Borrow Wood Primary School, Derby – Day 1

| September 6, 2011 | 0 Comments 

The first of two days at Borrow Wood Primary School, Derby

Thank you to Helen Hough, Headteacher for organising our visit.

Helen took a strong decision: to have a training day, and then a day of lessons with the children, on their first day back.

At Borrow Wood Primary they proudly “work together to support and inspire all our children to be successful and happy life long learners. By providing excellent teaching and learning in a secure, supportive and caring environment, we aim to develop children: as independent learners, as responsible, caring members of our community, as motivated individuals who strive for personal achievement and who have high self esteem, respecting themselves, others and the environment”.

Today we started off with a joint exploration of some of the visual literacy ideas. We had a good look at how we can use a huge variety of resources as a spring board for creativity across the curriculum. When using computer games as a stimulus for writing, there are so many different genres that can flow from the images and experiences. With many immersive games, descriptive narrative is perhaps the most natural, due to the engaging nature of the landscapes.

However, a huge variety of writing styles can be inspired by our journeys through these worlds.

We had a look, today, at some of the other forms including journalistic writing, holiday brochures and informative texts, instructions and explanations, poetry, interviews, and so much more.

We are looking forward to working with the children of the school tomorrow, and our focus will be investigating the power that digital games have in developing confidence in many forms of analogue writing.

I find that, if I get stuck when playing one of the games, I (rather too quickly) resort to using a “Walkthrough” to help me. Walkthroughs are clear instructions as to what to do in a particluar location. For example: “Walk down the set of steps. Turn left. Pull the lever. Get the steam to come out of the second tube.” …and so on.

Walkthroughs are incredibly useful but can also spoil half of your fun. You tend to “walk” at such a pace that you miss half of the incredible scenery surrounding you. Having a go at solving some of the problems can also be incredibly rewarding and satisfying.

However, at times, walkthroughs can be essential for those of us who want to head off somewhere else or are getting frustrated by fiddling with a particularly difficult piece of machinery.

The best walkthroughs contain “Spoiler Alerts”. In other words, they let you know when you might be about to read something that could spoil a surprise around the next corner.

I like to get children to have a go at writing their own walkthroughs. In this way, they learn the art of descriptive instructions. It involves some careful thought and planning and they enjoy the challenge. It also gives them a sense of a true audience as someone else might find their writing genuinely useful.

It also takes instructions to another level, with the addition of some really descriptive vocabulary. This is useful when comparing the uses of instructions and the way that they are formed. e.g. discussing the different natures of a basic set of instructions for constructing some shelves, or the instructions for a walk through a nature reserve.

Thank you, to all of the colleagues here today, for their laughter and smiles. I look forward to tomorrow, when we will be trying out some of the ideas with the people who really matter: the children.

It was also a delight to meet Adele Hull, from the Leicester authority, who I haven’t seen for quite a while, but Adele was a huge influence in my career. She was one of the first people to invite me to come and work with their education team, on developing ways to inspire boys writing.

The Leicestershire Boys Writing Project became a guiding light for many others when it came to organising, and sustaining, support for schools in their use of ICT to inspire and engage boys (and girls) of all ages and abilities.

Adele recorded her thoughts below…

It has been nearly 6 years since I first saw Tim give a presentation at a conference and he was totally inspirational. I went back to work, fired with enthusiasm to put Tim’s ideas into practice. We then worked with Tim on a project with five of our schools to improve writing with phenomenal success.

All these years later, Tim again worked his magic on a room full of teachers and TA’s. In a presentation full of humour and visual effects, the smiles and laughter were an indication of how much everyone was enjoying it! There were lots of tips along the way, both in a general teaching sense but also specifically about using the game Myst, to help improve writing. Similes and metaphors were flying around the room.

A particular highlight of the morning was the drama session making use of character questioning, with thinking dice and a translator. Our translator was very gifted and caused much hilarity.

The afternoon took us on a whirlwind tour of free web 2 technologies. If you already know Wordle have you tried Tagxedo? What about Visuwords and there were lots more.

Sarah showed us how to create text boxes in a PowerPoint show, to create multimodal writing frames, which I had forgotten about. Really useful!
So many ideas and so little time. I am really looking forward to exploring some of them later.

Tim left us hungry for more and anxious to try some of these things out. Really looking forward to seeing Tim in action with the children tomorrow.

Category: 1) Events and Training days

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