Training Day – Teachers Run with Film in Literacy

Our latest training day was jam packed with ideas showing how to use film in Literacy. We had a superb presentation from Philip Webb showing Literacy encoding and decoding skills in action through the use of film. Philip shared the great Decide Now app which can be customised to address the 3 Cs and Ss.  After listening to the opening music from the film Hugo (see films for the classroom page) we tried the Sound On Vision Off approach to describe what we could hear. Lots of our schools use this as a stimulus for writing activities. We had to sequence a series of images taken from the book Hugo and explain why we put them in the order that we did. This reinforced our understanding of sequencing and camera shots. We had started to build a story in our minds and crucially we had started to develop connections between each of the images. Philip had the brilliant idea of using IKEA film strips to house each image in the sequence (see below).

We looked at the brilliant resource developed by Chris Whitney in Lincolnshire linking different sentence starters to different camera shots (see below). Once we had done this we could replace each screen shot in each frame with our own writing.

After that we used the Into Film activity called Shots in Sequence. This allowed us to compare two shots next to each other. We structured our explanations by using the versatile and ever popular Venn diagram. Lots of our teachers have used this for comparing characters in films or books, scenes or comparing a scene in a film to a paragraph in a book. This activity took us decoding to encoding the activity.

Both Philip and I feel as if the presentations from the teachers were the best we’ve ever seen. I’ve added some of them below. Rachel Clifton from Clayton Village Primary used the book and film of How to Train Your Dragon.   Her presentation, which gives details of the wide range of skills and writing genres, is below.

Rachael is not afraid to incorporate technology into her teaching. Below you can see pupils analysing the text on a page of How to Train Your Dragon using the Screenchomp app.

How to Train Your Dragon – Analyzing the text – Clayton Village Primary from Curriculum Innovation on Vimeo.

Linda La Touche from Clayton C.E has been using Media Literacy in her guided reading lessons. Her presentation is below.

Nick Carter from Fagley dived straight in and made a Beowulf film with his class. The children have done lots of work related to recognising different camera shots and most importantly why they were used. His children have watched lots of other films and he told us how less able children had been engaged and been able to working on inference and deduction skills using film.


Victoria Wood from Westbourne Primary School looked at how important different shots are in conveying meaning in film. Children analysed shots to extract as much information as they could relating to character, setting and time, this also made extensive use of the Pie Corbett Questionator technique and the activities on our own resources page as can be seen in the slides in her presentation below.


Cath Binns is a year six teacher at Bolton Brow Primary school in Sowerby Bridge. When I sat down to plan with her she showed me the amazing film Gareth’s Story(see below)  that was created by the Happy Days Charity for whom she volunteers. Cath told us how she started using the film In a Heartbeat to familiarise children with different film shots and how they are used before moving on the Gareth’s story. The children wrote in the roles of passers by who reacted differently to the homeless man. A highlight of this work was meeting people from the charity and interviewing them. One of the most powerful events will be when Gareth, the star of the film attends a lesson to be interviewed by the children. The image below will take you to the Bolton Brow blog where you can watch a video of children in role reacting to seeing a homeless person. it’s worth reading the many comment written by the children attesting as to the value of using Media Literacy in their work.

Gareth’s Story from David Fawcett on Vimeo.

The quality and variety of activities and how they are closely linked to both reading and writing skills bodes well for our children this year.


In the afternoon we had an excellent presentation from Rob Smith, who runs the Literacy Shed web site. We had asked Rob to focus on poetry, an area often overlooked in the field of Media Literacy. His presentation was packed with ideas to use in the classroom and presented with pace and humor. His first reaction upon being asked to present on poetry can be seen below….

Rob came up with the goods and shared superb filmed performances of poems with us. A highlight of this was Johnny Depp performing the Jabberwocky. We explored portmanteau words and watched the superb Simpson’s version of the Raven by Edgar Allen Poe. The films we used can be seen in the Poetry Shed and the Ghostly Shed on the Literacy Shed web site.

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