"Stefan completely revolutionised my teaching of writing - not an understatement!"
Sarah, Deputy Head & Literacy Leader, Leeds

"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

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

Friday, 21 July 2017

The Island - a movie trailer!

The Island - Trailer (2017)
 On the day the man arrived, the lives of the islanders were changed forever. This video was the culmination of an ARTiculate Education creative writing project with two Year 5 classes in Leeds that explored the issues of immigration, identity and belonging in modern Britain.

If you would like this workshop in your school, email me at articulateeducation@gmail.com and let me know.

The Island movie will wash ashore in September 2017 - enjoy the trailer!

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

ARTiculate winners at Pudsey Art Exchange 2017!

Summer is here again and so too is the Art Exchange - a community art project run by local artists in Pudsey, West Yorkshire. I have been working at Pudsey Lowtown this year as a collaborative English consultant and art teacher and this exhibition was the perfect opportunity to display some of the fantastic art work created by children at the school.

We even had three winners! A third place prize and two special commendations. Well done to those children! But prizes aside, this was the perfect way to end a year's worth of art teaching - the end of a process; and the idea of process is central to the way I have tried to teach art.

In what seems a growing trend, many schools choose to showcase art by holding a Creative Week or similar - a one week art frenzy where children take daily art lessons to develop their skills. Whilst it is great to see schools celebrating art by awarding it special focus, this approach is usually borne out of the lack of time to teach art regularly; children's understanding of the time-consuming but rich and rewarding processes by which art is created suffers as a consequence. Thus, creative skills become stilted and appreciation of art is diminished - victims of an education system obsessed with core subjects and metrics.

It was a rewarding opportunity therefore to be offer the chance to work with children weekly on art projects which gave the time to develop skills and examine the process of creating art rather than simply 'making' a finished piece. From Picasso to Magritte, to Chinese calligraphy to posters for Hamlet, this year's work at Pudsey Lowtown has been as rewarding as it has been varied - for the children and for me.

Pictures from this year's art work will appear in my Gallery this summer.

Most exciting was the work I did with Year 2 on surrealist Belgian artist Rene Magritte. Exploring the nature of abstract art, this project allowed the children to experiment changing and merging images and exploring symbolism in art. It was also a lot of fun!

We recreated Magritte's famous work The Treachery of Images featuring the famous line This is not a pipe (Ceci n'est pas une pipe) by using photographs of ourselves, replacing the face with an object that defines or has meaning for us.

Also a favourite among young visitors to the exhibition was this collaborative effort recreating Magritte's Golconda; rather than raining bowler-hatted men, this time it was raining us over a Leeds skyline. Everyone had fun trying to spot someone they knew!  

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Pulling the strings - children as authors

Being an author is not just about writing a story - it is about telling a story. I often tell the children I work with that they are like magicians or puppet masters: they can cast the spell or pull the strings of the reader. How they navigate the reader through the story is in their hands.

Over the last few weeks I have been working with a group of children at Valley View Primary School on a topic exploring immigration and the voice of both migrants and those who receive them. The work is based on The Island by Armin Greder, a tale of a man washed ashore and the community who decide what to do with him.

The key stylistic element I have taught these children is the skill in which they manipulate the reader. Whether it is dropping subtle hints as to what will happen later or using the weather to signal the worsening mood of a story (e.g. the sky getting darker, the rain getting heavier), these tools go a long way to developing the children's voice as authors.

Coupled with the fact that these stories will be used to make a short film next week, the children have found the purpose and power of this writing project an exciting prospect. They have enjoyed pulling the strings like a real author should.

See our story plans and our drafts below.   

The Dragon Boat's afloat! Art with Year 1

This half term I have been teaching art with Year 1. Far from just being an art project, this work has shown how vital DT in helping children apply what they have learned in core subjects.

For this art project, our topic has been the Chinese Dragon Boat festival, celebrated by Chinese communities around the world in early summer. We even had one here in Leeds!

Our challenge has been to create a dragon boat that will float on water. The children drew and painted 3D dragon heads to attach to the scaly bodies that will make the floating part of the boat.

The trickiest part was attaching the corks to the inside that would help the boats float on water. It took a lot of trial and error using a water tray to get it just right. The children did a fantastic job and have really enjoyed it.

It just goes to show how vital art and DT are to children's learning - not only do they draw in creative aspects of learning, completing a project like this requires knowledge of science, maths and personal skills such as creative problem solving and resilience.