Weaving Worlds with Words and Wonder – Day 1
We kicked off with a Keynote by Barbara Comber on “Literacy and Imagination: schools as wondering places and spaces?” She encouraged us to “defy the tyranny of templates, testing” and other constraints to make space for imaginative projects. Data collection and standardised testing has undermined the confidence of teachers and I fear that is why teachers forget about the imagination and creativity when designing their learning activities. We need to give students the opportunities to use their imaginations to explore issues and solve problems. Comber also talked about schools and classrooms being places of belonging. This is a truth I have long held: For many students schools and classrooms are their safe places, the places they make their social connections and the places that encourage them. The final wondering I took away came from Comber’s challenge about the ‘archive’ we create as teachers across our career. My thought was not only about this archive that we grow but further how we then contribute this archive of ‘corporate knowledge’ to the collective.
The next session was a new experience for me – I presented a 20 minute workshop of the use of games in the English classroom. I’m not sure I actually drew breath during the session and at times I worried I was speaking so fast I wasn’t finishing sentences. 20 minutes is not a long time!! My audience was kind and I hope they left with at least one idea they can use in their classroom next week.
Session three was on the grammar of visual design. Sarah Forrest used picture books (The Arrival by Shaun Tan) to introduce metalanguage for consistency when making meaning from images and visual text. I’m not really being fair in saying consistency because really what it allows it more accurate discussion. We were introduced to the three areas of visual analysis: representation, interaction and composition. Our exploration focused on interaction looking at the roles and relationships suggested by the angles in the pictures and our reactions (How we felt) as the audience looking at the images. My year 8 class has been studying historical texts this term and we have used lots of film and photos to stimulate our thinking. I now have more language to enhance this unit next time round.
After lunch on a Friday afternoon was always going to be a tough gig. Kate Phillips from Oxfam walked us through the Food4thought resources available on line. It was good to have time to explore the Oxfam website and the resources they develop.
The final session I attended for the day was not what I expected but was interesting and thought provoking. Sarah Westgarth presented “Storytelling through new media“. Essentially an exploration of Vlogs on YouTube from the key features and reasons people make video blogs to the more scripted and orchestrated uses such as modern adaptations of classic novels. As Westagarth said, “There is a lot of rubbish on YouTube, but there is also a lot of good stuff” and it is worth taking the time to find it.
Bring on Day 2 —>