The goal of good writing is to engage the reader so much that they can visualize the experience they're reading about. This requires the writer to use craft that helps the reader almost feel like they've "slipped into the skin" of the writer or character. We find that students leave out lots of details in their writing that would help the reader construct these images. Often, they simply tell that something was scary or fun leaving the reader to fill in the sensory details of that moment.
Gretchen Barnabei, in her book Reviving The Essay: How To Teach Structure Without Formula, tells about the revision strategy called Ba-Da-Bing! The strategy consists of three parts: where the speaker was physically, what they saw, and what they thought. We've taken the strategy and created a Ba-Da-Bing! Three Tab Foldable®.
Ba-Da-Bing! Three Tab Foldable®
You try it!
- Write down a simple sentence about something you did this morning. Do it quickly and keep it simple. Don't worry about elaboration and details at this point.
- Print out the Ba Da Bing Foldable ®. Fold it like a hotdog. Fold the hotdog into thirds. Open it up and, with your hand under the top layer of the paper, cut along the two fold lines to make a Three Tab Foldable®. You can find directions for three-tab Foldables® in any of Dinah Zike's books.
- Now, rewrite your sentence using Ba-Da-Bing! Under the top tab (the shoe), write where your feet went. Under the middle tab (the eyes), write what you saw. Under the bottom tab (the cloud), write what you thought. Now write one or more sentences that includes each of the three parts. Here's an example: As I walked (shoe) through the wet grass towards the small pond in my front yard I saw (eyes) frog eyes peering out from the lily pads. "Please don't get scared!" I thought as I crept closer to the edge of the water.
- What happened? Please share your before and after sentences in the comments.
Ways to Use Ba-Da-Bing! Foldable® in the Classroom
What did you do this morning?
One idea is to do the same activity that you just did with your students. Ask them to think of something they did that morning and jot down a simple sentence about it. Then, have them fill out the Ba-Da-Bing! Foldable®. Show them how they can combine their ideas into one or more sentences. Have them share their before and after sentences. Debrief the activity with questions such as "Was that difficult? What was different between the two sentences? How does this strategy help the reader? How does it help the writer? How might you use this in your writing?"
Ask students to go back to a piece that they are working on and find an important moment. Have them use the Ba-Da-Bing! Foldable® to help them identify the three parts of that moment. Then, using the information written in the Foldable®, students insert one or more sentences into their story.
Larger than Normal Ba-Da-Bing! Foldable®
Create a large classroom Ba-Da-Bing! Foldable® using poster board. As you do shared writing with your students, use it to create Ba-Da-Bings in the stories. This is especially good for helping students develop alternative ways to write about where their feet went or what they saw or thought. It can help build vocabulary for expressing sensory details.
Ba-Da-Bing! is a perfect revision strategy for personal narratives. We especially like the writing activity found in Corbett Harrison's Teach Writing Write blog, which uses the mentor text Marshfield Dreams: When I Was a Kid by Ralph Fletcher. After students imitate Fletcher's style in their short narratives about important gifts they had received, have them go back and use Ba-Da-Bing! to create imagery of really important moments.
As a Reflection Tool
Use Ba-Da-Bing! to help students reflect on a learning experience. Use it after team-building experience, a field trip, a hands-on science experiment or lab, or anything else that makes sense.
Gretchen Bernabei website: Gretchen shares useful down-loadable documents and examples of student writing.
Corbett Harrison's Blog:
Corbett, a writing teacher/trainer shares writing lessons on his blog.