## The magic of ... *Literacy*

*Reading time:*5 minutes.

**Using magic to support instructional writing.**

Knowing the secret behind a trick is not the same as being able to perform the trick well! To do that, you need to use your performance skills to create a sense of wonder. To really engage your audience you need an imaginative story. Not only that, in order to be able to perform the trick for the first time, you also need precise instructions - this is where good literacy skills really come into play! Let’s take the following example:

In the above example, the emphasis is to explore the importance of precise instructions when creating algorithms however, with a little tweaking, we could easily turn this into an instructional writing task.

**The trick**

Just as in the previous example, start be demonstrating the trick to the whole of the class. After completing the trick, challenge the students to see if they can re-create the trick, then to write step-by-step instructions. To help the students, give them a list of imperative verbs (bossy words) and time connectives for them to use in their instructions:

*Some Imperative verbs (bossy words) and time connectives for students to use in their instructions.*

*To encourage accuracy, the teacher needs to be really pedantic when following the students' instructions. This will encourage the students to revise their instructions - and try their best to 'beat the teacher'!*

**Top tip:****Using magic to support creative writing (Storytelling).**

Every good trick needs an imaginative story. A good story not only engages the audience but it can also be used as a divertion to conceal the mechanics behind the trick.

Instead of re-writing the instructions, challenge students to write a new story to go with the magic trick.

**Gamifying learning**

Want to add an extra fun element to the task? Then, why not add some 'gamification' to the lesson! To make the task more challenging, award points for each verb/connective used based on the complexity, for example: 3 points for the word 'Dark and 5 points for the word 'Ominous'. This will add a competitive element to the challenge with students receiving a total score based on the complexity of the language used in their stories.

*Gamify literacy by awarding points for the complexity of words used.*

**How to get started**

The good news is that you don’t have to be a professional magician to perform these tricks – nor do you need to join the magic circle! Thankfully, there are a number of websites that will show you how to perform these simple tricks as well as show you how to incorporate these tricks into your lesson plans.

Below is a collection of websites dedicated to the use of magic in the classroom:

*The magic of…*The magic of series is a collection of resources, produced by Queen Mary University of London, which aims to support teachers in the use of magic in the classroom to engage and inspire learners. All the resources are linked to the national curriculum and cover principles found in subjects such as Mathematics and Computing. Each resource contains a selection of hand-picked magic tricks and includes step-by-step instructions as well as explanations of how the tricks work.

Websites:

- The magic of Computing: http://www.cs4fn.org/magic/
- The magic of Mathematics: http://www.qmul.ac.uk/mathsmagic/

*Maths Made Magic*A handbook of mathematical based magical tricks intended for use in the classroom. These magic tricks have been mapped to the KS4 curriculum and cover a diverse range of mathematical concepts from probability to Pythagoras. The handbook also contains step-by-step instructions for performing each trick as well as details of the mathematical principle behind the trick.

Website: http://www.qmul.ac.uk/mathsmagic/

*The manual of mathematical magic*As well as showing you how to perform a variety of mathematical magical tricks, the book explores the mathematics behind each trick and explains how that same mathematics is used in the real world. It also looks at the varied and exciting sorts of jobs that make use of the mathematics powering your magic. All the tricks are self-working, which means there is no need to know any clever sleight of hand, and cover a range of mathematical concepts from addition to algebra.

Website: http://mathematicalmagic.com/

*Illusioneering*A book containing easy to do magic tricks based on scientific principles covering chemistry, physics, engineering and mathematics. Each trick includes step-by-step instructions as well as tips for performing the trick.

Website: http://illusioneering.org/

**Want more?**Here are some more resources to help you get started:

- Hocus Focus: Magic tricks to support children with special needs.
- Teach by Magic: Magic tricks designed specifically for teachers.
- Magic Perspectives: A collection of magic tricks to use in the classroom.
- Shizzle Dizzle Magic: Magic tricks for teachers to use in their classroom.