Reigate and Banstead writes!

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:

http://www.warwick.surrey.sch.uk/2016/reigate-and-banstead-writes/

http://redhillbelfry.co.uk/news-events/news/reigate-and-banstead-writes-winners-announced/

www.readingzone.com (thanks to Caroline Horn)

 

Roald Dahl inspires WBD fun in Fulneck School in Leeds

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.’

 

Murder by the Book!

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On Monday 4th July, KS3 students at Abraham Darby Academy, Telford, were presented with an unusual library-based activity: solving the mysterious murder of a librarian’s assistant!
Run as a competition to help students develop both group and individual oracy skills, ‘Murder by the Book’ challenged student teams to visit a crime scene set up in the library, investigate 44 different clues within a set time limit and work together to uncover the truth. After completing their warm-up detective exams, teams spread out across the library to discover, deduce and determine.
With three suspects in the frame (including the librarian herself) and a number of red herrings to lead teams astray,
all themurder-by-the-book-2 clues had to be carefully examined, recorded and cross-referenced. After visiting the crime scene, teams were then given time to pool their ideas and formulate theories as to who did it, why, how and also how the remaining two suspects could be proven innocent.
 
The activity culminated with each team presenting their findings before a ‘judge’. Individual team members were tasked with explaining certain sections of their case and marks were awarded for the clarity of their murder-by-the-book-3presentations, along with the number of clues accurately explained. After the winning team was selected and awarded their certificates, the murderess revealed herself and the whole solution was presented. All students involved were fully engaged with the activity and the complexity of the case generated some lively discussions and resulting presentations.
Produced by Box Clever Education, ‘Murder by the Book’  is a unique murder mystery kit designed to help KS3/4 students develop literacy and employability skills. If you think a murder mystery would appeal to your students and would like to find out more, please visit http://www.boxclevereducation.com.
For a unique opportunity to see the game in action on a training day in a school in SE London, then book on to this CILIPSLG Training day which takes place on 24th October 2016.

The Tri-Wizard Tournament: World Book Day Festival 2016

Debbie Kennedy, the Librarian at Wilmington Academy wrote to tell me of an amazing event her school held for World Book Day:Hogwarts teachers

‘Each year the Director of Literacy and myself choose a theme relating to the wonderful world of books and hold a “Festival” for two weeks around World Book Day. The aim of these festivals is to not only promote literacy but to allow students to use a variety of other skills including creative thinking and problem solving. 
Last year we held our very own ‘Hunger Games’ which centered around the Trilogy and we won both the Dartford District and Kent Regional Literacy awards for “The Most Engaging Book Week Theme.”

So this year’s theme needed to be even bigger and better and after a lot of deliberation we chose the Harry Potter series, turning our Academy into Hogwart’s to hold a Tri-Wizard Tournament.
It certainly was the best festival so far.  We held a series of challenges including a Horcrux Treasure Hunt, Quidditch Cup, Magical Spelling Bee and Wizarding Trivia Duels, as well as setting a task for each tutor group to prepare a series of relics.  The relics included designing their own wizarding school, a founder’s wand, school uniform and a Marauder’s map.
Students competed for points for their tutor group and of course the glory of becoming a wizarding champion.   
We also held a Care of Magical Creatures Workshop for KS3 students with Eagle Heights bringing along their birds of prey (eagle, hawk, peregrine falcon and owl). The fantasy author Sara Grant was also invited along to hold Creative Writing Workshops.Hogwarts owl
Once again we have been nominated for the most engaging book week theme so fingers crossed.
For more in depth detail of our event please see below.

Anime Club at Fort Pitt Grammar School

Kim Davis, Librarian at Fort Pitt Grammar school in Medway, wrote to tell me about the Anime Club she runs in the Library.

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“We run Anime club weekly after school where we show two episodes of an all-ages Anime followed by two of a slightly more mature theme. Manga club runs fortnightly at lunchtime and focuses on drawing, craft and sharing Anime/Manga news. We also run special events such as “Live Action Day”, when we showed live action drama adaptations of Anime and compared them to the cartoons, which was really popular! This term we also made “Naruto” style ninja headbands and next term we are going to hold a “Cherry Blossom Picnic”, collaborating with the food technology department to make our own Japanese bento style lunches and then eat them under the blossom trees.

Anime and Manga can be educational in much the same way as literature, but with a distinctly Japanese flavour. It can engage reluctant readers, help develop visual literacy, encourage creativity and has a valuable role in widening perspective. We’ve even presented these benefits to a school focus group for enrichment to promote the club! Many people worry about violence in Anime and Manga, but there is a lot out there that is suitable for younger years, just like with any media. Legal streaming on subscription websites such as Crunchyroll provides an easy way to show anime in school.

It can be difficult to get support from parents, who may not understand “the point” of Anime or Manga and who may be apprehensive about it. To combat this I made a leaflet outlining some of the benefits of anime and manga and introducing parents to Anime they might like to share with their children at home. I love to watch students from all years chatting eagerly with each other, especially those with social difficulties who struggle otherwise to make friends. School can be a very stressful place for students today, but the students who enjoy Anime and Manga are creative, more able to create a home/school balance and bounce through the halls, knowing there’s something to look forward to (apart from homework!) when they get home.”

