If you are starting a degree course it is worthwhile investing in a study skills book to support you as you develop approaches to academic learning. The Study Skills Handbook by Stella Cottrell is a good choice as it can support you throughout your three year degree. There are many other good study skills books too.
Now would be a good time to explore the early section ‘managing yourself for study’. This will help you think about starting to study in Higher Education and areas such as managing time and preparing for a new course.
There is a companion website with some additional materials to help you available here. In the Resource Bank you can find some audio files about critical analysis and creative thinking as well as a short interactive course called ‘What to expect from academic study’. You might find it useful to explore these resources.
Cottrell, S. (2013) The Study Skills Handbook. 4th ed. London: Palgrave.
If you are starting the FDLT course in year 1 in September or currently in year 1 going into year 2 you can access this free online course here.
The course is designed to help you if you are about to study an undergraduate course with us or are in your first year and want to:
improve your study skills
develop your academic confidence
better understand what is expected of you in your degree
develop greater autonomy as a learner
achieve better grades in your assignments
In order to do this, the course focuses on improving your critical thinking, research, referencing, note taking and academic writing skills, to build your academic confidence.
The activities in this course are designed to engage you in specific learning. You will have opportunities to reflect on your learning and to engage with other students through discussion boards and blogs. This is a very interactive course and the more you engage with other learners, the more you will learn.
To participate in this course you must either be a current University of Northampton student enrolled on an undergraduate course or an applicant for an undergraduate course and have selected the University of Northampton as your firm choice institution.
Last week Sophie Burrows, from Into Film, came to work with the FDLT year 1 groups to introduce stop motion animation as a technique for engaging learners.
Sophie introduced the group to the basic principles that underpin stop motion animation: persistence of vision. We looked the work of Eadweard Muybridge, an early pioneer of photographic and moving image projection. We also looked at making thaumotropes as an easy way into to demonstrating this concept to children. You can read more about this and other optical toys here: thaumotropes.
Sophie introduced us to three types of stop motion animation:
silhouette (using a light box)
claymation (using plasticine)
and the free app Stop Motion Studio. After playing a little with app to explore its functions the students worked in groups to make a short animation using any of the techniques above. They then edited the films using the app iMovie which gave them the opportunity to add sound and music.
Making stop motion animations draws upon a huge range of skills, knowledge and understanding and can be a great opportunity to plan meaningful and engaging learning opportunities across the curriculum for learners. Here’s a padlet of examples to get you thinking!
Its June, its Spring and its half term: the perfect time to start a new challenge!
The 30 days wild challenge asks us to make room for nature. You can sign up here to receive a wallchart and ideas pack. You’re asked to perform a random act of wildness each day: this is something that brings a little bit of nature into your life. There are lots of ideas on the 3o days wild website, as well blog posts and links to local events.
As with many initiatives now you can also follow what’s happening on social media:
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!
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.
We are very lucky to have our own Forest School at Park Campus, University of Northampton. A few weeks ago the FDLT Year 2 students spent a morning there as part of their learning Beyond the Classroom module to explore more about the Forest School experience.
An album of photos of their experience can be seen here.
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.