Tuesday 28 August 2012

Final session - the preview

Tuesday 28th August

Today was the final 'full' session where students and children from room 17 worked together.
We arrived at the class during break time to find a group of children barring the doors!
We were asked to wait until called for.

In order to clarify the role we were being asked to take, I asked one of the children what we were expected to 'be' today. She said "you are critics" and explained that this was the preview of the real opening, which would happen this afternoon for the parents. This shift of roles was interesting, and it seemed children had no problem seeing us as outsiders, even though we had been members of the museum up to this time (and the student teachers and I had even taken on roles as toys in past sessions)

Whilst waiting we spotted the museum signage [MHT] and posters around the school advertising the grand opening...

Children had name tags with specific roles for the opening. Some were 'front guards', others were guides and receptionists, others were posted at the computers and the 'comments' box. Over the hour or so we were in the room students seemed very absorbed in these roles and guided visitors through with great politeness.

We were shown into the museum and offered a map. The displays were set out in quite a bit of detail. Labels for the toys had been written out carefully. Some toys were displayed as pictures, others as actual toys. Some toys were also accompanied by an observational drawing based on the toy.  There were lots of notices to explain what was on show. Most noticeable to me was the way that children were talking about the exhibition, drawing on what we had done over the last few weeks. One child (T) spent quite a bit of time explaining to me how David's Teddy was now partially restored: "the neck is a bit stronger but they didn't get round to sewing up the rip. We are quite happy with the job they did" (all of this was imaginary - the 'actual' bear was just as he had always been). I also heard another student (N) explaining about the persuasive writing samples, "we needed to work out what was the best thing to do - we all had different opinions." Apparently someone was also heard to say "we got some ideas from Aristotle about how to make our stories better"... Nice!

The children had used modern technology to set up a QR code link from each exhibit to the class website where each toy's story was told on video by its author. Sadly there was a technical hitch which meant that the Ipads were not scanning the QR codes correctly (an unplanned productive tension!?) However, we were able to view the videos on the class computers.

There is a link to these stories here room 17 website

As I listened on the headphones, I noticed children had included a number of features from last week's session in their stories. Another thing I noticed was how some of the more complex vocabulary we have been using in class was incorporated. For example one story included a toy which was taken in for 'full restoration' - just like David's teddy! 

There was a 'play corner' with toys available that visitors could play with (I liked this idea). There was also a slide show telling the whole story of the toy museum and all the adventures we had together. Finally, at the end of it all there was a 'comments' box for us to give our feedback.

We were not the only visitors. At least two classes of junior children came through with their teachers and were guided through by their peers.

The student teacher who took a role as David (the client) caused quite a buzz when he reappeared at the door with the signal costume item (the beanie) on his head. I heard children spread the word "David's here..." and get quite excited about showing him around (even those who had already shown the student teacher their exhibit!). I appreciated how the student teacher took the time to ensure everyone got a visit and a word of appreciation.

After Davd's tour, our little group retired, leaving the toy museum still busy showing people around. It felt very much like "their event" and we look forward to hearing how the rest of the day went, and particularly the responses from parents.

Student teachers, I'm sure you noticed other details I have not recorded here. Please add comments and fill in some of the blanks.... (-:

Wednesday 22 August 2012

Week 5 - 21st August

Penultimate visit to room 17...

Bit slow with the blogging this week. Instead of giving an account of the lesson I have decided to paste in the planning, which was unusually detailed this week. It was an interesting exercise to try "traditional" planning including learning intentions and links to curriculum Achievement Objectives etc. In some ways it was a lot of work - and (perhaps inevitably) I ended up deviating from it. Part of me thought it was a bit rigid - or just a matter of writing down what I already knew in my head. On the other hand, the process of really thinking the lesson through and what might happen did lead me to a finer understanding of the Literacy objectives we might cover and I must admit that the "big idea" of introducing Aristotle, only happened as a result of the written planning. I think a more experienced MOTE teacher would be able to just "grab" this idea out of the ether - for me it was quite interesting to see how it arose from the detailed planning...

What follows is the plan as given out to student teachers and visiting lecturer on the day.
See 'comments' for observations on how it went in practice!


TEAL 328 – Toy Museum Mantle with rm 17 (year 3)
Planning for 21st Aug

Where are the children ‘at’:

Since our visit last week, children in room 17 have been busy. By the time we visit they will have:

·      Corresponded with David (sent a letter and samples of persuasive writing, received a response asking for partial restoration)
·      Been put into groups to work on a particular exhibit for the “toys with stories to tell” exhibit
·      Started to work on the story
·      Carried out some exploration of kinds of displays used in museums (independent research – extension)
·      Made links to other classrooms and their ‘special toys’ (e.g. Shackleton Bear, classroom toys that are taken home)

With one week to go, the focus this week will be on preparing the exhibits. We should see more self-directed, independent work and the session will be designed to support this.

