Screenplay Writing Workshop

I have written this before, but it disappeared. Here is my new version!

As part of their unit of inquiry into film making, the students in my class were fortunate to have a wonderful visitor to speak to them about screenplay writing. Anna, a mum in my class, recently started writing the screenplay for her own books, a process that I find very fascinating. As part of this, she recently interviews and learned a lot about screenplay writing from Richard Wagner, which was published on her website

The workshop stared with an exploration of existing screenplays. Anna had brought in parts of the Narnia Chronicles screenplay, which was an excellent choice given that some of the students actually read the books not long ago.
After reading through the dialogues aloud, we quickly noticed that they didn’t make much sense without the actions around them. Then the students got to act them out a little.

It was great to see them so enthusiastic, and to have a real expert in class. Often this is the best way to learn! We learned how screenplays are set up, how dialogue becomes a secondary feature, and how to avoid using too many words. It was a great experience.

The students then got to apply their learning and wrote their own screenplays. I have added some of the examples here.

Thanks, Anna, for sharing with us!


PYP – Primary Years Programme

Inspired by Maggie, I decided to post this here as well.

This video explains so well what the International Baccalaureate’s PYP Programme is all about. I don’t really know who reads my blog yet, but I guess some of you might not work in PYP schools.

It is the best programme I have ever taught! Love it!


Stars and Clouds recommends

Today (better late than never) I would like to recommend a blog that has become a personal favourite of mine. Even though I don’t work in pre-school/early childhood education myself, I find that I love reading about it.

Bakers and Astronauts

Allie is an early years educator currently working at an international school in Belgium. In her blog she shares stories about her classroom, and talks about important early childhood education developments. Her reflections on both the PYP, and Reggio Emilia are particularly interesting to read.
The blog is inspiring (we all wish we had that forest) and Allie occasionally shares very great books, links and ideas.

Well worth a read!

Missing entries

It appears that two of my entries have gone missing. The recommendation entry, as well as the screenplay writing workshop one are gone. I have no idea why, but it seems as though I have to re-write them. What a shame I did not copy them all over to my PYP Threads Blog.

Give me some time, for right now I need to sit in the sun with a glass of white wine and a nice book.

Exploring music (violin) and musings about music teaching in the PYP

I might, or might not have had an influence on the choices of musical instruments to explore with my class. In their music lessons with Serena, their music teacher, they have all learned a bit of the flute, and explored the keyboard she so kindly brought in a few times. I think it is important for everyone to try out all sorts of instruments, no matter what headache it can produce in others. This is about fun, about exploring, about feeling, and about learning something new.

The violin has always been my first choice instrument. The fact that one girl in my class plays it beautifully, and was willing to share (she always is), only helped.
The student brought in her 1/2 size violin, and not only tried to give everyone the right feeling of holding and playing the violin, she also played a few songs for us. Including one of our favourites, Vivaldi’s Autumn (we have studied the four seasons before).

The most amazing bit for me might have been the connections made between the cello and the violin. While the cello is played quite harshly (you have to really work the bow), the violin is delicate. The bow touches the strings like a feather, otherwise you get some wonderful screeching.  Strings fascinate children, and I think a lot of them were actually a bit afraid of both the cello and the violin. But they all tried it out. They all got to enjoy the violin.

And most importantly, they got to appreciate it.

That brings me back to the point about what kind of equipment schools should have. The focus of the school is obviously a determining factor. In Berlin I worked at a school that considered itself to have an art focus. To me, the arts includes music, just as it does include performance and visual art. Others think that art is art. Visual art. But we managed to slightly shift that view at the school as a team.
We were able to buy some percussions, even a drum kit. But my idea of a fully-equipped music room was never fulfilled.

I would love to see every school equipped with all sorts of different instruments. Wind, string, percussion and electronic instruments. Producing software. Even if it is just Garage band.
And in a PYP school, one where we are aiming to develop internationally-minded people, with a broad perspective of the world, I think we should have instruments representing different cultures. How is having multicultural resources in the library different from having multicultural instruments? Is it not equally as important? Is music not another language we should be aware of? And be able to learn if we want to?

I would love to hear from people who work at schools that are implementing anything similar to my suggestions above. Is it you? Do you know anyone? Is it important?

