episode 1 rollercoaster recounts.mp4

Direct Instruction

The Manaiakalani writing focus for years 1-6 is recounts, so we have been spending a bit of time on those. The students understood the basics about recounts, but their descriptions tended to have very basic adjectives and basic elaboration.

I wanted them to think about the events and settings in their story with greater depth and be more selective with their vocabulary. I love using Youtube clips because they are rewindable (you can go back, watch it again, listen to it again, point out certain features) and because there is so much out there, you can choose something relevant and exciting.

At this point we were only brainstorming words or phrases that we could think of based on our 5 senses. Using the senses as a framework to hang adjectives onto works for them because it makes them realise they have only described what they can see, and hence they put more effort into a balanced description.

After we completed our word brainstorm, we wrote out sentences together to join the adjectives together in compound and complex sentences (see below).

The students could use the word brainstorm and the sentences to help them write their own (fictional) recount about this roller coaster adventure.

Extended plan here


What went well.

Student engagement - This lesson took 45 minutes including writing up the sentences, and the students were engaged the entire time. They even asked if they could stay in at lunch to start their individual recounts.

Content selection - The choice of roller coasters was deliberate as I knew they had experienced them before and could make connections back to their Rainbows End trip last year. I also wanted something that had lots of noise as they tend to leave this sense out of their writing. This definitely helped keep them engaged. The length of the video is also important. This clip was just under 2 minutes long and that was pushing it. The shorter the clip, the more they can focus on what you want them to focus on.

Lesson pace - Although there was a lot of discussions and they sat the whole time, the lesson felt fast because of the constant breaks they were getting to watch the video again.

Genuine fun - I love that in the clips I captured you can see them talking and laughing together. This group has never worked together before and they collaborated amazingly.

Vocabulary - I was so pleased that these students could remember certain words from other learning areas (E.g. vertical, from maths) and use them in a way that show they understood their meaning. Stanley also bought in new words like momentum which they hadn't heard before.

What still needs work.

Camera work - I got so into the lesson that I didn't even realise I was blocking my Ipad with my arm. I'll work on that.

Equal participation/positioning - One student shared less than his friends did, and I notice I didn't ask him many questions to bring him back into the conversation. I should consider the way we are positioned so that I am not facing one person directly, so that I naturally address everyone in the group an equal amount.

My own comments - I noticed once or twice I said something like 'that's a boring word'. I meant it in a way of trying to encourage them to use more specific vocabulary and not just say 'the sky is blue'. However, if 'the sky is blue' is all a child has to offer, then hearing me call that word/phrase boring would be very discouraging to them.

Class Site Content

WALT describe events using the 5 senses.


  • Watch the clip all the way through.

  • Watch the clip again as a group, stopping to record what you can see and hear. Have a think about what you could possibly be able to smell, taste and feel as well (think back to Rainbows End!)

  • Put some ideas together to form compound and complex sentences. Co-construct an example piece of writing using some of these sentences.

  • Using Google Docs or your writing book (you can choose!), write a recount about this roller coaster adventure. You could pretend it was you and a friend sitting in the front row, or maybe you were somewhere else in the cart.

  • Remember that the goal is to describe what happens using your 5 senses.

  • Share your recount with your teacher and on your blog.

Learner Generated Content