I made this in 2011, and it is just as relevant today!
Kay Hymas, Librarian, The Warwick School, Redhill writes about a highly successful venture she set up in her area:
“When I was 10 years old, I won a story competition, which was run by my local paper. I can remember the thrill of being told I had won and my great pride in receiving not one but two Easter Eggs as a prize.
Fast forward to May 2016 and I am now working as a School Librarian (The Best Job in the World), at the Warwick School, Redhill. A conversation with a student, who wished to enter a smallish writing competition, led me to search for something suitable but to no avail. Coming up with nothing suitable I had a brainwave. Why not set up our own?
What comes first, the chicken or egg? The very first step was to check my Head Teacher, Ron Searle was happy for me to proceed, especially with using the Warwick School’s name in the promotion. The idea as then put to rather wonderful local school librarians. Katie Hill, Sue Sullivan and Helen Connor from St. Bede’s, Redhill, Reigate School and The Beacon in Banstead respectively. Did they think an inter-school competition would work? They agreed with much enthusiasm and offered to promote any competition in school. Without this support, there would have been no Reigate Writes! Local primary schools, with whom I had strong links were also keen enough to justify setting up a separate competition for children in years 5 and 6.
We now had the seeds of our ‘hyper-local’ competition. The name and logo had to be settled without delay. I needed to assemble judges and prizes.
Jane McGowan, Editor of the Surrey Downs Magazine and theatre critic, readily agreed to act as ‘Head judge.’ She has been amazing with publicity, advice and hammering out the golden rules for judging the competition. She was ably backed by Chris Bedford from our local Waterstones, Neil Richards from Surrey Library Service, a local Councillor – Frank Kelly, and Michael Rattigan a peripatetic supply teacher and published poet. All have been just brilliant and I own them all a huge debt.
Attention turned to prizes, as Katie Hill had said, decent prizes would incite the students to get writing! Here is where I struck lucky. I composed a large email out to local businesses asking for support with prizes. Andy Nash (hereafter known as the magnificent Andy Nash) the General Manager of the Belfry Shopping Centre responded within 20 minutes with offers of prizes and in helping to promote the competition. This was closely followed by support from local cinemas, leisure centres, coffee shops, Sainsbury’s, signed books from authors as and the Recycling plant close to my school. I perhaps make this sound easier than it was. I have had to do a lot of chasing up both with prizes and publicity.
November 2016, Reigate and Banstead Writes is ready to launch. Entry forms and rules were distributed and School librarians went into action and we had several straplines to fire up the imagination and to grab attention.
A murder mystery in Priory Park. Or a Timeslip in Reigate Castle Grounds. Have Aliens landed on Earlswood Lakes? Is the Merstham Landfill site a Secret Volcano? A day out with friends on Banstead Common, or a voyage of discovery from Redhill Train Station. Do Merstham F.C Make it all the way to the Premiership? Are Reigate Caves a secret base for spies? Can you write a story set in your area?
January 2017. @RBWrites1, the twitter account promoting the competition went live. More than anything this got the word out and helped to cement the competition. Various authors such as Eve Ainsworth tweeted and retweeted. Jane McGowan published a piece in her Surrey Downs Magazine. My librarian colleagues worked tirelessly to promote in their own individual schools and made sure details ran in their school newsletters. Local councillors (from all parties) and the local MP Crispin Blunt, tweeted and promoted the competition and the local shopping centre put up a big display, complete with entry forms outside Waterstones.
Closing date 28th February. After verifying and counting. Reigate and Banstead Writes received 402 Entries from both primary and secondary age groups. A mammoth judging process lay ahead. Each judge shortlisted their favourites from their ‘pack’ which met the Entry criteria with the favourites being read and discussed by them all. The stories that did well were all set very clearly in our local area and had done exactly what we had asked.
Grace Moore, (pictured with her Year 5 teachers
Grace Moore won the Primary Category with her mystery story, BENEATH
Ben Herneman, a Year 8 student won the Secondary Category with his hilarious story, LORD OF THE RAILS (all southern rail users should read this)
We also had 2 x runners up in each category and several highly commended students who will be invited to the planned celebration afternoon taking place in June. I am busy organising that and on the hunt for an author to come and give out the prizes! It has been a marathon and much more exciting, demanding and bigger than I thought. But the moral of this is:
Nothing was behind Reigate Writes, no publicity budget, no funding, no money set aside for prizes no big name supporters. Rather, a good grassroots idea which harnessed the power of School Librarians working together to provide an exciting, creative opportunity for local children.
Pictured: Leon Patey 2nd place in Secondary and Laura Edwards, a ‘highly commended’ entry.
The winning stories can be read at:
www.readingzone.com (thanks to Caroline Horn)
To celebrate World Book Day, we decided to hold a Roald Dahl inspired event for our year 8 and 9 students. Beforehand, students were handed golden tickets to get them through Willy Wonka’s factory gates. Once inside, they were put into teams for the afternoon. Each group worked their way around the different themed stations, the Dirty Beasts live animals proved to be a hit with the students! Other stations included Willy Wonka’s Bean Boozled Beans, BFG’s Dream Jar Creation Station, George’s Slime making, Willy Wonka’s Blind Chocolate Tasting, BFG Breakout puzzle and the Roald Dahl Quiz. There was a real buzz about the afternoon, student feedback included:
‘I mostly enjoyed petting the animals. I especially enjoyed handling the bearded dragon’
‘I really enjoyed the dream jars and the animals. It was really fun to pet animals that you don’t normally see!’
