Monday, May 7, 2012

Backwoods Billy Baxter

This mantle was with year 2/1 children as a voluntary organisation called WPIT. The learning was mostly to prepare the children for KS1 stats; I wanted to show how a creative approach can still deliver the results you want.

They had a bit of job to do when they received a letter from a member of the public who was a fellow nature lover. Mrs Jones stated how she was disappointed with the website, that there wasn't a lot of information on it.

 So the volunteers set to work rectifying this and made a good start gathering their information. Now they just have to wait for the website volunteers to get it all on the site. Take a look at it by clicking on the webpage here:

The mantle also involved imagining that we were responsible for setting up the webcam at Lopham and Redgrave fen (a local place).

You can click on the picture to go to the live webcam and watch the owls! 
We imagined that as part of our work  we put up the owl box and put the camera in place. We loved seeing how our owls were getting on!

Another big dilemma came when we had a request from backwoods Billy Baxter. The film clip worked out so well, that I was able to pretend to talk to him on the phone at the end. This was a jaw dropping moment for my class! (Though I couldn't play that part of the clip again!)

Backwoods Billy Baxter was a famous nature film-maker, who came all the way from Australia to find out about nocturnal animals. Unfortunately he was unable to catch any on camera! So the expert volunteers at WPIT decided to give him a bit of advice. They should know, they've been watching wildlife for a long while now. 

They decided to make a guide book too, to show Billy what he's actually looking for. After all he's probably more used to crocs and koalas! Some of the volunteers came up with some top tips to help Billy. 

Tip 1
Tip 2

Tip 3

Tip 4

Tip 5

Tip 6

Tip 7

Tip 8

Tip 9

This mantle was quite exceptional, in that we had a response via our class blog from a real Australian nature lover! You can see the blog here. We learned passed on more good tips to Billy, like having heat sensitive cameras to film wildlife. 

WPIT set to work making some ibooks on the ipads to help Billy identify the animals.

Ibooks for Backwoods Billy Baxter on PhotoPeach

The next dilemma came when poor old Billy had a bit of an accident ! This helped me deliver learning about being seen at night. The clip shows how Billy went out on his bike at night to look for some urban foxes, but fell off and hurt his wrist! Poor Billy! 

As we weren't sure exactly how it happened, some great discussions were generated about why he might have fallen off his bike. We thought he might have hit a log in the road, been hit by a car reversing out of a driveway, knocked off his bike by a fox and lots of other things! We also did some thought tracking about his feelings and decided he probably wasn't very happy about what had happened. Poor Billy.

Thought tracking

We thought of some top tips for Billy to be safe and be seen, then created some advice posters.

Here are some of the children's posters with sound advice for Backwoods Billy Baxter. 

Be Safe Be Seen Billy! on PhotoPeach

Backwoods Belinda

The children were enjoying being in role so much I wanted to keep taking the learning forward, but felt like I couldn't keep asking Billy (a fellow teacher called Mr Ringer) to keep creating films for me. Luckily, it turned out that Billy had a team mate called Belinda! (It was about time I dropped into the drama in role). Belinda was behind the camera when working with Billy, because she is a much better 'cameraman'! That was the response I quickly came up with when I was asked why I wasn't in any of the films.
So Belinda arrived, with a very dodgy Australian accent a bag of owl pellets and some bone identification charts. In role, I asked the children (as WPIT) to help me identify the animals that must be in the woods, from the owl pellets. It was a wonderful afternoon with all children engaged in investigating and identifying bones. 


Sunday, February 19, 2012

A waspish sort of problem

This drama day was based on the wonderful book 'The Giant Jam Sandwich' by John Vernon Lord and Janet Burroway. They have kindly allowed permission to show the pictures, so that you can see how books can be used to inspire some drama in the classroom. The children were from year 2/1 classes in our school cluster, so new to the school and each other.

It all started with a bag, that had been found in the middle

of the road ...

We weren't sure what to do with it. Some thought we shouldn't open it in case it contained dangerous or private things, others thought we should open it to see if we could find out who it belonged to.

