A few people have asked me to post some information about the Doctor Who work my class completed last week. It was planned with the aim of beginning to engage some of the learners who had negative attitudes towards literacy. I’ve always found using the children’s own popular culture in the curriculum to be an effective way to make them realise that literacy is relevant to their own lives. This isn’t a new idea of course – you just have to read some of the work of Anne Haas Dyson, Elaine Millard and Jackie Marsh (among others) to understand the importance of popular culture in the curriculum.
I chose Doctor Who because I knew a large proportion of my class were immersed in the world of the Doctor and his travels in the TARDIS. I wanted the children to see how they can be part of imaginative worlds and that their stories can extend beyond going to the cinema, supermarket and to their friend’s house for tea. I therefore decided to edit the Doctor Who main titles to include the names of the Year 2 classes (see above). The video features the Doctor and Martha Jones as they set off on a new adventure – I designed it so the children think about what happens next. It was an instant hit after the initial surprise of actually seeing Doctor Who appear on our interactive whiteboard. The video hooked them in and we were ready to move onto the next activity – drama. I set the scene by explaining that imagination is important when creating new stories (even with familiar characters). The children then had to imagine that our data projector (suspended from the ceiling) was actually an alien spacecraft – the results were fantastic. Children’s worlds of popular culture from home, the playground and school were fused together to create a stimulating activity.
The next stage involved the children creating character profiles and their own versions of the stories. We had much more imaginative ideas that usual with most children choosing to incorporate other characters and settings that we did not discuss in any of our lessons. I embrace this – letting children control writing as a craft to communicate their own ideas is something that I believe should be valued and cherished.