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Archive for the ‘Video Clips’ Category

Here’s an aspirational speech from an 11 year old! Her speech emulates the TED talks style of presentation with lots of gestures, intonation and rhetorical questions. I often use video of young TED presenters as exemplars but I have never seen a student pick up on the presentation style as explicitly as Florence in her Gender Stereotypes speech.

As the epitome of public speaking, the ideas trust TED also provides a wealth of useful resources, such as the tips presentation below from Chris Anderson the person charged with helping speakers polish their performances. Get students to note five tips as they watch/listen then share with a partner then do a whole class mindmap on board. It’s a great way to reinforce key features they need to be aware of when writing and presenting their ideas.

 

There’s also a really great article here on presentation literacy featuring famous (and infamous) TED presenters who have conquered fears of public speaking to own the the big red dot!

Oh and if you’re keen on a really great gender stereotypes related TED Talk, show students the following presentation by media expert and proud Dad Christopher Bell. I’ve shown my Level 2 literacy class this year as a starter and then ecnouraged them to find a TED Talk they could respond too. It proved quite motivational for a class of book-phobic teens and they chose on a range of topics from running to transgender discrimination.

 

 

 

 

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My school has an extremely rich oral language programme. Junior classes are assessed on prepared reading, formal speaking and impromptu speaking over three terms. And no, they don’t exactly love it. Last year we opted to introduce debating to the Year 9 programme to spice things up a little. We generally do this right after or right before formal writing so have found it really helps with forming and justifying opinions.

My Year 9s have been under the pump somewhat so our debating unit is being condensed down to just two lessons, 1 prep session and 2 for assessing this year (too many interruption in an already short term). Given that impromptu speaking is a nightmare scenario for some and ,even those who profess to loving it (because they love arguing!) often have to be guided towards the nuances of structuring a logical argument!

The first introductory lesson was simply to introduce them to debating concepts, watching clips of our junior debaters at the Dunedin Schools Debating Competition while applying concepts (so using pause and asking – what is the moot? Are they affirmative or negative? What is the team line? What are their main points etc). I also love this downloadable powerpoint which uses building a house as a metaphor for debating.

I came across this awesome great TedTalk by Christopher Bell (see below) last week and used it for my second lesson which ran pretty much like this:

  1. Human continuum – do you think we have gender equality in NZ in 2016?
  2. Watch the talk – dot and jot 3 reasons Bell says girls need superheroes
  3. Four corners – I strong agree/agree/disagree/strongly disagree that we have gender equality in NZ. Each group write down 6 bullet points justifying opinion, read out. Ask students to swap corners if they find themselves being convinced to update their opinion.
  4. Tag Team – groups of five, each person must speak. Aim is 1 minute each but you can tag others in if running out of ideas, can’t be tagged in until everyone has had a turn. Same topic as before and use the online bomb countdown timer to time their presentation which must make 5 minutes between them.

That pretty much takes an hour and has got them:

  1. forming opinions
  2. explaining opinions
  3. working as a team
  4. getting comfortable standing up and speaking in front of peers

Looking forward to next week when they get to prep a debate over an hour then present for the assessment.

 

 

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I had a great conversation recently with a primary school teacher friend who’s also a literacy specialist/enthusiast/guru. What quickly became clear through our lengthy couch meanderings was that a lot of the challenges students face at secondary school are not due to lack of effort and energy expended by our primary colleagues earlier on.

Primary teachers have amazing depth of knowledge when it comes to breaking down concepts for students, modelling skills and providing awesome opportunities for them to develop their writing. Here’s an activity my 9 year-old son did at his school last week using James K Baxter’s My Town poem as a starter. And here’s Harrison’s poem:

The town

The town was usual enough; it had

A dairy,a bridge,a creek,a sky

Over it, and even a school that I never went to.

Me, my brother and Dad

Did what boys

Do best, made huts, biked

To the park, dodged the creepy old man

Who lived in our neighbourhood.

We jumped off the bridge,bought lollies

And chomped them down, scootered

To the beach

Doing nothing important.

