2017-08-10

Star Wars: Return of the Shadow Saber

Star Wars: Return of the Shadow Saber (2017)
 The Star Wars saga continues with Star Wars: The Return of the Shadow Saber produced by ARTiculate Education and Trinity Vision. 

In this continuation of the sci-fi epic, the Sith, the Jedi and a group of vile bounty hunters are on a quest to reclaim the legendary Shadow Saber - a weapon of unspeakable power. Who will get their hands on it first and claim the ultimate power in the galaxy? This film was written, designed and performed by twelve children from Little London Primary School and Pudsey Lowtown Primary School, Leeds.

May the force be with you!





2017-07-12

Pulling the strings - children as authors


Being an author is not just about writing a story - it is about telling a story. I often tell the children I work with that they are like magicians or puppet masters: they can cast the spell or pull the strings of the reader. How they navigate the reader through the story is in their hands.

Over the last few weeks I have been working with a group of children at Valley View Primary School on a topic exploring immigration and the voice of both migrants and those who receive them. The work is based on The Island by Armin Greder, a tale of a man washed ashore and the community who decide what to do with him.

The key stylistic element I have taught these children is the skill in which they manipulate the reader. Whether it is dropping subtle hints as to what will happen later or using the weather to signal the worsening mood of a story (e.g. the sky getting darker, the rain getting heavier), these tools go a long way to developing the children's voice as authors.

Coupled with the fact that these stories will be used to make a short film next week, the children have found the purpose and power of this writing project an exciting prospect. They have enjoyed pulling the strings like a real author should.

See our story plans and our drafts below.   


Chinese Dragon Boat festival - art and design with Year 1

This half term I have been teaching art with Year 1. Far from just being an art project, this work has shown how vital DT in helping children apply what they have learned in core subjects.

For this art project, our topic has been the Chinese Dragon Boat festival, celebrated by Chinese communities around the world in early summer. We even had one here in Leeds!

Our challenge has been to create a dragon boat that will float on water. The children drew and painted 3D dragon heads to attach to the scaly bodies that will make the floating part of the boat.

The trickiest part was attaching the corks to the inside that would help the boats float on water. It took a lot of trial and error using a water tray to get it just right. The children did a fantastic job and have really enjoyed it.

It just goes to show how vital art and DT are to children's learning - not only do they draw in creative aspects of learning, completing a project like this requires knowledge of science, maths and personal skills such as creative problem solving and resilience.

2017-06-23

From scribe to Force master - storry writing with a purpose

How do you craft a story for an audience? How can you encourage children to begin to think of themselves as authors rather than children in a literacy lesson? Key questions for teaching creative writing in primary schools and this week I discussed these ideas with a group of Year 5 children as we wrote the openings to our Star Wars stories.

The children agreed that a quick pace was important to writing and adventure story. Short sentences, using powerful verbs, limited descriptions - all things that help absorb the reader in a whirlwind of action.

What was trickier was knowing how to 'craft' the story for a reader who hasn't seen the planning process. How do we reveal just enough about a character, a place, a quest etc to root the reader in the story but keep them interested by what is NOT said? I call these 'suggestives' - how you suggest something to a reader without telling them. The origin of reading for inference that is taught in KS2, it is essentially writing for inference.

For example: "The young pilot gripped the controls with all her strength." - we learn our character is a pilot, a female, possibly a child and perhaps in trouble.

This approach can only really be taught by providing children for the opportunity to write for a real audience: someone other than their teacher. Publishing a book, sharing online, developing into an audio recording or film - all strategies I use and all real reasons to write. A writer can only really develop their craft when writing for strangers. Only then can the transition from scribe - one who simply writes - to a Force wielding Jedi who conjures and manipulates a narrative really begin.  

2017-06-16

Filthy wretch? Poor thing? Empathy, migration and creative writing with primary school children

A treat for the final half term - a new workshop at a delightful school in Leeds! This half term I am working with two Year 5 teachers to develop a cross-year group, cross-curricular writing project based on my favourite picture book, Armin Greder's The Island. I've done this book many times and every time the response is different!

This week, we got to grips with the facts, possibilities and mysteries of the story. What do we know about the story so far? (we only ever read up to page 6 to leave it on a knife edge...) What doesn't this story tell us and what could we infer or predict?    

We looked at the crowd of islanders who 'welcome' the stranger's arrival. As in every class, country or community, no group ever sees the world the same way and we discussed how the islanders might react differently to the man. Is he a poor thing who needs to be rescued? Is he a curiosity? Is he a threat?

We each adopted an islander and took on their perspective for a great drama session, arguing whether he should be allowed to stay or not and why. We then looked at how our perspective can colour our judgement of new people. The children developed banks of vocabulary that could describe the new arrival before writing from an islander's perspective to describe the man. 

Adopting personas to act, talk and write through is an excellent way to allow children to personalise their learning, to draw on their experiences and to ensure that all their writing is different! See the pictures to see how we got on.

Next week... how can our perspectives shape the world around us? We look at settings and how the islander's perspectives will influence how they see their homeland - a sanctuary to be guarded or a paradise to be shared?  

2017-06-13

The mystery of the lost temple.... STAR WARS creative writing workshop, Year 5

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away a young warrior discovers a lost temple that will change everything....

This is the context for a Star Wars writing workshop that began this week with a class of Year 5 children. Drawing on their ability to think creatively, their understanding of how to craft an exciting adventure story and the Force (obvs), this week the children began to draw out story maps outlining how their adventure will unfold.

