Visual Literacy Project
Debbie Philpott
Hercules – from Zero to Hero
Apollo 13 – Houston, we have
a problem.
The Setting
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Gilbertstone Primary School – Yardley
Two form entry
Issues with achievement
Year 5 class with the whole range of ability
from just level 2 through to level 5
Some behaviour issues – a challenging
class!
The Cast
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Morad – been on the SEN register, English
not spoken at home, very talkative and
lacking in focus, before the project was a 2c
writer.
The Cast
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Jake – a 3c writer, social life (girls) has
the priority over work, has the basics in
position but having problems making
progress beyond this.
The Cast
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George – has been on the
SEN register, having
difficulties making the
transition from level 2 to 3,
doesn't enjoy writing and
doesn't think he's any good
at it.
The Cast
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Alex – bright boy but this is the first year for
a while that he's actually worked (according
to mum), very slow writer, is a sound level 3
but has potential to be a level 4 this year.
The Cast
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Tom – the drama lover! Has behaviour
issues which have a negative impact on
work, finds it very difficult to work with
others, lazy, started as a 3b but could easily
be a 4.
The Cast
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Danny – accident prone,
quiet boy, bright but lacks
confidence in self, 3b writer
but could be a level 4.
The first unit – Hercules – From
Zero to Hero
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Disney film very loosely based on the
Labours of Hercules (they get a brief
mention).
Very few children had seen the film but it
includes all the features typical of a Disney
film.
Linked with Unit of Work on Myths and
Legends.
Activities
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Watched the entire film to begin with.
Created a story map.
Developed an understanding of film
metalanguage.
Looked at how the film portrayed heroes and
villains.
Described characters and explored
antonyms to look at heroes and villains.
Looked at oral story telling by playing a
pass-it-on game.
Compared the film with the original myth.
Activities continued
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Role played Hercules describing how he
killed the Hydra.
Wrote a description of Hercules killing the
Hydra.
Used 'show not tell' techniques to describe
characters and develop the use of figurative
language.
Watched an episode from a Channel 4
series about Odysseus to compare different
forms of cartooning and look at stories
within stories.
Activities Continued
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Brainstormed solutions to how Hercules
could succeed in the Labours that he was
given.
Acted out Hercules performing his Labours.
Interviewed one another (with one role
playing Hercules) about the tasks
(interviewer recorded good examples of
vocabulary used by interviewee).
Wrote, edited, improved and published the
Labours to make a class book.
Evaluation
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The book of The Labours of Hercules is great –
contains really high quality of work.
In the middle of one of the lessons my most SEN
boy asked when we were going to start work
because this was just fun.
The use of descriptive and figurative language
continued into other written work.
We spent almost an entire FRIDAY afternoon in
silence as children completed their Labours – blind
down, aquarium on the screen, quiet classical
music, lit candles, orange squash and biscuits
helped too!
Some examples
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Alex: It all started when Meg explained to me that 2
small children got trapped under a massive
boalder. Suddenly a Hydra came out. It was
Ginormous. Every step it took caused a earthquak. It snapped at me with its teeth of daggar's.
Then with it's tongue of slime it snached me.
Jake: His eyes went blue, his breath stunk like sea
food – yuk.
Danny: Then I ran to get my sword I got it but its
tongue stretched like elastic and got me. It
swallowed me it was gooey inside I had to cut
through its neck it was tough but I done it.
The second unit – Apollo 13 –
Houston, we have a problem
or 'a successful failure'
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Apollo 13 is based on the real events of April 1970
when a mission to the moon nearly ended in
disaster.
It's an action adventure film – not an animation.
The unit of work was Note-making and Explanation
– previous experience showed that children find
explanation writing difficult so I wanted a 'true-life'
film in which things were explained.
Another reason for choosing this film was because
our science topic for the term is Earth and Space
so I wanted a space based film that wasn't
Science Fiction.
Activities
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Before watching the film we familiarised
ourselves with a rocket.
We didn't complete watching the film until
the end of the second week so activities
were done without the children knowing the
outcome of the mission.
Listened to a dream sequence without
pictures so children could really gain
information from sounds and music plus
practice note-taking.
Read related texts.
Activities continued
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Brainstormed words to go with stills from a
scene.
Wrote scenes from a character's point of
view.
Prepared questions to ask the astronauts at a
press conference and took notes.
Used thought, feeling and speech bubbles to
explore conflicting emotions during a scene.
Created a visual map to explain what went
wrong on the mission.
Looked at related websites.
Activities continued
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Read explanation texts.
Watched an explanation of day and night
from a Revisewise video and compared with
a Blue Peter report that included an
explanation of diving safety.
In pairs created visual maps of processes
that they wanted to explain.
These were used as a basis for writing
notes to support an oral explanation.
Connectives activities.
Activities continued
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Children were videoed doing their oral
explanations – some used more drama than
others, most included visual props.
The rest of the class evaluated
performances.
The oral presentations were turned into
written explanations.
Evaluation
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The unit of work was rather disrupted due to
arts week, trip, illness and a teacher day.
The film was a little too long.
We used the first two weeks to work on
descriptive writing – with positive results.
The final pieces of explanation writing are
disappointing, the text type has not been
fully understood and the children felt they
had finished the work with the oral
presentation.
Evaluation
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The children did enjoy the film – one boy
thanked me for showing it and said that it
was the best film he had ever seen.
The classes' (and my) understanding of
rockets, space, the moon etc. has grown
enormously.
Film Reviews
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Sophie's review: Apollo 13 will have you
glued from beginning to end! It is a truly
amazing movie.
Chloe's review: The tension caused by the
events kept me really interested.
Jasmine's review: Overall, it was one of my
best movies I've ever seen.
Alex's review: Will they get back? Will they
ever go back to their families? Watch the
worrying, adventure, tense, exciting and
wonderous Apollo 13 to find out.
Impact
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All 6 boys have produced pieces of writing at
levels higher than their pre-project
assessments.
Greatest improvement seen in Morad who
went from a 2c pre-project to 3c in our mid
term assessment.
Long term impact will be clearer during next
term.
I haven't yet re-assessed reading but am
confident that there will be progress here
too.
Impact
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Danny – now believes he is good at writing and
attendance has improved.
Alex – now enjoys reading and is beginning to
believe that he is a good writer.
Jake – still doesn't believe he is a good reader
and no longer enjoys writing.
George – now enjoys writing and now believes
he is good at it and reading.
Tom – no longer enjoys writing and doesn't
think he's any good at it.
Morad – now enjoys writing and believes that
he is good at it.
Impact
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Katie: 'I think its [literacy] been better because we
watched films to help us.'
Lilley: 'I would like to watch more films because you learn
about different settings and comparing different films.'
Jacob: 'I think I've got better writing skills by watching
films.'
Sophie: 'I would like to use more films in my writing
because you can explore different languages when
writing about something you have seen.'
Jasmine: 'I especially like writing all the descriptive
pieces. I liked watching the films and writing about them. I
think the films are a good idea for creative writing. We
should do more of it because it will give us more to write
about everyday.'
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Visual Literacy Project