By Harrison

Inspired by James K Baxter

Why then are so many of our students struggling with basic literary skills at secondary school? Are they simply reaching a plateau and stalling? Is the stagnation in written skills directly related to a drop off in reading? Is their inability to delay gratification a hand brake on truly engaging with the writing process? Did video kill the radio star?!

Among the many awesome suggestions my friend shared was The Literacy Shed website. I was drawn to the visual tasks available in the music videos “shed” and the animation “shed.” (Sheds being section on the site). A quick skim of suggested tasks yielded heaps of great ideas that we could use around novel studies, literary responses and tasks to inspire creative writing. There are also several sheds related to genre which could be helpful for secondary teachers.

While some of the content targets a younger age group, over the past three weeks I’ve been using clips and ideas from the music video and animation sheds as part of a unit on creative writing with my Year 10s. This group of learners is loosely referred to as “low to middle ability” but really, they are low – Level 1-4 of NZC currently based on beginning of year samples around writing, spelling age and reading. This prompted a complete rethink of several tasks I had planned to do with them.

The Literacy Shed has enabled me to implement differentiation in a meaningful way. For clips  used, I have tapped into some of the suggestions on the website then developed them further for a Year 10 audience. I felt it was also important to tell the students that I don’t expect all of them to complete all the tasks – they are quite open with where they are at currently and a quick word in their ear is all that is needed to get everyone underway.

We start each lesson with our writing journals and a clear learning objective which is on the board and stated verbally. This has ranged from “Today we are going to look at good ways of describing how people feel” to using words with clear connotations etc. We watch the clip once and I ask 4-5 focus oral questions to ensure we all know WHAT happened. This in itself can be an hilarious exchange of ideas …
I then project a series of journal tasks ranging from straight forward identifying to retelling to describing to more sophisticated skills such as point of view writing or dialogue or continuing a narrative. My big objective is to prepare them for a creative writing assessment in Term 2 where their task is to describe a character independently. By the end of this term they will have been exposed to:

  • Adjectives and adverbs
  • Strong verbs and neutral verbs
  • Synonyms and antonyms
  • Connotative language
  • Emotive language
  • Characterisation
  • Show Don’t tell

This leaves me the first few weeks of Term 2 to work on sentence structure, sentence starters and types as well as some basic punctuation. I also need to get them concentrating on their writing independently for longer periods of time, a big challenge for kids with such a large range of learning needs. Even if they are making small gains in their learning progressions, they are certainly all coming to class with their journals, ready to go and feeling as if they have achieved something. And hopefully, they are gaining some enjoyment out of the process.

Below are a couple of sample “lessons” you are most welcome to use:

 David Guetta – Titanium

In your journal DESCRIBE the opening scene, use show not tell. Do a OR b OR c:

a) draw and label scene

b) create a word bank

c) write a paragraph

2.Discuss with a partner. At the end:

Who is to blame?

Why?

Is the boy acting in self-defence?

Can he control his powers?

3. In your journal, do one:

  • If you could have any superpower what would it and why?
  • You wake up one morning and find you have incredible physical strength. What would you do? How would your life change?
  • Draw, design and label your own superhero. What power, name and costume would they have?
  • Write a newspaper report of the events that happened in the video. Include interviews with the teacher, parents and police-officers.

 Don’t Go – short animation

  1. Use adverbs to describe Pinky’s actions E.g: Danced vigorously
  1. Use adverbs to describe the cat’s actions E.g: Sprang menacingly
  1. Write a set of instructions as a list of bullet points on how to avoid being caught by a cat
  1. Retell the story from the cat’s point of view. Use strong verbs and adverbs to describe how events unfold….

I was minding my own business when suddenly, Pinky dashed in front of me…

Emile Sande – Free

  1. Make an emotion graph to show how the boy is feeling at different points in the video
  2. Summarise by writing a sentence that explains how the boy was feeling at the start and at the end
  3. Create an adjective bank to describe the boy’s feelings
  4. Create your own similes and metaphors for the boy’s actions

Eg: He flies like a bird.                                           He is as free as a bird.

