Wednesday, 28 December 2016

A Recommendation to Twinkl - Hire a Pasifika Adviser for your Polynesian Resources

For the past 3 months I have been so wonderfully fortunate to spend time as a volunteer teaching in paradisaical, Rarotonga. Although I was able to volunteer in another part of The Cook Islands, Aitutaki - I spent my teaching hours in Raro.

As a Polynesian woman; I'm half Samoan. I was thrilled to see Twinkl's expansion of resources that focused on New Zealand Maori, Samoa and other Pacific Islands. While in the pacific, and teaching Pasifika students for the first time I was eager to teach about islands other than The Cook Islands. And most of my students (aged 9 and 10) knew very little about their Polynesian neighbors.

In my primary school class where I was relieving for 3 weeks, I decided we would have a literacy week. All things literacy - reading, reading activities and strategies, writing, spelling and decoding. For our reading material I chose a handful of Jill MacGregor's fantastic books from her Children of The Pacific collection. They are spectacular books with beautiful photographs of Polynesian kids from around the Pacific talking about their homeland's traditions, language, celebrations and more. A real dream collection of books for Pasifika teaching and Pasifika students.

Alongside the reading, I did a range of reading activities from the Twinkl website. The kids had a lot of fun. Before anything, I had the class set up into teams. Then, we would read one of MacGregor's books and after, I started a competition between the groups. In teams they would , round by round, have to complete reading activities that I downloaded from Twinkl's Reading Activity Resource Pack. I didn't use all the pack, but I did use the Find 3 Adjectives and make 3 sentences worksheet, the noun worksheet that's similar in style as well as the making words from the Author's name.

These challenges were fun to complete in groups and I would award points for the first team finished but additionally, I made sure to award more points for the best and most creative answers. Round by round, I could see the students had comprehended parts of the book we had read. The first day we read 'Dharma's Diwali' - which was great for these reading activities as this particular story has a short story within it, that summarizes 'The Story of Diwali' in easy to read and understand text.

Moreover, the reading activities Twinkl have that can be applied to just about any book - are great for literacy exercises and in general, reading comprehension activities.

However, the reason for my blog post's title - Hire a Pasifika Adviser is something I don't say lightly. I truly think Twinkl needs to step it up in their Polynesian resource department. When browsing for resources of the Pacific, on their site, I was happy to find a few Samoan themed resources. A resource I quickly downloaded and read was Twinkl's Samoa Differentiated Comprehension Activity Sheets. But I was disappointed not only with some of the inaccurate or missing information - but also the way they handled some of their communication with me. 

I was especially concerned at what was written about Samoan Tattoo. Although, I certainly agreed with most of the information featured, I felt they had forgotten that Samoan Tatau (Tattoo), is also very significant to women. Many Samoan women throughout history and today, have the traditional female tattoo called the Malu. As a Samoan I know about the Pe'a (Male Tattoo) and Malu but I am not an expert -just someone of the culture who knows from life experience.

What was written in the original resources (they have now updated and made changes due to my feedback):

That was all that was written on Tatau. So I wanted to offer them some honest advice, as a Samoan woman. I felt this short description of Samoan tattoo made it sound as if only men adorn Tatau or furthermore, that it's only important to Samoan men. Which is implied as there is no mention of female tattoo. I'd think that many Samoan woman would find Tatau equally important to them as Samoan men.

And I also, did my research. After pondering over the absence of the 'Malu' in Twinkl's resource I wanted to know more. I'd never questioned it before as I had knowledge as a Samoan woman who saw the Malu and had it explained to her by family members or the wearers themselves. But I wished to further understand for myself, the very importance of female Tatau - and thankfully, there are an abundance of resources online that describe just how significant Samoan Malu is to Samoan culture and identity.

"The malu is also a mark of Samoan identity that Samoans find to be extremely important. Many believe it is the true signifier of a Samoan lady. In getting the malu, young women traditionally gain a variety of responsibilities. The female tattoo was traditionally reserved for the high chiefs’ daughter, the taupou, who was responsible for dancing the siva (Samoan dance) and mixing ‘ava (drink ground from root vegetable) at special occasions." 