You can download the wonderful leaflet that Kim has so generously shared with us here.

Information Literacy and Teen Tech Award

Snip20160112_2There is some fantastic new material available if you are involved in teaching information literacy in your libraries.  Members of the CILIP Information Literacy group and the School Libraries Group have been collaborating on documents to support the  Teen Tech Awards, and they have produced some excellent sheets which are free to download which you can use in order to support teaching this subject.  You can find the sheets here  and more information about how to enter the Teen Tech Award here.

NPD Poetry Slam at Heartlands High School

Helen Swinyard, LRC Manager at Heartlands High School, wrote to tell me all about the wonderful Poetry Slam she held at her school:

‘We celebrated National Poetry Day in style with the first Poetry Slam of the year. Pupils and staff performed either their own poems, or some of their favourites, and were judged in categories by our scoring judges and an avid audience. Our wonderful host poet, Michelle Madsen, kept things running smoothly and performed her own poetry too.

Winners in each different category won prize bundles including a poetry book. 

Category 1: First Story poets

Category 2: performers reading favourite poems

Category 3: performers reading own created poetry

We discovered some great new year 7 poets as well as hearing from some seasoned performers. There was a wonderful mix of poetry too – some funny, some poignant, some clever. We also learnt some Poetry Slam jargon such as ‘score creep’ where judges get more enthusiastic as a slam goes on (that’s why you have several judges and discount the top and bottom scores).

Michelle Madsen is our current Poet in Residence, running the First Story creative writing club with pupils for the second year in a row.  You can find out more about First Story here and on Twitter @FirstStory. You can find out more about Michelle Madsen here and on Twitter @mishmadsen .

Mr Bola is our secret Poet in Residence. By day he is one of our Engage Officers; by night, a world-class poet. You can find our more about his poetry here or on Twitter @JJ_Bola ‘

Sounds like a great idea for next year!

Celebrating 20,000 loans last school year at Plumstead Manor

Plumstead 20000 loansJennie Paton, Librarian at Plumstead Manor, held a very special celebration at the end of last year.  This is what she told me:

Plumstead Manor is a London girl’s school with a little under 1500 students and last term at PML we noticed our students were on the verge of doing something spectacular: they were well on their way to borrowing 20,000 resources in just one year!  Well, we couldn’t not celebrate, could we? We had high hopes and lots of plans but with the end of term approaching we had to settle on just three of our original schemes. So, we chose one idea which would reward the whole school, one to celebrate our best readers, and one that would let us share our student’s love of books with the world.

To reward the whole school we allowed students, much to their delight, to take a book over the summer holidays. It might not sound like much, many schools do it every year, but after years of books lost in exotic locales it was quite a leap for us (and were waiting with baited breath to see how many we get back!). There’s nothing like getting a cheer from a class full of year 8’s when you tell them they can read more, that is what they mean by ‘reading culture’!

To reward our best readers and our regular visitors we gave awards for some of the more (and less) obvious achievements, most books borrowed, most reviews written, biggest otaku; and prizes for the borrower of every 500th book until we reached our total. Students loved checking our totaliser in the school reception every day to find out if they were the umpteenth-hundreth borrower.

The hardest and most ambitious part of our celebration however is the one that is going to continue to be the most rewarding for years to come: we decided to Bookcross (www.bookcrossing.com) 100 of our school’s favourite books of all time! Bookcrossing lets you ‘release’ a book into the wild and track its journey wherever it goes.  

Leading up to the last week of term we sent surveys to every form group and every member of staff asking them to nominate their top ten books of all time and let us know why they were so great. Then we had a couple of weeks to work out the top 100 (surprise, surprise John Green got a lot of votes), find the books, and get them all labeled up ready for their adventures.

On the last Wednesday of term our Readers’ Club headed out to London with many bags of books, to drop off as many as we could at landmarks around the city. We live tweeted our whole adventure (@pmschoollib) and the girls, and even some of the authors loved it!  Cathy Cassidy sent her followers straight out to find the copy of Cherry Crush we hid in Leicester Square!  Though I think by far the best moment of the day was outside the Tower of London, when the girls spotted a couple picking up the book we had just left. They were ecstatic!

Anyone else have comparable figures? I would be very pleased to loan out half as many books!

 

Alice in Wonderland Celebrations at Bishop’s Stortford

DSC_8849On Monday 29th June, the Prep School had a day full of Alice in Wonderland. For the Prefects Charity Day pupils were invited to dress to meet the Alice theme! There was also a themed Tea Party as part of the Library book club, at which over 60 pupils, from Year 3 to 6 attended, ate some truly wonderful cakes which had enticing messages, and answered questions in the Mad Hatter’s Quiz.

The White Rabbit made a very late appearance… There was a dormouse librarian, who unfortunately kept falling asleep.

The pupils over the last few weeks have been enjoying a range of Alice themed activities – from maths lessons featuring Alice in Numberland, to entering a short story competition in which they were invited to describe their idea of Wonderland.

As this is the 150th anniversary of Lewis Carrol’s children’s classic, it was the perfect theme to celebrate the end of term for the Prep School who have all worked so hard this year.DSC_8850