Friday, 22 April 2011

Letter by letter

Daughter no.1 received a Waterstone's voucher for her birthday, and on Wednesday she and I went to Newcastle to spend it.

I was very taken with the W calligram on the side of the Waterstone's building, and was pleased to see it was also on the bags (which is where the above picture comes from).  It reminded me of the letters of the alphabet that I once started making in ImageChef.  I got as far as G.  Here is the E:
It got me thinking about calligrams (again) and how this particular idea might be developed for use in the classroom.

At the moment I am co-ordinating a big transition project in the LA - our "last hurrah" if you like, before the money runs out.  One of the things that we have been looking at is how KS3 teachers can manage a new Y7 class with very different KS2 experiences.  (I've put the findings so far here.) 

Letter calligrams could be used as a diagnostic tool at the beginning of Y7.  Students draw a large, faint pencil outline of their initial, then fill it with some of the language that they learned at primary school.  Some may be able to fill their letter with whole sentences, some with phrase level work, and others with single words.  If you have students who haven't done that language before, hopefully they will be able to use their transferable language learning skills and find some words in the bilingual dictionary.

At the end of the exercise, you'll have a good idea of who can do what, plus you'll have some attractive display work.  It's a good leveller - you don't have to know lots of words and phrases in the other language to make an effective and creative calligram. 

It's also something that you could do with, say, a Y8 class who you are taking for the first time.  Get them to write in their letter as much as they can about themselves.

I've made a couple of examples to illustrate how it could work:

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