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The Story of Me – increasing vocabulary recognition.

I am a primary school class teacher, based in Scotland. I teach Primary 2 (age 6 -7 years).

I designed the Story of Me project to promote recall of vocabulary. It was inspired by an article I read recently by Turk et Al (2015) which found that children were more likely to recall target vocabulary if it was used in sentences where they themselves were the subject of the sentence.

At the same time I had been doing lots of work with my class on improving their drawings of themselves. I had been modelling the step by step process I would take to draw a person and discussing with them all the elements that one might think about when trying to represent somebody in an illustration and then, following on from that, how you might illustrate what they are doing in the picture.

I put together the project based on these on these two ideas to see whether co-authoring and the experience of being the subject of both text and illustration could make target words more memorable for children and also to see whether seeing themselves represented by an illustrator would improve their self-portrait skills!

I am currently studying illustration and I was engaged in this project as an illustrator as well as the class teacher (although the children were not aware that some of their stories were being illustrated by me!).

The model was as follows:

  • Identify target group of words for each child – these were a mixture of ‘high frequency words’ and ‘keywords’ from our reading scheme.
  • Children create sentences about themselves using these words.
  • Aspiring children’s illustrators were recruited to work (virtually) with the children in the class – they draw one illustration for each child’s sentence per week.
  • Child is created as a central character so each sentence becomes part of a story about them.
  • Aspiring illustrators gain experience in the creation of a character and placing that character in different situations each week.
  • Illustrations come back to the children via email or online sharing.
  • Over the 4 weeks of the project the children will compile a special book (either a paper book or an e-book) containing an illustrated story about themselves.

The primary aims of the project were as follows:

  • Children develop a strong relationship with the target words and recall them accurately.
  • Illustrators model good quality drawing and illustration for the children and the children develop their ability to draw figures and faces.
  • Illustrators gain experience creating a character and placing it in different situations.

Other intended outcomes:

  • Children get a taste of the collaboration of author and illustrator.
  • Children gain a better understanding of the work of both an author and an illustrator.
  • All children see themselves in the role of an author – they have written a book!
  • Children’s ideas are valued and celebrated.
  • Children themselves are at the centre of the story – they are important and interesting.

The project is now complete and you can see a compilation of our wonderful stories at http://bit.ly/StoryOM2.

There is also a summary of the findings and outcomes of the project against its intended aims.

I hope you enjoy The Story of Me!

Susannah Jeffries

Twitter @mrsjteaches

Instagram @MrsJDraws

 

Using stories to support numeracy – Collette Collects – a picture book for number bonds…

It is always good to have a bit of a project for the school holidays. My October holiday project probably should have been having a big tidy-up or finding someone to clean the guttering, but instead I decided to finish writing and illustrating a picture book.

This was quite a significant project as I am not a writer and I have only just started learning to draw but I have been writing this book, through various iterations, over the past 6 months in response to a need I identified while teaching.

As we all know, learning your number bonds is a really helpful stepping stone toward improving your mental maths. If you know what numbers go together to make 10 then you can immediately access a whole load of other number facts.

If you know without a moments hesitation that 7 + 3 = 10 then you can quickly see that 70 + 30 = 100 and

700 + 300 = 100 and

13+7 = 20 and

53 + 7 = 60 and so on…

However, for some kids, retaining these number facts is much harder than it is for others. Having tried to teach these facts every which way I could think of, some kids were still struggling, but I knew that some of those same children could tell me every detail of a story I had told them.

So I decided to try writing these facts into a story.

The book is called Collette Collects and it is about a wee girl who likes to make collections of things. She doesn’t really mind what she collects but she feels that for a collection to really be a collection it should have 10 things.

Last session I started to read (various versions of) this story every week before our regular mental maths activity and after a few weeks some of those children who had always struggled were shouting out the answers to the questions posed on every page and I started to see a slow but steady improvement in their number bond knowledge.

I have now created a complete, illustrated version and I am working with a group of class teachers in different settings and parents of children aged approx. 5 – 7 years to test and measure the impact of the book.

If you would like to use a copy in your school the book is available from both TES Resources and Teachers Pay Teachers. If you would be interested in taking part in the testing process, please contact me via twitter @MrsJTeaches or use the contact form below.

 

 

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