This quotation is from Drea Miesnieks's "Stories of Tufuga ta Tatau" (2014)

"The word for a female tattoo is malu, which means to be protected and sheltered...Both male and female tattoos show that you are ready for life, for adulthood and to be of service to your community." 

Above quote from the Australian Museum website article "THE MEANING OF TA TAU - SAMOAN TATTOOING

There are far more journal articles and websites that explain and emphasize the Malu's importance to Samoan women and Samoan culture. A good website is also

Moreover, a good thing about Twinkl is that they have the option to write a review or suggest a change with every resource. To be honest, I didn't see the "suggest a change" tab until later - so I wrote my suggestion and feedback straight into the review section of the page. See my review written below:

It reads:

I love that Samoa is included on this website. However, as a Samoan woman I am slightly offended that the Tatau portion of this workbook only says that tatau is important for boys. The traditional female tatau for women is called the Malu and is equally as important. The tatau for women and men in Samoa is sacred and traditional - I think it needs to be edited. Many Samoan women in NZ and the pacific wear the malu - and would disagree with this workbook. 

Now, their first response was excellent. I received an email to notify me that there was a response to my review and I saw not one, but 2 responses when I checked in. And they handled the review well - with a tone of care and thanks.

Review responses/replies from Louise and Joe

Hi ardynbaia,
I am really sorry to hear about this mistake, and I apologise if it has caused you any trouble. It will be changed shortly!
Louise.R@Twinkl, Nov 27th 

Hi there ardynbaia,
Thank you so much for letting us know about this issue! Our lovely resource creation team have amended the resource and emailed you the corrected version. It will also be updated on the website very soon.
Joe.M@Twinkl, Nov 29th

I was very satisfied with their replies and awaited when they would update the resource with the necessary additions. Soon, I received an email to notify me that a new version was available for download. I downloaded...

Disappointment 1 - they did indeed update the resources - but there were mistakes! If you're going to attempt to edit something, especially about someone's culture you may or may not have knowledge of, you should do it with care and accuracy. Research skills needed at Twinkl!

It reads: ( I have bold and underlined the mistakes)

Tatau or tattoo is a cultural tradition for Samoans. The Pe'a is a tatua that goes from the waist to the knee and is a rite of passage for young men, often telling the story of their ancestry and ranking. The malu is tatau for women, it is on the back of the thigh down to the knees, traditionally this tatau was a sign of high ranking. Tatau is a mark of commitment to Fa'a Samoa. The tufuga ta tatau (tattooist) uses traditional tools made out of bone, tusk, shark teeth, shell and wood. 

Disappointment 2 - With a spelling error and description error of the Malu, I had to write another review of concern.

My 2nd response reads:

Hello, thank you for your efforts. Although it's incorrect once again. A Malu is not just at the back of a woman's thigh. It goes around the thighs and starts under the buttocks, stops just below the knees. A Malu is possibly, even more sacred than the Pe'a as it was traditionally only tattooed on women of high ranking - called the Taupou. I understand that I am going into some detail here - but would I use this resource with New Zealanders who are Samoan or know of Samoan culture they would disagree with the implication in your writing, that the Pe'a has more value or importance than the Malu - or that men's tattooing was more special than the women's. You also have a spelling mistake. You wrote 'tatua' instead of 'tatau' at one point. I strongly suggest that you have a researcher of Polynesian culture or a Polynesian who knows their cultures when writing these resources - especially if these will be used in New Zealand or Australia as there are many Pacific peoples who know their stuff. I'll be looking out on your careers page in the future - I would love to join the team especially if you're writing about Polynesia. As a New Zealander and Samoan, it is important to me that Pasifika culture is represented correctly.

ardynbaia, Nov 29th

Now, it's my own opinion of importance that I express about the Malu - debate that with me another time, but still my concern that the Malu is not accurately portrayed and there are spelling mistakes within a Twinkl resource - that's about my culture - is justified.

