Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Digital literacy project part 1

I was asked recently to participate in a digital literacy project at the UEA with other Norfolk teachers. This immediately excited me as it not only includes areas of teaching that I am passionate about, but also came at a time when ICT and literacy have become even more prominent in my working life. I have been employed by cluster schools to provide outreach for ICT, but with a strong emphasis on writing as it an area within the cluster targeted for development. I am also working with a fellow 'ex-AST' to put together an 'Inspiring Writing' blog, though credit must be given to Jenni for doing a much larger chunk of the work so far (this is a work in progress, not a fully polished site).

The project

The project has been inspired by Kate Pullinger, author of the innovative transmedia story Inanimate Alice, and put together by PGCE lecturers (Dr) Paul and Jeni. We were very fortunate that Kate had been invited to talk to us during this initial meeting and offer guidance and inspiration. For me, the inspiration came in

The group

The group consisted of five Norfolk teachers, two of whom I already knew from twitter - Sarah Prentice and Niki Teasdale - and two other primary teachers, Helen and Adam. Sarah, like me is an avid blogger and Niki an avid writer. All of the other teachers in the project are part of a 'Writing Teachers' group led by Jeni and Sarah had used Kate Pullinger's work in class before, so was very familiar with her work.

Kate Pullinger

Kate introduced her Inanimate Alice  work and resources, which we had varying degrees of familiarity with. I had looked at it a while ago, as I had seen it mentioned on twitter, but had not considered it appropriate for my 2/1 class. I can see the huge potential it has for older children though and writing the next episode using Hackasaurus x-ray goggles must surely grip reluctant writers? (I will try this out at some point in my outreach work.) Kate then showed us a project that she had been involved in with schools in Ipswich called Ebb and Flow, which offered yet more inspiration for digital literacy. I will not go into detail about it here; the website speaks for itself.

My project

The brief is to develop a digital literacy storytelling project within our own schools, with the view to presenting it during a conference to PGCE students and teachers. I love the idea of using the local environment and am passionate about storytelling, so coming up with an idea was easy. In the first week back after the holidays I will be taking my children into local woodland to collect a range of digital assets (photographs, audio clips and videos). To get into the storytelling mood, we will take a range of props with us, which will have been 'found' inside a satchel and will form the start of a mantle/enquiry. As I was thinking about this, I remembered the Spiderwick Field Guide that a child in my class was obsessed with a few years ago. This offered more inspiration for props, which will include the bag itself, a magnifying glass, a map of the local fen and woodland, a pair of tweezers, a specimen jar and a field guide.

I have been creating the field guide this week and am thoroughly enjoying it. One of the pictures has been inspired by a Spiderwick creature, another by Shaun Tan (not finished yet, so not shown). The rest are just sketches that I have developed. I will add more throughout the holidays as and when I have time.

The idea is that the children will go down to the local fen, spot some creatures, then share stories about them in dens that they have made. The fen is a perfect place as there are lovely boggy parts, small and large wooded areas and plenty of space for den building and story telling. Getting into the role of field explorer will be easy. I am toying with the idea of using carefully positioned QR codes for some of them to 'find' creatures that I have created, but I'm not sure if this type of staging will be beneficial. I do want the children to 'spot' their own creatures, but I know that some may struggle with this.

Roydon Fen

I am imagining that the 'explorers' will collect audio clips of their observations, thoughts and feelings in the style of  David Attenborough, with photos of the environment and the props they are using. I will ask my army of parent helpers to do their best to model the language that might be used when a new creature is seen. We will take with us our ipads, cameras, easispeak recorders, chatterboxes and phones. The 'explorers' will have their own field guides too, created from recycled paper, in which they will make their observations.

I have a lot of ideas for the outcomes of their work, but am keen that the children suggest what they should do. They often come up with better ideas! Possibilities include:

  • Top trump style cards created in powerpoint or textease, with animations (using puppet pals or visualisers) instead of pictures of the creatures 
  • Interactive storytelling maps inspired by Tom Barrett at #gtauk (they are not familiar with these, so I will suggest them)
  • Pictures of the fens that have stories/poems embedded in them
  • E-books, using book creator
  • Photostories
  • Creature pictures with stories embedded or linked
  • Sticky note poems using linoit
I will continue to blog about this over the next couple of weeks. I hope it has offered some inspiration - please let me know if it has! I am fired up already and looking forward to an assessment free half term! 

1 comment:

  1. Oooh! This sounds like a lot of fun! Good luck with the project and do let us know how you get on.


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