Thanks to Laura Speight at Crossflatts Primary school for this.
The lessons were carried out across 3 classes of mixed year 3 and 4 pupils.
The teachers worked together to plan the lessons with a focus on engaging the boys. Many of the year 3 boys find writing particularly difficult, therefore we wanted to really motivate them with an interesting subject.
What we did
The trailer to the new Beowulf movie was used as an introduction to the unit. We showed it to the children without any background input.
This then became the focus for paired discussion work about the trailer and the characters featured in it, predicting what the film might be about.
We used stills from the film and short clips as a basis for lots of work on character description. The children particularly enjoyed designing their own version of the monster Grendel and describing the hero, Beowulf.
Freeze framing of the film helped us to act out sections from the story, including the first meeting of Beowulf and the King. This led to the children writing the scene with a focus on speech punctuation.
All of the children were engaged by the subject matter, boys and girls alike. The boys were particularly motivated to write and loved the monster theme. The children extended their range of vocabulary and descriptive language, as a result of the visual stimulus. Making the films at the end gave them a real purpose for writing their play scripts.
Having a visual starting point made it much easier for the children to visualise what they were writing about. We did a lot of work on character and setting description before any extended writing, which meant the children were already full of ideas. The subject matter really appealed to the children and when it was eventually time to write their own endings to the story, they could not wait to write about Beowulf defeating Grendel. The script writing and filming also gave the children the chance to see their words being acted out, which led to a lot of editing and improving of writing.