Right Write – Hampshire SLS writing competition

Right, Write front cover

Isabelle Pearce from Hampshire SLS sent me the details of this amazing competition.  I think the schools there are very fortunate to have such a supportive SLS, when so many of us have lost ours. 

Last year in Hampshire SLS we decided to support our secondary schools with creative writing as well as the reading activities we do. We designed a short story competition to complement the new English curriculum requirement of “developing [pupils’] knowledge of and skills in writing, refining their drafting skills and developing resilience to write at length”.

The word count was 500-1000 words, and pupils chose one of three themes. Submissions were made via our Moodle VLE, so we enrolled hundreds of pupils and dozens of teachers and librarians to mark the stories. The mark scheme was out of 40 points, 10 each for Plot, Characterisation, Impact and SPAG. Judy Waite, children’s author and university lecturer, acted as the final arbiter and gave feedback to the shortlisted authors.

The top ten stories were then published in an ebook and made available to the participating schools to upload to their LMS or publish within school. The overall winner’s school will receive a writing workshop from Tarzan author Andy Briggs, and the overall winner (a year 7 pupil) £25 worth of vouchers.

Mercifully the take-up for this first run was not overwhelming, as it was tricky to organise on the VLE, but we hope that teachers will find it a useful tool in the classroom come September.

Backwell School WBN Events 2014

 

Snip20140516_3Last year, Backwell School Librarian, Anne Gibson was chosen to give Ness’s The knife of never letting go to teachers at her school (knowing they have little time to read for pleasure and concerned that they didn’t know how far teenage literature has come). Inspired by the runaway success of her actions (just about all teachers returned to the library desperate to borrow the following two books in the series and saying they had passed the book onto family and students) she decided to tackle 6th formers this year. Thrilled to see Matt Haig’s The Humans on the list, she encouraged four teachers to join her in applying to be “givers”. Each chose their favorite title which they also thought would appeal to 6th formers who are rarely seen reading for pleasure about school. She publicized the lunchtime event on the common room plasma screen and assembly on the day, setting up a display with sweets to encourage takers in the common room. Unbelievably, 10 minutes later it was all over! The only things left on the stand were a few sweets! Two weeks later and students are telling staff what they enjoyed and who they have passed their book onto. Anne also received a surprise call from Elodie and Joshua’s granny asking to “give” WBN book, The Recruit by Robert Muchamore to boys in school as her granddaughter had told her that they are not keen readers! Mr Conkie’s marvelous Random Generator was used during a Y7 assembly to choose lucky recipients, both boys and girls (as we couldn’t think of a fairer way!). Library staff have noticed Robert Muchamore’s books disappearing from the shelves as a result and one girl told us she was borrowing for her Mum!! Next year Anne is planning to ask staff to be Community Givers, by donating a book from their own library to students in their tutor groups or houses. She aims to package them attractively to heighten interest. (Brown paper bags and badges are going to feature!) This will leave more books on the website for you to apply for. She thoroughly recommends having a go and encouraging staff and students to share and talk about books. The effects will last for weeks.  If you want to see more about Backwell School’s reading journey, visit their fantastic blog.

Cadets enjoy World Book Night giveaway

WBN Cadets (5)

Sarah Masters from the Thomas Deacon Academy in Peterborough applied to be an institutional giver for World Book Night, and was successful in her bid.  This is what she did with the books:

I proposed to give books to our students who are RAF and Army cadets on the assumption that most of these are a)boys and b)boys tend to read less than girls. This was inspired by the books on the list which included Andy McNab’s “Today Everything Changes” and Muchamore’s “The Recruit”.

 

WBN Cadets (6)It was a great feeling watching all the students charging across the field after their parade to pick a book. It was also great to hear their Major stress the importance of reading and writing as these were the skills needed in the field not using phones or other tech as these wouldn’t be available. He set them all a challenge to read their book and will be expecting feedback on it. We also aim to follow up with a termly reading project based loosely on war themed books – possibly using the SLG World War 1 pack as a starting point.

 

 

Using Minecraft in your schools

There has been a discussion recently on SLN (School Librarians Network).  If you don’t know about it, this is a Yahoo Group and a very valuable source of information – most of the information on Heart comes from this group.  However, the discussion was about how you could use the extremely popular programme/app Minecraft in schools.  Sarah Pavey from Box Hill School in Surrey – one of the most innovative school librarians I know – sent me details of a project that she does with Year 7 pupils.  She has created a video which she has uploaded to YouTube for us, and has also included her lesson planning sheet which you will find in the Files section to the right, entitled ‘Castles’.  Sarah decided to replace the building part of the lesson where Year 7 pupils brought castles they built at home with virtual reality instead using Minecraft to construct the castles.  Sarah told me:

Year 7 do a module on concentric castle design. The subject teacher has already covered the basics in terms of history of design. We begin with a joint lesson between myself and the subject teacher in the classroom. We turn the class into architects for the queen/king (history teacher) and we explain that the ruler is on a generous but limited budget for their new castle and wants to make sure they get the latest features while at the same time it is safe and good value for money. We get them to brainstorm ideas collectively and then to argue why they should have that feature eg if they suggest having a portcullis I will ask them why on earth I want a gate with holes in it when I could have a solid one etc etc. Next we look at the books they might use for information so we give each pair of students in the class a couple of books and they have to explain to the rest of the class how they might use that book for research or why they might reject it. Then I show them a few websites on screen. Third part is that we tell them every good architect has a model to explain their ideas to a potential client but they can opt for a hi tech or lo tech option and there will be a prize for the top 3 in each category and then an overall winner. Each architect has to build their own. So lo-tech is models made of various materials including lego or cake (very yummy chocolate cake last year!!!) and the hi-tech include Minecraft. Basically with Minecraft they build the interior and exterior of the castle and then use something like Screencast-o-matic or their iPad to film it and add a commentary as they walk around it. We do research sessions in the library. Once all the entries are in I go back to the classrooms and award points for research, presentation etc and the class teacher does the history content.

 

 

Creating your own Literary Tube Map

So many of you asked me how Julie Aldous had created her Literary Tube map and if she had a template we could all use.  I am afraid that the display is hand drawn, but I did ask Julie to walk me through how it was created, so that it could be reproduced by any of us who were inspired to do so (me for a start!).  Julie also credits Matt Imrie for  inspiring her and helping her to find the blank tube map she started with.

To create the display:

Trace (or enlarge) a blank Tube map.  You can find one here or here.  Decide on which genres you wish to allocate to each of the Tube lines, count the stations on that line and draw up a list of books.

That is the display in essence, although it could be enhanced/varied in these ways.  You could have the ends of the lines as the harder, more stretching books in the genre.  You could also have the major crossing points where two lines/genres meet as books which can cross you over between one genre and another.  Julie said that lots of her pupils enjoyed following the lines and reading the books.  You could also, of course, create a reading task around this by having pupils read one book from every line/genre?  Anyway – if you feel inspired, go for it – and if you have photos, please share them on Heart.