Poetry kites at John Lyon School

As the theme of this year’s National Poetry Day was Freedom, Librarian Rita Halsey wrote to share the activity she set up in her school.   She says: ‘We celebrated National Poetry Day on Thursday 28 September, with a lunchtime event in the Library. As the theme was Freedom we used kite templates for our budding poets’ compositions, enticing them in with a tasty selection of cakes, sweets and biscuits.’

 

Her Marketing Department tweeted about the event, and it generated a lot of interest – as it would, being such an unusual event! National Poetry Day twitter account was very enthusiastic, as you can see.

Twitter is such a good medium for reaching people – anything you want Heart to retweet, just copy me in on @HeartOTSchool and I will do so.

The day Claire Balding came to King’s, Worcester

As told by librarian Annabel Jeffery:

‘On Tuesday October 3rd we were absolutely delighted to be chosen to host an author event with none other than Clare Balding. Pupils from all three foundation schools were present, along with children from three local primary schools. With so many young pupils queueing for signing and needing to be organised, we could not have done without the help of a group of U6 who enjoyed a rather different key Skills session to the Research Skills that was timetabled!  They were all fantastic on the day. 

From the moment she arrived -to be greeted by a very excited and delightful U6 Reception Committee – to the moment she left after entertaining 500 children and staff in College Hall and signing 100s of books, she created a buzz wherever she went.  (Even in the cathedral cloisters where lucky visitors may have noticed her whilst passing by her as she ate her lunch and chatted to Sixth formers.) 

Clare’s talk was full of enjoyable anecdotes about her childhood spent surrounded by animals, many of which taught her valuable life lessons (as well as being the inspiration for her new children’s books about racehorses), such as the importance of belief in yourself, doing what you enjoy, trying everything without fear of failure and not worrying about being different.   But the highlight was the way in which she engaged and interacted with the children. 

College Hall will never see the likes again of Clare Balding cavorting with great drama and commitment on stage, to re-enact great sporting moments of recent times with the help of King’s St Albans children who were brilliant.  Firstly she re-staged the final of the triathlon world series in September 2016 when Jonny (played by Henry Hawes of KSA)  was helped over the line by his brother Alistair, thus illustrating the power of selflessness in sport.  Fen Harper and Martha Burden from St Albans (by chance in their hockey kit) then had the chance to act as the favoured Dutch hockey players in the Rio Olympic final, taking on Clare as Maddie Hinchliffe.  Despite their skill, Clare (as Maddie) proved that belief and preparation can help you to win against the odds. 

She was also very brave in inviting up on stage young writers of the future from each school to interview them about their ideas for a story.  I don’t think she was expecting to have the kind of complex synopsis such as that given by Amalie Prewer-Jenkinson! 

The line of pupils queueing patiently with books seemed to be endless, but Clare waited until the last book had been signed and the last pupil hoping for a selfie (each one granted) had turned up. She was even happy to give Miss Jeffery’s spaniel a birthday hug!  

Clare Balding was a passionate and inspirational speaker, who will have left many of us with unforgettable memories of the day that she came to King’s.’

 

 

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!