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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.

[contact-form to=’MrsJDraws@gmail.com’ subject=’Pedagoo Post’][contact-field label=’Name’ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Email’ type=’email’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Website’ type=’url’/][contact-field label=’Comment’ type=’textarea’ required=’1’/][/contact-form]

 

 

Taking risks in the classroom/studio

Education very much these days is about getting it right, achieving and moving on. But when did getting it right all the time make for the best outcome?

Certainly in the art classroom and in the life of many artists and designers, getting it wrong can be as much a learning experience as getting it right.

Read more

Public Critique: A practical example

A recent post on creative learning environments Pimp my Classroom: 8 ways to confuse the cleaner provoked lots of interest and some very positive feedback. One suggestion, the personalised ‘critique’ space, or gallery, is a very straightforward idea that is easily transferable across subjects. It’s not a complicated concept and has been extensively written about: Read here and also here. I would encourage all St Peter’s staff to follow these links. Both examples, by English teachers, cite Ron Berger and his work ‘Ethic of Excellence’ as the initial inspiration. Berger’s video ‘Austin’s Butterfly’ has certainly done the rounds, and more on that can be found here.

As previously explained, students were each given a display space. My Year 12’s customised theirs with a previously made self-portrait. Not essential but heightened their sense of ownership. We had the benefit of exhibition boards but this exercise could work equally well with noticeboards or designated wall spaces.

gallery critique_boards

The groundwork prior to the session is of particular importance. Before commencing the critique students had already been introduced to the concept via ‘Austin’s Butterfly’ video. Importantly the specific focus of the critique was outlined, and support materials were accessible.

photo_vocab

Click on example above for pdf

Students were presenting ‘first draft’ photographic experiments in response to ‘The Selfie’ and contemporary approaches to self-portraiture. They were asked to pin up their work, initially annotating alongside it, justifying and explaining their decisions using coloured pencils and colour coded key vocabulary to comment on different areas, in this case Technical, Contextual, Visual or Conceptual Values of the image. These resource sheets are double sided and include examples of colour-coded analysis. They are laminated A3 size and kept easily accessible by students as required.

photo

photo_vocab2
Students then circulated adding feedback (Honest, Helpful & Specific) for each other in the relevant colours also ensuring the use of correct subject specific vocabulary. Time was then provided at the end for students to read, discuss and take on board the peer feedback provided. Examples of these first drafts can be found here. Subsequent time is then provided for development and further critique.

‘Students need to get used to drafting and redrafting their work with regular Public Critique sessions where students offer each other advice and guidance on how to improve their work’
@LearningSpy with reference to Ron Berger

The Big Draw – drawing techniques

We are excited to be partnering with The Big Draw this year in delivering a workshop online that you can all take part in, for free! Anyone across the globe can take part using your GPS location tracking system on your mobile device along with a simple GPS Drawing app. This type of drawing technique is fun, experimental and really doesn’t require any previous experience.

In true Portfolio Oomph style, we have a free eBook that guides you through the process of setting up the app and using your body position on the earth as your pencil!

Read more

Colour and the figure
September 3, 2012
0

Yesterday I was working with my students on figure drawing using colour. Most of the work we’ve done until now has been using the usual monochromatic media of charcoal, inks, conte crayon etc. so introducing colour is always a bit of a challenge.

How often have you really looked at the colour of your own skin close up? Take a wee look now, what do you notice? Of course, it’s not just one colour it’s a variation of colours and it’s not just pink I shouldn’t imagine. What you’re seeing is the transparency of the skin and blood vessels and veins that slow beneath the surface. Equally if you are black, white or Asian, you will see variations in skin tone and colour.

If you’re white you will see anything from pinks, ivories, creams, blues, yellows and purples. It also depends on how warm you are, if you’ve been exercising, how much sun you’ve been exposed to over your life and your general health and wellbeing.

skin tones and colours

Looking at the figure from a further distance, 2 or 3 meters for example as it typical in the life drawing room, the changes in colour and tone correspond to the lighting, shadows and reflected light.

So how can we use these observations and knowledge when we’re drawing the figure?

Well, 2 artists that you’d be crazy not to look at are Jenny Saville and of course the master of figure painting, Lucian Freud. (below)

Lucian Freud

Jenny Saville

Due to time restraints and student experience we have mainly worked with coloured pastels as we only have sessions that last 1hour 45 minutes. If you have more time and are more experienced I would suggest using paints, either watercolours or acrylics and a set of large-ish brushes.

When considering the approach to your life drawing/painting you’ll need to think about whether you want to make your work closely linked to the colours that you’re seeing or to work more freely in a creative sense. In the works of Jenny Saville and Lucian Freud the colours are exaggerated and simplified somewhat, however, this allows us to observe more keenly. Basically we’re looking for neutral colours with hints of these colours that we mentioned earlier; pinks, ivories, creams, blues, yellows and purples that flow from one to another.

Introducing colour in a really simple way by working on coloured paper can be helpful. As is remembering that we’re not only thinking about colour but also tone. It’s worth spending a little time just looking at the model to begin with and making some observations of colour, tone and relation to shadows, highlights and mid tones. Don’t get too bogged down in mixing lots of paint to tackle each colour.

By taking a look at the colour mixes below you should be able to start mixing some basic colours that correspond to the areas of colour and tone that you are seeing. Remember to think also in terms of warm areas and cooler areas in context of light and shadow.

painted flesh tones

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