Posts Tagged ‘non-fiction writing’

Lesson Observation and iTouch

May 22, 2010

On Tuesday I have an observation (for my Performance Management) during a Literacy lesson. I want the iTouches to provide an effective addition to the lesson.

In my class, and school, we focus on  developing the children’s Basic Skills in many Literacy lessons as many have gaps in their learning. The lesson on Tuesday is going to revise parts of speech and increase & extend the children’s vocabulary.

For their independent work the children are going to use their iTouches and the app Mad Libs which I’m hoping will be a fun and effective way to allow the children to practice and reinforce their learning.

As a child I used to look forward to getting a new Mad Lib book. Mad Libs consist of a book that has a short story on each page, but with many of the key words replaced with blanks. Beneath each blank is specified a noun, verb, place, or a part of the body. One player asks the other players, in turn, to contribute some word for the specified type for each blank, but without revealing the context for that word. Finally, the completed story is read aloud. The result is usually comic, surreal and somewhat nonsensical.

This great activity has come to the iTouch as a free app. (The full versions are on sale for £2.99 each).

The children will need to come up with examples for each of the parts of speech as required.

If you click on the hints button you get examples of that part of speech scrolling across the screen. This will expose the children to words they may not have thought of themselves.

You can still purchase the books from Amazon or click here to visit the US Penguin site. (I’ve just order 3 for nostalgic reasons) You can also find imitation Mad Libs online, though in my opinion, these are not as good as the originals. Here are links to some of these sites. Wacky Web Tales and Crazy Libs.

Update on our Wii Project.

April 18, 2010

QUICK UPDATE: Darius Knight sent an email to say he was stuck in Spain due to the volcano disruption to flights and that he will get in touch when back in London. Woo Hoo! Hope he gets back safely.

Work for the competition needed to be submitted at the end of last term so it was a busy time pulling everything together.

When it came time to organise the work for submission I was truly impressed with the work the boys had done!

We had used a variety of online and purchased software and it was interesting how different children worked with different software.

Some found searching the internet suited their style of learning and became the researches for the whole class.

As YouTube is blocked at our school (shame) I used Zamzar to convert the videos. One boy has now used this to add video clips to his MLE page (and has remembered to put a note that they came from YouTube).

After BETT 2010 I was able to get the school to purchase the fabulous 2 Create A Superstory from 2Simple. We used this to create various non-fiction books. Due to the simplicity of its design the children were writing without any real complaints!… and the results looked quite professional.

The boys really enjoyed using Flip camcorders and became quite amazing in their ability to direct and film by the end.

We used a number of programmes from Mr Microsoft such as PowerPoint, Word, and Publisher as well as a fabulous free programme called Cute PDF Writer which lets you change any document into a pdf file by just choosing it in the print option.

We used PowerPoint templates from Communication 4 All – Thanks Bev ;o) to organise the report writing.

The videos we created were uploaded onto Vimeo and then embedded onto the class’s MLE page. I started with a free account but then decided it would be better to pay the smallish charge.

The children really enjoyed the project and surprisingly they say they enjoyed playing real table tennis more than that on the Wii…. funny not what I would have expected.

Jo Armitage, Advisor for eLearning for the Borough and Project co-ordinator presented at  Games Based Learning 2010 and her presentation was well received with great comments on Twitter. Click here to see her presentation (our class’s work starts at 20 minutes in)

At the beginning of the topic I had asked the children, individually, what they thought of when they heard the words non-fiction and put these into a Wordle. I did this again at the end and I was quite pleased with the results.

This was the first time that I truly had embraced Games Based Learning in my teaching and I was hugely impressed with the effect it had on the children’s motivation as well as how I could see the children making links as we covered the topic through a number of different subjects. I have definitely become a convert to this style of teaching and thank all those fabulous people on my Twitter and PTRC PLN who helped and encouraged me on the way!

