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You might remember, and if you don’t then go back and read it, that I wrote a waffle about the reasons I left primary school to teach in higher education. Within this waffle I mentioned that my first teaching session was not, as you might suspect, to do with mathematics or science, but was, in fact, to do with literacy. The session was from the initial days of the assessing pupil progress grids (APP grids) and was based on how to teach a series of lessons based on a book. What follows is a waffle about this session

All from a book...

All from a book…

Whenever you are on a course that lasts a few sessions over a period of time, it is often the case that you have what is called a gap task. The gap task for the course I attended was to implement and use the APP grids for reading. Being inspired by a session presented by Alison Bailey some time ago, in which she presented the work she had done with her class on the “Queen’s Nose” book, I decided to attempt and combine the two to create a series of lessons based on my chosen book – “The Eighteenth Emergency” by Betsy Byars.

For this waffle I am going to present the activities I did without referring to the APP grids since their longevity is seriously in question at the moment. I have also uploaded the PowerPoint presentation (removing some slides for copyright reasons) so you can see how I presented this at my initial session at York St John University. Throughout the waffle, remember that the book was being read to the children at the end of the day over a period of time and the activities were being ‘slotted’ in at the appropriate time. With hindsight, which is a wonderful thing, I would have been better planned but the spontaneity of the sessions made it quite exciting.

Wanted Posters for Marv Hammerman

Wanted Posters for Marv Hammerman

  • WANTED Posters – Within the story there is a school bully called Marv Hammerman. Initially, on a wet Monday afternoon I think it was, I re-read the children the description of Marv and asked them to create a WANTED poster for the bully. For this I used a ‘pre produced’ resource in order to encourage the children to focus specifically on the appearance of Marv. I had not shown them any images of Marv so this was purely from their imagination. There were some words which I had to explain, for example neanderthal, but apart from that, the children were on their own. You can see some of their attempts that there were some interesting comments that the children made when telling me about their pictures. I remember asking them why Marv had scars since there was no description of this in the book and the children responding that he was a bully and bullies had fights and that meant injuries.

  • How to survive...

    How to survive…

  • Instructions for surviving emergencies – As you might have gathered from the title, or if you have read the book, there are a series of instructions which Mouse (the main character) describes how he would survive various ‘unforeseen’ emergencies. After reading some of these to the children, I made the link to instruction writing and had a session where the children thought of their own unique emergencies and worked in partners to create their own set of instructions for their emergency. One of the learning objectives being that the children had to write in a similar style of the author. You can see if they were successful by reading some of the images from the display.

  • What would the 18th emergency be?

    What would the 18th emergency be?

  • What happened next… – The final activity I’m going to waffle about was near the end of the book, when the number of emergencies discussed were getting closer to the 18th one. Before reading the end of the book to the children, I asked them what they thought the 18th emergency would be. It was interesting from the responses how some children managed to relate the final emergency to the book and almost concluded the story, while other groups of children basically recreated their own emergency relating to fighting some imaginary creature. This really provided some insight not only to the predicting skills of the children but also their engagement with the book and storyline. Some of the suggests are within the image.

  • The final display

    The final display

    Looking back on the series of activities, I am aware of the lack of involvement by technology. Although you might initially consider that this was done on purpose, I have to assure you that this was not the case. Technology was not as accessible when I completed the activities (yes I am that old!) and looking back now I can certainly see ample opportunities for engaging with technology. The use of art packages to change the children’s own digital images into that of Marv Hammerman would certainly engage the children and recording their responses to the questions with sound recording software would certainly be possible. As you can see from the accompanying image, all the activities were added to the final display which was expertly put together by my teaching assistant at the time. If you want to look at the presentation then you can see it below – interesting that even then (2010) I was using the term waffle.

    I look forward to hearing your comments and ideas, please add them in the comments below or send me them to be via twitter(@iwilsonysj), Facebook, google+ or email.

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    Have fun, engage and I’ll catch you later


    The joy of reading with technology – Wilson Waffling · November 9, 2014 at 11:58 am

    […] if you are a regular reader of my blogs, you will be aware that it was a book which actually was responsible for my slight detour in my profession. For me, the joy of stories is the key aspect of books. Within stories there exists worlds of […]

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