I came across Pie Corbett’s book on teaching non-fiction genres in the last couple of weeks and I have found it an energizing read. For many of us, last year’s literacy plans can get a bit stale and something fresh is often more welcome. Well I have found a fresh approach and the foundations of good plans here in Pie Corbett‘s book.
The Talk for Writing approach is essentially good Literacy teaching,in that the class are initially immersed in a high quality text, they analyse features and components and then finally innovate on this through writing their own. Along the way there is a good deal of quality talk through debates and starter activities which further immerse the children in the language they need. Not to mention mapping the text graphically in order for children to really get to grips with the routes they need to walk when writing in an unfamiliar genre.
Our focus was discussion texts and I was thrilled to read that the context in the book was Doctor Who. The two big questions highlighted were whether the Daleks should be allowed to stay on earth, followed by a discussion around whether the Doctor should give up his life and settle on earth.
Today I went into my classroom to begin to “dress” it and organise things for my new class. I get really excited about this and love transforming the freshly cleaned walls and furniture into an environment fit for learning.
At this time of the year the class walls are a blank canvas, crisp with new backing paper but devoid of any work, bright but lacking any excitement. I like to fill the spaces between the dull display boards with a mix of learning centric resources and exciting posters, some of these are inspirational and some are just images of Doctor Who. The Doctor and his foes are still very inspirational of course and I am sure pictures of his more recent selves fighting Daleks must surely raise standards in classes across the UK.
Aside from science fiction images, I like to create more localised posters to inspire and provoke the class. Previously I might have used tools like Bighugelabs.com and the motivator poster maker. These are great browser based tools, but I have since discovered an app for making contemporary posters. Phoster is an IOS app for combining photographs and text on a selection of very funky poster backgrounds. Once you are happy with the design you can then apply a range of filters to your work, for example make it look folded or stained with a coffee ring.
To make my Phosters I used Autocollage from Microsoft on my PC to make a composite image of my new pupils and then emailed this to myself in order to use it in my phosters. I was a bit stuck for ideas on what to actually use as the provocative and profound text . I turned to Twitter for some inspiration, as my only thought was that Heather Small Line
These are great words, but a bit tired by now. Thankfully a quick tweet brought in some new ideas and a good deal of people who favoured Stephen Hawking‘s comments at the opening of the Paralympic games.
I am pleased with how the finished posters look, clearly the one above if Felix and not a mash-up of my class, but you get the idea.
Now that I have used this app I am looking forward to letting my pupils use it too, projects like the Cup Cake company that we cover in Year 5 would be greatly enhanced by its use for stylish and contemporary advertising campaigns. My only criticism of this app is the limited number of backgrounds it contains, i hope more will be released. I’d also like the ability to insert more than one photograph into my poster. Lets hope these features are coming in the near future from Bucketlabs who make this app and the other unique photo app Grid Lense
For more on Phoster, see the video below, where the narrator is justifiably excited by the app.
- Phoster – Updated (theappwhisperer.com)
- More Photo Apps that will Transform your Online Presence (socialmediatoday.com)
I want to pass on a site that I have found invaluable as a source of contemporary and attractive graphics. I recently inherited a classroom part way through the year, I needed to redo many of the standard signs and labels that were either dog-eared or (worse still) created in Word Art.
I will never be a one for Sparklebox or Mrs Pancake or whatever. I ‘d like to have some individuality and originality, rather than have my space look like most other rooms. In my environment I’d rather use a simple rounded rectangle template in Powerpoint and create my own signage.I came across Springfield Punx blog around a month ago and Dean’s wonderful Doctor Who cartoons have now started appearing all over my labels, displays and regularly feature on the IWB.
It is not for everybody, but I do think these cartoonised and colourful aliens compliment and enhance my classroom.