Of course, a little irked now, that they have made a mistake - it seemed careless, especially the spelling error. But I was hopeful that Twinkl would reply quickly and that they'd be even quicker to fix their resource.

Disappointment 3 - A dull response to my concerns that seemed to miss the bigger picture - this resource is not for ME it's for all who may teach about Samoa.

The response from Michaela.G reads:

Hi ardynbaia,
Thank you so much for providing further feedback on this resource, it is much appreciated.
I will ask our resource team to look into this and make any necessary amendments for you.
Michaela.G@Twinkl, Nov 29th

Now, I've chosen to highlight the last bit of her sentence "any necessary amendments for you" because it's this I have a bigger issue with than the resource being incorrect (twice).
It's one thing to create resources about other people's cultures and have things missing and/or wrong - but it is another thing to imply that this resource and the amendments needed are only being made due to one person's concerns. It's for everyone! 

I quickly replied to Michaela, quoting her words back to her:

It reads:

"make any necessary amendments for you." 
Thank you, although editing this resource is not just for me. It's for any teacher who wants to teach accurate information about Samoa.
ardynbaia, Nov 30th

And I've received no response since. Thankfully, they did update the resource with more accurate information. You can download it now, without the errors! And you can tell they actually spent some time to research further as they added more about the Malu and it's meaning of shelter.

Moreover, a real concern I have with Twinkl is their attitude as well as their Pasifika consultant or if they have one?

When Michaela used the word "you" in her reply it made me feel as if I was suddenly a nuisance to her and the Twinkl site. That my suggestions to get a resource on Samoa with accurate information was bothersome and unimportant as if to say: 'it's just you, one person who is complaining'. 

But you know what? I am so sick and tired of this sort of response when people of perhaps, lesser  known nations (smaller nations that aren't so Westernized) complain about inaccurate information being spread about our people! History, Geography and Social studies books around the world have printed the wrong information about cultures - don't even get me started on some American textbooks and their convenient omission of the word 'slave' replaced with 'foreign worker' when writing about African and South Americans in early US history.

If you are going to create resources about culture and people -do it well, with accuracy and don't make the person suggesting corrections feel as if they are inconveniencing you. 

I helped YOU out, not the other way around. The New Zealand education system is a wonderful one and we have some fantastic statistics. Your resources on Samoa are aimed at teachers from New Zealand, teaching the New Zealand curriculum. These Kiwi teachers are a dynamic lot to be respected - and a large percentage of New Zealand teachers are Polynesian and know their facts of the pacific. So, get it right Twinkl or you will not be taken seriously amongst New Zealand educators or moreover, Polynesian people. Especially, if you are getting things wrong and having an attitude when we correct you.

Other than that experience, I am still a Twinkl fan and user. I expect growing pains are a big part of any educational resource company. I do still recommend, that seeing you are expanding into resources about the Pacific, that you do employ a Pasifka adviser or a consultant.

Happy teaching, and resource creating,

Ardyn Baia. 

Friday, 23 December 2016

Twinkl - Class Decor in The Cook Islands!

Mrs. Elu was away for professional development in Fiji and I had the wonderful opportunity of teaching her grade 5 and 6 class for the last 3 weeks of the term. During my final week of relief teaching at Papaaroa School, I wanted to do Mrs. Elu a favor - cleaning and decorating her classroom for the new year. 

Twinkl, a website I absolutely love was my main source for decorative purposes. I wanted to share what I did and hopefully give other primary teachers some ideas for their classrooms.

First, a class redesign was in order. I had a vision of a 'reading corner'. When I was teaching, I was instructed to keep up with the regular SSR - 'Sustained, Silent Reading' that should happen at least once a day. I noticed quickly that the students would grab a book from one side of the class and bring it to the front to sit down on the carpets. I thought that I should rearrange the classroom so that the books were in the same area as the carpets. Hopefully, they could buy some large pillows or beanbags in the future to really make the reading corner a cozy place. 

