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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Our Very Own Superhero!

As some of you may know, I have been experimenting this year with a CLIL approach in one of my classes. I wrote about my reasons for doing so on Ken Wilson's blog. Our latest unit of work has been on the topic of heroes, and over the last couple of weeks more specifically on superheroes. When we began discussing the topic in the first lesson, the children automatically started naming superheroes. I wanted them to understand that we have real life heroes in our society who do not have special powers and magic swords, so we first looked at heroes in our families and their characteristics; and in the following lessons, heroes in the community. This gave us the opportunity to look at vocabulary for several professions, as well as reinforce some of the postitive characteristics that we may associate with heroes.

This was all very well, but the children are six years old, and what really interests them is superheroes! So, we moved on from more traditional heroes to Superman, Spiderman, Hulk, X-Men, Fantastic Four and so on. We discussed what makes a superhero and what powers he/she can have. We reviewed vocabulary such as climb, run and fly, and I introduced new phrases such as "seeing through walls", "invisible" and "super strong".
Each child then had to design their own superhero. They drew a picture of their hero and his/her powers and gave him/her a name, and in the following lesson they presented him/her to the class. We then had several rounds of voting to choose our favourite superhero. This character would be the protagonist of our very own superhero comic book!

We ended up with a character with several powers - he can fly, he can climb walls and he is super-strong! We then made suggestions for his name, and another voting session until the unanimous decision was to call him Spiderman. I must make it clear that this is not the Spiderman, but our very own character with the same name. I then told the children that in Spiderman's city, there is a big problem. We disussed various suggestions as to what the problem could be, and we ended up choosing a tsunami (even six year olds watch TV and see the world's important events). I divided the board into ten sections (there are ten students in the class) and we began to decide on how the story would develop. As the children are learning to read in Spanish, but not yet English, I tend to shy away from the written word and use pictures, at least until they are familiar with the vocabulary and its pronunciation. I drew a quick sketch of each event in the story as we came up with the ideas. Each child had one page of the story to draw. They had to try to copy the original drawing (that I had copied and whose colours we had chosen as a class) so that the story has continuity.

In the next lesson, I told the story (I had written one short sentences for each picture using language they would understand) several times, with the children's help. We played a couple of recognition games where I would read out a sentence from the story and they would have to find the appropriate picture. I gave each child the sentence describing their part of the story on a piece of paper. I went round drilling individually, and then they practised their sentences in pairs, with me helping and prompting. Their homework was to practise their sentences ready for the following lesson.

In the final lesson of our Heroes topic, I uploaded the photos of the pictures to Voicthread and recorded each child saying his/her sentence. We now have our very own comic book - on paper in the classroom and in digital format online. I have embedded the slideshow into our class wiki so that the parents can see it. The children had great fun in the whole project - they actually really enjoyed learning their sentences and then recording them and listening to each other's voices on the computer.

Here is the finished product. Be patient as the voices can take some time to load. I hope you like it!

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