • Customer selected

    Each time a sentence is created using one of these sentence starters, a different picture will develop. Learners will be surprised that not only does their visual image of what the customer did change as the verb is changed, the picture in the learners' minds of the customer himself also varies each time a new sentence is created. With each different sentence created, learners should see that forming a visual image helps them have a better understanding of what they want to write.

  6. As an individual assignment, give learners two or three sentence starters and ask them to add words to expand each sentence to create a strong visual image.

Materials and Resources:
Blackboard, overhead projector, or flip chart

Assessment:
Learners should be able to complete the assignment without too much difficulty.

Reflection:
This activity helped learners see how making a picture in your mind allows you to add details in a sentence to create a more vivid image in the mind of the reader. My adult learners were not only able to increase their vocabulary usage by using this idea with visual images, but they were able to expand and begin to write paragraphs and even short stories. In the work place or the classroom, an increase in vocabulary is necessary in order to communicate and get the job done.

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