Digital Media Theme 1

I’ve been excited about this theme since I introduced it for the first time last year. It’s based around the Year 4 Literacy units ‘Creating Images’ and ‘Persuasive Texts’ whilst also encompassing printing skills in Art and graphics, sound/music in ICT.

The idea started off last year when I thought that it would be really interesting to explore the ‘Creating Images’ unit through music and song writers rather than traditional authors of poetry. Children could record their songs/poems, add background music and print onto paper to create CD covers. Persuasive texts would then follow on, approached as the framework guidance suggests, by creating a film trailer. This was taken a little further, splicing up the film version of our class novel at the time, ‘The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe’, getting children to add titles, music and order the spliced clips for effect on the viewer in Windows Movie Maker. The theme was finished off with a bang when we visited the fantastic National Media Museum in Bradford, which included a workshop working with a professional producer to create their own advert.

That was last year… I obviously wanted to improve on what was started then so in anticipation over Christmas I asked the mighty voice of twitter for band and film suggestions. Particular thanks to @missbrownsword who suggested Hawkmoon 269 by U2 as a great source of similes, which led us to focusing mainly on U2 songs during Creating Images. Whilst in the middle of that process it clicked that the whole theme could be music focused rather than just the Creating Images section; the children could be part of a band, which would mean it would need advertising, persuasive TV adverts to buy their album, T-Shirts with prints on etc. Just after, I came across work using Guitar Hero on the inspirational consolarium website and thought I could ‘steal’ quite a few of the ideas there and apply them to a Year 4 Writing context. For example, a rock star blog, advertising a concert, creating a music video and use of Guitar Hero and Wii Music to give the children first hand experience of the tension, excitement and thrill of being in a band, which would then inform their ideas and writing quality.

I’m writing this one full week into the theme (thanks to the snow!). We’ve gone into depth looking at song writer’s word choices and imagery in the following songs:

  • Hawkmoon 269, Vertigo, With or without you and elevation by U2
  • Quick Fade by Feeder
  • Bridge over troubled water by Simon and Garfunkel
  • Candle in the wind by Elton John
  • Bullet with butterfly wings by The Smashing Pumpkins
  • Wonderful by Everclear

This was then followed by examining instrumental songs with a particularly strong emotion. At this point children began planning for their own songs/poems, choosing an emotion to focus on. They worked as a group, listening to the instruments and mapped out possible adjectives, adverbs, well chosen verbs, times where they have felt that emotion strongly, similes and metaphors. I was surprised at how much more motivated they were in carrying this out compared to analysing the previous songs, although I don’t think they would have been had they not had the time spent previous on the other songs. I was extremely impressed with the range and quality of imagery used, particularly by the lower attaining children. I’d given them exactly the same task but the only difference compared with the higher attaining children was the quantity, not the quality of their ideas. Here are the instrumentals used:

  • El Distorto de Melodica by Everclear (anger)
  • Rise by Craig Armstrong (anticipation)
  • Spybreak by Propellerheads (excitement)
  • Mellon Collie and the Infinate Sadness by The Smashing Pumpkins (Melancholy)
  • In a Heartbeat by John Murphy (Moody)
  • A random chillout tune (Relaxed)
  • Balcony Scene by Craig Armstrong (Sad)

During the week I carried out guided writing with each group, developing their understanding and skills of how to create similes for effect and on Friday, after the build up all week, we finally got to create the first drafts of our songs/poems.

I was a little concerned about the images the children might use to create effective similes / metaphors, as I wanted them to draw on emotional extremes. Reading their first drafts, there are certainly images which fit that bill, such as referring to ‘when someone died’. However, after discussing this image with the child, they said they were talking about someone not being there anymore, not actually dying. I think the quality of writing in their first draft, which was far higher than normal, validates the week’s work. It will be interesting next week to see how they go about explaining the images they have used, i.e. how much thought was put into the images, were they selected for purpose or was it a stream of conciousness?

Here are lines and complete first drafts from each member of the class. The only thing I’ve altered is the spelling. I’d be really interested to hear other peoples comments:

She felt like her blood was shaking.

