On Monday I was lucky to attend a creative session in the School Experience Library, at Park Campus, University of Northampton. This session, arranged by Academic Librarian, Hannah Rose and Library Learning Services, brought two author illustrators to share with us their approaches to writing and illustrating.
First Birgitta Sif shared with us her journey to being an author illustrator and her process of writing. Birgitta’s first books was ‘Oliver’, a book about a little boy who was different and how he found friendship. As she read it to us she helped us look more carefully at how the illustrations enriched the text and gave us clues and extra surprises. These included searching for a mouse who present in each picture, finding a character who appeared in the middle of the story actually appears in the previous pictures too and using the text inside the pictures to guide us in the story.
She also showed us how she makes a story by making small sketches to get to know her characters, making tiny prototype books and by drawing the world of the character and the places and people or animals the character encounters. She draws from life and imagination and when she is stuck she goes for walks outside and plays with her children.
Then Dave Barrow shared his work with us. His first book was ‘Have you seen elephant?’, a book about a game of hide’n’seek with great visual jokes throughout. As Dave read it to us he helped us understand how he had drawn the illustrations by sketching from life, from videos and trying things out for himself.
Dave also did some live drawing taking ideas from children to give us ideas about how to construct a character through drawing and talking. We could really see how this could lead to imaginative stories as the children talked with Dave. Dave helped them think about how the personality and characteristics of a character could be apparent in a drawing as well how to show clues about the character in the picture so that they didn’t have to be stated in the text. he also showed us how to show the size and scale of a character. He also answered questions about how long it takes to write a story, how many drafts it takes and how sometimes an idea has to be let go to improve the story.
What can we learn?
Make little prototype books to try out and sequence ideas.
Draw and sketch from life.
If you get stuck go outside for a walk.
Practice drawing if you want to improve.
Draw a character to get know it before you start to write it into a story.
Link characteristics of the character with the story you’re going to write.
Keep drafting and improving.
Some of these are things you might try in school or when you are writing.
As part of the session we also made our own character to take away and maybe write a story about, inevitably, mine was a cat!
Some of us who teach on FDLT, BALT and other education courses along with students and local teachers are part of an Erasmus+ project called Digital learning Across Boundaries – DLAB for short. We are working with educators in Belgium, Denmark and Norway.
In May we are sharing a free online course based around our theme this year; using digital technology to support learning outside. The materials will be based around our themes:
art in the environment
You can read more about the course and sign up here.
If you are working in schools you will be able to access stimulating and creative approaches and activities that you can use with your pupils. Part of the course will be based around online sharing of activities and outcomes through a Google Community.
The project has a twitter account: @DLAB_Erasmus and a website where you can find more details and examples from the project.
Last week two Foundation Degree Learning and Teaching (FDLT) groups took part in conversations with students in Mexico and UN alumni in Brazil.
The first part of the conversation was focused around asking and answering yes/no questions to find out where in the world they were within a Skype call. The rest of the conversation explored comparisons between the education systems and school life in each country. Over two days students made contact with educators and alumni to discover how FDLT students could enrich their own work in UK schools. Dr Brenda Padilla, part of the Faculty of Psychology from the Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo Leónin in Mexico, has blogged about the experience which enabled her students and ours to discuss aspects of classroom differentiation, educational politics and course modules. Whilst Carolina Andrade a former UN student working in São Paulo, Brazil was able to reflect on her learning experiences with FDLT students.
Across the two days students took part in Changemaker workshops and presentations faciliated by Liam Norton, Abi Wicks and Marie Alty. Also our Skype Guest Speaker Yvette Thomas Head of Equalities Children’s Social Care and Learning for Buckinghamshire County Council, encouraged FDLT students to see the classroom as a ‘Window to the World’ in an attempt to work with partners in other countries.
As part of their PDT 2016 module focused on enriching learning beyond the classroom and school site the FDLT Y2 (UN) group investigated using ipads and apps to create the experience of visiting other times and places.
The students worked in groups. First they identified a time or place to use as the basis for a short film or animation. Some of the suggestions and senarios they worked from are on this Padlet.
