As teachers we are constantly on the lookout for improving pupils’ writing. One technique that we have been using successfully at Literacy Shed for years is DADWAVERS! It is a mnemonic which stands for:
Estimation of time
Simile or Metaphor
! Exclamation or onomatopoeia
Each of these are sentence starters, changing the sentence opening often alters the whole sentence structure. We try and get those prompts above at the beginning or as close to the beginning of the sentence as possible.
To be able to use these appropriately we introduce them in stages.
The children use the starters in order. Once they are secure they use them out of order but making sure they use them all before using one for a second time. Following this the teacher then sets targets similar to ‘slow writing’ depending on writing type. For example – 2 x De, 1 x A, 3 x Di etc
Here is an example from a child in Year 5 writing the opening to ‘Swing of Change’ from The Literacy Shed. This example stops at R but you can see how when these are put together it makes for an interesting paragraph with varied sentences.
Description - Regimental music echoed around the dusty shop, drab black and white photographs looked down from the walls upon a battered, worn trumpet of a decrepit gramophone.
Action - Scrraaatch… scraping back and forth the metal razor moved, handled deftly in the grip of an expert.
Dialogue - “Blast, the gramophone has broken, what will I do?” asked the Barber before receiving a reassuring pat from one of his best customers. “I’ll fix that for you.” he said.
Where - From outside on the cracked sidewalk, came a noise; a despicable racket – jazz music!
Adverb - Angrily with clenched fists, the barber stormed outside and confronted the musician who suddenly disappeared.
Verb - Walking back into the shop puzzled the barber placed the trumpet onto the polished counter.
Estimation of time - Minutes later the barber stood gazing out of the window, waiting for a customer and remembering his days as a bugle player.
Rhetorical Question - Do I still have it? He wondered to himself before picking up the shining instrument.
This example is from a higher ability Level 6 pupil based on The Catch film from ‘The Other Cultures Shed’ on The Literacy Shed.
The small pool shimmered alluringly and appeared to promise a wealth of fish, as Mhanje pulled on his fishing line with a glimmer of hope in his eye. SPLOSH! Tumbling backwards with an almighty bump, his eager eyes caught sight of the single meagre fish, and with a heavy heart he set it down in the middle of his waiting basket. “It simply can’t be,” he muttered to himself, turning to look at huts of the villagers, whom he had promised to provide the supper for.
From somewhere beyond the bushes a strange noise alerted him to the fact he was not alone and, creeping nearer, he came to realise that it was a small fox attempting to free himself from one of the tribesmen’s traps. Cautiously, Mhanje approached the timid creature, whist at the same time, reaching for his knife. Cowering in fear, the fox was certain that the boy was about to strike, and shut his eyes to await his end. Seconds later, he was free! But how could he repay him? As quick as a flash the fox disappeared…
As you can see some of the 'Dialogue' sentences are more than one sentence or are a thought or monologue, but we discuss that with the pupils. It may be appropriate, depending on the text type to miss this out altogether.
If you have any questions please ask in the comments or drop me an email firstname.lastname@example.org
Welcome any comments and would love to see any examples too!
You can find other examples here:
and here http://howletchblog.weebly.com/mrs-brucex27s-homework-page/dadwaver