After #LLL16 I was inspired to set up a local TeachMeet, only to find out that one was in the offing round the corner (#tmrammy). I decided to bite the bullet and present.
But what to present on? I guess most teachers imagine, like me, that their practice is no better than their peers', with nothing to declare to the world. I thought back through my 6 years of teaching and realised I had used one technique more than any other.
I have decided to call this technique 'Concrete Imagination' although I do not claim to have invented it.
Concrete Imagination involves using physical objects to inspire imaginative writing. Much is made of the use of video, image and sound to inspire writing. However I have found that children, especially KS1 pupils, can lack imagination, or struggle to focus their imagination.
The technique I have used utilises physical objects to inspire creativity. This can range from activities like 'The Mysterious Key' to 'The Giant's Coat' (again not of my invention). Having a tactile relationship with an object inspires creativity in children and supports the use of description through adjectives and simile.
In recent years I have developed the use of physical objects further. I have found that ownership over the object increases engagement in the process, and the easiest way to ensure ownership over the object is to have the children MAKE it before using it to inspire writing. Since then my pupils have made Fairy doors and trees, and placed them in natural settings, miniature dragons and eggs, and the most successful project so far: Vegetable Superheroes.
Inspired by the amazing 'Supertato' by Sue Hendra, the children decided that we should make our own Super Veggies. With liberal application of pipe cleaners and googly eyes, the children turned ordinary vegetables from home into Superheroes. The process of creating the SuperVeggie was important. Without direction, the children began to discuss their Superhero: What powers they would have, what their nemesis would be. The ideas were fizzing through the air and the need to write was obvious. To a man (boy or girl) the class produced their best writing so far that year. More than this, the children had a pride in their work which was palpable.
So Concrete Imagination is a technique to turn the abstract process of story writing into something more substantial, whilst also giving ownership over the child's writing. Whilst SuperVeggies will eventually rot, the feeling created by the process won't.