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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Heroes Among Us!

Today at school we celebrated BookWeek.  This years theme was champions read.  In class we are investigating everything that is encompassed by the term heroes.  Students have taken a particular interest in superheroes and the heroic motif and how the 'Archetypal Hero' compares to the reality of being a hero in real life.

One of the students' many ideas was their desire to become heroes in their local community.  Students quickly supported the notion of 'help to others.'  My students have decided that they want to show that they can challenge the idea of what a hero is by helping out other children in their local community.

Part of these investigations have lead us to research how the stereotypical superhero encompasses values and behaviours we respect and admire and would like to see in ourselves as we aim to help others. Each group chose a superhero in class that they believed encompassed a value that was integral to helping others.  Our ultimate supergroup is listed below.

NIGHTWING encompasses 'JUSTICE.'
FLASH encompasses 'DRIVE.'
HAWKGIRL  encompasses 'EQUALITY.'
HAWKEYE  encompasses the 'ACCURACY.'

The class combined their thoughts and believe they have come up with the ultimate group of heroes.  They believe the values of the heroes they chose will help them to develop a campaign to help disadvantaged children in our local community.  Students are adamant that their efforts should help children and that all the recognition they need is the change that they will produce and the help they will give to others.

To assist them in 'becoming a hero"  the children wanted to make capes.  Every hero needs a cape right?  The students sprung into action and began brainstorming designs.  They measured each other and compared the data they collected to create the perfect cape pattern.  It was decided that the easiest way to make 32 capes would be to take on a 'one size fits all' approach.

After the material for the capes was bought, the pattern was traced, capes cut out and finally assembled in the classroom.  However, the drive of the students didn't stop there.  We are also exploring the features of narratives and multi modal texts.  Eventually, students will develop and create their own narrative.  Students have challenged each other to create a narrative about a hero.  As the unit of work has been developed by the students, they decided it would be great if their characters also wore a cape.

Students sprung into action and decided that their capes would be double sided.  One side would have the symbols of the superhero they chose to represent their groups in class and the other side would have  a symbol that related to their narrative character.  Better still, the students decided that they would dress up as the characters they have created for book week.

 The Green Lantern Corps chose GREEN LANTERN as their representative.  They believed that "Where there's a WILL, there's a Way!"

 The Blue Shadows chose NIGHTWING as their representative.  They believe that "the only fight is the fight for JUSTICE for all!"

 The Wonder Warriors chose WONDER WOMAN as their representative.  They believe that "everyone deserves EQUALITY!"

The FLASH CADETS chose FLASH as their representative.  The believe that "without DRIVE their is NO DIRECTION."

 The HAWKEYE HUNTERS chose HAWKEYE as their representative.  They believe that "ACCURACY provides clarity."

The HAWKGIRL HEROINES chose HAWKGIRL as their representative.  They believe that "Passion directs planning."

Together the class believe they encompass the values of heroes.  The believe that connect communites bring change.

I'm sure my students will have more to share soon.  They pleaded with me to post their cape photos for the world to see.  What do you think?  What are you opinions on our group representatives.  What hero would you have chosen?
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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Lino - Brainstorming online together

I am lucky enough to have another group of students volunteer to write another on my blog about the work we are doing in class. So sit back relax and enjoy their post. 


We have well and truly begun our investigations into heroes. We have been working hard on deconstructing the difference between heroes in fantasy and heroes in real life. 

Together we have come up with two categories to label these types of heroes. 

1. The stereotypical superheroes/heroines 
2. Role models. 

We were lucky enough to be introduced to a tool called lino during one of our Technology Friday sessions.  We all fell in love with this tool because of what it allows us to do and how easy it is to use.

As the website says, 

'lino is a cloud-based service that gives you a label canvas on the Internet for freely posting, viewing, and moving labels.' 

To us as a class, it provides us with a way of placing Post-it like notes onto a collaborative board and brainstorming our ideas together. We have posted links to two examples of how we have used this tool in class to facilitate our learning. Feel free to add to the wall and collaborate with us. We would love your input!

As you can see Mr Hull or a student asks a question in the top left and each student/group/visitor responds to the question. The first example was done in class as we discussed in groups our answers and thought to the questions given to us.

This was done before posting online and allowed us to work and interact in person and then discuss the data collected from the information we had posted. The second board was done for 'homework' and we came together the next day to discuss what we had posted and used the data to inform our interactions with others and the answers we came up with.

Lino is free and easy to use.  We expect we will continue using it in the future to help us organise the data we need during our investigations.  Another skill it helps us develop is our knowledge of labelling the work we do.  As you can see from our examples, we label the work with the group we are in and the name we use.  Although this is not very hard, it helps us begin to understand how labelling our work can assist us in developing portfolios for learning.

