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

at Leicester and UN

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.

February 9, 2017
by Jean
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Using iPads outdoors

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.

The full collection can seen here.

 

 

December 18, 2015
by Jean
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FDLT animates!

Over the last few weeks the FDLT Y2 groups have been using animation, greenscreen and video editing apps to create short films.

2015-11-30 10.22.34This year we used the animation app ‘iMotion’ to make the animations. This is a relatively simple to use free app (there is a paid for version with a few extra features). This time when we used it some of the groups experienced a problem in that if they stopped animating and watched their films back when they continued the film did not always continue on from what they had previously done. We were able to correct this using iMovie but it was frustrating and sometimes demotivating.

2015-11-30 11.03.42Something else we tried this year for the first time was filming the animation against a green screen and then adding a background using the DoInk greenscreen app. This allowed them to set their story against one or more photographs that they had chosen. As we used it we also found that the animation could be moved around on the screen to a better position and the photo could be adjusted too. This app was very user friendly and a student recommended the DoInk animation app which is something we will investigate for next time (to help overcome the problems outlined above).

After the animations were made and the photographic background added we used iMovie to edit the films. For some this meant reordering their scenes and for all it meant adding sound. Some students chose some music from the limited range available on iMovie. Others added narration, dialogue and sound effects as well. Films can also be edited in YouTube, which has a much larger choice of music.

Along the way students also used the photosforclass.com website to find photos; Dropbox, to save films at different stages and YouTube to share and edit films. It was impressive to see the level of team work, creativity and perseverance from the groups of students as they worked together to create their animations. They can seen on this YouTube channel:

The students learn how to animate and use green screen so that they can explore how to use digital technology to support and enrich learning across the curriculum. Underpinning much of the activity was narration, imagination and storytelling – many of them told stories and designed story boards in order to develop their story before beginning to animate.

2015-11-24 10.20.49Some students set their animations in non-fiction contexts that involved some research about their area (global warming, animal homes). Throughout they listened, negotiated, described, speculated, evaluated and asked questions (English). In addition this some students explored aspects of the history, science or geography curriculum to set their animation in context. All the students were engaged in designing and making sets and props and some made their own characters. Some students researched to find and evaluate images to use for their backgrounds (art and design, design and technology). All the students were engaged with using digital technology to make and edit their films (computing).

2015-11-24 13.09.44We hope that students will go and use these skills in their support for learning in schools as teaching assistants, or in the future as they become teachers. the potential for learning in the classroom or in after school clubs is huge. As adults they experienced an immersive and intensive full day of activity that might be better broken down into a series of smaller activities with children. This would give the chance for greater reflection between each stage.

Furtehr reading:

There’s an interesting blog post here about the educational value of making stop motion animations with children and also these journal articles exploring research:

Fleer, M. and Hoban, G. (2012) Using ‘Slowmation’ for intentional teaching in early childhood centres: Possibilities and imaginings.
Australasian Journal of Early ChildhoodVol.37(3), p.61-70.

Hoban, G. and Neilsen, W. (2014) Creating a narrated stop-motion animation to explain science: The affordances of “Slowmation” for generating discussion. Teaching and Teacher Education. Vol.42, p.68-79.

Pugh, S. (2013) Stop motion animation as an innovative approach to engagement and collaboration in the classroom. The Student Researcher. Vol 2. No 2. pp109-120.

Reid, D., Reid, E. and Ostashewski, N. (2013) Combining iPads and slowmation: Developing digital storytellers in an early learning environment. World Conference on Educational Media and Technology. pp. 1539–1543

 

October 6, 2015
by Jean
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The Big Draw

11October is the month of the The Big Draw in the UK and all over the world.

‘The Big Draw is the world’s biggest drawing festival with thousands of enjoyable, and mainly free, drawing activities which connect people of all ages with museums, outdoor spaces, artists, designers, illustrators – and each other.

The Big Draw is for anyone who loves to draw, as well as those who think they can’t!

We believe #drawingchangeslives‘ (The Big Draw, 2015)

You can look here resources and ideas to help you join in with The Big Draw in schools. You can look here for events that are happening near you in galleries, museums and other places.

If you or your school are taking part do add a comment below to share with us what you did.

Reference:

The Big Draw (2015) About The Big Draw. [online] Available from: http://www.thebigdraw.org/the-big-draw [Accessed: 06/10/15]

 

October 2, 2015
by Jean
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Pobble365

Every day a new picture is revealed on the Pobble 365 website. It is run by the very popular Lend me Your Literacy (LMYL) website. It emerged from Jonny Davies’s experience as a classroom teacher – he explains that he would look for a striking and extraordinary image to inspire thinking and discussion in his classroom. This is what Jonny says:

And this is exactly what happened in our classroom: each Friday morning at 09.05 I would reveal one of these unique images. As it appeared on the board, I looked around the classroom and I could see a mixture of open mouths, excited whispers and animated discussion. The children talked about whether the giant that was crawling out of the ground was searching for a companion or baying for blood, or whether the mysterious forest of eyes contained fairies or werewolves. The pictures I chose were surreal, abstract or conceptual. To the children these images were weird and wonderful, fantastic and bizarre.

