Second Week of: A Lion In The Meadow, By Margaret Mahy

Click here to read the first week of A Lion In The Meadow

Week : Four

Last week I realized that we needed more time to fully explore and embrace the richness of A Lion In The Meadow so
we will carry on reading and playing it this week. I have been away sick for a few days so most of my reflecting has been around the readings I have been doing, the discussions I have been having, and the thoughts that have surfaced as a result of staying still for a few days. I had been thinking that I only wanted to write about my direct experiences with the kids and what I learn from that, however I now know that I was wrong. My approach to teaching is very strongly biased towards experiential teaching and learning but reading and thinking and discussing and letting my mind wander have all helped me to clarify some of my thoughts; put them in some kind of pattern. If I was making a puzzle, it would be as though I have been able to turn all the pieces over and now I can look at them and start to think about how I will put them together to make the whole.

Anyone interested in books needs to read this. She is an amazing woman. I found it on the Storylines website.
Click here to view Margaret Mahy's lecture. Page 17-19 are about A Lion In The Meadow.

A magician's box!

First day of school with her favourite book.

Day One-At Home
Today I drove to town and came to a complete stop at a green light. Have you ever done that? I haven't. When I realized what I was doing I felt so happy all of a sudden. Later in the day I was trying to figure out how come I couldn't
get the computer to make the black backgrounds for my book covers like I had been. I tried and tried and told myself to persevere as there is always a way. Then a friend asked if I had taken the photos with a black backdrop. Of course I had. Last week I thought that I had broken the video camera. I kept touching the screen to try to play the movie back and it just rippled. Then I found the button. It wasn't a touch screen. It takes time and patience to figure out even the dumbest problem and that is the problem with teachers learning ICT. They have no time and they have used up all of their patience.

Today I read a lecture by Margaret Mahy. I felt so many connections to my own thinking and I understood something about A Lion in the Meadow. These are the words I wrote down. They don't make much sense but maybe that doesn't matter. It is my collection of Margaret's words.
oddity juxtaposition adjusting to the world, one's own world..baffling moments of inappropriateness profound discontinuities
Story and function have many functions in our lives mediate between us and naked existence nudge us back into a state of ASTONISHMENT act as if the universe is predictable and orderly triumph of courage generous over mean better a happy ending. About himself the reader more powerful fantasy-strange/wild fancy fantasy with the texture of reality/truth Laurence Yep Essays Mythical tricksters REAL WORLD/MATERIAL WORLD-people physical world and spiritual world-----separation of the two worlds is a device. Battles with truth. Fiction Non-Fiction. 7-10 years old. Arrested by these memories intimately my own-I have grown around them. Lion In the Meadow.
Like Pole Vaulting..take a long run first. Struggle between reality and the power of the imagination. His mother has to...disguised biography.

Within this lecture is something that gives me the answer to why I teach five year olds. The separation of the two worlds-physical and spiritual is not complete. There is a wholeness and an ethereal quality. The imaginary world is very real. The cool thing about using drama and film and picture books is you can play with that world. You can capture that world.
After I stopped at the green light I thought "Wouldn't it be fun to dance the Lion In The Meadow with colourful ribbons and make some soundscape to show the feelings of the story. I bought some bright satin material and some blue for bluescreening.
The Technology
So far I think that I have spent too much time figuring out how to do things and it is satisfying and frustrating. I guess you have to ask, Is the amount of time required to do this worth the outcome? I'm not sure yet. I had a discussion with a friend. She is angry about the time. I understand.
I like the lion because in the end the lion is friends

Day Two
Today I went into school(still sick) and showed the kids the ribbons of satin for the dragon and lion dance. The reliever said she read them a book and they asked if they could act it out and play characters and film it. She got a bit of a surprise! It is great that the kids are so into this. Nobody rolls their eyes and looks tired at the thought of dressing up and playing another story that's for sure. I had a beautiful conversation with them and I am really annoyed with myself for not recording it. I need to get better at the technology. I'm also feeling annoyed with myself for not figuring out the video technology faster so that we could watch the films sooner after making them. This is turning into an epic novel. I have no patience for boring people who think they are teaching something- especially boring bloggers. This is a selfish process for me. I don't really care about an audience. Very bad teacher comment isn't it. I met with my ghost collaborator. He is a ghost because I can't usually see him, only his e- mails. He is the executive producer of my film. I have too many ideas and not enough "do".

I tried to record a voiceover this afternoon. It would be good to record the kids conversations and then embed the important bits into this wiki as a podcast. I am a bit lazy about writing what they say, but it is the most interesting part. AHA! That's the film. Children's voices. What am I trying to achieve here? Clarify my ideas about how kids and maybe adults make sense of books. I love films. I am a film addict. When there is a film festival I do more film than real life. Extend my ability to make a film and maybe how through making a film, we can learn something about this strange experience we call reading.

