Pupils make most of web in storytelling adventure

Stage 1 students create digital stories

Stage 1 students are media stars again! The full article by Jessica Aquilina is HERE, courtesy of today’s Penrith City Star newspaper. Above photo courtesy of Gary Warrick, Penrith City Star.

Our digital stories are here:


Champions read!


Superheroes are champion readers!


How the whale got a hole in his head


Selby licks a lollipop: a Candyland adventure


Lovely library limericks


The elephant’s child


The three little pigs

The hobyahs!

Our Early Stage 1 and Stage 1 students revisit the old German-origin folktale, “The hobyahs”, every three years in our cyclic literacy program. We use both the Cornish turnip house and little dog Turpie version, which has quite dark overtones (with the kidnapping of a little girl) and an Australian version with a bark hut and little yellow dog, Dingo, who temporarily loses his tail, legs and head.

Here’s a Youtube production of the version by Simon Stern, set in the house made of turnips:


“The hobyahs”, narrated by garagarahebe

The crocodile in the playground

Crocodile

Still working with Stage 1 on literacy projects this term, I was thrilled with our latest digital success story, again developed from a storyboard, a brainstormed narrative – and all photographed on my iPhone using local found objects and other existing props!

The main difference in approach this time was that the students weren’t currently studying one particular fairy tale in class. My first two batches of Stage 1 students this term took their inspiration from Goldilocks and the three bears, three groups used themes from The ugly duckling and an assembly item, and another group parodied Hansel and Gretel”.

This time, though, instead of deliberately setting out to create a sequel, prequel or parody, we brainstormed “characters you might find in a fairy tale”. We then paired each one up with another character on the list. Thus, one storyboard, for example, featured a princess, a mermaid and a pony. Another combined the characters of a walking tree and a talking cubby house. The strongest storyline seemed to be the one pairing a ladybug with a crocodile and this was the one the students selected for brainstorming their jointly constructed narrative. The ladybug who lost her spots is a digital fairy tale by Class 1S, partly inspired by a clever plot device from the 1963 picture book, “Swimmy” by Leo Lionni. This book was not read to the students. Rather, the students’ description of how a group of ladybugs might thwart a hungry crocodile began to remind me of the old picture book (a Caldecott Medal winner), and I suggested it as a partial solution. The result is perhaps more of a fable than a fairy tale, but ladybugs losing their spots, and being able to retrieve them again, is the “magical” quality, I guess.

What made this particular set of lessons so exciting is the feedback provided to our Reading Recovery teacher by one of our ESL students, and then relayed to me. This student was able to relate the entire plot of the story while it was still in pre-production, and the teacher had never seen him so animated and articulate about his learning before. A great result all round!

Our other digital fairy tales are here.

“Nibble, nibble at my house!”

During the last two weeks, students in K-2 have been learning about the fairy tale of “Hansel & Gretel” in both their literacy and library sessions.

Gingerbread house

On Monday, one of the teachers brought in a beautiful gingerbread house, decorated with icing, jelly babies, jubes, musk sticks, licorice allsorts, jelly beans and Smarties! We took it down to the assembly hall on Monday afternoon and it only took about 150 students and 150 seconds for the whole house to be devoured! Thank you, Ms Stockton and Ms Stockton’s Mum for making the students and teachers this great house. It was delicious.

Gingerbread house and poster
I managed to have a picture taken with the house before it was eaten.

Gingerbread house - the remains
Even the crumbs were delicious!

On Friday, the students of 1S did some great paper collages about gingerbread houses!
Gingerbread house artworks

The students in 2FR have been creating a digital story in PowerPoint called “Handsome & Gentle”, a parody of “Hansel & Gretel”. Their story has two mean children, a good witch and a magical house made out of a giant magician’s hat! (The link is HERE.)

Frame of 'Hansel and Gretel' parody digital story

When storyboards collide!

Last week’s literacy sessions with a new group of Stage 1 students proved to be a challenge!

Once again, the purpose was to create storyboards, based on a well known fairy tale, that could then be photographed as a digital story. The students managed to develop two separate storylines, although both arcs hit a stalemate before we could determine their resolutions. Eventually, one student suggested combining the two sets of characters, and the story of the unlikely friendship of an ugly cockatoo and a tiger with no stripes was born. Since the only obvious common locale for a black cockatoo and a tiger would be a zoo, the students were able to explore the possibilities with gusto.

Enjoy Cockatoo and Tiger, a digital narrative by Class 1K, also loosely based on the fairy tale of “The ugly duckling”.

Zoo

Or sample more digital story PowerPoints.

