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Wednesday, 22 July 2015

End of Year fun!

As most schools have finished for the year, it seems to have become a tradition for staff members everywhere to create an amusing and funny video to celebrate the summer and put a smile on the faces of all their pupils.

I have a tradition of doing a video at Christmas however last year our staff did this -

We decided to do a live performance this year so haven't followed up this year, however, it seems schools up and down the country have created their own end of year video! I have had tweets and facebook messages sharing some of these fantastic efforts and so want to share some here -

Firstly,  St Mary Magdelene and their rendition of Uptown Funk with a cameo from none other than myself -

A brilliant effort from Haveley Hey Primary School with Taylor Swift's 'Shake it off!' - 

Halterworth's version of Reach by S Club 7 - 

Have you made one? If you want to share it with me, I will add it in here.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their continued support over the past year! It has been incredible to travel, share, inspire and learn with so many teachers and schools around the world! I am looking forward to a break before another busy term in September!

Enjoy the summer and thank you again!

Goodbye Year 6!

As we end the academic year, we say goodbye to another cohort as they embark on the next part of their journey.

I had a chance to work with one Year 6 class last week and so challenged them to use the Lego Story Starter kit to create a scene to represent their favourite memory from school. Here were their efforts -

This was the video created for the Year 6 leavers -

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Broadcasting the news using Lego

Yesterday, I blogged about using lego to inspire writing, you can read it here.  Today, I wanted to see other ways in which lego can inspire learning.

With Year 4, we looked at recreating the news.  We first looked at some child-friendly news websites (newsround and first news) to look at different news stories to use. The children then extracted all the key information from the article and noted it onto a planning sheet. They used the lego to build a scene of the story. Using the Story Visualiser app, which is included as part of the story starter kit, they designed their own newspaper article. Next time, I may well use comic life as there are more options to use and the text is easier to manipulate.

Here are some of the children's examples -

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Everything is Awesome when Lego is involved!

It has been a long wait but finally I was able to get my hands on the Lego Story Starter Kit last week! This was shown to me well over a year ago when I was talking to @InspiredMind5.

I am a massive fan of camouflage learning: bringing children's interests into the classroom to inspire writing. You will have seen plenty of ideas on my blog about using Minecraft to inspire writing and the premise is the same with lego - if children can construct a story they will be more inspired to write well about it.

The lego story starter kit involves children working in a group of 5 to build and construct scenes for a story, they can then use the visualiser app to create a comic strip or storyboard to help structure and then write the story. The kit comes with a curriculum pack crammed with useful lesson ideas.

Last week, I worked with one class and wanted to see how the story starter kit works. As we were limited for time, I challenged the class to choose a story they know well and build three scenes - beginning, middle and end. We would show the rest of the class using the iVisualiser app and try to guess what the story was. Can you guess some of their creations?

(Goldielocks, Romeo and Juliet and Little Red Riding Hood)

Today I got to work with Year 4 all day and so really wanted to see how the story starter kit can inspire writing. 
We started by listening to some music, I have previously blogged about the power of music to inspire writing. Today we used the following track to help us visualise a story - 

The music follows the pattern of starting postitive and twisting into a dark and menacing tone which finishes with a big climax. The following video explains the process the children went through after listening to the music - 

I was really impressed with the writing the children produced and you can read their efforts by pausing the following video at any point -

In the afternoon, we looked at turning our writing into a film combining iMovie with Chatterkids, although we were slightly stretched for time, some of the children finished and were so proud of their creations! They would love to know what you think -

I have so many ideas about using the story starter kit over the next couple of weeks so please stay tuned! The story starter kit is by no means a cheap purchase, you can easily do the same activity if children were to bring in their own lego from home. However from the level of enthusiasm, engagement, collaboration, discussed and learning that took place today it will sure prove to be well worth the money!

Sunday, 5 July 2015

More Pixar in the Classroom - Inside Out for Character Development!

I am a massive fan of using Disney in the classroom and I have previously blogged some ideas here and here.