I look forward to hearing whether the class has got through to the next stage of the competition though truthfully it was so much fun and useful that I think of them as winners already ;o)

An Important Visitor

March 5, 2010

Earlier this week the creator of the Wii project, who is  the adviser for E-Learning in the Borough, came to visit the class and was very impressed with the work that she saw the children had done. Unfortunately the visitor from the Institute of Education was unable to visit on that day but may come in another time.

She is going to one of the speakers at Games Based Learning and asked if she could show some of the work we have done in class ;o) WOO HOO!!!

One of the other things we found out was that the project has gained the 2012 Olympics inspired mark which is great news!

The children enjoyed sharing the work they had done  and showed off their table tennis skills on both the real table as well as on the Wii. They were able to talk confidently about what they had been doing which can be a very difficult skill for EBD children. Often children with very poor self-esteem find it unsettling to be complimented…. sad but true.

We have been busy…

March 2, 2010

Over the past month things have been moving on with the Wii Literacy work.

On the 8th February the support organiser for the Wii-limpics Project came back and with her help the children researched various exercises and stretches for the ‘trainer’ role. We videod and photographed the exercises and these will be added to a PhotoStory soon.

The following week (12th February) we focussed on revising instructional text and the need for sentences to be clear and precise.

The children picked up quickly that each step began with a sequence word (first, next, then, after that and finally) or an imperative (bossy) verb (mix, cut, stir, chop).

What is nice to see is that they are showing a far better knowledge of the various non-fiction types than they did at the beginning. Hurrah!!!

We researched the five food groups and combined a variety of foods to create a nutritious and healthy menu that our athlete might eat.

It is great, that at our school we have a good sized kitchen for the children to practice cooking and hygiene which is such an important life skill.

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Every Friday we spend a lesson practising and playing Table Tennis both on the Wii and in ‘real’ life. We are enjoying taking turns, practicing and improving our skills and learning the rules of Table Tennis.

We are going to start graphing the results of each child to see their individual improvement as well as making it easier to choose the ‘athlete’ we will put forward for the final competition.

This week we have been focusing on Report Writing and the structure they need to follow for this text type. We have used the non-fiction writing frames provided by the fab Bev Evans on her site Communication 4 All.

These PowerPoint templates give the children an excellent structure for their writing.

Some of the children have chosen to use Comic Life to create their information page. This is another greatly motivating piece of software which is very popular with my class of EBD boys. They love how easy it is to quickly produce a high quality looking comic.

The plan is for the children to each write a page of text for an information book which they will create using  2Create a Super Story from 2Simple.

The class’ audience will be the rest of the children throughout the school and this will also be a good way to show off this new piece of software we purchased after 2Simple so kindly let me sample after BETT2010.

Tomorrow is an exciting day as we are having two important visitors come to see the children working on the project and asking them questions. I am sure they will be quite impressed with the work the children have done as I certainly am.

More about Letters

January 22, 2010

Letters have been completed, signed, sealed and about to be posted! We have also created a secure area for Darius Knight to sign in and see the class’ page about him on the school’s Fronter MLE (Managed Learning Environment)….(what do I call this as it seems quite a mouthful at the moment!!!)

We did this because in the email Darius had originally sent me,  he had said that it might take a few weeks for him to respond as he might be competing in Table Tennis tournaments outside the UK.

The children discussed whether we should just attach the letters to an email but they came to the decision that it would be ‘Way cool to get a bunch of letters telling someone that we thought they were famous!’

By sending Darius both he will have a link to ALL their online work about him which he can see anywhere as well as getting physical copies of their letters.

Off now to post the letters and send an email to him with the instructions of how to sign in. ;o)

Letter Writing

January 20, 2010

Today we looked at letter writing and discussed some of the different reasons people write letters and the types of letters they write. There was some discussion about whether people would in fact write letters rather than send an email, which is a valid point. After accepting the fact that in fact people DO write letters at times we began to look at different types.

We looked at Informal Letters, Business Letters, Letters of Complaint and other Persuasive Letters. We talked about the language used in each type as well as looking at their layouts.

After looking at each of the types, the class decided that the letters they wanted to write to Darius Knight would be a persuasive letter because everyone wanted to persuade Darius to come for a visit, if he could.

