The Great Migration

poem by Diana Smith , illustrated by David Legge

Learning Intention:

I am learning how to plan my creative writing so that I can write in a style appropriate to the audience and purpose.

Success Criteria:

  • I can complete a five senses chart based on a nature clip.
  • I can complete a descriptive paragraph based on a series of writing steps.
  • I can compare my paragraph with a poem based on the same topic.

Essential Knowledge:

More information about how texts with different forms and functions can cover the same subject matter be found in the English Textual Concepts video Genre.

Prior to reading the poem, introduce the topic of ‘The Great Migration’ to students using the information provided on the webpage: The Magic of the Mara. Then show students the YouTube clip: The Great Migration - Wildebeest Migration from the Serengeti to the Masai Mara, Crossing Mara River. After showing the clip, complete a five senses sensory description chart (an interactive version can be found on the Digital Learning Selector page on graphic organisers).

Explain that students will complete a piece of slow writing based on an image of The Great Migration. They need to imagine that they are the photographer and can zoom in on different parts of the picture with their lens. They need to write a descriptive sentence based on each “zoom”.

As the teacher, sequence the slow writing process as follows:

  1. Select an image of The Great Migration with multiple components. For example, image 15 in the second slideshow on the ‘Magic of the Mara’ webpage. This long shot contains wildebeests and zebras crossing the Mara, clouds of dust, and a split background – half river and half riverbank.
  2. Decide on four to five components that students will “zoom” in on. For example: the river, a wildebeest, a zebra, a cloud of dust and the riverbank.
  3. Create five slides using Microsoft PowerPoint or Google Suite. Each slide should have the same image, with a yellow or red rectangle highlighting the part of the image to zoom in on.
  4. Each slide should also have instructions for students explaining how to write the sentence for that zoom. Each sentence should include a language technique. You may wish to imitate the techniques used in the poem. For example:
    1. Look at the whole picture of the great migration. Now zoom in on the river. What can you hear? Write a sentence with three examples of onomatopoeia describing the sound the river is making.
    2. Now shift your focus and zoom in on the two wildebeests leading the heard in crossing the river. Use a metaphor to describe them.
  5. At the end of the activity, students should have a paragraph of descriptive writing. They can compare their paragraph with their peers.

Finally, reveal Diana Smith’s poem and read it to the class. Students should identify the similarities and differences between their paragraph and the poem. They should identify the advantages of writing a paragraph (for example, the ability to include lots of details) compared to the advantages of writing a poem (for example, easier to remember).