Children’s author Karen McCombie is on the committee of the SHINE SCHOOL MEDIA AWARDS, and would love to get the word out to more secondary schools – state, independent and special – about this amazing competition for school newspapers, magazines, podcasts or websites( both print and online). And of course, she knows the best way to spread the message is via the school librarian – the font of all school-related knowledge! Here’s how Shine works: schools register an interest via the website, which is full of useful advice about how to start and run school publications. Shortlisted schools are then invited to attend a ceremony in the City of London, where pupils have the chance to take part in workshops, have lunch in the ancient and beautiful Stationers’ Hall, and step on stage to accept some prestigious prizes, which include offers of master-classes and work experience from some of the major communications industry bodies that support Shine.
Schools can find out more and register at www.shine-schoolawards.org Why not enter your school?
This is a guest blog post from Elizabeth Hutchinson (@Elizabethutch) If you wish to join in, please either contact her on Twitter or on this email: email@example.com
Elizabeth Hutchinson is Head of Schools’ Library Service in Guernsey. She is a chartered librarian with special interests in school libraries. This includes raising the profile of school libraries and qualified librarians through advocacy, promoting the importance of information literacy within the curriculum and working alongside teachers using technology to support independent learning for students. She was runner-up in LILAC 2016 information literacy award and is also an international speaker.
I have always felt that I do not read enough non-fiction for my own professional development. I regularly read the CILIP Update and The School librarian, which if I am honest, amounts to a quick flick through unless something really shouts out to me. I enjoyed reading non-fiction when I was studying for my degree and then my masters, and when I think about this I realised that it was because there was a purpose to it. Professional development is a journey and part of my journey was about understanding that I find reading non-fiction very difficult without a reason.
Social media changed my professional development journey when I began to understand how I could use it to support my own learning. No longer did I have to hunt out the information that would be useful for me. If I was following the right people they would be curating the useful articles and research that I needed for my role as a librarian. I have read far more because of these wonderful people who are so willing to share and encourage discussion.
However, I still had this niggling feeling that I should be reading non-fiction books but knowing what to read or finding the incentive was difficult for me. I have run a fiction book club with a group of my friends for over 5 years now. What I have learnt from this book group is that there are real benefits from letting others choose the books. I have read several that I would never have picked up on my own and I have enjoyed discussing the books I have not enjoyed as much as the ones that I have.
The moment to start a PD online book club came out of the blue. I had done no research. I did not know what platform I was going to use. I did not have a list of books and if I am honest I did not know I was going to do this until the moment I decided to respond to the last question on the first ever twitter chat for #ukslachat. “What is going to be your new years resolution? If you are making one” I posted this response without really thinking about it. “I would like to start a #PD non-fiction book club. Probably online. Anyone interested?” I immediately had 5 responses saying that if I did they would love to join in.
For those of you that don’t know me should know that I am the kind of person who is very spontaneous. I do have a lot of experience and knowledge of school library services and if I think something feels right I am the kind of person to give it a go and learn by my mistakes rather than spending hours weighing up the problems or consequences. This is why I then found myself trying to work out how I was going to make this book club happen.
A little planning and thought did have to go into the next bit and luckily I do have a good knowledge of twitter hashtags, padlet platforms and access to a lot of lovely librarians who wanted to join in. Once I realised that I would not have to come up with the list of books and the librarians were willing to share books that they wanted to read I knew that this could be done and the new online non-fiction book club (#nonfbc) was born.
I have created a page on padlet that anyone who messages me via Direct Message through twitter can have access to. I have tried to keep it small but maybe this is not manageable so will have to monitor this. There is also a twitter hashtag #nonfbc for comments. We chose the first book Reading by Right: Successful strategies to ensure every child can read to succeed on the 5th December and will chat about it on the 23rd January. I think I will be using both platforms for the discussion as not everyone is on twitter or in the same time zone. There will be a set time for each discussion but anyone can join in at a later time/date if they wish. I still need to think about questions for our discussion but that will happen as I read this first book. I think that is all I need to do for now so it is just a case of watching and learning as I go along.
If you would like to join in just get in touch and come along for the ride. It may not be perfect but hopefully we will all learn something on this journey.
Photo by Rita Morais on Unsplash
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)
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.
This year, in my school, we plan to take part in NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month. There is a Young Writer’s Programme for the under-18’s. So I have created my Virtual Classroom, added in the participating students and their teacher, and await November 1st to see how it all pans out. Has anyone else taken part in this with their students? How did it go for you? Leave a comment!
Here’s the website if you want to join in too: http://ywp.nanowrimo.org/
Michael Hughes, who is an English teacher has set up Alive Poets Society site for pupils to publish their own poetry. Schools can request access for their own area of the site. It looks like a wonderful idea to me! Great for encouraging pupils to write poetry, especially leading up to National Poetry Day (October 16th). For further details please contact Michael on firstname.lastname@example.org
Lenny Dutton (@missedutton), a school librarian in the UK for quite a few years, and a Google Certified Teacher, has now moved to the States. However, she is still creating and sharing wonderful stuff, as this slideshow, which she has allowed me to share via my Slideshare (so that I could embed it) shows.