Hi, my name's Barrie and I'm an English teacher, exam marker, musician, husband and father. In 2005, I had an idea to start a website to help my GCSE pupils learn about the AQA Anthology poetry. The web was still relatively new back then, but I saw most pupils wandering around with little mp3 players and wondered if they might be more receptive to lessons in that format. The website was a huge success and had hundreds of thousands of visitors from all over the world.
As the school I worked at seemed to become more focused on Excel spreadsheets than the pupils, I decided I wanted to inject more fun into English and so I had the idea for a literacy show. I trialled this on my own pupils, by writing songs to help them and the school saw an increase in their results of nearly double. The kids were happy; SLT were happy and so was I. Time to take the business on the road!
My first show was the PODCASTREVISION Roadshow, which focused on the English GCSE syllabus. I used all of the ideas that I'd used successfully in class (along with many I'd stolen from talented colleagues) and put together the show with the songs I'd written. The idea proved popular and so I turned my attention to punctuation and grammar.
Every term included in a show is researched from several reputable sources including published books and the occasional website (normally linked to an accountable source).
As each show uses a mixture of media, I decided to use Keynote for Mac. At the time, laptops weren't as reliable as some of the models available today and I found myself using software that was Mac only, so the decision seemed to make sense. I used the research, to put together a fancy presentation, including animation, sound effects and embedded video to maintain audience attention. I also use the rather wonderful Affinity Designer, Affinity Photo and the exceptionally useful Comic Life software to help with graphics.
The song writing process differs from song to song. Typically, for the shows, I've started with the lyrics first. I like to use a good old fashioned pen and paper, but also get help from a rhyming dictionary and a software programme called Masterwriter. This was a really useful bit of software, that sadly went subscription only a few years ago. I then create a back up copy in Apple Pages to apply some nice formatting, so it looks nice when printed.
Having completed the lyrics, it's then on to Logic Pro to record, produce, mix and master the songs. A typical song will have guitar, bass, drums, several synthesiser tracks and lots of vocal tracks. Everything is done in my home studio/office.
It's time consuming and takes several hours, but it's also huge amounts of fun!
In order to try and inject a bit of humour, I decided that there should be a set of corny jokes or sketches to go with the shows. These range from character based sketches to animation. Pupils will love them or hate them, meaning that teachers can offer to play them as a reward, or they can threaten to play them if tasks aren't completed on time! Sketches are written in Apple Pages.
Producing the sketches can involve using Crazytalk Animator to create the animated characters. Apple Logic is used to record the voiceovers and associated sound effects. Live character sketches can be done either on location or recording in the film studio (my living room) with a green screen.
All of the footage from different sources will then be imported into Apple Final Cut Pro X to complete. As ever, additional graphics from Affinity Designer and Photo and the ever useful Comic Life software are used for additional graphics.
With lots of editing and tweaking in Final Cut Pro and Logic, the files are all ready to be mixed in with the Keynote files.
This completes the technical aspect of the shows. Combined with lots of banter, teaching and singing, this results in a winning educational experience. We're ready to learn through laughter and raise attainment through entertainment.
Check the video on our 'Shows" page to get a flavour of the end result. Check the testimonials page to see what customers say.
The Punctuation Show and everything on this site is owned by PODCASTREVISION LTD
Director: Barrie McDermid
Company number - 06990962
VAT Reg - 978 170187
Public Liability Insurance cover for £1,000,000
The mission of The Punctuation Show is to raise attainment through entertainment and encourage pupils to learn through laughter. We aim to please in everything we do and will go out of our way to provide outstanding customer service.
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