Butterfly surfing, they surf thousands of miles to the end of earth.

I was a dark night, I felt like a tornado was crossing my heart like a spinning top.

I’m just a normal mammal but people treat me like I’m a miniature bug.

It’s just like the lightning outside when you don’t want to be there.

I felt like a ghost was going to scrape its claws right on my spine.

I heard you go down to rock and roll heaven.

Each step I walked felt like I was fainting slowly.

You turn into rockets flying like a spaceship.

The desert was so hot I could barely walk.

There is a ghost about to scare you, like a memory.

It started to turn into a vicious fight, like a caged tiger.

Like a shining star above my head, sparkling down from heaven.

In the darkness of my dream, the stalker took my happiness and replaced it with darkness.

His teeth were as sharp as a knife.

My eyes flash red and I’m out of control.

A shark was coming at me like an erupting volcano.

Happiness is like a new born baby has just arrived to you.

When I go sledding at the pit, I feel like I am riding on happiness.

Rain Drops Alone in the dark The moonlight above me Nobody around Stars are shining.

When you died in the countryside The waves are fading, the fish swimming with them. My tears were my heart You just went without me watching you.

My heart beat was like raindrops dripping from the sky. Rain drops dripping Rain drops dripping Rain drops dripping from the bright blue sky.

You’re like a candle flame You’re like a candle flame

We were walking smoothly with the bright moon in the sky. But You Were Always There For Me The moonlight above me, When the stars are in the sky, My tears are my heart, When the candles are lit, And the waves have faded away.

But you were always there for me, When I looked down, When I looked up, When I looked to the sides, When I looked everywhere you were always there for me.

When you disappeared it was like My heart was cut so I cried and cried And it never went away when you want, It was like a mouse Trying to escape.

But you were always there for me, When I looked down, When I looked up, When I looked to the sides, When I looked everywhere you were always there for me.

The waves came up And the stars went down And the candle went out My head was like a bomb shooting down to earth.

But you were always there for me, When I looked down, When I looked up, When I looked to the sides, When I looked everywhere you were always there for me.

When the sun shone brightly, When the river splashed quietly, The cat meowed loudly, The dog barked slowly,

You were always there for me. Happiness I’m like a bird gliding in the pool, I’m like a bright star drifting in the sky, I’m like a flower waving in the air, I’m like a necklace dangling on your chest, I’m like a plane floating in the air, I’m like a bobble holding up your hair, I’m like a helper helping you to work and I’m like a friend with you all the time.

I like a smile, I like a laugh, I like a sleep, I like a rest. Swirl World I’m Outside my house smiling excitedly, Like a dolphin swimming gracefully under the sea, I find a lake and ride on the beautiful dolphin, It keeps spinning round and round, It’s like i’m in swirl world.

I feel the waves splashing on me, Everywhere I go I keep seeing swirls, Even in the sky, I’m definitely in swirl world.

But then the dolphin goes under the sea, I have to hold my breath, The dolphin goes into a cave, But still I see swirls, Even inside the cave, I’m still in swirl world.

Knock Out There in the white moonlight, My match was lost, The blood in my body Bails like an erupting red volcano

On a curb, The building lamp post shot powerful rage, Into me, Like a roaring fire.

My match was lit brightly, My heart beats like a terrifying lion roar.

Blocked Out I’m sitting in a chair, A ghostly shadow scampered past Whimpering it paused suddenly, All the lights blew out.

I’m trapped I can’t get out I can’t breathe My body is boiling with rage I explode like a rocket.

I found a loose brick behind a famous picture I crawled through, It ended in the millionaire queen’s dining room, She did not know, it was like she could not see me.

During the week we also created CD Covers together using a Photoshop Elements template. We imported appropriate images to convey the emotion of the song, developed our understanding of layers, added song titles and exported our final designs as jpegs to be uploaded and discussed on our learning platform, Studywiz. I had planned to use effects to further enhance the images rather than just lift them from the internet but we ran out of time. Here are a few of their covers:

Originally published at on January 16, 2010.