Monday, 23 May 2016

Character Description Task

Character Description Notes from Lesson:

Character Description Task

It was interesting to note that most students in this group struggled with the task even though they are our extension students. I thought that it would be quick and easy but it wasn’t. Brainstorming some ideas around what the picture or footage was about was quite easy. Coming up with a couple of succinct sentences that could ‘show’ and not ‘tell’ me what the character might be about was a lot harder. It took a bit of time to explain, model and help craft their writing. Eventually they all completed the task with some help and hopefully they will be quicker when working on the ‘Setting Description’ task.

Next step:

Show before and after attempts (by students) when crafting to see evidence of the difference that careful crafting makes to a piece of writing.

Monday, 16 May 2016

SPARK MIT PLG #2 - Part 2

Inquiry: How to use film to extend writing achievement for our Extension students?

Dorothy shared with us a handy definition of an innovation in a digital context:
"An intervention that would not have been possible prior to the move to digital learning environments”

  1. What innovations are you using to address the problem you identified?

Innovation: using online movie clips (e.g. from sites such as Youtube, The Literacy Shed) to improve writing skills. Students will write their own narratives and create movies based on their narratives. Create short movies as resources to show students how to improve their narrative writing skills.

Term 2 Goal: Combining topic based school wide theme (Art) with inquiry e.g. providing opportunities to improve writing.

Year 5 & 6 Extension:
Art theme will be based on Polynesian Warriors. The focus is on traditional/cultural tattoo designs and what they mean (Art Exhibition at end of term). Students will work on narratives about their warrior. At the moment just focussing on ideas for plot, structure of narrative, character and setting descriptions. Lots of group discussion and sharing of ideas. I have been trying to provide opportunities to develop narrative writing skills by using online resources.

Year 7 & 8 Extension:
Art theme is based on the work of author and illustrator Colin Thompson. Students will write a narrative that will inspire their artwork in the style of Colin Thompson. The focus will be on perspective and how to create the illusion of depth. At the moment we are still developing our ideas about characters and the setting.

End of last term I selected very short Youtube clips of a setting (forest and old cottage), problem (being chased by a bear), resolution/emotions (being reunited with family). We used the clips to think about what we could see, hear, feel about the clips. Lots of discussion about this. Brainstormed ideas.

Spent time collecting resources - Link

Students are expected to keep a writing log (links to their blog posts) and post regular book reviews. Reading and writing go hand in hand and reading mileage will aid writing.

  1. What is going well?
This term I have a clearer idea about what I want to achieve. I know where most of the students are at in terms of their writing. I’ve analysed their writing samples and identified individual as well as group strengths and weaknesses. I’ve collected resources and ideas that might help to motivate students to improve their writing skills.

  1. What are some of the challenges?
Managing and organising my time so that I keep up with what I want the students to learn and achieve. Lack of time is always an issue. Interruptions in the school programme mean less time with students less time working on their tasks.

I would love to focus purely on improving writing during Extension, but I also need to be mindful of school wide needs e.g. Art Exhibition at end of term. No other choice but to compromise, but the digital learning environment means that students can access resources and information anytime, anyplace and anywhere.

Next steps:
Ideas to manage inquiry:
How to have an effect (make an impact) as time is split between art and writing. Only 2 opportunities to write.
Use an MIT day to complete artwork?? Create resources?
Homework - set each week - mini writing task so when students get to class - work with scaffolding a group. Focus on aspects/elements of writing eg punctuation.


Today the SPARK MIT group met for the second time to touch base on where we were up to with our inquiries. First of all we looked at the SAMR model and discussed our thoughts about this. Several links helped us to decide whether we thought this was a useful model or not.

The SAMR model explained by students - This was a good clip explaining what SAMR is in an easy to understand way.
Wheel on SAMR and Bloom's Digital Taxonomy - Great graphic which combines SAMR ideas and Bloom's Taxonomy.

Taking a dip in the SAMR swimming pool - I enjoyed reading this interpretation of the SAMR model. I also liked the analogy of it being like a swimming pool. Teachers can test the water by creating tasks which are more at the substitution and augmentation levels (shallow end of pool) until they feel more comfortable creating tasks which are 'above' the line (Modification/Redefinition) in the deeper end of the pool.

I think that the SAMR model is a useful tool to help teachers plan tasks for students which will challenge and extend their critical thinking skills. It allows for planning of tasks which have the ability to be 'transformative'. The affordances of technology should make this happen a lot easier.

How to combine inquiry with Art focus?

This term our school wide focus is on Art ('as i see it'). I decided that the easiest way to focus on my MIT inquiry (how to raise student achievement in writing) was to combine Art with storytelling (narrative).

This is the plan for the Year 5 & 6 Extension students this term:

Here is the plan for the Year 7 & 8 Extension students: