A flamboyance of flamingos
This week I came across a collective noun that I had not heard before, ‘A flamboyance of flamingos’ and this reminded me of some of others which I already knew: a business of ferrets, a murder of crows and a parliament of owls.
I then started to share them each day on twitter using the hashtag #collectivenouns and sharing the most unusual examples that I could find, such as a dazzle of zebras.
The posts garnered lots of interest, so I began to think about how I would use the collective nouns in writing. Many of the words are incredibly descriptive and could be used when writing setting descriptions in order to help convey a mood.
For example, when creating a peaceful mood, perhaps to describe a quiet country walk, the following examples could be used:
As I crossed the dew-kissed meadow, the sun rose above the distant hills and a wisp of snipe took flight from the long reeds.
The word ‘wisp’ used here adds to the peaceful mood whereas an example such as a ‘pandemonium of parrots’ or ‘a band of plovers,’ or even a ‘parliament of owls’ would shatter the peace.
It isn’t only birds that can lead us to imagine a peaceful moment. Barely a sound could be heard, except the gentle ruffling of the breeze-blown leaves in the trees and a prickle of hedgehogs snuffling for worms.
As well as peace, they could help children to include some atmospheric language in their writing:
A murder of crows nestled on the black, skeletal branches above, almost invisible now as the darkness descended.
The word murder will have connotations for the reader as will the word skulk in the following example: A skulk of foxes prowled through the town, silently illuminated only by the weak moonlight.
Taking it further...
To take it further, collective noun can be used as similes – see the examples below:
The gang prowled the estate like an ambush of tigers.
The snowy mountains nestled together on the horizon like a giant aurora of polar bears.
The models took to the catwalk like an flamboyance of flamingos; tall, thin and colourful.
The children alighted the bus like a troop of monkeys
Another interesting activity would be to ask children to create their own collective nouns. We asked on social media for a collective noun for teachers and amongst my favourites were:
As always thanks for reading! Please share!
This is the second list of Primary focussed teachers that I have produced. These are people that I have interacted with and followed rather than a list of people that I have looked up. Apologies if you haven't made the list but I am sure there will be a further list very soon. The first 50 can be found here.
@AllanaG13 - Secondary Leader in Primary Ed - #BAMEed Founder
@Brogan_Mr - #WhatItaughttoday Deputy Head
@cazzash - Deputy head and children's book fan
@ChrisChivers2 - Francophile and all round knowledgeable guy
@Claresealy - Primary Head Teacher in that there London
@DaisyMay29 - Teacher, Reader, Writer, Dreamer
@Darynsimon - Teacher often at the heart of the debate
@etaknipsa - Curiosity hasn't killed this primary teacher... yet!
@ey_inspiration1 - Early years duet
@GalwayMr - Part of the amazing Herts for Learning team
@gareth_metcalfe - He sees maths!
@geordiecat2012 - Cat lady teacher
@hengehall ICT Master Wizard
@HeyMissPrice - Always sharing great Literacy ideas
@HopeStreetBlues - Member of the optimistic SLT society
@isright - I wouldn't want to walk a week in his shoes he runs too far!
@JulesDaulby Literacy, SEND and a penguin
@librarymice - School Librarian sharing great books
@Libwithattitude - with attitude like this the books are never late back
@lobroo - My oldest Antipodean twitter pal!
@macfin76 - Y1 teacher who likes a ramble
@Marygtroche Almost legendary critical thinking bookworm
@MaryMyatt - Hopeful about schools
@Mr_P_hillips - Friend, Teacher, Entertainer (in that order)
@MrBKing1988 - A thoroughly entertaining twitter feed
@MrBReading - One of my 'go to' book peeps
@MrBoothY6 - Computing lead who loves books even more than computers!
@MrEFinch - Generally irritated except when on a reading spree
@MrGPrimary - his bio says incompetent but I can't believe that!
@MrMarchayes - holder of multiple learning powers
@nancygedge - SEND legend!
@NikkiGamble - Off exploring children's literature
@OldPrimaryHead1 - <--Does what it says on the tin!
@Parky_teaches - Love of books, StarWars and Night Zoos
@pickleholic - Headteacher of Hogwarts
@pivotalpaul - Teacher wrangler
@primarypercival - Genius behind the Ladybird book of Edutwitter
@rachelrossiter - SENDco checking your ladder is against the right wall
@RobertsNiomi - Laminating Queen ;)
@Sarah_Jayne1982 - Teaching the next generation
@Sarah_Wright1 - Enthusiastic Senior Primary Edu Lecturer
@Skippity_doo - Another awesome librarian sharing awesome books
@Thatboycanteach - Positive teacher knocking out some great blogs
@theprimaryhead - the definite article
@trainingtoteach - filled with positivity for the job - will he change his twitter handle soon?