Imagine your favourite children’s book: when you read it your mind becomes full of fantasy and colour as you paint a picture in your mind, bringing the pages to life. This is what these images did, even for the children who didn’t enjoy reading.

The provoked conversation gradually became filled with rich vocabulary as I channelled the children’s thinking towards describing a character or a setting. Their imaginations ran wild, and poured out onto the paper. I can still remember the goosebumps on my skin as the teacher in the adjacent classroom and I would sit down with a coffee at 4 o’clock and read through the writing produced. I thought to myself ‘this is what teaching is all about’. These are the moments that we must cherish as educators.’ (Davies, 2015, lines 20 to 46)

You can sign in to Pobble with your Facebook, twitter or Google account or by creating a sign in with your email address and a password.

Each day a picture appears and along with it some resources to help you use it with pupils. These include story starters, questions, a link to exploring sentences and other ideas. You can download the picture and ideas as a PDF or if you join as a teacher you can use the images in your lesson more directly.

Here’s a link to the picture for today, October 2nd. How would you use it?

There are many other interesting aspects to the Pobble website including, if you join as a school, being able to share your pupils’ writing and make and receive comments about it.

Comment below if you use Pobble365 or to share ideas about using pictures in learning and teaching.

 

 

Reference

Davies, J. (2015) Going Global: from Picture of the Day to Pobble 365. [online] Available from: http://blog.pobble.com/picture-of-the-day-to-pobble-365/ [Accesed 25/09/15]

 

June 11, 2015
by Jean
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#ForestFlight

On Monday June 22nd from 5pm until 7.30pm the Northampton Inspire network is holding its final event of the academic year.

The theme is ‘Forest Flight’ – and we will be exploring the physical and digital world across the curriculum and age groups with a focus on steAm (science, technology, engineering, art, mathematics). There will be lots to join in with and take away to develop further in school. This time we will be making birds using card and de-constructed electronics, composing and recording music to go with them and displaying them in the Forest School.

Please visit the  Northampton Inspire blog to see some of the Meetings and Teachmeets that we’ve held – there are plenty of resources for your classroom there too.

Free tickets for ‘Forest Flight’ on 22nd June are available at the link.

bird.phpYou might also be interested to follow up the Access Art Share a bird project. There is more information about this here.

How Can Schools Request to Receive a Bird?

Schools can register their interest by sending an email to info@accessart.org.uk. Please note that we cannot guarantee any school will receive an artwork – it entirely depends on how many artworks we receive gifted by artists / makers. Artworks will be gifted by region on a first come first served basis.

If you decide to take part we’d love to hear about how you get on.

March 10, 2015
by Jean
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Next Northampton Inspire network meeting

On Monday 23rd March we will be holding our next Northampton Inspire Network Meeting.

This will take place in the Sulgrave building – go to reception and you will be directed from there. it will start at 4.30pm although refreshments will be available from 4pm.

We will be creating immersive sensory experiences around a theme.

IMG_5936-z64choThis session explores cheap and effective ways of creating multi sensory environments for visual and sound stimulation using portable dark and white rooms. We will experiment with a wealth of light and sound equipment, create images using luminous paint, and project sensory iPad apps and video onto 3D objects. The aim is to create controllable experiential activities that encourage engagement and interaction for all learners, and to think about creative ways of theming these. We have been inspired by the work of Richard Hirstwood: http://youtu.be/ihMSw8BIXF4 and http://youtu.be/PkIKpOn7y98.

You can book free tickets here and feel free to let others know about the meeting – it is for students. teachers, teaching assistants and other interested people.

March 4, 2015
by Jean
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Get Creative (Part 2 of 2)

You might have heard on BBC TV and radio lots of references to their campaign to encourage creativity called Get Creative!

You can browse the website here.

In the early weeks of this campaign there have been some programmes focusing on creativity and the arts. One was the BBC Four Arts Question Time.

Arts Q timeA panel of leading creative people answer questions from the audience about the challenges, opportunities, failings and future of the arts in the UK.

There was also a radio debate ‘The Front Row Debate’ where John Wilson hosted a discussion exploring the relationship between the state and the arts. You can listen to it here.

You can watch / listen to these on iplayer until the end of March and I have added them to Box of Broadcasts which you can access if you a University of Northampton student.

20 minsIf you explore the Get Creative part of the website you can see lots of ideas for creative activities and articles about related people and issues. You can sign up for the weekly creative challenge – you’ll be sent an email with a 20 minute, an hour and a half a day challenge so you can choose the one that fits the time you have.

 

an hourThis week the challenge is based around colour and looking around us. The responses can be shared with others through the 64 million artists website or by using #BBCGetGreative on social media.

 

 

half a dayI’ve signed up because I think the ideas could be useful for using in teaching as well as in my own art.

The approach – setting an open challenge – could be a useful one in school too. It would be interesting to set the challenge on a Friday afternoon and give children the opportunity to respond at home and at school and then take a look at what they did after a week.

You can also explore Get Creative in your region here. There are lists of organisations nearby that offer creative activities.

If any of you are using the BBC Get Creative resources in school (or at home) comment below and let us know how you are getting on!

 

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