This Learning Trail offers a fresh approach to teaching non-fiction text types and improves the performance of reluctant writers who respond well to the context for writing.

Key Points

  • children are stimulated to write through Drama activities and experiential learning opportunities
  • opportunities to cover all Non-Fiction text types through an engaging context
  • creation of a contextualised learning area within the classroom
  • use of ICT programs such as Podium to help children develop a 'posh' writing voice
  • exciting cross curricular opportunities
Six Text Types

Opportunities for Writing

  • visit to restaurant written as a restaurant review (chronological)
  • writing in role as Environmental Health Officer (cross curricular writing link to Science Micro-Organisms) Food Poisoning outbreak
  • writing in role as Restaurant Manager report to Head Office about the complaint
  • recipes (bruschetta, soup & bread roll)
  • how to make bread in a bread machine (cross curricular writing link to DT Bread)
  • should mobile phones be allowed in restaurants?
  • should children be allowed in restaurants?
  • complaint letter
  • writing in role as Restaurant Manager - reply to complaint letter
  • job application letters/references
  • menus/leaflets about restaurant (Link to ICT)
  • cookery club letter to Head Teacher
  • Christmas Dinner Around the World (Link to DT/Geography)
  • How a Bread Machine works (Link to DT)
  • How Food Poisoning happens (link to Science)

Use of Drama to improve writing

By using drama children were able to write imaginatively and with greater confidence because they had taken part in a physical activity centred upon it. It also deepened the responses the children produced and improved their writing voice through the experimentation that using Podium offered.

The collaborative approach enabled children to reflect upon, refine and improve their work through role-play and improvisation. They were able to think more effectively about vocabulary choices and understand the effect of their vocabulary choices upon the audience. They then transferred these skills into their writing as the drama had been an oral rehearsal to writing. Through creating a context where the children were problem-solving, questioning and having to think creatively - the use of Drama allowed them to have experiences to write about.

Drama techniques used:

Role-play: they used scenario cards to step into different character’s restaurant experiences.

Improvisation: they were encouraged to make up their own scenarios in the restaurant as they went along.

Hot seating: used to find out how characters felt at different times and was useful for developing questioning skills.

Mantle of the Expert: use of the expert (in this case the Environmental Health Officer) to explore the issue surrounding the restaurant experience e.g. food poisoning.

Teacher in role: this is useful to move the drama forward and allows the teacher to ask questions of the children. The teacher can also be hot-seated.

Thought-Tracking/Freeze Framing: individual speak their thoughts out loud.

Writing in role
Writing in role provided the children with an opportunity to address the issues raised in the complaint letter and to use the problem solving skills and the language of persuasion to write the reply. It offers the opportunity to look at a situation from various perspectives and also allows for a different writing voice compared to the initial letter. The opportunities for writing in role allow for the use of the mantle of the expert approach when they write as the Environmental Health Officer. When writing as the Restaurant Manager the children have to show empathy with the customer but also the manager must attempt to resolve the situation and stop the customer from taking further action. Writing in role also offers the opportunity to write in another text genre that of the formal report.