I got all sorts of print outs for the reading corner. I loved the reading corner display pack, which features many posters with famous quotes about reading. 

Bunting : 

Here's what it looks like:

Students... not reading but playing blocks... in the reading corner (it's was break time)

The reading quotes, banner and street signs are from Twinkl - I printed and laminated them. 

I love the Scrabble tile idea! I left space for the teacher to post up some English work, next year. This is the English corner as well as Reading corner. 

I absolutely love the triangle 'bunting' - there are all sorts of varieties of bunting on the Twinkl site. I printed these 2 for each A4 page, but you could print them smaller or larger. You can also see the cool 'Books of the Bible' - perfect, as it's a Christian school.

Every area of the class falls into a subject section - this is the Art area... I posted up a few Twinkl posters of colour mixing  here. 

Now, for the boring exit and evacuation notices - I made a 'School Safety' banner. A really cool feature on the Twinkl site is the 'Twinkl Create' section. You can create any sort of resource you want, and write what you want as well as pick from a variety of images they have on file.  I also made a 'Te Reo Maori' banner as The Cook Islands teach both English and Cook Island Maori. 

Cool Superhero bunting for the months of the year! The kids loved the superhero theme! Even better, all the Twinkl resources with images of people include people of color. As I am teaching in The Cook Islands, my students are all skin tones - beautiful brown skin would be the most common - so it was awesome to see the superheroes the same skin tone as the students! 

I used the Twinkl animal train for the days of the week - but also edited the resource, as you're able to download it in word.doc - and then I added the Cook Maori translation! 

A class rules and routines corner. I really love the space theme welcome signs, "garden of manners" poster and kind hands displays. The class pledge was already in the class, I just had it cleaned and posted, ready for the new year. 

Overall, the class looked great and the students loved the new decor. 
Twinkl was a great website to use. Easy to download, print and laminate. 
I would definitely recommend it for all class decor needs. Plus, all the resources as well! 

Top 3 likes about the Twinkl site:

1. People of colour appear in 90% of their display items - great for multicultural awareness. 
2. You can create your own resources using their website and easily print it out. -This was especially useful for me as I could make Cook Island Maori resources. 
3. You can edit most resources - I was able to download some resources in word.doc format, so I could easily add translations and more! 

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Visual Text (Static Image) Assessment - Explaining the Criteria

Hey there, sorry for the long break between posts - the weeks flash by here and I've been busy, busy, busy!

Back to my Static Image/Visual Text lessons - Explaining the Criteria and giving out the assessment guidelines.

Here's a copy of my Visual Text Assessment - it's based on the NCEA guidelines but I added a lot for the students so they could really break down and see how to get the best marks. It includes the assessment criteria, explanation of draft and peer review and finally, the peer review checklist.

Let's break it down, shall we?

The Main Criteria 

Page one, the basic criteria and due dates, etc...I read over the table of expectations with the students and made sure they understand what is being asked of them. I also explain how the draft portion of this project is HUGE and important. 
The draft is worth 10, then the peer review of the draft is worth 10 , the teacher's approval of draft is worth 10 and you can earn up to 10 marks for showing understanding of the draft process which influences your final visual text.

I chose to make the draft mandatory and important to this assessment because my mother, who has taught visual text projects in English for many years, had warned me that many students do not follow a draft and then end up with an aimless, not well thought out final images.

I didn't want that. I wanted them to value the drafting process and stick to their drafts as that would mean that not only did their peers and teacher give feedback to improve where necessary but also so that they would stick to a plan and not end up rushing a whole new concept!

I also provided my own example of a draft. I chose to do it on the Save Our Shell's poster I made for a demonstration of the last lesson - when a client comes to visit and we had to design a poster for them on sea conservation - see lesson here. 

I purposely chose NOT to do it on our text "On the Sidewalk Bleeding" because I don't want them to copy me. 

The main thing I stressed with my students - is that it does not need to be a work of art, a draft simply has to have the outline of what they are going to draw in their final. And must have a lot of annotations explaining their choices.

