Guest Teacher’s Blog: Cat Lowe -Using Pic Collage

This month’s blog is from Cat Lowe at St Joseph and St Bede.
Cat explains how she has used the Reading Gladiators guide and supporting resources with innovation and flair to make her Year 2 sessions buzz and to share her experiences creatively on the website and via Twitter!


I am Cat Lowe and I am responsible for Year 2 Reading Gladiators at St Joseph and St Bede, Bury. Our group runs after school and the children particularly enjoy the time dedicated to pure enjoyment of books. They regularly talk about our sessions both at home and with their classmates.

This is now the second year in which we have run the Reading Gladiator’s project with Year 2 at St Joseph and St Bede. The children have been enthusiastic from the start and were amazed that they were actually allowed to take the books home to share with their families. The children were so enthusiastic, they were even spotted role-playing a Reading Gladiators session on the playground!

This enthusiasm pushed me to think about just what it was that seemed to be encouraging the children, apart from the wonderful texts which have been chosen for them. I feel that using the Reading Gladiators on-line resources and discussion guide has been valuable during our Reading Gladiators journey. I’d like to share with you some of the ways in which I have innovated and used these resources for my Gladiators. As a result of such a detailed discussion guide, this has been easy to do.

I have found that the Pic Collage app is useful for sharing our learning in reading Gladiators sessions. The children can either type their ideas and then arrange them, or I collate our ideas and present them. The beauty of Pic Collage is also that you are able to then upload these directly to Twitter and the Reading Gladiators website. It is also an effective way of sharing pictures of our sessions, particularly when the children are involved in drama activities.

The children looked at a variety of pictures in ‘The Wolf, the Duck and the Mouse’ and explored the expressions of the characters. The looked particularly closely at the eyes. We then used Pic Collage to record the expressions which the children imitated.

We also used puppets to explore character. This enhanced the children’s acting and understanding of characterisation. They enjoyed using the puppets for conscience alley and to dramatise conversations between the mouse and the duck. Pic Collage was useful again in order to share our learning.

Using Pic Collage was another great way to record our reader’s theatre experience. The children particularly enjoyed this activity as it gave them the chance to act and take on roles.

One of the suggestions in the Reading Gladiators discussion guide was that the children could think of ways to end the first sentence of ‘The Wolf, the Duck and the Mouse’. We did this, however, we used ‘Seesaw’ to record our voices and recorded ourselves reading the sentence and finishing it in different ways. Here is a link to the video. The Reading Gladiators loved listening back to their voices. Being a Dyslexia Friendly school, this also works well as an alternative method of recording, rather than merely writing.

In the Reading Gladiator’s discussion guides it was suggested that the children predict whether Daniela will smile by the end of ‘The Glassmaker’s Daughter’. As a result of the following Pic Collage, the children were able to look back at their predictions and see if they were correct.  Parents particularly enjoyed seeing their children’s predictions via Twitter and Seesaw. At St Joseph and St Bede, it has been useful to engage parents with Reading Gladiators in this way.

Pic Collage was also used again to help Year 2 Gladiators record their predictions. Each child chose a different colour and typed their prediction, based on the front cover, on the iPad. It was another good way to record and promote ‘book talk’. The children engaged well with this as an alternative method of recording, rather than writing with a pencil.

Bringing reading to life during one Reading Gladiators session happened quite by chance. Our first text this year was ‘The Glassmakers Daughter’, which is set in Venice. As I had visited Venice over the summer, the children particularly enjoyed looking at my holiday snaps! I used this opportunity to allow the children to compare ‘real’ Venice with the illustrated version on the front cover of ‘The Glassmaker’s Daughter’. They enjoyed making comparisons and spotting similarities and differences.

As a school who regularly tweet, I often post updates about our Reading Gladiators on my Twitter feed. I then use these tweets to update the Reading Gladiators website with our activities. Photographs can be uploaded to the website simply and an update is quick and easy to do, and it is lovely to receive a response from the Reading Gladiators team at Just Imagine.

You can follow my twitter feed @Missclowe5l.