Broad Objectives:

The aim is to explore the Aristotelian concepts of storytelling. Not, at this stage, expecting children to apply the concepts to their own writing (this will come in later lessons). Rather, the aim is that children will recognise that there are such things as guidelines / structures for effective writing and that one such model was given by Aristotle a long time ago.


This lesson fits within levels 2 to 3 of the ‘Listening, Reading and Viewing’ strand of the English Learning area in the New Zealand curriculum, particularly with regard to the following

Level two
Level three
Purposes and audience  

Show some understanding of how texts are shaped for different purposes and audiences

-        recognise how texts are constructed for different purposes, audiences and situations
-        understand that texts are created from a particular point of view
-        evaluate the reliability and usefulness of texts with some confidence
Show a developing understanding of how texts are shaped for different purposes and audiences.

-        Recognises and understands how texts are constructed for a range of purposes, audiences and situations.
-        Identifies particular points of view and begins to recognise that texts can position a reader
-        Evaluates the reliability and usefulness of texts with increasing confidence
Language features

Show some understanding of how language features are used for effect within and across texts

-        Recognises that oral, written and visual language features can be used for effect
-        Uses a large and increasing bank of high frequency topic specific and personal content words to make meaning
-        Shows an increasing knowledge of the conventions of text
-        Recognises that authors have different voices and styles
Show a developing understanding of how language features are used for effect within and across texts

-        Identifies oral, written and visual language features used in texts and recognises their effects
-        Uses an increasing vocabulary to make meaning
-        Shows an increasing knowledge of how a range of text conventions can be used appropriately
-        Knows that authors have different voices and styles and can identify some of these differences
Show some understanding of text structures

-        Understand that the order and organisation of words, sentences paragraphs and images contribute to text meaning.
-        Recognise an increasing range of text forms and differences between them.
Show a developing understanding of text structures

-        Understands that the order and organisation of words, sentences, paragraphs and images contribute to and affect text meaning.
-        Identifies a range of text forms and recognises some of their characteristics and conventions

The lesson touches on aspects of the Social Studies Learning Area, particularly in terms of the following Achievement Objectives at levels 1, 2 and 3

Level one
Level two
Level three
Students will gain knowledge, skills and experience to:

-        Understand how belonging to groups is important to people
-        Understand how the past is important to people
Students will gain knowledge, skills and experience to

-        Understand how people make choices to meet their needs and wants
-         Understand how cultural practices reflect and express people’s customs, traditions and values
Students will gain knowledge, skills and experience to

-        Understand how cultural practices vary but reflect similar purposes

The lesson also includes drama for learning, which relates to the Achievement objectives in the ‘Communicating and Interpreting’ strand of Drama, in the Arts Learning area. However – it must be noted that drama learning is not the focus of this lesson, so these AOs are not covered in detail.

Level two
Level three
Practical Knowledge
Explore and use elements of drama for different purposes

Students will accept a ‘shadow’ role and accompanying positioning as ‘experts’

[Indicators: students will speak with authority and may make improvised ‘offers’ of new ideas]

Use techniques and relevant technologies to explore drama elements and conventions

Students will adopt a ‘shadow’ role, and may use mime and gesture at one point in the lesson
Communicating and Interpreting
Share drama through informal presentation and respond to elements of drama in their own and other’s work:

In this case, students will accept and interact appropriately with different forms of Teacher in Role, recognising signals for shifts in and out of role and adopting conventions for interaction / viewing

[Indicators: students will know that they can interact with ‘David’ as if he is live and present, but can only listen to ‘Aristotle’ as if viewing a film]
Present and respond to drama, identifying ways in which elements, techniques , conventions and technologies combine to create meaning in their own and others’ work.

Students will respond to the Teacher in role,
Currently there is no plan to identify the ways in which the drama is working, simply to use it as a tool

1.      Students will be able to identify at least one Aristotelian feature within a story that is read to them [L, R and V – features]
2.      Students will be able to suggest at least one possible improvement that could be made to a draft story written by another. [L, R and V – features]
3.      Students will be able to explain how writers can use certain forms and features to improve their work. [L, R and V – features]

1.      Students will recognise signals for shifts in and out of role [PK]
2.      Students will use a simple gestural mime to deepen their understanding of a ‘shadow’ role [PK]
3.      Students will succesfully adopt different conventions for interaction / viewing with Teacher in role [CI]

1.      Students will be able to apply concepts from the past, to a present problem
2.      Students will be able to explain in their own terms who Aristotle was and how his ideas can help writers today


Whiteboard markers, copies of correspondence to and from David, Copy of a quality children’s picture book about a toy (not too long),  sheet, ‘stylus’ (reed pen, or something to represent it), Handwritten words on thick paper – Aristotle’s concepts,  drafts of adventure stories (1 paragraph to 1 page – provided by student teachers), blutack


Management / Resources
Prompts etc
Meeting to share ‘agenda’

Introductions – introduce Margaret and Sam. Explain why they are here today.
Gather children to the mat.