First we jotted down key questions to be answered: is the warrior a hero or a villain? what will they discover? what will stand in their way? What will they learn about themselves on the journey?

Some of their ideas have been terrific - especially the understanding that a great adventure story needs to have thrills and spills, a gripping opening scene and (mild) peril!

Star Wars is such an excellent vehicle for engaging reluctant writers in the classroom. They all want to shape a well known story that they love, there is lots of material to work with (characters, settings, tropes) and you cannot fail to write something exciting. For a group who in class seem to struggle to generate ideas, this writing workshop is working a treat!  

Next week... drafting an introduction. 






 

Happy Chinese Dragon Boat Festival! 端午節快乐! Art with Year 1

端午節快乐! Happy Dragon Boat Festival!
Art class - Year 1 (age 5-6)

Signalling the start of summer, Dragon Boat festival is a Chinese festival of colour, flavour, sound and action. An event that takes place all across China, other parts of the world also celebrate the festival with a boat race - including our fine city of Leeds which hosts a boat race on 24th June 2017.


With my Year 1 class this half term we are exploring the sights and sounds of the festival starting with the beautiful Dragon Boat Flags that decorate towns and villages in the build up to the race before being awarded to the competing racers.

Here are some examples of our dragon boat flags that we made this week. Using pre-cut paper triangles, the children cut the spiky trim from a strip of paper. We then practiced some Chinese characters that describe our racers - fast, good, strong, brave and the champions - before painting them onto the flags with slim brushes and black paint. A job well done.

Next week... we start to make floating Dragon Boats!










2017-06-09

SALE! Buy my resources for free!

Buy my creative literacy resources for free by using the discount code JUNE-OFFERS at my shop on TES online. Sale ends 30 June 2017!

Visit my shop at www.tes.com/teaching-resources/shop/articulate_education













Small print...
- voucher is worth £3 ($3.97) as are most of my resources
- first time buyers only
- see www.tes.com for full details

2017-06-05

Star Wars film making workshop at Leeds Trinity University!

A few weeks ago, in a university not far away 12 primary school children teamed up with Trinity Vision media department at Leeds Trinity University for an epic film making project. The task: to write, script and film a new Star Wars film in four days. No pressure.


After devising several brilliant ideas for an exciting story plot, the children settled on an adventure quest to find a lost legend (no spoilers, sorry....) featuring merciless bounty hunters, an army of wicked Sith lords as well as heroes of the lightside, the brave Jedi Knights.

The children made costumes, masks, lightsabers and even robot armour with the help of the university students and staff.

After choreographing the epic battles, perfecting the script and rehearsing their lines, it was off to the woods to film it under the expert guidance of the Council of Elders at Trinity Vision.

The children arrive for filming!
The project was an excellent success. The children's fantastic hard work and enthusiasm was matched by the expertise of the university staff (and with a bit of help from me too!). It was an excellent advert for effective partnerships between schools and universities and a demonstration of how creative writing projects with real purpose can impact positively on children's learning.  

The film is due for release in July 2017 - more to follow!








2017-05-09

Great visit to Anfield Primary School, Hong Kong!

Enjoyed a great visit to Anfield Primary School this morning - a lovely school surrounded by beautiful hills and forests in Hong Kong's New Territories.Was great to meet some of their staff and discuss potential plans for the future.

Watch this space!


2017-05-04

Presenting at National Pingtung University, Taiwan on migrant learners



Presenting on 'Inclusion and ethnic minority learners in primary (elementary) education', with Dr Helen Hanna (Leeds Trinity University).

National Pingtung University (國立屏東大學), Southern Taiwan.
Our excellent hosts! (From L-R) Dr Lee-Feng, Dr Ya-Ling, Dr Helen Hanna (Leeds Trinity) and me (ARTiculate Education)

How to build an inclusive classroom? That was the question for our discussion today at a teaching workshop and lecture at National Pingtung University in Taiwan. Dr Hanna presented on her innovative research in the UK and South Africa about how primary schools include ethnic minority learners in their classrooms and some of the challenges and implications for practitioners.

Discussing the impact of picture books on teaching literacy
I was able to add a practical slant on the discussion by presenting on developing empathy in learners through creative literacy teaching, primarily drama to generate discussion and using picture books to generate deep thought. Using The Island – a picture book by Australian-based author Armin Greder – trainee teachers at National Pingtung University participated in activities designed to develop empathy and discussion; we also explored how this is crucial in developing creative writing in young authors. 

See below for a photo of students role-playing an argument between the islanders as they decide what to do with the strange arrival. Excellent work! Video to follow...

Thank you to Department Chair Dr Ya-Ling for making us both feel very welcome and also to the students who took part!

Xièxiè! 谢谢!

The students role play an argument based on the Island  - should the castaway be allowed to stay or forced to leave?
 

2017-05-01

Welcome to ARTiculate Education Asia! 你好亚洲!

Welcome to ARTiculate Asia! 你好亚洲!


In September 2017, ARTiculate Education UK will expand its horizons to Asia. 

I am building a network of partner schools in Hong Kong, China and Taiwan: if you believe in creative teaching and learning, then your school need needs to be part of it!

I can offer school-based creative writing workshops that allow children to extend and apply their learning in English. My creative techniques inspire children to develop the skills of a real author.   

Taught by a native English speaker and UK qualified primary school teacher, my workshops will give your children the opportunity to learn something new, have fun and achieve excellence. 

So what are you waiting for? Join ARTiculate Asia today!