Painting a Lion In The Meadow

The dragon grew

Day Three.
I spent the day at an NZEI meeting. Lots of talk about National Standards and Performance Pay. Nobody likes it.
We discussed workload and the rate of change was noted as one of the key factors in increasing teacher workload and demands related to ICT were a big issue.
I have been reading some research by Wimmer and Goswami.(1994) They studied 7 year old Austrian children and 9 year old English children reading. The Austrian children read comparable text as rapidly and fluently after reading for a year as 9 year old English children who had been reading for 4-5 years. They made half as many errors as the older English children. Interesting. I also read something by Diane Mc Guiness. I wonder how the people who have created the Literacy progressions justify the expectations?

Prior to this e fellowship I didn't have the internet connected at home. Partly because I wanted to keep my work at work so I could be an energetic teacher not a bogged down teacher. It has been interesting to be able to find
information and make the wiki but I think I will turn it off again when the project is done. Time is too precious.

I got the, My Cat Likes to Hide in Boxes movie uploaded. Finally! It is back on Week Two but I have to figure out how to link from here. I think I'll try to make the Lion in the Meadow dance tomorrow. I might see what actions they do in response to individual words or pictures.

Isn't paint lovely?

Kids act easily. BOO!

Boys don't mind playing the witch

Day Four
We had a beautiful morning. The kids missed me I think and they were so happy to see me. I remember why I do this crazy job. The love.
I watched Michael Rosen perform We're Going On a Bear Hunt online and it was so good I thought we would try it. The kids get into it straight away. They are very quick and confident to use their bodies and act out meaning. I accidentally recorded it but I find a lot gets lost in the video. Especially since it can't capture the moment, that funny something that happens. My ghost collaborator came and read Drummer Hoff Fires It Off. It is a great book and it is such a treat to sit and listen to a story cuddling the kids.
We watched The Little Red Hen and then they wanted to watch My Cat Likes to Hide in Boxes. They were a bit bored after awhile with The Little Red Hen I think. It does get boring!! Partly filming and trying to cue kids to read and turn the book pages. Honestly, I need a film crew. I think the kids are ready to become the film crew and they can start helping me to edit on the big screen using the data projector.

It's a real bother when you meet someone who challenges you to
think. "Why do you want to make films?"
"What value is it?" "Why don't you just take photos?" "A three second clip is long...the chanting voices gets a bit..., why do you need to make movies from picture books? Video has too much information..You don't have to do the whole book, just capture the essence. Give the kids the camera, teach them how..."
Hmmm. My first reaction inside is like the little girl I was skiing slowly along trying for all my might to catch up to my Dad and then just sitting down in the snow to cry. That never worked cause nobody ever skis back for you. Not especially my cowboy of a Dad. "When the going gets tough the tough get going."

Why am I filming the kids acting out stories? I want to play with the movie camera! I want to challenge myself to learn new skills. Young children learn through their bodies. They become the characters and then they understand them a little. Is it worthwhile doing, if the result isn't a perfect award winning movie? I think so. The process is worthwhile. I need to talk to the kids about their reaction to watching their shows and see what they think. I need to edit the videos so they are shorter and snappier. It is hard to pare a thing down but necessary. I also need to plan the filming a little more with the kids. I originally did this because we were doing some great performances and the parents never saw them. I wanted to share them somehow. I will put some movies onto the blog so kids can show their parents if they want to.

Would the kids be so engrossed in this if we weren't filming? If we were just acting out our stories? What do they gain from seeing themselves?

The children at our school have so many lovely huts to play imaginary games under just like the boy in A Lion In The Meadow.

Ko Horoi i Rangi te Maunga, Ko Whakapuaka te awa, Ko Hira te Kura.

Day Five
This morning the first thing I did was to ask the kids what they think about our films so far." I liked The Little Red Hen cause I liked being the cat and meowing.." "I liked My Cat Likes to Hide In Boxes cause I liked being the cat from France who liked to dance because I've been to France." I'm being lazy. I recorded this conversation but I never feel like listening to it. I just try to remember. I will get the recorder from school and listen to this one.

I edited My Cat Likes To HIde In Boxes to just over a minute. I like it better but I bet the kids won't! I typed the story under the clips and put some music into the background and it is quite good now. I think the 3 second clip maximum and 2 minute movie is a good guide unless we are recording a whole reading of a big book. It was a breakthrough to figure out how to duplicate the project. After you have figured something out it seems so easy but when you are in the middle of it....
I am having difficulty having release on the days I need it so I will have to change the way I approach the project. It feels frustrating but sometimes these things can make for a positive outcome as when you choose for yourself, you always do what is comfortable and work in the way that always worked. Now I will have to think outside the box. People think that creativity requires freedom but actually I think creativity works better with constraints.

This has been a hard week with being away so much. I am not clear about the direction I am taking with this research or with the learning. I feel more confident about the technology now so maybe I can put my energy into making it work more effectively and efficiently and creatively. I want to make sure that what I am doing is valuable and also practical. I also want to just try out lots of different ways of presenting to see what works.