This Teaching Life

From My Classroom To Yours


Literacy Activity: The Cone of Silence

The Night GardenA new week and a new book study for our literacy sessions.  Our unit this term is Day and Night and our librarian gave us a beautiful fantasy book called The Night Garden.  I wanted the children to have a chance to explore this book a little before I read it to them so I gave them an activity which they had never done.  I called it The Cone of Silence.  Yes, I was thinking of Get Smart.

As a warm-up to the activity I asked them to think about their weekend.  Instead of sharing it with a partner, they were to join with another and using a scrap piece of paper write the conversation about their weekend as though they would if they were talking.  No voices were to be heard – the cone of silence.

I gave them five minutes to complete their conversation and then turned to discussing this method of recounting.  The students told me that they found they stayed on the topic by writing rather than talking. The general consensus was that their audible conversations would have drifted away from the topic.  Some found that there was a pressure to get their spelling correct and they didn’t get to mention other things that they had also deemed important.  This was a good point to note, as we were then able to talk through strategies of only including important and relevant information.  For some it was noted too that by writing their conversation it helped them to keep on task and minimised the distractions.  This was a great little warm up activity to precede the main event.   For me it was interesting to see the way some of the partnerships recorded set out their writing, ie, speech bubbles.


Weekend Writing 2

Weekend Coversation

I then showed them the front cover of the book on the board.  We discussed only what they could see on the cover.  We did not speculate on its meaning or symbols of the story.  We then repeated the written conversation activity to record their predictions.  I found this a good way to see the thoughts of the children and the initial connections they were making with the the text.  Of course, time is needed in this.  Reflecting from their previous comment time was the most valuable commodity in this exercise.

photo 2

photo 3

photo 1


I guess what I was most impressed about though was the opportunity to add some Get Smart into my classroom.  And yes, I did show them the following clip.

3 Responses to Literacy Activity: The Cone of Silence

  1. Ms. Tyler says:

    Congratulations on joining the blogging world and the Teacher Challenge.
    I love The Cone of Silence idea! With which grade level do you use this?

  2. Mark Fox says:

    Sarah, thanks for your comment. The first one on my blog! I teach Year 3 in Melbourne, Australia. What about you?

  3. Ms. Tyler says:

    You were the first comment on my blog, too. I guess Year 3 would be equivalent to third grade in the US, yes? I am not currently teaching, since I just graduated in May with my bachelor’s degree.

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