Learning is....
Planting a seed in our brain... learning to water, nurture and grow it.... so we can live on the fruit of our learning and plant more seeds.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Creating excitement about learning for Anzac Day

The other week I put up a new display about Anzac Day. It's a pretty tame one considering all the possible things I could put up. But the main idea is to get the kids thinking and it gives them some independent activities to do.
The following Monday a couple of really cool buzz things happened for me.  One girl had been looking through the local newspapers at the weekend, and when she arrived at school she came over and said, "Look what I found out about Anzac Day in the newspapers!"
I loved the fact that she had cut these  articles out of the local papers off her own bat and brought them into school. So I immediately gave her the pins and asked her to add them to the display.
Later the same day, another girl came to me after silent reading. She had one of the books from my Anzac collection she had been reading during SSR.  "Look Miss D.  That's from the poem we had last week."

She found it in Jackie French's book A Day to Remember - The Story of Anzac Day.
Each week we have a poem of the week and in the first week of this term we did For the Fallen by Robert Laurence Binyon.

This is a pretty full on poem to give to students aged 7, but my current class caters for Years 3-8 in a small two class rural school.  Not only do I have to cater for the younger children in my class, but I need to challenge the more able and older children as well.  So each week there is a different sort of poem, often with a theme I want to explore.

With this poem we looked at the imagery in the poem, new vocabulary, the variety of punctuation, and blends - a new aspect each day.  We also found out a little bit about who Robert Lawrence Binyon was.
Since then, other children have also read this book and recognised the extract from Binyon's poem as well.  It is all about planting that seed and seeing what takes root.
So what else have I got going on in this display?

This is a great poster I got from the Scholastic Book Club a few years ago (why don't they come like they used to anymore?).  This is a great poster to get the kids thinking about the symbols and rituals of Anzac Day.

I got these words that are in the Vocabulary Expander out of the book Gallipoli Reckless Valour a few years ago.  The point of the Vocabulary Expander is to introduce and extend the vocabulary of the topic to the students and help them create meaning of these words.  The students each choose a word and bags it by writing their name on the back with a dry erase pen.  It the top box they write the word as a title.  On the next lines they record the definition that best fits the context.  They must start with a dictionary first, then if they can not find it, they can Google the definition.  The next set of lines is when they write a sentence of their own using the word.  In the bottom box they draw a picture to illustrate the sentence they wrote, demonstrating the context of the word as well.  This is an independent reading time activity and can also be worked on during topic time.

This set of statistics is a good way to get the students thinking about and discussing the impact of the First World War on a small, young country like New Zealand.

It gets them thinking about women and how they contributed to the war effort.  It makes them think about the contribution of Maori and the people of the Pacific to the New Zealand Armed Forces.  It brings to their attention the fact that there was something called a conscientious objector.

These statistics also brings death and the stark reality of war into focus when you look at how many soldiers did not come back out of the103,000 who served overseas, as well as the ones who came back wounded in some way or another.

And is it not amazing to know that there are approximately 500 civic memorials in New Zealand commemorating these men?

These are for the older students in my class.  I created these a couple of years ago for independent inquiry on a range of aspects of New Zealand's participation in war.  The students choose which one they will do.  Each one has web links and different activities to complete based on De Bono's Thinking Hats or Gardner's Multiple Intelligences. 

The topics I have put out for the small group of students to do this year include:
  • Conscientious Objectors
  • Le Quesnoy and New Zealand
  • Helping the Wounded
  • WWI Memorials
  • Medals
  • Mascots for WW1 & WWII
The tasks may require them to create something on the computer, do a poster, or record the facts in their books. 

One of the first books I read my class this term was The Anzac Puppy  by Peter Millett and illustrated by Trish Bowles.  I blogged about this book during the term break after I bought a fresh collection of stories to share with the class.  Peter Millett somehow really quickly saw my blog and responded to it, saying he'd love to discuss the book with the class.  My class brainstormed questions for Peter (see below) and we're set up to do a Skype session with Peter this week.

In my opinion I can not set up an Anzac Day display without the immortal words of Ataturk, the Turkish commander at Gallipoli and later leader of Turkey:

And it is also good to get some other background on some important Gallipoli knowledge and Anzac traditions:

Finally, I was away the other day and the reliever read the class Ceasar the Anzac Dog by Patricia Stroud and illustrated by Bruce Potter.

 And he drew this for the kids on the board, so I photographed it, printed it and added it to the display:
I love how everyone who enters my class brings yet another little bit extra to what we are learning and carries on the inspiration.

Other really cool books for Anzac Day!

I got a bit of a surprise the other week when I pulled out all the books I have purchased over the last few years in my obsession for great resources for Anzac Day.  The other week I shared some books I had purchased this year, but I thought today would be a good day to share the books I've bought and used previously.

First up is a great book called Solder in the Yellow Socks by Janice Marriott about New Zealand's double Victoria Cross winner Charles Upham and his deeds during World War II.  I love this book, as it combines chapter and pictures, by illustrator Bruce Potter, to tell the story.  It is full of wonderful new interest words, and I have used it as a reading book with my class with lots of great learning.  Last time we even exchanged emails with the author to find out about how she wrote the book.