The Peer Review Checklist

Although some may criticize my checklist as 'anal' or too much - for a first time teacher of this Visual Text assignment I wanted it as detailed and thoughtful as possible. I also wanted to provide a sort of mathematical way of marking the draft and simultaneously letting the students see for themselves, how I was marking them - and they would also mark each other using the same checklist.

Here it is:

As you can see, it's a pretty thorough and we went through it box by box so that the students could see what I was looking for - and more importantly, what they themselves, would be looking for when they marked each other. Now, a serious part of this is what constitutes a 'reason' - as you can see for colour, layout, dominant image, etc - I ask for "2 or more reasons" or "3 reasons for choice" etc. This was what I really wanted to discuss with them. I started with colour and wrote on the board:

"This is coloured pink because it's pretty."

Then I asked the class - is that a good reason for you to write in your draft?
The class answered - like music to my ears - in unison, "No!"

Okay, so what's a good reason?

A few students replied - "it has to relate to the story/text" which I applauded - and we brainstormed some reasons for 'pink'

We came up with some:

"This is coloured pink because it relates to the colour of Andy's heart, which has been stabbed in the story."

"Pink is connected to love and it links to the love of Andy and Laura in the story."

Of course, they hadn't created any image with the colour pink but it was through this activity that they could understand and think about what makes a 'good reason' for a visual text. I also told them that not every colour needs to have an amazing reason - it could also relate to the visual qualities of the design but I wanted to ensure that the students were always connecting their choices to the story 'On the Sidewalk Bleeding'.

After going through the peer review checklist I told them to start their drafts. 
Stay tuned as I will post about the drafting stage and finals soon! 

Happy Teaching!

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Static Image Lesson : Creating a Poster for a 'Client'.

In my previous post, I explained how I introduced Static Image/Visual texts to my class of year 9 and 10. After the 3 part introduction I then decided that the students were ready to take on a 'Static Image Challenge'. I had a double period and started the class with my challenge criteria.

I told students "Today, you are no longer students - you are employees of an advertising agency!"

The class looked a tad puzzled, but I quickly quizzed them on what an advertising agency does, and gave a short example of how the Nike sports brand pays advertising agencies to create posters, commercials and billboards for them, etc.

Fun fact my students enjoyed - the Nike swoosh (or tick) "has become one of the most recognizable brand logos in the world, and the most profitable...worth of $26 billion alone." Also, the swoosh is symbolic as it represents "the wing of Nike, the Greek Goddess of Victory, from which the company derived its current name."

Moving on! After they all understood what an advertising agency was, I went on:

"Your job today, is to design a poster for a client from Sea life Conservation Rarotonga. Their company name: Moana Keepsake." (Moana means ocean in most Polynesian languages, including Rarotongan Maori).

"Now, this is a competition - your client will visit the school today and judge your advertisements. The winning team will receive a prize."

The "client" - my mother , the prize - slices of her freshly baked coconut cake.

"In order to win, your advertisement must include the following..." 

Next, I explained the criteria for this group project, what features the advertisement needed and what the client requested. I wrote it out on the board while explaining. The students were eager to get started.

My white board:

So I told the students their client has requests, the following must be included in their poster: 

  1. A Catchy slogan - must have one of the following within it : alliteration, simile, metaphor,personification or rhyme.
  2. Relevant Colours - blue and other relevant colours of your choice. (Client has requested blue specifically as one of the key colours). 
  3. A striking dominant image.
  4. The company name & logo - The company name must appear with a symbol (logo) of your creation/design. Remember, the company name is Moana Keepsake. I told the students to look up the word keepsake if they didn't know it, to help them with their symbol. 
And finally, the last component but most important of the challenge:

5. A Presentation - they must present their advertisement to the client with thoughtful reasons - why they chose certain colours, images, etc. Everyone in the group must talk. 

For about an hour and a half the students worked together, colouring, drawing, planning, re-starting and repeating. They practiced their presentations and the client (my mother) arrived cake in hand, ready to judge the best poster.

