2 July 2014

Birthday Party Bookmaking workshop

I ran one of my Birthday Party Bookmaking workshops with a group of lively and lovely 8-10year olds last week. The girls were enthusiastic, creative and imaginative. A lovely afternoon! Here are their individual and elaborately decorated hand made and bound books...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

7 February 2014

Dictionary - book or App?

For may years, I have been a fierce advocate of the book dictionary as I believe that, over time, the act of looking up a word and scanning the entries around this word, expands one's vocabulary and awareness of linked terms. There can be no substitute for seeking a translation or definition in a sea of words on the page....or can there?

My grandmother kindly gave me a copy of Collin's Robert French dictionary for my 17th birthday and I still use this and the Spanish equivalent, bought during my years of study at the University of Liverpool. The grandeur of these large tomes and the assurance that one will find any word under the sun, combine to make them super dictionaries...or are they?

I have recently read the Cementario de los Libros Olvidados trilogy by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. Three large books and great page turners, which entertained me over a number of months during the past year. I read in cafés, on the train, in bed, on the sofa and the presence of a second book would seriously have limited my reading opportunities as I sought to find space to put and refer to a dictionary alongside the novels. As a result, I swallows my pride and turned to an Android App on my Samsung Galaxy Ace called Spanish version 2.1. It has it's drawbacks (does not automatically erase the previous term entered and had limited vocabulary stored) but can be used offline and has enabled me to minimise contextual deduction of vocabulary and ensured that I know the detailed words used in descriptions.

The best discovery has been the Google Translate app for iPad. This 'knows' (some) idioms along with a massive stored vocabulary. I became an even greater fan as I discovered that the App stores my history on the screen (and below in a long scroll) and I can return to previous esl sought words in the list and, even more exciting! - with a swipe, items can be deleted from this history and so, I was able to build up my personal vocabulary list for the novel. I can know review this list and make written notes to ensure long term retention of the terms. The Google Translate App has the drawbacks that it cannot be used offline and it does not give definitions. However, the App has changed the experience of reading in a foreign language for me, as I have been able to quickly and effectively find the translation to the unknown words whilst reading here there and everywhere!

Off to start my new Spanish novel now....

Happy reading to one and all!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

14 January 2014

Short stories

In my role as a literacy intervention tutor, I am currently reading a lot of new material to prepare for sessions with my GCSE level students.

I have delighted in the diverse and descriptive range of poems in the Cambridge Examination Group Songs of Ourselves anthology and now I am working my way through a selection of the short stories in their Stories of Ourselves anthology.

Although this is work work, I feel a great sense of pleasure in reading these works of literature and the texts are broadening my horizons and my personal knowledge of literature.  In addition, I love working with a student, reluctant or resistant in the face of a poem or prose, and aiding them to recognise the beauty in the writing and the wonder in the ideas.

Another group is reading I am the King of the Castle by Susan Hill, so I'll be embarking on that tale over the weekend too.

That is to say nothing of the study of The Tempest and the language of the Bard.

So I'll away now to work and play and return anon with more news afore the week is out...

13 January 2014

Pottering around Shoreditch

I do love London. In a different way these days.  A trip up on the train gives me one (often sun kissed) hour to view the lovely Essex countryside and then I am in the busy zone.  Heightened senses and so much inspiration and information and memories and ideas.

This trip was no exception.  On board the train, I read my Spanish novel El habanero by Mario Vargas Llosa using my Android phone dictionary app and dozed a little for the hour preceding my arrival at Liverpool Street station.

I spent a lovely day in a very small area which is so full of activity that I managed to fit in four art exhibitions, a visit to Atlantis Art supplies store, lunch in the Book Club and a café stop or two! A little disappointed to find that the AOP no longer has a gallery and that the café in the health food store by Shoreditch High Street bridge has gone - but such is the beauty of London.  Continual change allows for the development, progress and diversity which makes the city vibrant.

I used to frequent the Flowers art gallery in my lunch hours during an enjoyable year spent time working at the Geffrye Museum.  This visit was not a disappointment.  I viewed over 100 submissions to an open submission project.  I noted the number of the images that I loved in my phone and later picked up a price list to compare.  It is fascinating to see how lack or excess of knowledge and savvy leads to such diverse pricing of artwork.  I was pleasantly surprised to read that I had viewed work by well known and respected artists including the sculptress Maggie Hambling - and even better, that I has not event known this!

The Prince's Drawing School exhibition of work by the Drawing Year graduates was varied and interesting.  I was drawn by work by artists using the pencil or marks in printmaking in a highly detailed manner.  I was also inspired by the fact that the drawings did not break any boundaries and left me thinking (without lowing my own trumpeter) I could do that  (that is, if I allowed time and made an exerted effort, of course!).

An evening walking round the Barbican Gallery and the Barbican's Curve Gallery was very informative, inspiring and interesting.

A series of stage backdrops by Ayse Erkman really made an impression on me and I loved the method if interacting with the backdrop screens.

 The current Pop Art exhibition was really well exhibited with two levels and the space in between being used so well.  Every turn of the head revealed a new perspective on a piece and/or a new piece! Colour and holes in walls added to the varied means of viewing the work.  A few things struck me:

It did seem a little ironic to me, that the artists began by reacting against the then newly developing world of  consumerism and ended up by being absorbed into it and producing work for the consumer.

I noted that there seemed to be a clear link between the works on a friendship level.  A large element of nepotism?

Description of some pieces included non committed vocabulary which led me to believe that the interpratations were totally made up (each to her/his own, I hear you cry!) and other pieces had no interpratation or clearly evidence based comments.

Overall, the day was super and I returned home fired with enthusiasm. Just need to allow the inspiration to stay and draw (ha ha!) from it.

Lens addiction

 I am keen to get back to manual photography in 2014, but in the meantime I have been exploring the options for photogpraphy using my ipad :-)

I love the app Pudding Camera. This gives the user the opportunity to select from a range of cameras with different lens and photography functions including panorama, blur and multiple shot.  The app also allows the selection of film type and as you select, the image alters through the viewfinder and thus gives the user a good understanding of the effect of each film type.  Additionally, you are able to control length of shot (timer) and exposure (to a certain degree).  The app is FREE :-)

I am also using Instant which is a super simple app for creating Polaroid style photos and easy to save to your camera roll.  I had pondered the idea of investing in a modern day Polaroid camera but considering the cost and possible waning of my enthusiasm for said style of photography, I decided that the £2.00 app was a better bet!

Finally, for creating multiple shot images, I have discovered Pic Jointer  and find this is super for making combination of photographs and the app allows you to control the size and colour of the frames and to add rounded corners too.

Of course, I also have my unbeatable digital SLR - and a telephoto lens on my wish list - but the portability and accessibility of the ipad has a lot to be said for it...