29 December 2013

More Than Ink

Creating and sharing books using iPads
Literacy today is more than reading and writing.

Reading today is more than print.

Writing today is more than ink.

To engage my second language learners, I developed a blended learning unit on picture books that utilised both traditional and new literacies, and both analogue and digital tools. The whole unit was delivered via Edmodo and Google Sites.

I booked out a selection of picture books from the library, including classics such as ‘The Giving Tree’ and ‘Green Eggs and Ham’. We began with traditional literacy in the form of analytical skills, such as examining sentence structure, and identifying language patterns such as rhythm, rhyme, repetition, and onomatopoeia. We explored characterisation, and developed visual literacy by analysing how the images enhanced and helped the text. We also looked at the cover, the style of illustration, the page turners, the main conflict and the theme. Throughout the unit, learners learned new vocabulary through Quizlet, where I added new terms as the unit progressed.

Themes Chart
Learner's added the themes and conflicts of the picture books to a flip chart anchor board, and we discussed their relevance to young children's hopes and fears. Following this discussion, they wrote a journal about a childhood memory that resonated with them, and focused on writing using first person narrative and past tense.

Flipping the classroom, learners were asked to watch some tutorials on story structure via a playlist created on Sophia.org for homework (read about Playlists in my blog post, Personalised Learning Playlists). In the next lesson, learners used this knowledge to deconstruct the animated film of the picture book, 'The Gruffalo'. Using a storyboard template, learners made visual notes on the characters and setting, the conflicts faced by little brown mouse, the complications and the resolution, embedding an understanding of the concept of the ‘story mountain’. 

The Story Mountain
Using this structure, learners asked to develop their journal writing into a plot outline for a picture book suitable for Year 3/4.

Practicing persuasive devices, they pitched their plot ideas to peers, who provided feedback, advice and ideas about suitability. They then amended, revised and developed their storyboard.

Using Book Creator on iPads, the learners created their picture books in digital form. The finished books were peer-assessed and revised again. We used AirServer to share pages from their books with the whole class for comment and advice, before making final revisions and finally sharing with a Year 3 primary class in a school in Malaysia.
Peer Reviewing
Books were uploaded to Google Drive and then added to a Google Docs file that was shared with the Year 3 class (how to is here). From this shared file, the Year 3s were able to download and open the picture books in iBooks.

The Year 3s read the books and then completed a book review on a Google Form that provided feedback to the Year 10 authors.

We then conducted a Skype interview, where Year 3 learners asked questions to particular authors about their books they had read.

They asked about where they got their inspiration from and how they went about writing and publishing. It was really exciting to meet our reviewers and talk to them face to face.
Skype interviews with Year 3 in Malaysia
Finally, learners wrote a detailed reflection about their learning during this unit, in the form of an essay. This final part of the unit will allow learners to review and embed the need for clarity in their writing, through devices such as topic sentences, connectives and transitions, as well as develop a coherent overall structure.

My learners are all intermediate English learners, and this unit helped address many important terms and skills required for them to pass their IGCSE Second Language exams. It also went way beyond
Peer Reviewing
that and gave them essential digital and media literacy skills; it engaged them through writing stories based on their own life and allowed them the change to create through technology. The use of technology meant we also were afforded an authentic audience to easily share with and receive real feedback from. 
Peer Reviewing

Reading is more than print.
Writing is more than ink.

Mrs Holly's Second Language English Year 10 Class in Singapore would like to thank Mr Gascoigne's Year 3 class in Malaysia for helping us with our books.

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