Stars and Clouds recommends

Occasionally, I have mentioned things, places and blogs I like in my blog. I would like this to become a regular thing.
So I decided that every Thursday, I will share a blog or something else with you that I enjoy, and why. It is certainly worth checking these things out. They might be related to teaching and learning, or not. I hope you enjoy them.

Stars and Clouds’ first recommendation is:

Fine Little Day

Fine Little Day is a site maintained by Elisabeth Dunker. I have been following her wonderful blog for a long time, enjoying her beautiful and playful photography, as well as all her other little projects. She is obviously a kid at heart and a very talented person.
Recently, Elisabeth also opened her online shop and extended her blog to the full website. You can get wonderful things there, no need to be shy!

I think it is necessary to include Elisabeth’s own description of Fine Little Day on here, as it is spot on, and maybe you can see how it interlinks with Stars and Clouds. I certainly think we have very similar key words and concepts in common!

Gothenburg, May 2010

Fine Little Day is a multidisciplinary art and design platform and brand.
Sprawling, impulsive and inconsistent. It is not faithful to any single line
and does not have the ambition to be cohesive or even well thought through.
Fine Little Day specializes in playful creating based on pleasure and joy.
The main goal is to work with interesting and stimulating tasks. To produce
happy and environment-friendly products, work shops and lectures for both
adults and children. Our desire is to be kind, friendly and of course to
have fun on the journey.

The aim is also to have collaborations with creators of various kinds.
So stay tuned for new exciting fusions.

The designer and founder of Fine Little Day, Elisabeth Dunker is
an independent cross-disciplined designer. She holds a MFA from
HDK, School of Design and Crafts, Sweden. Elisabeth loves to combine
illustration, photography and set design. Among her clients you
can find Urban Outfitters, Kosta Boda, Die Gestalten and Kappahl.

(source: Fine Little Day)

Thank you, Elisabeth, for filling my day with many joys and creating such wonderful things!

Exploring music (cello)

My school only offers 45 min of specialist music lessons during the week. Other music is part of our units of inquiry. But even that is quite hard to arrange sometimes. So as part of a unit of the transdisciplinary theme “How we express ourselves”, we decided to share our ways of communicating creativity more than ever.

A lot of students from my class are learning at least one instrument, those who are not play football and do something else. We have cellists, violinist, pianists… all instruments I am particularly fond of.

As I was just sent these pictures from one of my students, I thought I would share the instruments we have been sharing one by one. The kids have had a lot of fun, and some of them even considered taking up an instrument.

To start with we are going to look at the cello!

As the second largest bowed string instrument, it can be a bit of a pain to transport. We do not have any musical instruments (apart from a tambourine) at school, so we either rely on teachers or students bringing in their precious musical instruments. That has its advantages, as we practice authentically to show respect for each others’ things. On the other hand, parents are usually reluctant to send anything that costs a lot of money in.

For me, the cello is a great instrument to explore in class. It is not as “delicate” as a violin, and students are quite eager to try it out. Cellos also sound wonderful as solo instruments, and give a bit of an orchestra feeling regardless.

One of the most curious moments is always when  girls, unaccustomed to  playing the cello, are finding the sitting arrangement uncomfortable. At my school, the girls wear only dresses as their school uniform, and most of them are quite used to sitting with their legs closely together. I like sharing the story of how women had to play the violin in a side-saddle position; it usually makes the kids really consider the changes that have gone through some societies.

Most of the children are usually surprised that they can actually play notes on the cello. Well, that it makes a sound other than squeaking. They quickly feel confidence and achievement, even though they have never played before.

If you have a cellist in class, it is great to have them take the lead, even if you, as a teacher, play yourself. It is amazing to see how determined and passionate some of these young musicians are.
In this particular instance in the photographs, a young girl from my class used the time to practice for an upcoming concert at Teatro Puccini in Fiesole. She was quite happy to have the class as her try-out audience and gather some feedback.

It’s also a great opportunity for the musicians to share their knowledge, and for others to appreciate a) the different art forms we use and b) the different ways in which we all express ourselves best.
In a talk, this student explained both her passion for playing the cello, and the techniques.

Thanks to the students in my Grade 3 and 4, who made that particular sharing afternoon such fun.
Thanks to the great musicians for sharing their passion.
Thanks to the student who managed to take all these photographs.