Each group got up and presented and we discussed their presentations in brief after each. The client gave positive feedback and decided the winning (static image) poster idea, was :

Now, they are missing the company name - however, due to their brilliant presentation which included the most thoughtful explanations behind their design choices, they were crowned the winner and received coconut cake (the rest of the class ended up with some, too).

Some great explanations included:

"The Sea is Where We Must Be" is our slogan and we chose rythme so that it would be catchy and easily remembered. We also think the sea is important to polyneisan culture, especially Rarotonga which is where the company is from, so we know that the word "be" makes sense as we are always by and in the sea."

"We chose blue, because it relates to the ocean and saving the ocean which is the company's goal."

"Our logo is a circle and a wave inside of it. It's simple but we think it will be easy to recognize and it shows the sea and the circle shows that everything inside it is important."

"The water in the circle is darker because it is more healthy. The water in the rest of the image is lighter and the dead fish is a part of our dominant image to show the sea needs help, animals are dying." 

I was very proud of the students and their presentations. They really made a solid effort and put thought into what they were doing. Here are the other Static Images:

"See what the sea see" - missing an s there.

"End Illegal Fishing" 

"Water life is the best site"  - nice pun. 

"Keep our lagoon happy" 

And of course, I always like to do a demonstration so I did my own Static Image also for the challenge and presented the following to my students: 
(I went last, and obviously didn't participate in the competition but I wanted to present to show them what is expected of them when they explain a visual text/static image). 

"Stop selling our shells homes."
I played with the idea of a homeless hermit crab as those creatures need shells to survive.

  •  My background is an image of a smiling woman with a pretty shell necklace. 
  • The foreground image is of a hermit crab, appearing homeless, on the side of the street, it is my dominant image
  • I chose to have my layout include 3 separate parts to my poster so that the dominant image was in the centre to attract the most attention. 
  • I drew a box in place of a shell for the hermit crab to show he had lost his home/shell. And another piece of important text in my poster appears in the hermit crab's sign that says "Will work for krill". I chose these words as the commonly known sign 'will work for food' is used often by the homeless in media/pop culture, I replaced 'food' with 'krill' as that's an ocean food for many crustaceans. 
  • Another bit of text in my poster is an imperative because I wrote "Think of the hermit crab." I used a block letter style font to make it seem important and grab attention. The font is inspired by stop signs seen on the road, they have a thick and white font that pops out on top of colour, I wanted the same effect but with blue and white. It's also written in capitals which also makes it have a serious tone.  
  • I used the colours grey and brown around the hermit crab to make a gloomy atmosphere to reflect the sad homelessness of the crab which is a stark contrast to the vibrant blue below and bright green shell and pink lipstick of the woman above. 
  • My slogan 'Stop selling our shells homes' has the use of alliteration and personification of the hermit crabs as the idea of a 'home' is a human concept. 
  • My logo has the company name 'Moana Keepsake'  written within it and I chose to draw a pearl earring as it helps to symbolize the word keepsake. Also, pearls are very precious to Polynesian people and they come from the ocean, so it all relates back to the company name. 
  • A motif in my poster is the presence of the ocean. In the foreground image, the woman has ocean waves behind her. At the top of the dominant image the grey walls of the hermit crab's sidewalk have a wave pattern edge. Finally, the bottom panel of my poster is made up of ocean colours, blue and light blue to symbolize the sea shore and breaking of the waves on the sand plus, the sandy blend of orange and yellow that finishes the image. This is to remind the viewer that this poster and company is all about 'Moana' - the ocean. 

I hope this gives you ideas for your next class on visual texts/static images! It worked great for us and lots of thought provoking ideas bounced around the room. The presentation was a key element to this activity to get them thinking about explaining themselves and essay style answers. 

Happy teaching! 