Anyone who attended my recent conference with John Murray in Dudley would agree that our approach to using Disney in the classroom both inspires and improves children's learning in lots of ways but isn't strictly exclusive to these movies. Read more about the conference here. 

One idea we looked into on the day was using the latest Pixar film, Inside Out, to help write more effective characterisation in children's writing.

The film, which is due for release later this month, revolves around a group of characters that live inside a girl's head. Each character represents a different emotion. Here is the trailer -

Here is how I would use the characters from this film to help children when writing about different characters. Share the following image - 

Explain to the class that these are characters from the latest Disney/Pixar film. Discuss that each one represents a different emotion. Can the children guess which emotion they are? This gives the perfect opportunity to collect as much vocabulary linked with an emotion. For the first character, the children may say - worried, shy, anxious, scared, fearful... generating plenty of useful vocabulary to link to emotions. After collecting ideas reveal which emotion they represent - fear, sadness, joy, anger, disgust. 

Discuss how they represent that emotion. Look at body language, facial expressions, costume, height, body shape, colours. If they children have correctly guessed the name of the emotion, challenge them to explain why? Then build on this with more complex questions -
What is anger doing to show he is angry? Scowling his eyes, gritting his teeth, clenching his fist.
Why is disgust green? We link the colour green to envy and jealousy.
Why has sadness got that hair cut? Wearing large, round glasses and a thick wooly jumper?
Look at Joy's dress, what time of year would you wear it? Why would that be linked with Joy?

Of course, there are tonnes of other questions that can be asked and this is discussed in much more detail on the conference (including links with emotional literacy and helping vulnerable children identify feelings and the way these present themselves.) This can then be developed further in children's writing by linking it with pathetic fallacy and Alan Peat's Show not Tell approach. Rather than telling the reader how a character felt, show it through how the character acts and interacts in the story. If you use Alan and Mat's exciting sentences, it gives the perfect opportunity to develop the Tell: Show 3 examples; sentence. Take anger for example -
He was angry: scowling his eyes; gritting his teeth; clenching his fists. 

For more information about the conference - Improving Reading and Writing through Popular Children's Movies and Media, watch the following video. We will be in Newcastle in January and places are selling quickly!

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Playworld Superheroes! Fantastic writing stimulus!

Another fantastic app that popped up on Apps Gone Free the other day was Playword Superheroes.

As a teacher who has seen first hand how using popular video games can both inspire and engage children to produce quality writing, this app is another great stimulus to use. It is a technique I call camouflage learning and you can read about how I have previously used other iPad games like angry birds and temple run here and, of course, Minecraft.

Often the problem is, most popular games aren't appropriate for the classroom. Playworld Superheroes is a fantastic way to inspire writing through a video game appropriate for primary school age children.

Here is a quick trailer for the game -

The game involves choosing a character and entering a treehouse to reveal a magic box. Children then find different cardboard items around the garden and can design it by colouring and adding attachments to create their own superhero outfit. Once completed, the children instantly transform into a real superhero! They eventually play the game as the superhero trying to defeat different enemies.

The design element to the game had the children hooked! All the accessories featured in the game can easily be obtained so children could physically re-create the design as a DT lesson. This opens the app up to lots of writing opportunities such as instructional texts. 

The gameplay can inspire writing in so many different ways. Some I will blog as I carry on this topic with the class. It will also feature in the book I am currently writing - 50+ iPad lessons for Fiction. The 50 + iPad lessons for Non-Fiction is currently in design and should be ready for release in September - very excited!

Today in class we played the game. The children were hooked! We focused on the first part of the game where the child becomes a superhero - the origin story. We presented our stories in the form of a comic using the app - Comic Life 3.

There is more to come from using this app with my class, so please watch this space!!!

We are also pleased to have 5 FREE codes for the app which are being given away on my facebook page, just like and share the following post - 

FREE APP COMPETITION!!!We have 5 FREE codes for the fantastic Playworld Superheroes app up for grabs! To be in with...