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Inanimate Alice sparks Year 6’s curiosity

The beautiful digital series, Inanimate Alice is transforming the way Year 6 students tell stories, and it is captivating even the most reluctant reader.

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Technology provides rich opportunities for writers to explore new ways of telling stories, engaging the reader in imaginative and exciting ways. This term, our Year 6 students have been studying the multimodal text, Inanimate Alice. This digital novel cleverly combines graphics, text, images, music and sound effects, with movie elements and games. By making imaginative use of the potential provided by technology platforms and devices, Inanimate Alice invites the students to shape and navigate the text, building meaningful content experiences in the process.

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The story centres on the adventures and experiences of Alice and her imaginary friend Brad. Although, according to our Year 6 students, it is not obvious that Brad IS an imaginary friend. Some of them wonder if he is 'the voice inside Alice's head'. While others wonder if he's her 'digital friend', a 'digital animation who comes to life' or 'her intuition.' As readers, the students then follow Alice's adventures as she grows up in the first half of the 21st century, travelling between countries like China, Italy, Russia and England.

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Although it reads as a novel, Inanimate Alice reels in the students’ attention almost like a movie or a video game, encouraging them to read on and discover Alice’s secret and the reason why she keeps moving across the globe.

Over the past week, the Year 6 teachers have been asking their students to reflect on what they’ve learnt so far.

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In Mrs Froggatt’s class, the students worked with a partner to come up with five things they would like to know about Alice. They had to choose their best question and read it out to the class in order to prompt further discussion and inquiry.

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Mrs Froggatt then played excerpts of the second episode, where Alice is in Italy. She asked the students to predict how they thought the story would unfold. Are there any clues in the text? What do the photographs tell them about the place Alice is staying? What do they think has happened to Alice’s parents? She then asked them to consider what lines of inquiry they might like to follow after being inspired by the text. What aspects of the story has piqued their interest and what might they like to explore further?

After each episode of Inanimate Alice, Year 6 will be encouraged to reflect on their learning asking questions like: How can I find out what others thought? Have I considered different points of view? Are my questions being answered? How do I want to show what I’ve learned? Can I use what I learned to make a difference?

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Engaging with Alice and becoming part of her world is giving Year 6 an opportunity to reflect on aspects of their own lives and to think carefully about how they express themselves. It is making them think in more depth about how they discover and articulate their ideas, feelings, beliefs, values and perspectives.

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In an increasingly interconnected world, Inanimate Alice is an invaluable exercise in supporting Year 6 to develop insight, understanding and empathy into people who live very different lives to their own, while fostering their natural curiosity about the world.

No wonder they can’t wait for the next episode!