Grandad's Medals is written by Tracy Duncan and illustrated by Bruce Potter (who does beautiful illustrations).  A lovely, touching story about a young boy and his Grandad.  It talks about his relationship with Grandad and how Grandad marches on Anzac Day with his set of medals.  The young boy is noticing that there are fewer of his Grandad's mates marching this year.

Set on the Kokoda Trail in Papua New Guinea in World War II, Photographs in the Mud by Dianne Wolfer has beautiful pictures.  This is a story of an Australian soldier and a Japanese soldier lying injured together sharing photos and memories of their families back home.  It may bring a tear to your eye.

The book, Wartime Memories, is in an old fashioned magazine style and has lots of tidbits about life during World War II in New Zealand and at the battlefields.

The Donkey Man, by Glyn Harper, is a great book to capture the children's attention about the contribution of animals in the battle field.  I have used this book with a reading group previously.  You can find out more by looking at the post I have published previously.

I've also used Nicolas Brasch's book Gallipoli Reckless Valour with a reading group.  It is well set out with wonderful photos, maps and copies of posters and advertising from World War I.

My Marine is written by Phyllis Johnston about when the US Marines came to her community during WWII when she was a child.  She became jealous of her sister going to the local dances with the Marines and wanted a Marine of her own.  We've just finished reading the book Black Boots and Buttonhooks as a shared novel by Phyllis about her mother, May, as a child, so my class was amazed to find the link that May was the mother in this story.

This book, A Day to Remember, goes back to the first Anzac rememberance ceremony after the Gallipoli campaign and how Anzac Day has been commemorated in the years since.  Jackie French has included parts of the ceremony such as the piece from the poem For the Fallen by Lawrence Binyon, which my students recognised as they read the book because we used it for Poem of the Week.  Mark Wilson's illustrations are poignant.

Animals have been an important part of battlefield events throughout history.  Only a Donkey demonstrates animals paying tribute to their peers on the battlefield.  Celeste Walters writes from the point of view of the animals.  Patricia Mullins creates wonderful illustrations. 

A little girl's father is away at war and she makes Anzac Biscuits for him.  Phil Cummings, the author of Anzac Biscuits, writes the experience of making the biscuits in tandem with the experience of being in the trenches.  The muted pictures by Owen Swan bring a gravity to the father's situation, but highlight the innocence of childhood.

Le Quesnoy - The story of the town New Zealand saved is also written by Glyn Harper.  It is beautifully illustrated and tells the tale of one of the final actions of WWI when New Zealand soldiers liberated the French town of Le Quesnoy from the German army.  Jenny Coopers simple, colourful pictures bring to life the experiences of the soldiers of both sides and the towns people.

This is the story written by Feana Tu'akoi of an Anzac Day through the eyes of young Tyson who doesn't understand why Mum and Poppa would want to celebrate anything as stupid as war at the Dawn Parade.  Lest We Forget brings to life the tandem extremes of why we remember:  the futility of war verses the honouring of sacrifice by brave (and scared) men.  Elspeth Alix Batt's haunting illustrations of the Dawn Service contrast with the warmness of the family home.

This is a great reference book for primary school students on the facts of Gallipoli.  The Anzacs at Gallipoli has lots of good photos in it, clear headings and little side bars of information.  Some of the photos are confronting, but are presented in an understated way.  It also sets out each of the major battles that happened during the campaign.

Anzac Day Parade by Glenda Kane and Lisa Allen is based on a veteran of Crete talking with a young boy about the aerial invasion of German para-troops and the battle that followed.  The language is colloquial and in short, haunting passages.  The illustrations are a mixture of the present time and the old veteran's memories.

Caesar the Anzac Dog by Patricia Stroud is beautifully illustrated by Bruce Potter.  It is a great picture book for older primary school students as there is a lot of text on each page, but can be shared with younger students over several days.  It tells the story of one of our more heroic animals who went to war and did his part to help the soldiers.

Philippa Werry wrote Anzac Day the New Zealand Story so that students could have a one stop book on what happened at Gallipoli, the Western Front, why we have Anzac Day and how we commemorate it in New Zealand.  It covers the people the places, cenotaph, where the idea of poppies come from, the origins of the word 'digger', relevant websites, things to do, paintings, poems, abstracts from diaries and letters, photos....

Written by David Hill (My Brother's War, Brave Company) and illustrated by Fifi Coston (I remember her doing arty crafty stuff on tv after school when I was a kid!), this gorgeous, touching book, The Red Poppy, also includes a CD with a song called Little Red Poppy by Rob Kennedy.  This story is about a young soldier, Jim, possibly his first time in the trenches, getting ready to go over the top in an attack.  He is wounded and ends up in a shell crater with a wounded German soldier, Karl, and they are found by Nipper the messenger dog. 

Don't forget about other great books such as The Bantam and the Soldier  and Lotte: the Gallipoli Nurse as well.  The My Story collection also has some brilliant novels for the independent readers of the older students.