Saturday, 29 October 2016

Teaching Visual Text - Static Images, An Introduction

View From The School

Here in the sunny Cook Islands, I am volunteering at a local school teaching secondary English and Drama. For my English composite class of year 9 and 10 I have started teaching Visual Texts (also known as Static Images) as I feel that this could be a good assignment for their last term. Next year, some of them will start NCEA (National Certificate of Education Achievement - the New Zealand Curriculum). Thus, I wanted to prepare them for next year but also it is a great opportunity for them to contextualize their current short story of study : On The Sidewalk Bleeding by Evan Hunter.

What is a visual text? (Static Image) According to , a New Zealand website for students. 

"Visual text uses a combination of visual features (camera shots, still pictures, and graphics) and verbal features (words, dialogue and language features) to get a message across to the audience. Your teacher will select either part of a class text that you have not studied closely or another visual text (complete or extract) such as: film, television production, music video, drama production, multimedia text, graphic novel, documentary."

Moreover, we couldn't simply make a visual text about the short story without understanding what a visual text is and more importantly, what makes a visual text effective. Breaking it all down into key terms and vocabulary. I decided to create a Powerpoint that has interactive activities within it, as well as a review of the basic elements most visual texts should have. I used this PowerPoint over 3 separate classes.

You are able to download my PPT from my TeachersPayTeachers Profile.

Slide Previews:

Vocab Jumble 
A literacy strategy to get them thinking, before even stating the topic... great for any topic and just about any subject! Also a good icebreaker /warm up. 

  • Show them the words on screen.
  •  Read aloud to the class to let them hear the correct pronunciation. 
  • Turn screen off. Tell them to write as many as they can remember down. (You may choose to warn them that they need to write from memory, before switching the screen off). 
  • After about 1-2 minutes, ask students how many words they have remembered, tell them the total amount of words is 14. 
  • Tell them that they may work with a partner to find all 14 words.
  • Reward if anyone can get all 14 (Optional). 
  • Reveal words and discuss. What a words they do know? What a words they don't? Share meanings? Ask about the levels - Why do you think these words are separated into 2 levels?
  • Ask, finally - What do you think we will study? (There is no correct answer, but instead this activity gets them thinking about the topic). 

Next, after introducing the topic we started to discuss the definition, examples and then moved onto my "break it down" part 1 - Font.

I found a cool article online about font and an experiment they did with fonts, Baskerville, Georgia and Comic Sans. They found that people would find Baskerville a more trustworthy font than the others, Georgia and Comic Sans. "Why Baskerville? Cornell University professor David Dunning thinks Baskerville has a British sense of formality and solemnity that enhances its credibility."

I asked the students to look at the fonts and think about which font they would trust more if it , for example, was used to write down scientific facts, etc. I asked some discussion leading questions about the importance of font. I had brought in some examples of static image and asked them to look at the font used, and asked what they thought of the importance of font to a static image.

After introducing font, I next did a worksheet about fonts and matching them to different words and uses. It was a great activity to get them thinking about the use of fonts and how they can be appropriate for different things. I got it from Assessment Resource Banks.nzcer , it's a great site to register with for resources.

Worksheet Preview:

Following the font activity was our colour break down. It would pay to know some facts about colours and their meanings. For example, Purple is often associated to royalty because in the past it was the most expensive colour to make. A great website to take a browse of is

However, before you impress with colour facts, I have 2 activities to complete in the PowerPoint. One is a quick quiz to see if they can guess the world's favourite colour, the other is a colour association activity to get them thinking about colour meanings and significance.

Get the students to match the colour to the meanings (in white on the left). Discuss reasons why the colours associate with the meanings - there are no real 'wrong' answers, but you can guess which colours are appropriate for each. (Answers in slide). Ask lots of questions - "Why do you think pink is associated to childishness? Why do you think black associates to mystery?"

By the time I got to colours I was done with 1 lesson, the next slides I did in our next lesson (lesson 2).

After the colour break down I moved on to symbols (there are some challenges/activities about symbols for the students included in the PPT) and next 'breaking down layout', which features a hands on activity. The slides go over the meaning of layout and you should discuss importance...then do a hands on activity.