Fairy tales without fairies

The ugly caterpillar

Stage 1 students are working in small groups this term, with the teacher-librarian, designing storyboards for digital stories, based on famous fairy tales. Here are some of the completed PowerPoint presentations:

* Mr E and the Three Bears, a digital fairy tale by Class 1/2H, loosely based on “Goldilocks”

* The ugly caterpillar, a digital fairy tale by Class 1K, loosely based on “The ugly duckling”.

I’ve been asked to elaborate, so here goes:

This term we are addressing Fairy Tales with Early Stage 1 and Stage 1 students and, yes, the Stage 1 students (mentioned above) are familiar with actual fairy tales before writing (or parodying) their own. I have an article on storyboarding digital stories in this term’s info@aliansw newsletter (May, #2, 2010). That article covers our 2009 “Bear & Chook” book rap digital stories with Stage 2, but the same principles are being applied here.

As part of our school’s PSP Literacy program, I’m working with a different half-class each week, across three or four days per PowerPoint (ie. 3 or 4 x 30-minute afternoon sessions depending on timetable interruptions). For example, in Weeks 2 & 3, all classes were learning about “Goldilocks and the three bears” in class (and library lessons) and then, on the first Monday afternoon, I took half of one class outside and we “retold” the story, person by person, as a “Circle Time” activity. We discussed how the story could be parodied, reversed, extended with a sequel, or whatever. Then they split off into three groups and quickly designed one storyboard per group. The next day, the three groups voted for one of the storyboards to “write”. We did that as a brainstorm, with me scribing under each panel. They, essentially, all end up with joint ownership of the one completed storyline. The next day is dedicated to a strategy meeting for taking the photos (what costumes, props, locations?) and some prop making. The final day is filming, and then I spend a session of off-class time preparing the PowerPoint. The first group ended up with a story called “The three bats”, about some cardboard fruit bats and a farmer. That digital story isn’t uploaded yet because we need a parent permission slip for the young student who played the role of the apple farmer in my playground duty hat.

The next week, “Goldilocks and the three bears” was repeated with the other half of that class and we ended up with a prequel to the famous fairy tale, called “Mr E and the Three Bears“, starring our own PE teacher and three toy teddies gather from classrooms. That digital story wasn’t uploaded straight away because I need to check if Mr E was okay with being an Internet celebrity. (We’d taken his photo and made a mask out of it, but he had no idea what we were up to until the PowerPoint was finished!)

This week, I took half of the next class outside to our COLA (Covered Outdoor Learning Area) and we “retold” the new fairy story of the fortnight, “The Ugly Duckling”, again person by person, as a “Circle Time” activity. We once again discussed how the story could be parodied, reversed, extended with a sequel, or whatever. Then they split into three groups and designed one storyboard per group. And so on. This time, we ended up with a story called “The ugly caterpillar” (as linked). That digital story was immediately uploaded because we didn’t need any parent permission slips this time.

The completed PowerPoints seem to work really well. The students read them over and over and over, and the look great on an IWB! Young students have such an economy of words when brainstorming stories – just what you need for this kind of storytelling – and you can see them channeling aspects of other narratives and texts they’ve been exposed to. “The ugly caterpillar” certainly owes a lot to Eric Carle’s “The very hungry caterpillar” picture book, and the Aesop’s fable of “The ants and the grasshopper”.

“Who’s that crossing over MY bridge?”

Impromptu roleplays can be so much fun. This week, I have read/performed the big book version of The three billy goats gruff to nine Stage 1 and Early Stage 1 classes, as part of their term’s work on fairy and folk tales.

The last class, a Kindergarten, have just left. Towards the end of our collaboratively planned lesson, the class teacher had to run an errand and, having already looked at the CBCA shortlisted books display, I decided to return to our fairy tale roleplay ideas – and suddenly we had twenty-two “trolls” hiding under tables/bridges, awaiting the arrival of some “troll food”.

While waiting to chant the now-familiar phrase, “Who’s that crossing over my bridge?”, the trolls chattered amongst themselves…

“Gee, trolls must get tired of waiting.”

“That’s why they’re so mean.”

“Hey, someone drew under this table!”

“Trolls are very naughty, you know.”

“Where is she? I’m worried.”

“Maybe a troll ate her while she was outside?”

About this time, two “trolls” elected to come out from under their bridge and be contented grass-eating goats. Scapegoats, perhaps?

And then: “Who’s that crossing over MY bridge?”

The look on the trolls’ teacher’s face was precious! Too bad she’d actually missed all the hilarious commentary that her absence had instigated.