Continuous writing, for many students, is almost like being in a limbo – the child would expect to get marks in a certain range. As parents, you may be wondering if your child can only produce compositions of that standard.
The truth is, scoring above 35 marks out of 40 for continuous writing is NOT impossible. With a good understanding of the requirements, clever and creative language use, well-developed plot and characterisation, clear writing and good time management, students can craft engaging stories.
The following is a typical continuous writing question, to be graded out of 40 marks.
– What was the challenge that you faced?
– What did you do (or not do) when faced with the challenge?
– Where you successful in overcoming the challenge? Why, or why not?
1) Look at the THEME and QUESTIONS before looking at the pictures
A common pitfall when students attempt their compositions is not understand the main theme that their compositions should adhere to. The visual prompt is obviously eye-catching, but it is not the main guide.
Instead, train your child to inspect the theme and the questions first. This is to prevent them from crafting a composition that is out of point. In this case, the theme is A challenge, and not a set of challenges. The composition should be very clear in telling and showing about one specific challenge (question one).
Looking at the other questions, the students will then have to detail the course of action taken in the face of that one challenge. Finally, the OUTCOME of the efforts (or lack thereof) would also have to be addressed adequately in the composition.
This would make for a complete narrative plot, with an identified tension and avenue for resolution.
2) Make sense of the pictures
How the children interpret the images is a new aspect in the new format. Children can select one, two or all of the images to craft their stories. We typically advice our students to push themselves to selecting one or two, and selecting all three would result in a limited range of plots.
3) Connect demands of the composition to the visual prompt
Naturally, the student would then have to fit the visual prompt chosen to the composition requirements. Whichever way the student chooses, the interpretation would still have to make sense in the larger context of the composition, which is identifying one challenge.
Furthermore, the interpreted element from the visual should make for a significant aspect in the composition, and not merely an afterthought. For instance, if the student chooses the first image, the composition should also revolve around the challenge, resolution and outcome of a public speaking (or singing) event. The challenges and resolution should therefore be unique, and adequately described in the composition.
Alternatively, if the student chooses the second image, which is more open to interpretation, perhaps the student will focus more on the emotive aspect of the narrative. The student, however, HAS to choose a plausible challenge upon which the visual prompt rests on. This allows for imagination and creativity, but do keep in mind the overall requirement of the composition.
4) Take 5 minutes to plan
Learning Studio drills our students to think of every narrative piece in terms of the Introduction, Rising Action, Climax, Resolution and Conclusion + Reflection rubric.
Even for secondary level narrative writing, the flow of the narrative generally adheres to this rubric. Clear and engaging narrative writing focuses on one main tension point, its solution and outcome.
Any more, it would surely be muddled and confused writing, which is common for many students.
5) Challenge yourself: have something spectacular in every paragraph
Having understood the previous points, elevating the continuous writing to another level would take good and engaging language use. This ranges from interesting vocabulary, phrasal verbs, idioms, similes, purposeful dialogue, mature and emotive writing, and masterful build up to the climax.
We hope you will employ these tips in guiding your children. Good luck, and all the best!