You must print out a quote, 2 images and a title from the internet all based on a film, TV show or book. Do this 4 times or for how many groups you can make in your class.  It's good to use films they know. Here are my sets:

To practice the importance of layout, I asked them to cut out their images and quotes then in their group they must design a movie poster and have reasons for why they chose to position certain images and words. I gave them coloured paper to stick their images and quotes on and each group came to the front of the class to present. It was a great way for them to see how different layout styles lead to different effects and to hear them attempt analysis of their own images. An example is included in the PPT.

Following the layout break down I have many example static images to discuss with the students. You can note the colour, symbols, layout and more - discussing significance and reviewing vocabulary they have learnt.

My third and final lesson with this PPT - Some important vocabulary.

The slides for lesson 3 are filled with more Static Image examples but also some more vocabulary to help them with further analysis. It includes definitions for you to go over and discuss with your class while viewing examples.

Overall the 3 lessons were a brilliant and successful way to introduce Static Image/ Visual Text to my students and get them thinking and using new vocabulary. Our next lesson, creating a Static Image!

Hope this was helpful,

Happy Teaching!

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Teaching In Paradise

Currently, living in paradise. 

Hi all! As some of you may know, I have left Korea. That chapter is well over and after a month of traveling South East Asia with the hubby, I am settled in paradise - also known as The Cook Islands.

Today was my first day teaching at my new school, Papaaroa Seven Day Adventist School. I will be teaching English for year 9 and 10 (secondary) and visual arts, year 7 and 8. It's really exciting as this will be an excellent experience for my future endeavor of teaching secondary in New Zealand. I am no longer an ESL teacher, and I am thrilled! I love the English language and finally, I am going to be teaching English literature.

So, I thought I'd share some resources. I did my classic and ESL appropriate ice breaker - the stick figure introduction. I have done this activity for ESL at all levels and now with native English speakers it was once again, a hit!

I made it using a Powerpoint today, to make it more interesting than just drawing on the board. I played with the shape/line drawing tool and animations to make it seem as if the stick figure was being drawn on screen. Then I used some images and word art to place my '4 facts about myself' at each limb. The students were asked to guess what each image or words mean - in relation to myself. It's a great way to introduce yourself and after the activity, get them to create their own stick figures and share with the class. Here's my PPT preview:

The items at each limb pop up when I click the screen. So, when Kiwi/ Canadian popped up I asked the students, what does that mean? Where am I from? and that was easy to guess. The next, a globe with the number 7 was a little harder to guess but created some great guesses. They guessed "You traveled the world for 7 years." , "You have been to 7 countries." , "You have been traveling for 7 months." - I like their creativity, and you can see why this can be great for a speaking activity in ESL too. Finally, someone guessed correctly "You have lived in 7 countries." Next, because they know my mother (she was their teacher last term) they guessed correctly, "Your mother is Kim." and the last image was easy too, "You are married." And I talked a bit about my equally well traveled hubby.

Next, I told them to draw their own stick figures with 4 facts about themselves that can be represented in words or images. And next class we will discuss.

Following that introduction, we got stuck into a game show style PPT - thank you, Korea for letting me learn all these PPT tricks!  I got the James Bond game template off Waygook and made questions about the short story we are studying "On The Sidewalk Bleeding" by Evan Hunter. Great story for English literature studies, good themes about identity, choices, life and death, love and more. I wanted to do a quiz game because it was my first class, so I wanted to keep it light and fun. But also, so that I can see how well they know the short story. I had a range of questions that quizzed their knowledge of the plot, key quotes, characters as well as some of the more difficult vocabulary that is in the text. They understood a lot but it was still was challenging. Very happy with my first lesson.
Download the PPT here.

Our goal for the rest of this term and a little of next, is to create a static image, also known as "visual text". This is an assessment that is taught in the NCEA curriculum, so great to start now in year 10 to get them used to it. We will do the visual text with On The Sidewalk Bleeding as their influence.

Happy Teaching!