"I believe I have seen a genuine correlation between children involved in the ARTiculate workshops and target children making Age Related Expectation (ARE)...Every child benefited with progress, clearly evident in their school books."
Simon, Y4 Teacher, Leeds

"Raised pupil's writing by at least 1 sub-level - developed their ability to apply knowledge. Hopefully we will see ARTiculate in our school again!"
Andrew Howdle, Literacy Coordinator

"Very inspirational and creative - lots of new ideas to improve writing and unlock children's imaginations."
Nadia, Year 4 teacher


Monday, 29 June 2015

ARTiculate Bulletin #1 - Have you tried Little Beauty?

As you probably heard on BBC 1 this morning, this week, ARTiculate has launched its new weekly-ish bulletin with ideas for creative literacy teaching. It made the Big News, right?

If not, here is what I have for you this week:

Exploring a Quality Text - Little Beauty by Anthony Browne

Everything we do at ARTiculate is built around good quality texts. Story telling is a great way to draw children (and adults) into discussions about powerful issues and ideas. One such great text is Little Beauty by Anthony Browne. Here, we are allowed to peep through the bars at a 'special' zoo - home to a talented but miserable gorilla. He seems to have everything a primate could wish for but with one exception... a friend. This curious tale throws up important questions about need vs want, the nature of happiness as well as the treatment of animals by humans. 

'Have You Tried?' ideas sheet for Little Beauty can be found here.

This resource is free for you to use and share.

Enjoy!

Stefan

Why is ARTiculate's new e-bulletin like a pygmy, crocodile plumber?

This week, ARTiculate is launching a weekly-ish bulletin from ARTiculate Education where I aim to push great ideas for creative literacy your way.

Like a pygmy, crocodile plumber, the bulletin will be short, snappy and useful. I will point you towards books that are perfect for you and the classes you teach, some helpful planning ideas, videos, examples of work, details of new workshops I offer and so on that might give you great ideas for teaching effective, creative literacy. Heck, I might even chuck in the odd cat picture.

If you teach primary school aged children already, are a student working in education or if you were cleaning the tables and signed up for this by accident, there will almost certainly be something in this for you to use now or in the future.

To sign up, click here and send a blank email - I'll add you to the list.

Friday, 26 June 2015

Drafting - Writing and art workshop Week 4

Lessons on vocabulary gave us a clutch of exciting new words to try out; the drama let us explore the man's inner thoughts; the art work had given us a mood to recreate. It can take time to immerse children in another world, but it is certainly worth the wait! 

First draft!

Week 4



After three workshops worth of discussing, acting, playing around with language, making notes, analysing and discussing how in fact you might catch a seagull to eat it*, we were ready to pour out ideas onto paper in a first draft.

Analysing a text had given the group a five paragraph structure that they were going to follow to explain these mysteries, unanswered by Armin Greder's sparse text:

  • Where the mystery man had come from?
  • How did he come upon the raft?
  • What were his first impressions of the peculiar island?
  • Who are the strange and wild inhabitants of the island?
  • What might the future might hold for the man.

The narrative would be in the first person: the children retelling events through the man's eyes. It is his 'message in a bottle', his last words before being swallowed up by the Island and it's mysteries. 

It was incredible to see the children's creative responses to this task as they planned, designed and brought to life an imaginary but credible story that fills in the gaps of the original. 

The vocabulary lessons had given the children a clutch of exciting new words to try out; the drama had allowed them to explore the thoughts in the man's head; the art work had given them a mood to recreate. 

It can take time to immerse children in another world, but it is certainly worth the wait! 

Here is a brilliant extract from one child's work where the man, a secret agent on a rescue mission, realises all is not going to plan...


"My first mistake was not bringing my map. I must have forgotten it... I was far too busy stealing the raft off my neighbour. My second mistake was not bringing any food. I was feeling hungry. I found some dead fish floating in the ocean and I ate them. It tasted rotten but I was hungry."
Kaleb, KS2

These fantastic ideas, all the product of imaginative discussion and drama that drew on the author's interests make an excellent first draft. Well done to all the children for their hard work!

Next week, we will take these rough diamonds of a first draft and polish them until they sparkle.

*We are in agreement that to catch a seagull to eat it, you have to lie flat on your raft to set a trap, wait until a seagull dive-bombs into the sea to grab a juicy fish and then, before it escapes, snatch it with your hands. But you have to eat it raw. Remove feathers before eating. Yum yum! 

Monday, 22 June 2015

New Workshop launched for September 2015

"Raised pupil's writing by at least 1 sub-level - developed their ability to apply knowledge. Hopefully we will see ARTiculate in our school again!"
A Howdle, Literacy Coordinator

You're entering the final stretch now, everybody! Well done! But before you hang your whistle up for the summer, there is a way to get a head start on next year by guaranteeing your children's writing will get off to a creative flyer.

ARTiculate is launching a new creative literacy workshop that includes discussion and debate, drama, writing and art: a dead cert to get your new class buzzing!