  1. Research 5 facts about Jokke Summer

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Still on a reading theme, here are a couple of clips I have used to inspire Level 1 and 2 students:

I have developed a series of close listening questions to accompany the high energy How and Why We Read. Let me know if you would like a copy:

 

 

 

 

 

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Following on from my previous post about engaging senior students struggling to connect with English, I thought I’d share some start up activities developed over the past few years which now form a nice wee package of introductory lessons.

Week One is important. You only get one chance to make a first impression. That first impression for any student is key but for young people who have already experienced consecutive years of Not Achieved (and however you dress that up, it’s never a great feeling), it is vital. Instead of weighing students down with course outlines and standards offered on day one, last year I decided to focus on The Future – for the world, for them as people, and for them as English students to encourage them to reflect on where they want to be and (hopefully) see some relevance in the days, weeks and months ahead because for Mr I Hate English and Ms I Never Read, by definition, this can be a very long year.

To start with, we watched a very cool compilation video summarising the highlights of 2014 via Upworthy. All they had to do was watch and see if they could yell out the event/person’s name before the subtitles. This year – and hey, it’s still early, the best one I’ve found so far is a summary via Facebook.

Fun Factor – check.

Taking it up a level we then close view The World in 2020 (I’ve also used Shift Happens in the past) and discuss ideas around changes in technology and education. Next I used a selection of articles from Mindfood on Future Trends which featured in December’s issue (and has been repeated this year). Students choose a topic that selects them (food, travel, technology) read one or more articles then answer a series of questions. The activity culminates with them pairing up with other students who read about the same topic, summarising and mind-mapping the predictions plus adding their own.

Big Picture – check.

Next I use a reflective piece of writing by a teacher simply titled Some Thoughts (on studying English) which a colleague shared with me years ago. I remind them (hopefully) about skimming and scanning as a close reading technique and then they read and answer questions.

Subject importance – check.

Now we’re up to about Day 3 so I get the students to complete the Careers Quest  (regardless of whether they have done it before or not) which involves answering questions about their likes, strengths etc. This data generates a list of career options as well as entry requirements for the industry, income, current employment climate and information they can use as the basis for a report writing or oral presentations later in the year. (Make sure they save their results so they can refer back later on – and write down password!)

Individual relevance – check.

At this point only, I give out the course outline and go over available standards and credits with them. It might feel as if I’ve created a false impression that the year is going to be all about YouTube and mind maps but what I’ve learned about these students is they already know they will find the standard required hard but what might motivate them to give things a go is if they can see some relevance and understand that we are working together to develop life skills.  Certainly beats writing letters about yourself ….

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With ANZAC Day looming and (sorry it has to be said) media over-saturation threatening to drown us in stories of the sacrifices made for us 100 years ago, I set my self a challenge to find a suitable activity for each of my classes next week.

In one of those weird moments of serendipity, a member of my always helpful twitter PLN shared a link to a collaborative powerpoint with a wealth of activities and tasks for a range of ages, although the focus is mainly primary. You’ll need a google account to sign in and view this. You should also feel free to add ideas – but be quick! I’m also happy to share any of the resources that I developed, just contact me via this site.

Year 9 – Watch the short New Zealand film Falling Sparrows by Murray Keane. One class will answer focus questions with an emphasis on symbolism, the other will write a personal response. Both classes will also watch Sons of Gallipoli by Chris Skinner and then use that as a springboard for reflective writing in their journals. One class is using Personal Best as their linking theme this term, the other Justice and Injustice so there are some clear links to be made.

Year 10Watch the clip by 15 year old Australian Faith Howells about the ANZACs. Use as a close listening activity where students will listen out for a series of facts and end with a more open ended reflective question. I’ve got a flat screen TV now in my room so can play the clip on the TV while the questions are projected on the Whiteboard nearby – helps to keep them focussed while listening. I’ll also pause the clip a few times so they don’t get too anxious!

