A blog for students on the FDLT and BALT courses at the University of Northampton

at Leicester and UN

November 23, 2017
by Jean
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Classroom Adventures!

The FDLT Y2 Leicester group used their creative skills and Book Creator to make a collaborative book about some unexpected happenings in the classroom.

Here’s the whole book on Google BookCreator:

Classroom Adventures

Here’s a version on YouTube:

When making a collaborative book it is essential to agree on the format of the pages – landscape or portrait. This story couldn’t be included in the main book because it was made in the wrong orientation:

After the session one of the students went away and made her own book with her son.

 

October 20, 2017
by Jean
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The secret life of Park Campus – an interactive digital book.

This week the FDLT Year 2 UN group explored the tools available in BookCreator in a session about supporting learning in English through using digital technology. You can read more about BookCreator and see some great examples here.

They explored adding their own photos and video to pages; adding written text, speech bubbles and thought bubbles and recording speech that can be listened to. We used the context of ‘the secret life of the campus’ to plan and write imaginary stories as a context for this exploration.

You can see the book on YouTube here.

You can also use this link to access it as an ebook through Google Chrome.

September 29, 2017
by Jean
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Children’s Laureate

The current Children’s Laureate is Lauren Child and she is in this role from 2017 to 2019. This is what the Book trust said about her:

“The role of Children’s Laureate is awarded once every two years to an eminent writer or illustrator of children’s books to celebrate outstanding achievement in their field.

Lauren Child is a multi-award-winning, bestselling writer and artist whose books are known and loved the world over. She is the creator of characters such as Clarice Bean, Ruby Redfort and Charlie and Lola.” (Book Trust, 2017, lines 3-7)

Book Trust, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can read more about her role here.

You can hear an interview with her here.

Last week in a newspaper article she argued that children should be given more time to “daydream and dawdle” and  be allowed to have free, unstructured time in which to be creative and improvise. (Child, 2017, line 10) Supporting children to be creative is something you might consider as a TA. How do we provide conditions or an environment that will encourage creativity in school? What is the adult role in this?

References:

Book Trust. (2017) Waterstones Children’s Laureate. [online] Available from: https://www.booktrust.org.uk/books/childrens-laureate/ [Accessed: 29/09/17]

Child, L. (2017) We should let children dawdle and dream. [online] Available from: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/sep/09/lauren-child-let-children-dawdle-and-dream [Accessed: 29/09/17]

 

May 17, 2017
by Jean
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Ideas for supporting learning from children’s book illustrators

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!

Read the story in the university news

Authors encourage pupils to get creative developing characters

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May 12, 2017
by Jean
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Y1 visits to Newton Field Centre

This week both FDLT Year 1 groups visited Newton Field Centre in Northamptonshire.

They explored how a visit to a Field Centre could support learning in geography, science,history and art. The Field centre teacher, Georgina Hand and a University of Northampton lecturer, Ken Bland, led activities such as measuring the flow of the river, measuring the profile of the river, collecting and classifying invertebrates from the river and using them to measure the environmental quality of the water. The subject knowledge associated with these areas is crucial when supporting learning and this is an area where visiting a field centre with specialist teaching staff can be invaluable to schools.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The students also explored the molehills in the field to collect rocks and stones an these were compared and classified later. The app iGeology and large scale maps of the area are useful resources for this kind of activity. They explored the field for evidence of human use in the past – the pond and the dovecote both being sources of food for the large house that used to exist on the site.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whilst in the field the students created land art using just the resources available to them in the large field. Because of the time of year there were lots of dandelions in flower and as clocks – a great source of material for making. It was interesting to see of the range of art made featuring circles, lines, colour, contrasts, using techniques such as weaving, placing and pressing down. By now it will all have changed and returned to nature. Finally the students collected leaves to make their own key to the vegetation at newton as a model for making a key on their school sites using the plants around them.

 

 

April 5, 2017
by Jean
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DLAB Erasmus free online course

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
  • creating trails
  • science outdoors
  • wild writing

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.

March 2, 2017
by Jean
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Gallery visits for FDLT Y2

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.

You can see all of the images here.

 

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.

January 29, 2017
by Jean
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Making our own digital books

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.

Made with 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.

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