I was very impressed with their first drafts and the focus that they had throughout the session. They were ALL happy to either read these first drafts out to the rest of the class themselves or else have me read them aloud. For anyone who has worked with children with poor esteem you will understand what a big thing this is!

To take advantage of the roll they were on we decided to carry on our writing into the second lesson and after making some quick edits and reminders of punctuation (again!) the children started to type up their work.

What quickly became evident was that they all were making further edits to their work as they went along. They were adding and adapting things that others in the class had put in their letters.

Whilst they wrote I had various videos playing on the IWB of interviews with Darius and clips from tournaments. The children started adding little bits from these, as well, into their writing. Some even enquired in their letters about the way he held his racket/bat.

They all thought very carefully about their word choices and what they might say to persuade Darius to maybe come for a visit and if that wasn’t possible then to have him send them his autograph.

I’m pretty sure that it is because Darius is a person that the children can relate to and the fact that they now know quite a lot about him that they are focussed and motivated to write. They can see a purpose to what they are doing.

Using 2Create a Superstory

January 19, 2010

At BETT 2010 I was lucky enough to have been able to take away an approval copy of 2Create a Superstory from 2Simple.

As with all their other software, it is very intuative and EXTREMELY simple to use. The layout is similar in all their software which allows children to quickly be able to work with it with very little instructions.

My class felt extremely special as not only were they the first to use the programme but they were also allowed to use my personal laptop as it is the only one with the software loaded.
(It’s amazing how long one can hold one’s breathe!)

We were all very impressed with how quickly their work went from a ‘normal’ Word doc. to being ‘published’ in an online book.

I really think this will be a real motivation to their writing and anything that encourages reluctant writers sounds great to me. I also love the ease in embedding it into Fronter/MLE pages. Now to convince the powers that be.

Note Taking and Biography Writing

January 18, 2010

Last week we used this TimesOnline article as our class text and to learn more about Darius Knight. We began by reading it as a whole class and highlighting new vocabulary. We then decided which bits were the most important and these notes were collected on the IWB in bullet points.

Darius’ early life touched a chord with many of them and a very interesting conversation about home lives ensued. It is during these unplanned moments that some of the most important conversations and incidental learning can take place.

The children used these notes to plan, edit and redraft their biographies of Darius Knight.  Their motivation to write was a pleasure to see.

The plan was to publish their work today but the children had other ideas……

To be continued…….

Snow Interrupted Play

January 13, 2010

Over the past two weeks snow has caused school to either close early or be closed completely which has slowed down our Wii project.

We did manage to have a couple of Literacy lessons during the second week of term and during one of these I asked each of the children, one by one, what they thought of when I said Non-Fiction. I wanted to use this as a pre-assessment of the topic.

For many EBD children there are gaps in their learning and this was no exception. They all had a vague idea about things related to non-fiction texts and writing but on the whole they are quite insecure in their knowledge. Out of the eight boys only one had a good working knowledge of these text types.

I have made a Wordle of their responces, which I will not share with them until the end of the unit when they will be asked the same question again and the Wordles will be compared.

Wii Table Tennis

January 3, 2010

On Tuesday I will be starting a project with my class of year 5/6 EBD boys using the game Wii Sports Resort www.wiisportsresort.com

The borough is running a ‘Wii-lympics’ and each participating school will be putting forward a team of which there will be a Trainer, a Physio, a PR Manager, a Dietician and an Athlete. The teams will research and produce media presentations that are specific to each role with the winning teams competing in the Wii-lympics finals in July 2010. I am waiting to hear more about the exact specifics of the project.

I then started thinking that this could be expanded and used as my Literacy unit for this half term as a means of revising non-fiction reading and writing for example recounts, reports, instructions, explanations, persuasion and discussion.

This will be the first time that I have ever used a games console as a teaching tool and I hope that it motivates and encourages my class to want to write. Everything is going to be based around the game Table Tennis and they will be learning to play real Table tennis as well as on the Wii.

I now just hope that the Wii that was ordered at the end of last term has arrived. ;o)


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