Produced by Shaun at Forge Valley School – wonderful use of Prezi and exciting way to promote books!
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.
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.
Have you wanted to dip your toe into Twitter, but been held back by a lack of know-how? Well now you can jump straight in, with a new How-To Guide created by John Iona. Beautifully simple with clear pictures, you will soon be tweeting away! Have a look in the How To folder in the Box files on the right of the Heart front page, to download your copy now. If you use or reproduce anything in any of the folders, please have the courtesy to acknowledge the librarian who put a lot of hard work into creating these resources. Thank you!
The video player that I have used to embed the book trailers on this site is called VPFactory. When Vodpod closed I was really upset, as I loved their embeddable widget and missed it from Heart. However, this site is free and much better, I think, as you can make customised players which allow people to choose the video they want. Using and uploading the videos is free and very easy. I have made customised players for different book genres on my new school website, for instance. I am not being sponsored for this by the way, just thought you would all like to know about a fabulous new tool for promoting reading!
Whilst I am at home during the summer holidays, I have been taking the time to update and increase my Pinterest lists of books. These boards can be seen by clicking the button to the right of the screen. I like Pinterest, for the following reasons. It is visual, and therefore looks accessible and interesting on page for young adults. It allows for one or two line reviews under each book for everyone who joins this free site. You can repin the posts easily onto boards of your own, thus allowing students to make up their own reading boards. There is also a really easy bookmarklet for your browser to make pinning simple. But best of all, in the spirit of this site, all of the boards are collaborations between many school librarians, so that our collective knowledge is pooled. If you feel that you would like to be a collaborator in any of these boards (which then add themselves to your set of boards), then just follow me and send me a message asking to be added as collaborator.