Bringing Picture Books to Life!

Ever since John Murray (@ReadingExplorer) visited our school around 5 years ago, our school's approach to reading has changed massively. One aspect of the training which has really engaged our teachers and students was the use of picture books as a stimulus in English. It is something we have embraced right from EYFS to Year 6 and every class do at least one unit of English based on a picture book.

Since then, there's been a wealth of resources and support for using picture books to inspire English. One of my favourite people to follow on twitter is Simon Smith (@SmithSmm) who, for me, is like the guru of children's fiction. I was truly inspired by his session at Reading Rocks around the brilliant Arthur and The Golden Rope picture book. Click the picture to read Simon's blog post on this:

Year 4 have started looking at the beautiful book 'Flotsam.' Having explored the first few pages, we decided to create short videos telling the story in our own words.

To do t…

Removing Barriers in Reading Comprehension by improving Oral Speaking

Recently, I was asked to write an article for Teach Primary magazine alongside John Murray (@ReadingExplorer.) The topic was to explain the pedagogy behind the Read Write Perform approach. You can read the article here:

A big focus with Read Write Perform is to get teachers to value oral speaking skills and demonstrate how much speaking and listening benefits other areas of the English curriculum. I see with many schools the constant accountability of work in books through Book Scrutinies is forcing many teachers to neglect this part of the English Curriculum. This was something I discussed in Episode 1 of Taking Teaching Back:

The obsession with work in books can create barriers for certain children if writing is something they struggle with. I have seen this in maths and reading especially. If the only way a student can show their understanding and reasoning is by writing it as a full sentence in their book, it may look like they are struggling if writing is challengeing. 
Through …

If they're into the craze, use it to engage!

Viral crazes, you either love them or hate them. As a teacher, it is probably the latter. There is nothing worse than trying to explain the past progressive tense and spying a pupil trying to perfect the latest dance craze.

We've had everything - dabbing, bottle flipping, even the Harlem Shake... remember that?

The latest seems to be the Floss Dance. My pupils have been doing it so much they seem to have forgotten how to walk, they just floss everywhere. Dentists up and down the country must have been buzzing when they heard there was a floss craze. "FINALLY, people are taking our recommendations seriously" I could hear them cry. Imagine their surprise when they realised it turns out to be an awkward, Dad dancing move.

The look on their faces!
In the past, with some of the crazes, I have used them to great effect when it comes to writing in class. I truly believe children will do their best writing when they are writing about something they are truly engaged with. One o…

An Empowering song for Comprehension

Over the weekend, I finally managed to watch the film - The Greatest Showman. One of the songs stood out to me and straight away I thought, this is a must for the classroom. If you have followed my blog, you know I am a fan of using music for reading comprehension and you can read some of my other posts here.

The film tells the story of PT Barnum and his circus.

"This Is Me" is a fight song for people who are not accepted by society. It is sung by Lettie Lutz after she and the rest of the circus troupe are barred by Barnum from an after party following Jenny Lind's performance. The bearded lady refuses to be cut down by the fact that the showman is embarrassed by them. According to the song's writer, "It was really inspired by the group of oddities in the film, and what they came to represent and what [director] Michael [Gracey] talked about them representing," Pasek told Billboard. "People who had lived in the shadows their whole lives and for the fi…

Making Dreams Come True Through The Internet

I am always trying to promote the positive use of the internet. For me, it has changed my life in a way I never thought possible. Having my ideas shared and used all around the world is amazing and now to be able to visit and work with so many teachers around the country and beyond is brilliant. It is a tool I use a lot in class to add an authentic purpose to children's learning. Connecting our classroom to professionals and experts through social media has had an incredible impact on the quality of work we get from our students.

I have blogged plenty of examples of where the internet has created these amazing opportunities and experiences for our pupils, such as Blackfish, learning about our local area or a message for the England football team.

A couple of weeks ago, we had primary futures week where our pupils were learning about different jobs, had parents visit and talk about their career and discussion our aspirations.

I worked with Year 2 and challenged them to make some eB…

Using GIFs in the classroom

A few years back, I put together an eBook - 15+ ideas for the emoji keyboard in class. The eBook shared some useful and inspiring ideas for how to utilise the emoji keyboard.

I have since blogged about using Bitmoji in class. This is another great tool that allows teachers to turn themselves into a cartoon and then create images such as these to share with your pupils:

I have just seen a blog from Mr Hill who shares some more ideas for Bitmoji, you can read it here.
More recently, there has been a new tool that seems to have dominated every social media platform and that is GIFs. To define a GIF:
An animated GIF is an image encoded in graphics interchange format (GIF), which contains a number of images or frames in a single file and is described by its own graphic control extension. The frames are presented in a specific order in order to convey animation. An animated GIF can loop endlessly or stop after a few sequences.
GIFs seem to be everywhere and for the past few months, I have be…

Figment AR to Inspire Writing

Today I worked with one of our Year 3 classes and I eventually had the chance to try out a new app I've been desperate to use - Figment AR.

I first heard of this app after reading a blog post from the brilliant @ICTEvangelist. You can read his blog post here:
Figment AR For Story Telling And Re-Living Field Trips In IOS

The feature in the app which I was immediately drawn to was the portals feature. This allows you to place a portal within your world. This portal allows you to travel to any 360° image. There are a couple of pictures included but you can also add your own. Straight away I knew this would be something that would inspire some amazing writing in my class and today I finally got the chance to have a go with our brilliant Year 3 pupils. But as I always discuss on my CPD and INSET the big hook was what they were going to do with their writing which was to bring it to life and create their own movie!

As their topic is linked to space, we decided to use a 360° image of spa…