@Vocabularyninja - Creeps up behind you and shares words of the day
(PS I know there are only 45 but I have left some space for when people inform me who I have missed out) As always I welcome your comments.
Plus follow the new subject specific Primary Rocks threads for themed ideas and discussions. #primaryrocks (more coming soon too)
I have been thinking about and researching how to improve comprehension skills using a range of high quality texts, images, picture books and of course film.
After a number of sessions with children in schools using the new content domains, which can be found on the gov.uk website, I found that all of the key comprehension skills were being covered through the domains. As some of you who follow this blog will know, I like a mnemonic. So I set about thinking about a mnemonic that could be used by teachers, other adults who read with children and also the children themselves. My first attempt - MR SIP TEA was not the catchiest so we have come up with Reading Vipers. Vipers cover the key comprehension skills in line with the 'new' content domains.
At Literacy Shed the minions are now busy making a whole host of resources that will link to Reading Vipers. There are now 30+ Film VIPERS on www.literacyshedplus.com
We are also creating a range of comprehension materials based on extracts from classic texts such as Black Beauty, The Time Machine, Robinson Crusoe and many more which will soon be available here. www.literacyshedplus.com Until then you can download The Time Machine sample (as seen below) by clicking here. =
The same key viper skills can be rehearsed effectively using single images or picture books.
Take a look at this example using the picture book 'Return' by Aaron Becker.
There are over 30 sets of VIPERS questions for the Literacy Shed films now on www.literacyshedplus.com
The question stem documents can be downloaded by click on the relevant image below.
As always comments are welcome!
Click the text below for further reading.
“Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” Anton Chekov talking about the use of a well know literary device called ‘Show, don’t tell’ and more recently ‘Show, not tell.’
This method which has many proponents in the world of literature is not a new phenomenon. Ernest Hemingway opens his novel ‘To have and have not’ written in 1937 with the following lines:
You know how it is there early in the morning in Havana with the bums still asleep against the walls of the buildings; before even the ice wagons come by with ice for the bars?
Here Hemingway is painting a picture of early morning in Cuba, he could have easily written ‘One very early morning…’ some writers may argue that these examples are still ‘telling’ although somewhat elaborately. Calling it ‘Show, not tell though does simplify it for our students and is a great way of getting them to use vivid description.
Evan Marshall from http://themarshallplan.net/ says:
Don’t just write “The subway station was shabby.”
Write: “Near the edge of the platform, a man with knotted hair held out a Dixie cup to no one in particular, calling, ‘Spare some change? Spare some change?’ Swirls of iridescent orange graffiti covered the Canal Street sign. The whole place smelled of urine and potato chips.”
Perhaps both are telling but one is telling in much more detail. The latter has much more detail and drama.
I use film widely in my teaching and I use film to demonstrate this technique.
The following two extracts are from a music video called 'Titanium' by David Guetta.
These two excerpts are from one of my favourite films on The Literacy Shed, called 'Catch a Lot.'
There are many other examples in the films on www.literacyshed.com and I may follow this blog up with them if people think it is useful.
Thanks for reading and I hope you leave a comment.
On Tuesday I had the pleasure of speaking at a conference in Coventry, I was followed by Roger Black MBE who delivered a keynote speech about his career.
I sat and wondered what the relationship between his career and teaching would be. Roger spoke at length about overcoming adversity and teamwork, the type of thing that teachers do on a daily basis. One thing, however, struck a chord with me. Roger discussed his 'fear of failure' how this fear pushed him from excellent to outstanding.
I wondered... Do we instil this fear in children? Should we? Would our children in school perform better if they had a fear of failure? I thought about my own classroom setting, are my children striving to achieve at all times? No. Do they have a fear of failure? The majority don't.
I then began to think about how I deal with failure on a daily basis. In my Year 5 class what happens if a child delivers a substandard piece of work? The answer: not a lot! If they have been lazy, they may have to do the work again, but only if the work is substantially below standard. If they have failed to achieve due to carelessness, I will probably warn them about their effort or concentration levels. Is it my fault that these children do not have an intrinsic fear of failing? Do they just think they can get away with it or is there another underlying problem?
I have met a number of children throughout my career who don't seem to care about their work, who don't care about achieving. These children lack ambition, it could be down to social pressures, family traditions or a lack of aspiration.
We need to engage these children in a way that makes them care. We need to make sure they care about achieving and instil in them a fear of failure.
The question is how? [I will blog about this at a later date.] I am forming some ideas....