Year 11 – Watch Tama Tu directed by Taika Waiti and answer a series of focus questions. Our connecting theme for the term is Courage so they can use this text if they like it for their AS1.8 Making Connections report. This class is also doing AS1.11 Close Viewing next term so the questions I developed attempt to revise some basic film techniques and help them think about how those techniques are used to express an idea.

Year 12 – Watch ANZAC Letters. Note down interesting words/phrases, discuss personal connections in groups. Then either write a letter to one of the soldiers give a 21st Century perspective on their sacrifice OR write narrative base don the day in a life of one of the soldiers featured. The following week, we’ll watch Field Punishment No 1. directed by Peter Burger and available via Lippy Pictures. Either write a letter home from one of the characters OT write a letter to the editor in support of or protesting against the treatment of conscientious objectors in WW1.

Most of these planned activities use a visual text as a starter. I find with less able students, this works best to get them thinking. Close listening is also a focus for me this year with my Year 10s  – not easy for some of them.

I’ve used falling Sparrows and Tama Tu previously and found they both work well. These arepart of the Ten and Elven short film compilations produced by Vislearn – highly recommend those plus if you’re feeling fliush, the supporting study guides.

So hopefully that’s something for everyone. Will let you know how that goes down too.

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The old adage of “one page ahead” is dangerous territory for any teacher to find themselves in. Our students justifiably expect that our knowledge of our chosen subject area is more extensive than their own. But the current train of thought in New Zealand that more academic qualifications (knowledge) equates to more effective teaching is a fallacy.

I trained with people with PhDs in their chosen subject areas some of whom struggled to share that knowledge effectively with their students. Some never made it to a classroom. Why? Because when it comes to teaching, pedagogical skills (often considered to be lower level thinking than knowledge) win over subject knowledge every time. So in this regard, the push towards more time in the classrooms for secondary teacher trainees, IF adequately resourced, is a positive move.

Teaching is not an exact science. It is both art and science, profession and vocation. It requires knowledge, pedagogical understanding, experience, empathy and stamina. Experts in their fields have a tendency to forget what it is like to struggle. Their ability to recall the difficulty in learning new concepts, at breaking down subject material into bite-sized chunks for students can in fact be a hindrance. This is vital in classrooms characterised with a range of learning needs from low literacy to ADHD combined with hormones, cell phones and an endless list of other potential barriers to learning in any classroom on any given day.

It is a well known fact that we are preparing students for jobs that don’t yet exist. That most of students will have not only more than one job but more than one career during their working lives and that those with a wide range of transferrable skills are most likely to succeed in a future where the pace of change is exponential. Yes, shift truly happens.

On the other hand, in some instances, it might be okay to be not just one page ahead but actually on the same page as students. A focus on inquiry-based learning in New Zealand’s curriculum, which has become almost modus operandi in our primary schools, endorses this approach. Multiple pathways to accessing, processing and synthesising new information have made it acceptable to trek the learning path alongside our students – and that in itself can have benefits for student-teacher relationships. It allows students see us as human and therefore fallible too. This is especially the case with digital technology. (Who hasn’t used a 14-year-old as their ICT go to in a classroom?!)

At the end of the day, it is how we use and share our knowledge that has the potential to make a difference to students’ lives. Pedagogical content knowledge means being aware of different teaching strategies, being able to adapt and employ them, accepting that one size does not fit all and, like our students, not being afraid to try again if things don’t work out as we anticipated the first time around.

It’s a real shame that the decision makers in New Zealand seem so far removed from the daily realities of teaching. The current obsession with more bits of paper (proof of knowledge) highlights the gap between what the general public believe makes effective teachers and the diverse skill set teachers actually require to succeed.

When I chose to become a teacher five years ago, I had plenty of knowledge in my chosen subject areas backed up by 17 years industry experience.  What I didn’t have were the skills to share my knowledge (and experiences) with my students. After four years teaching and learning in four different schools, I’m getting there but the beauty of teaching is we can never know everything while our skills in student-centred learning environments, by definition, must be constantly developing. Surely this in itself makes us if not good role models than at least good ambassadors of the life long learning philosophy espoused in the New Zealand Curriculum?

 

shift

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