We needed a decision alley!

This helped us decide whether to open it or not, but before opening it we did some thought-tracking about how the person who lost the bag must be feeling.

Then finally we looked inside the bag ...

The bag had some curious items in it including: wasp spray, a fly swat, anthisan cream, a wasp leaflet, jam, flour, sugar, a rolling pin, an apron and a white jacket. There was no name unfortunately.

So we thought about what kind of person owned the bag, to see if that would help us find them.

There were some wonderful ideas!

Some thought it was two people. Lots thought it was a baker or a cook. Others thought the bag belonged to a beekeeper.

There was lots of reasoning and sharing ideas!

We then stepped back in time to the day before the bag was found. There was some interesting news!

Some of the villagers shared their thoughts too!

We imagined what it would be like to live in that village, through freeze framing, soundscapes and performance carousel. We agreed it wasn't nice to live there!

We decided that the bag must belong to the baker and that we should take it back to him. We thought about questions we would like to ask him. We had ideas about how he had lost the bag, but we wanted to find out for sure.

We asked lots of great questions and found out exactly how he had lost the bag and how the baker was feeling.

The baker told us that there was going to be a meeting for all the villagers, to try and find out how to get rid of the wasps. He said that all the villagers were welcome, so we became the villagers. We did a lot of different jobs and had a lot of different skills that we thought would help us get rid of the wasps.

Creating quick profiles of the villagers.

The meeting!

The mayor and the baker led the meeting. There were lots of villagers at the meeting including a footballer, a dog trainer, a pet shop owner and a racing driver. They all had fabulous ideas, like using smoke from the racing car to kill the wasps, but they weren't really sure what equipment was needed to do this. The baker was slightly worried because everybody wanted to use his jam! How would he make his prize-winning donuts? He would have to make jamless ones! The mayor suggested that they meet back later, when everyone had good ideas about what they needed to kill the wasps.

The villagers decided to design some wasp killing machinary. There were so
many ideas!

'We could use a giant donut and they will get stuck in the jam!'

'We could use a big bell jar with jam in that they can fly into and fly out of!'

Before we went back to the meeting, we tested out our machines

Then, when we returned to the meeting, we shared all our wonderful ideas - and the baker rewarded us with some of his fabulous baking!

We decided that the best way to get rid of the wasps was to work together with all our ideas. That would surely get rid of them!

Author note: This was a fabulous day that ended with thumbs up from all the children. They were buzzing when they left and I could hear some of them retelling their day to others. We had achieved so much, but unfortunately ran out of time for the last thing on the plan - to read them the story from start to end. This is something that will be left to their class teachers, so that all their classmates can hear it.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

P.E.A.C.E - Polar Exploration and Conservation Experts

We are starting a new mantle in class next week. I wanted the children to learn about the arctic and the wildlife there - polar bears in particular. So, we will start the mantle off by receiving a distressed phone call...

A family that are currently enjoying one of our adventures in Alaska have been out whale watching. They have seen a very disturbing sight. There are two polar bears drifting on a small iceberg in the middle of the ocean. Can we help them?

I'm not sure that we can. I know that stranded polar bears may starve or drown, but I'm not sure what we can do. They are very dangerous animals after all. We can't go to close to them as they will be hungry and could hurt us. What on Earth will we do?

What we did!

We made a big decision that we needed to rescue the polar bears and made sure that our information was up to date , but unfortunately we ran into some money problems - look!

Fortunately, a very famous person helped out!

What a generous offer we had from Sir Richard Branston - free flights to Alaska! So it's off to the airport we go...

Passport control checked our photos carefully.

We had to watch a flight safety film before take off, then we were away!

We saw some amazing things on our flight over the UK, Greenland, Canada and Alaska. All the places looked so different!

We wrote some lovely letters home to pur families about our flight. Of course we then thought we had better write to Sir Richard Branson to say thank you for his generous offer.

Look at some of our letters!

Want to see what happened next? Look here!