So please, comment on our baords and answer our questions.  we would love to see your persective.  Remember to be responsible and post appropriate answers.  Any help you can give us is greatly appreciated.



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Sunday, August 5, 2012

Building our classroom.

I have recently returned from Boston, USA where I attended and presented at November Learning's Building Learning Communities 2012 Conference.  This was the most amazing conference I have ever had the privilege of attending.  If you ever have the opportunity to attend this event.  I highly recommend it.

This post has nothing to do about Technology.  My students thought it was time that we showed the other side of what happens in our classroom.  The part that is technology free but integral to our learning.  So, here it goes...

One of the presentations I attended was presented by Alan November.  He talked about the notion of Who own's the learning in the classroom.  Although I am still early on in my teaching career, I believe I have played with this idea a lot. I often talk to the students in my class about this exact question and have been told that it makes the feel just as uneasy as I do.

This is the sort of question you really need to sit with for a while, not because it is hard, but because it deserves quality time put into it.  In my two years of teaching I have seen the inspiring results of students owning their learning.  I have found that it is a lot easier for younger students to take ownership of their learning.  As children progress further though their schooling, they become exactly that "schooled."

I have talked to my class this year about the notion of them "owning their learning."  A long story short, it has taken us 3 terms for them to begin to take hold of their learning and control it, value it and appreciate themselves as capable learners that do 'matter' and have something to contribute to the world.

This term we have decided to investigate "Social Justice in our local community."  The students have shown a massive interest in 'Superheroes.'  With all the film releases of superhero inspired stories, students began to ask 

"Who are the superheroes in our lives?"  As we delved further, we looked at questions that we wouldn't be able to answer with a google search.  My class decided to pose questions that they had to experience to answer rather than using a search engine to answer the question for the,.  Some of these questions i have answered below.

"How can we be a superhero in the lives of others we interact with?"
"What are the characteristics of a hero in 2012"
"How can heroes from our favourite comics/ movies inspire us to be heroes to others?"
"Superpowers aside, who are heroes in our lives?  Who do we call our hero?"
"What would the superheroes we all know and love look like in real life?"
"Is it possible for someone to be a hero once and not twice?

The begin our investigation, the students decided the classroom needed a makeover.  They gave themselves a task of transforming the classroom into their heroic base where they investigate and learn new things to be heroes to others. 

The class broke themselves into groups that they would sit in this term and created banners to represent their groups.  They selected a superhero and used the infamous hero symbol on their banners.  The class how to draw, paint and create the banners.  They played to their strengths and delegated the jobs amongst them.  They finished banners are below.

The next job was 'decorating' the rest of the class.  The students would rather I called their 'decorating.' "Upgrading."As we upgraded the classroom, the students brainstormed amongst each other what we needed.  After long debates, the students wanted a wall of heroes that showed pictures of their favourite comic book role models.  

Perhaps the largest project was creating a mural of "Gotham City." on our back wall.  The back wall of our classroom has a window and the biggest challenge was the fact that we couldn't pain the wall.  We drew up blueprints and managed to paint rolls of paper we stuck together to cover the entire wall (The was one of the most in-depth math sessions we have had.  The engagement of the children and arguments they had over the measurements that had taken of the wall was inspiring.)  We have uploaded our images below.

After the paper had dried, we began to stick it up on the wall.  The students were ecstatic when their measurements matched the wall space.  Once the paper was up we decided to sketch the outline of our city. I have added the progress pictures of the student work below.

The students painted the cityscape and looked at a range of examples of how cities had been drawn in popular comics and movie concept art.  They decided that a 'minimalist look' would have the biggest impact.

After the wall was complete and up.  The students decided that as their investigations progress, the wall should progress as well.    At this point in time the photo below shows you what the wall is looking like.

As their teacher I have seen the step by step process of the mural.  Although it may look a little insignificant, this project has engaged the students in their investigations.  They really feel as though they have constructed their learning environment and short of knocking down walls, they have.

Although it seems small, this is just one way the students have taken control of their learning and in this case their learning environment and owned it.  They wanted to show you their efforts and are looking for feedback.  So their burning question at the moment is: What do you think?  Oh, also can you answer any of our questions?  We would love to hear your points of view!

"How can we be a superhero in the lives of others we interact with?"
"What are the characteristics of a hero in 2012"
"How can heroes from our favourite comics/ movies inspire us to be heroes to others?"
"Superpowers aside, who are heroes in our lives?  Who do we call our hero?"
"What would the superheroes we all know and love look like in real life?"
"Is it possible for someone to be a hero once and not twice?

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Play some Tetris!

Or try some Pacman!