Is my dad here already – the lesson went too fast!

Screenshot 2017-11-20 09.50.34

MarshMallows – one of the Literacy Shed’s amazing animated shorts  – is a huge hit with my Year 5 and 6 one-to-one tutees. A. is so impressed that students made the film that he’s decided he’s going to be a film maker himself! As usual, the children have seen far more detail in the film than I noticed, and been fascinated by so many different aspects.

D. was impressed by the technicalities  –  ‘how do they make the monster’s  eyebrows fly up?’ – and is now planning to email the film-makers to find out, my answer having fallen far short of satisfactory.  S. was saddened by the monster’s disappointment when his ‘marshmallow’ disappeared, while C.  thought it would teach him a lesson for being greedy and scary.

The film has no dialogue or voiceover, so the children are working on providing their own. Not something that can be accomplished in one hour-long tutorial, so this is an ongoing process.  After enough preparation time, once the children have a feel for their approach,  we record their voiceover or dialogue, spoken as the film is playing.  My method is a touch Heath Robinson, so all suggestions for improvement are welcome – I play the animation on a monitor via my Macbook, sound off, and record the voicing on Quicktime. We’ll add the finished soundtrack to the film ( assuming Literacy Shed is OK with my doing that. It’s not for public consumption, obviously).

I want the children to be able to respond spontaneously, without having to mediate their feelings through writing a script; speaking their dialogue or narrative as the film is playing is yielding great results. The children who are articulate but struggle to get their thoughts down on paper are particularly enjoying the project. The children who don’t ‘get’ the inference questions on the loathed reading tests, and can’t readily walk in someone else’s shoes when asked to do so in writing have shown impressive insights while ‘being’ the boy or monster as the film unfolds. And the children who like to plan out every word – yes, they do exist – are benefiting by loosening up. So far, all have decided their first effort needs improvement – more details, more expression, even a few ‘wow’ words …

The next step will be transcribing (and further improving) the voiceovers. More information on how the project went in my next post.

By Dr Julia Fowler

Private Academic Tutor in English Language and Literature; UK Curriculum, KS3, KS4, KS5; GCSE, iGCSE, AS / A-level all boards. In person and online.

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