The students had to devise a scenario or story to explore and then research to collect still images and / or video to use as well as write a script for the scenes they would record. Some students chose to explore history: the founding of the city of Rome, the moon landing, Egypt, mummification; others explored science: the seasons, the body; some explored places: the jungle, going on safari and others explored a festival: Diwali. Their films can be seen here on a YouTube playlist.
The opportunities for learning are wide ranging when working in this way. In order to make an informative and worthwhile film the students (or pupils) have to research purposefully for visual sources such as images and video or make their own where none exists. They have to plan and write notes and script for their oral contributions. They often have to make props and artefacts to use in their film. Some of them also used other apps to add to their film such as Chatterpix, pic collage and photo editor apps. Throughout they have to collaborate and work as a team to reach an end goal. The resources used to support this session can be accessed via the Padlet above.
In this session the students had freedom to explore and work with the tools in order to learn how to use them. Some students were familiar with them from supporting pupils with them back in their schools. Supporting pupils to use digital technology creatively and embedded within their learning is an effective way of changing pupils from passive users of technology to makers and creators with control over what is produced.
This week each of the FDLT Year 2 visited art galleries to explore how learning can be inspired and developed in locations other than the classroom.
The UN group travelled to Avenue Campus to look at the exhibition ‘Under Construction’. This is an exhibition of photographs taken by the second year BA Hons Photography students and records the changing environment of Northampton. This year the photos were taken at the old Royal Mail sorting office and development of the new Waterside Campus.
The group explored how the exhibition could be used to support learning in art and across the curriculum and then went on to take their own photos around a theme or idea of their choice. They chose and edited their photos on their phones or tablets, presenting them as photo collages.
The Leicester group visited New Walk Museum and Gallery in Leicester. They explored the collection of Victorian and modern paintings, trying out starter activities to get pupils used to being in a gallery and focused on art and identified and discussed pictures that could be connected. One of the travelling exhibitions at the gallery was ‘Sublime Symmetry‘. This was an exhibition by the William de Morgan Foundation and was focused on art and mathematics. There were resources for younger pupils to use (hanging up in activity bags), Key Stage 2 mathematics exploration workbooks and art leaflets: some of the supporting resources can be seen here. The students could also explore the dinosaur display, the Ancient Egyptian section and a hands on science exhibit.
Some of the discussion in these session will help them work on assignments in their enriching learning beyond the classroom module.
This year the FDLT Year 1 students in both Leicester and Park Campus, Northampton used the university Ipads as part of their learning. In a session focused on using digital technology to enrich the curriculum (art) they were given a key art idea to search for examples of and photograph. They went off to observe, capture and edit around the outdoor environment. It was interesting that because they had been given a very specific focus on what to look for they began see examples everywhere and be quite creative in the way they captured these examples.
When they returned to the classroom the students collected their images together and presented them as photo collages using the PicCollage app. They added borders and text and then airdropped them to the session tutor so they could be shared with the group. All the collages were added to a ThingLink that also contains the relevant subject knowledge information which is enhanced by the visual examples present in the photo collages.
This week in Year 2 of the FDLT course we have been exploring the making of digital books by educators to use with their pupils or by pupils supported by their teachers and TAs. Exploring some examples was a useful way in to this session and these can be seen on a Padlet.
In the session each group used the BookCreator app to make a collaborative book. The BookCreator app is quick to learn to use and has lots of potential. In this first experience we only used the tools available within the app but many other tools and apps can be used with the digital books made in BoolCreator. There’s a basic introduction to the app at this link.
In order to make a successful collaborative books some joint planning needs to take place. One key decision to make is whether the pages should by portrait or landscape. If pages are to be made on separate ipads and then combined in one book then the page orientation must be the same. The language features of the book must be discussed so that they match the purpose and audience of the book. The Y2 students were making a book to inform and advise new FDLT students about their course and where it takes place. A list of possible pages was made from which pairs of students could choose. Students could then use any features of the app to create their page. This included choosing a blank page to work on or a comic panel page; using audio, video and photos; choosing font, colour and size as well as page colour.
After each page was finished they were airdropped to the tutor ipad where they were combined in to one book. The books can be seen below as YouTube videos. In the near future there will be more sharing options from the app which could be more book like in nature.
There are so many possibilities for using the making of our own personalised digital books to support learning or create meaningful learning opportunities – its a tool well worth exploring.