Thursday, 17 September 2015

It's Dark in January

January of 2014 I began my new position teaching a year 4 class in a new school, across the country from where I used to live. I quickly discovered that teaching in the south is different than teaching in the east of England, and the children are quite rough on the south coast. 

Despite being thrown into a new curriculum, new way of teaching, and new class half way through a school year I was very excited to have a class of my own. Monty the Moose became our class mascot and flew all the way from Canada to join us. 

We started off our term by announcing to the students that we had heard of an animation competition for students. Our goal for the half term was to get the students to write their own fairy tales, and use stop motion animation to create a video of their story. 

This ended up being a great opportunity to see our students' artistic sides as we created storyboards, back drops, and characters.

My favourite activity from this half term was using fantasy setting pictures for the children to write a descriptive setting paragraph from. I jumped for joy when even one of my lower ability students came out with sentences like 'A shape like a rectangle shape in the entrance vines on the wide entrance. The thing holding up the funky poles shaped like devils horns. The forest is cold and wet creepies all around.'

While it is not grammatically correct, it was so exciting to get such great ideas!

The second part of the activity involved the students reading a paragraph of descriptive setting description from the class novel we were reading (more on that later!) and were asked to use the details in the text to draw the setting on a small A4 size piece of paper. 

As a shared class novel that we based a number of our lesson on (across the year group) we used the book 'Land of Stories'  by Chris Colfer (from Glee!).

The story follows two siblings as they fall into the storybook their grandmother gave to them and must complete a number of quests to get back out, meeting many storybook characters along the way.

Creating our stop motion animation was difficult. First, we didn't have enough cameras (and enough battery life) to accommodate all of the groups. Also, the students had a hard time making only small movements of characters between pictures (some of the finished products look more like tableaus). However, it was one of my favourite days in the classroom because we all had so much fun being directors!

My students were struggling to answer reading comprehension problems fully, so I created a 'Bump it Up' presentation on Notebook for them. The first example is of course from our reading of Land of Stories.

Click here to download all of the slides!

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