I have now been blogging for 13 months – I forgot the blog birthday. Strange how online life mirrors real life ; ) I thought for the end of 2009 I would pick out 10 things that I discovered and that have become a part of me, some of which I have blogged about and some not. When I say I discovered it is of course thanks to all the people in my PLN that discovered them for me!
1. Talk for writing and here – this is a strange one but it is a way of teaching writing that helps children to embed language patterns and use them in their own writing. I have worked with a lot of teachers and quite a few children in my eight years of being a literacy consultant and this is the one idea that has had the most impact on children and their writing. The other reason that I like it so much is that it is based on skills and processes that writers use and is not a mechanistic attempt to simplify writing for teachers or children. I am looking forward to seeing how it develops amongst our team and with teachers and children in 2010.
2. There will be several books in this list but one of my favourites that has had a lot of use towards the end of the year and will do so next year is Think of an Eel . This is a non-fiction text told through two voices; one which I would call a literary non-fiction voice and one which is a more formal report voice. Word order and choice is poetic, sentence construction is varied and paced to fit the life cycle of an eel and the illustrations are watery and also reflect the sentences and life cycle. This is definitely a text that teaches.
3. 2009 introduced me to etherpad which then disappeared. It enabled groups of people to write together synchronously or asynchronously and was so usable in the classroom. It has been reborn in several forms of which I use two, Netherpad (which wouldn’t open when I wrote this post so I hope it hasn’t disappeared as well) and PiratePad.
4. Comic creators – the boys writing project that we have run this year has meant that I have had to move into areas of reading and writing where I am not very experienced. Comics. The best software to create comics is Comic Life because you can use your own images. However, if you can’t afford to buy software (and this doesn’t cost much) then the following are great; Super Action Comic Hero , Dr Who Comic Maker , Read Write Think comic creator and Captain Underpants . Plenty to choose from.
5. One book which has influenced my thinking about how we teach the reading and writing of fiction is The Seven Basic Plots by Christopher Booker. I am fascinated by the underlying patterns of story and now when I read can’t help but try and decide which of his seven plots are used. They help children to see the generic patterns behind story whether in print or as images and can be used in their own writing. I am not the only one interested in this.
6. I have found diigo to be an invaluable way of reading and commenting on texts online, particularly when doing this as part of a group study. I have to say that it went beyond my expectations.
7. Storybook creators – I love these sites that allow children to create their own books. They range from those that allow a lot of choices to those that don’t but all offer something to young writers. Some of my favourites are; Picture Book Maker, Spot the Dog and Storybird (this is my all time favourite but is blocked by our filters even on my computer – lucky you if you can get it).
8. My Flip Video Camcorder . More and more schools are getting these as easy to use video cameras to have available in the classroom. They should be there for children to use a a tool to record learning just as pens and pencils are. I bought one because I found some of the other cameras in classrooms limiting. I use it all the time. It comes with editing software but I prefer to download the film and use MovieMaker to edit. Very easy to use.
9. The power of animation to allow children to show their understanding of texts. This is partly due to the project, Persistence of Vision, that we are involved in. We are particularly focused on the links between animation and poetry. Our outcomes are to try and record what we think progression in animation looks like in primary schools and to develop a professional development package that can be used byanyone interested in taking animation further. We are working with Oscar Stringer and using I Can Animate software and the powerful yet affordable Hue webcams as our equipment. I have to own up to having a bright pink Hue webcam.
10. and finally to all the people that I am connected to through twitter, blogging, LinkedIn,Facebook and online learning a big thank you for all your ideas and resources that you have shared. It is because of you that I can write a post like this.
Happy New Year.