Our new workshop 'Human Zoo' is based on the book Zoo by Anthony Browne. Turning the world on its head in true Anthony Browne style, we ask how would the animals see the strange behaviour of the human visitors? Indeed, who really belong in the cage?

Not only does this workshop meet the National Curriculum objectives for literacy, it fulfills the art ones too. Pretty nifty, eh? By using art to teach this core subject, children will be challenged to inject a key ingredient into higher academic thought: creativity. It’s a lot of fun too!

To find out more about this workshop click here. If you want to contact me or request booking details, click here.

Friday, 19 June 2015

Analysing a text - Writing and art workshop Week 3

Text analysis is key to helping less confident writers build a framework to hang their ideas on. It is the solid foundation that supports the imaginative flourishes of a quality finished piece. 

A good author is a good reader!

Week 3





"I love books. I love that moment when you open one and sink into it, you can escape from the world into a story that's way more interesting than yours will ever be."
Elizabeth Scott 

Do we at ARTiculate have a catchy slogan? If we did, it would probably be the best slogan in the world. But, if I was going to adopt one here and now it might be: "Read. Then go for it!"  The importance of reading for an author is difficult to overstate. How can you write convincingly if you've never read a convincing book? Drawing on other people's ideas, being inspired by another's use of language, seeing how a text is structured - all essentials for a budding writer.

When you're working on a short, picture book text where words are effectively sparse, writing your own level-appropriate text as a model for children to be guided by is a really good idea.  

And so today, my young trainee authors analysed a model text written by me to use as a model for their own writing. The piece was a written from the viewpoint of The Man: his 'message in a bottle' after his initial encounter with the island and its conflicted inhabitants. 

After a quick read through, the group were asked to:
a) summarise the content of each paragraph, making notes to the side of the page. This will then form the structure for their own writing.
b) comb through the text looking for adjectives, adverbs, connectives and other nuts and bolts of a well written text. These were colour-coded. 
c) look at how the author engages the reader directly.

This process of text analysis is key to helping less confident writers build a framework to hang their ideas on. Although this might lack the pizzazz to get you an outstanding in an observation (I did not stand on a table during this session. I was tempted, I admit.), it is the solid foundation that supports the imaginative flourishes of a quality finished piece. Moreover, it is the reality of writing for an audience - a key part of an author's work. 

After reading the first parts of their initial drafts, this approach is working a treat! 

Friday, 12 June 2015

Colour and mood - Writing and art workshop week 2

An artist creates emotion and atmosphere by using the right colours.

Week 2
Pastel seascapes.








Continuing from our experimentation with colour in last week's workshop, this time the children were challenged to create the right atmosphere with a stormy seascape.

We agreed on a colour palette (from a paint chart), choosing colours to give the viewer feelings of cold, power, mystery and danger.

These pastel seascapes were inspired by Armin Greder's illustrations. The children showed real mastery of pastels and chalks to create these brooding, vivid images, blending layers of colours to add depth. They are the perfect backdrop for our writing work next week.

Check out the rest of the images in the gallery below.


Getting into the mood - Writing and art workshop week 2

Week 2: A good author gets into the mind of his characters.


The man who arrives on the island is a nobody. We don't where he is from, or how he came to be on the mysterious island. We don't even know his name.

The information gaps in this story are seemingly waiting to be filled and drama and imaginative discussion are the key ways to deepen and shape a child's understanding of the man and his situation.

This week's workshop explored the man's origins. How has he come to arrive on this island on his flimsy little raft? He's an escaped prisoner! A castaway! A fisherman swept out to see! A man on a secret mission! He is a refugee from a war-torn land! He was sent away like Moses in a basket! He is simply searching for a new, better life!

We then used hot-seating and interviews to develop these ideas with the children playing the exhausted, weary man just after his arrival.

One question leads to another... Where did the raft come from? What was it like at sea? How did you survive? What do you think will happen to you now? These are questions just waiting to be answered...


Saturday, 6 June 2015

The ARTiculate effect!

Like our new blog background? It was designed by an eight year old at one of my recent literacy and art workshops! Thanks!

To find out more about our workshops, click here.

Friday, 5 June 2015

Communicating with colour - Writing and art workshop week 1

Week 1: Authors communicate through words - artists communicate through colours.

I feel very fortunate this week after launching a six week partnership with a Leeds primary school. Working with twelve of Year 4's finest, we will be exploring the creative processes of authors and artists using as a stimulus, The Island by Armin Greder.

The book's beautiful but haunting pictures provide the perfect context for discussing how illustrators use colour to develop and change the mood of a text.

Children discussed the emotions associated with primary and secondary colours and were surprised to discover they have both negative and positive connotations.

Using Rothko's colour panels as a guide, the first group developed 'mood boards' using warm and cool colours. I was impressed with how they could discuss the significance of the colours they had chosen.

Year 4's Rothko-esque colour mood boards
The second group went further and used colours to indicate the changing mood of the characters as the story progressed. It was incredible to hear them using these simple but effective guides to narrate a complex tale.




Coloured stripes indicate mood changes in the story. The thickness of a stripe varies by the intensity of the emotion. 

Looking forward to next week's session.