‘The animal corner was my favourite; I especially enjoyed holding the snake. The jars were also very fun, however messy!’
‘My favourite parts were holding Monty the Snake and the puzzle station.’
Top to Bottom: Alex Wheatle, MG Leonard, Taran Matharu
On Thursday March 9th 2017, selected children from several different schools around Southwark packed into Canada Water Library to find out the results of the Southwark Book Award 2017. The Award had been relaunched this year, with six shortlisted books published during the school year 2015/2016, and voting was open to children in Years 7 & 8.
Three of the shortlisted authors – Taran Matharu (The Novice) M.G.Leonard (Beetle Boy) and Alex Wheatle (Crongton Knights) were present at the ceremony, which caused an extra frisson of excitement amongst the children present. The three other shortlisted books were The Boy at the Top of the Mountain by John Boyne, Jessica’s Ghost by Andrew Norriss and The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell.
The pupils had already voted for their favourite book online, but once at Canada Water Library they were split into groups to discuss and rank each book in terms of its style, characterisation, plot, setting and theme. Later, they were treated to a short talk from each of the authors present.
The highlight of the morning was the presentation of the Award. Jo Mead, Learning Resources Manager at Harris Boys’ Academy, East Dulwich, first announced the results of the morning’s discussion – which saw the honours for the different elements of the books fairly equally divided between the six titles. The overall winner of the Southwark Book Award 2017 however, was Andrew Norriss, for his book Jessica’s Ghost. Sadly, the author was unable to be with us on Thursday, but he sent a video in which he professed himself “absolutely delighted” and thanked all the students for their votes.
Before leaving to return to their respective schools, the students swarmed the authors present with requests for books, posters and bookmarks to be signed – a sure sign that a love of reading is alive and well in Southwark!
The Southwark Book Award is organised by the Southwark Education Librarians’ Forum, and we’re looking forward to making it even bigger and better next year. Southwark schools who would like to take part in future awards should contact Jo Mead (J.Mead@harrisdulwichboys.org.uk) to join our mailing list.
Kim Davis, Librarian at Fort Pitt Grammar School in Chatham, got very creative with zines with her Year 8 Library lessons. This is what she says:
I wanted to combine some research with a bookmaking activity and found that Zines were ideal. It was around the time of the US elections too, and many of the students wanted to be more politically active in response. Firstly we had a lesson using Barnard Zine Library’s “What is a Zine? What is the value of protest?”
We looked some example zines I’d printed and compared zines to magazines before choosing a zine to pull apart. We looked at how clear the message was, use of images to inform and entice readers and how persuasive they were. For homework the girls had to decide groups and pick a topic to focus their zine on.
Then we spent a lesson focussing on how to make a zine, using a zine about making zines from the Umamu Design Blog. Students were then encouraged to make a mock-up and decide on content for each page.
In the final lesson all the zines were brought in and we gave feedback on each other’s work based on how attractive they were, how well laid out information was and how clear and persuasive the message was. I was surprised by the quality of the work and the originality of some of the ideas! There was also a real journey from the students not knowing what a zine was at all, and being very confused in some cases, to creating amazing and expressive zines of their own. Definitely a recommended activity, especially if you have time to include some information credibility and plagiarism in there too.
Valerie Dewhurst, Librarian at QEGS Blackburn recently made her first step in to moving her information literacy lessons online. Her school has moved to Google Classroom, and she emailed me about her first online lesson.
A little while ago, before Christmas 2016, I was asked by MicroLibrarian systems to give a short talk on how Librarians engage with parents in their schools. I delivered this talk at the BETT show in January 2017. I had put the enquiry out on my Twitter, Facebook and mailing list networks, so that the topic was crowdsourced and covered lots of exciting ways to engage with parents, for both senior and junior schools. There are lots of good ideas there which I intend to adopt in my school – hope you find something of interest as well.
Jennifer Lees from Wolverhampton Girls’ High School tells us about her school’s obsession with Harry Potter – and how she became obsessed too!
‘The students at our school are OBSESSED with Harry Potter. When I first started 2 years ago (having never worked in a school library before) they were incredulous to hear that I had never read any of the books and from that day forth made it their mission to ‘encourage’ (or browbeat) me to get on board. I eventually did, and obviously fell in love with the whole series. A few weeks ago I ended up taking part in a Harry Potter quiz at a local arts centre. It turned out that a team of Sixth Form library ‘regulars’ from school were also taking part. I immediately knew my team was scuppered – the girls won, of course! I thought you might be interested to see how our prefect has used the series to highlight different aspects of our library collection, even though we don’t have much space.”
I am proud to announce that Heart of the School has been nominated as one of the best Educational Blogs in 2016! This is in UKEd Magazine, and the blog is featured alongside teacher’s blogs. Thank you to everyone who has contributed stories to Heart – all your hard work has been acknowledged! Please do keep your contributions coming in – everything from lessons you teach on information literacy to displays you put up. It is really important to show the breadth of things that school librarians do – we don’t just stamp books, we have a vital role to play in educating children. If you wish to read the UKEd magazine with the nomination in, then you can download it from here. Thank you everyone – and keep it coming! We passionately want to show that school librarians make a difference to every school!
This great advent calendar was created by Sarah Masters from the Thomas Deacon Academy. She is using it to send to tutors to advertise books in the library. As you click each star for each day, a different page opens with a book and a link to a book trailer. Sarah has been generous in allowing people to adapt the powerpoint to their own needs, therefore this will download in powerpoint and not pdf as usual. You can download it from the Box Files to the right of the posts. Thanks Sarah!