Agenda written on board –

- Introductions
- Correspondence
- Other Updates
- Ideas for ‘good’ stories?
- Work on exhibits
- David’s visit

Correspondence  & Update
Run this as per last week – individuals stand to speak. Recap David’s letter and the response
Take any other updates, including improvised ‘offers’

What makes a ‘good story’?

Recap on stories they have been reading.

Read another quality picture book telling the story of a toy’s adventure.

Write this question on the board

Think – pair- share.
Ideas to the board.


GOOD STORIES are about interesting things
Also important is HOW they are told.

As we work on writing really good stories for our exhibit, it seems to me there might be ideas or inspiration we can get from stories other people have written…

I understand you people have read quite a few good stories about toys. Can you update us on this? What were some of the stories… And what was good about them?

As you enjoy this story, see if you can hear examples of what’s written on the board – or any other things that make this a ‘good’ story.
Introduce Aristotle’s ideas – Drama for learning

TIR (effigy) as Aristotle produces the key words – and ‘muses’ aloud about how they might help writers for many years to come…
[Words pre-written on thick paper]

A shape
Beginning - Hook
Middle - Climax
End - Resolution

Logic - Cause and effect

To keep it interesting

“Not just what happens – but WHY it happens”
It’s an important job, writing a story isn’t it…. As we pick up our pens or pencils to start this job of writing (mime this). What are we thinking? (Spoken thoughts)….

we can think about all the people over time, who have ever started out writing a story… and wondered how to make it a good one. Every author of every book or story ever written has faced this problem….

“How can I make this a GOOD story”

Back when this story was written, back before this museum was built, back before Hamilton was built, back before electricity, before cars, before the first ever Christmas, Even back in ancient times, 2300 years ago - before paper was invented and before people used pens to write, people still  wrote stories, and worried how to make their stories good.

(Signal – sheet and ‘stylus’ pen )

There was one man back in these ancient times, who had some ideas about this – and he wrote them down, so that all these authors could use them if they wanted to… And many of them did…

Many of these people have got their ideas about how to write stories from an Ancient Greek man called Aristotle.

Shall we use the power of drama to travel back in time and hear from him what he thinks a good story needs…

Responses to this?
Copy of Aristotle’s keywords  - reverently put on display on the board…  (blutack)

(Could hand out the list with particular words highlighted…?)  Loosely group children asking them to take  responsibility  for spotting a particular feature…

Check in – did they understand Aristotle’s advice on that point?
Do they need to ask him again?
Can they spot that feature in the story? Reread it – wave your paper in the air when you spot your feature….

Although Aristotle lived such a very long time ago, many people find his advice still useful today….

Do you think this writer used Aristotle’s principles? Let’s find out…

So did this writer use the principles?

Did he miss anything?
Did Aristotle miss anything?

I was wondering, colleagues, could these words be useful to us?



(student teachers carry out formative assessment through conversation as ‘apprentice’)
‘Part timers’ have each brought a draft story. Please take a copy of the features list, and teach them how to spot if it’s a good one – or make suggestions for how to improve it. Remember, they are just beginners,  so be gentle with them.

How did they do? We will put these ideas to one side, perhaps display on the staff notice board. How do you think you might use them to further improve your stories?
Chat to neighbour…
Back to meeting room to set up for next phase…

Co-construct with children how best to signal the role of David…. [student teacher will have brought a number of possible signifiers]

Phone call from David – would like to come by and see how the exhibition is progressing.

In groups, prepare to show David how work is progressing on your exhibit

·       What your toy is
·       Any ideas about how it will be presented
·       Interactive?
·       The story you have been working on

He realises this is work in progress, but do your best. After he has visited you – keep going with your story writing. Use Aristotle’s key words to help you strengthen it…

Student in role as David moves between the groups.
Monitor groups to ensure they are productively occupied…
If necessary remind of the pressure of time (only one week before opening)

Back to ‘meeting room’
How did we go today.
What are the main ideas you will be taking away as you work on your exhibits?

Next steps?
Any other business?
If someone was to ask you “Who was Aristotle? And how can his ideas help us today…” What would you tell them…
Lesson finishes, 12.30


Aristotle’s ideas:  

1.     Beginning, middle and end
2.     Cause and effect
3.     ‘Change of fortune’

Also – reversals, discoveries, complications, catastophes, resolution

Not just WHAT happened, but WHY it happened…

These ideas were developed by Fretag in 19thCentury

1.     Inciting incident
2.     Rising action
3.     Climax or turning point
4.     Falling action (showing consequences)
5.     Finale / resolution

Many other models exist – but it is fair to say that all owe something to the basic principles of Aristotle.