Saturday, 29 September 2012

Literacy Week Day 5

The grand finale of literacy week was a character dress up day to raise money for Pelican Post ...or it will be for them if I can get in touch with them!  Some people made a brilliant effort, but of course I stupidly left the camera at school and so can't show you any until Monday!  Multicoloured Oompa Loompas popping up everywhere, Tinkerbell telling her story at break in the playground, Batgirl and Batman dishing out justice across the school, French classes writing about the characters they were dressed as (in French, obv), Winnie the Pooh was spotted hard at work, and three  life size Wallys turned up!  Kids were finding them as well as the original Wally, who is now relaxing on my sofa after a good week trekking around the school

Our final guest was Sue Ransom, author of the Small Blue Thing trilogy.
She came to talk to our remaining Year 9s, about writing, being published, and inspirations.  Even boys that can't sit still in a normal lesson asked questions and were interested in the answers.  After school was pretty hectic as we had the favourite costumes from each House, as well as lots of staff in their amazing outfits, in the library so that Sue could pick the fave...I'm not going to tell you who the character was because I want to share a picture with you on Monday...and then as it settled down in there a few stayed to have a chat with her about writing.

Overall I think we can say the week was a success!  Loyalty cards are being waved in the library, pupils that rarely come in have been begging me to borrow books by our guests, one of the year 10 boys that really struggles with reading is going to read Soul Beach with me a few chapters a day because he was so intrigued by the sound of it, some others (including a member of staff!) have been inspired to write their own stories, finished copies of the poems written with Neal Zetter on Monday are appearing on my desk, everyone is going to really miss the literary lunches (not that I had time to eat any of them...) and teachers have really enjoyed adding literacy activities to their normal lessons.  On Monday I shall draw a raffle for all the pupils that took part in the mini-challenges for a range of signed books, sweets and other literary related goodies that I've been squirrelling away.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Literacy Week Day 4

Take a look at days 1, 2 & 3 (I can't be bothered linking to them again, they're easy to find!) for what's been happening so far.

Again, little library things, literacy starter activities, story time around the school at break, and then today's wonderful guest Kate Harrison, the author of numerous grown up books who has recently added Young Adult fiction to her repertoire with the first two books of the Soul Beach trilogy out now...
She spent half of lunch break chatting with one of my pupil assistants at the desk about what he's reading, and then talked to a group of Year 10s about social networking and the inspiration of tribute sites to her books, as well as her experience of undercover work for the BBC (I heard a boy whispering at that point "she was a spy!").  She had a really tough group of kids - a lot of them were boys that I rarely see in the library - but they sat in awe and asked some great questions, giving a lovely round of applause at the end.  After school, as James and Moira did, she stayed in the library chatting with a small group of my regulars and they really enjoyed the chance for a more intimate conversation.  AND I remembered to take a picture and bring it home, hooray!
After I waved goodbye to Kate I had to get the library ready for our literacy evening.  HoI organised it and invited parents to listen to me, her, 2nd in Inclusion and an English teacher talk about reading/writing/speaking and listening.  We had 16 come, which for our school is pretty amazing, and they were really engaged with the activities we came up with.  I talked about Accelerated Reader, reading for pleasure, and how to find things in a library (we played Dewey Bingo).

I can't believe tomorrow is the last day of literacy week!  Our last author!  Wally finding his last hiding place!  Last chance for teachers to tell kids about the books that inspired them!  And it is a dress up day!  Soooo excited, and teachers have been really excited about planning their costumes and pupils have been talking about it all week...I've told them that if they want to come in jeans and a t-shirt that is fine but they have to tell me a character from a book or film that wears jeans and a tomorrow, though we're going to the pub after school so you might have to wait until Saturday to find out how it goes, ha!


Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Literacy Week Day 3

Have a look at Day 1 and Day 2 before you read this...
Day 3 of Literacy week, yaaay!  I had a complaint this morning from one of the teachers...having read my blog, he told me off for saying teachers are only going along with the week because HoI is telling them to.  He said they're doing it because everything we've suggested is fun!  So I apologise, I know it is true, we've got a great staff team and there is always a good proportion of them that will volunteer for anything I ask them to is the case though that it has been quicker and easier to get things approved - I or HoI (or our 2nd in Inclusion, who has also helped with a lot of the preparation) have an idea, we like it, so HoI says she'll tell the Head we're doing it!  If I'd planned it alone I think it would be far more low key, for example I wouldn't dream of suggesting having an author a day and taking over that many lessons in close succession.

So we had the usual little challenges, teachers telling pupils about books that inspired them, Wally was hiding somewhere else and there was a special French story time at break and lunch in the library as it was European Day of Languages today.  Then after lunch our special guest was the wonderful Moira Young, coming to see some familiar faces as she visited us back in March to promote Blood Red Road.  The sequel came out in August, Rebel Heart, while I was warming the kids up (Moira got stuck in traffic on the way in) they laughed at me for being far too excited...but in a nice way, I think...
It felt a much more personal affair this time, talking about what inspired the landscapes in her books, and then after school a small group stayed behind to ask more questions - including a year 11 boy who had not borrowed a single book from the library until he met Moira in March and read her book and now reads a couple of books a week - and I took some pictures that I could have included here but I left the camera at school <sigh>

One of the brilliant ideas HoI had was getting our Canteen Manager in to her office to discuss a literary menu for the week.  Between the three of us we came up with some [slightly tenuous] links to meals that our kids would actually agree to eat! I made up some sheets of stickers with a picture of Oliver Jeffers's Book Eating Boy and each time a pupil chose the 'Literary Lunch' for the day they gave them a sticker to show me to swap for raffle tickets and House Points.

What more could I possibly have to share with you tomorrow?...

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Literacy Week Day 2

Check out my post about day 1 here.

So the rest of this week will be less frantic for me as my mini-Where's Wally wasn't hiding in the library, the lovely ladies at reception were looking after him today and he'll be somewhere else tomorrow, and we only have visitors in the afternoon.  Saying that, I have a lot to catch up on that I've ignored while planning this week, and I do have to stay late on Thursday to talk at a parents' literacy evening, then Friday I'll be running around taking pictures of costumes...but today...

Before school and at break I had pupils doing my wordsearches/code breakers for the day (different mini-challenges every day) as well as the usual stuff.  I had a pretty stressful break because a Head of House has hidden golden tickets around the school and the kids are pestering me to find out where they are (I don't know, honest, but they won't believe me and so get stroppy!) but it was nice to see a few loyalty cards being stamped at the desk as books were borrowed and lots came and thanked me for the books.  One of the teachers came in to tell me that his group were opening the goody bags yesterday they were really excited and thought the books were awesome!  There was a lovely peaceful corner during break where one of our English teachers was reading a Carribean tale to an engrossed cross section of pupils.  I have three teachers reading stories at break each day this week, one in the library and the other two elsewhere in the school, and they're getting pretty good crowds from all year groups!
Our star guest for the day today was the lovely James Dawson, author of Hollow Pike.  I stupidly didn't take any pictures of him without my pupils in so can't share them on here...I shall remember to do better the rest of this week!  They loved him!  He came into the library during lunch break and a few of my regulars got a bit star struck, most of them would just look at him from a distance...then he held a crowd of 60 rowdy year 10s in the palm of his hand for an hour.  I'd warned him they take a while to settle down but they're generally not awful, but I was so impressed by how taken they were with him - when he read a few pages of Hollow Pike you could hear a pin drop and they asked some great questions.  The round of applause he got at the end sounded like it was 600 pupils not 60!  A few of them, along with some pupils that hadn't been in that lesson, came to the library after school to talk to him a bit more and he was brilliant with them.

We also had support from the lovely Tales on Moon Lane for a small book shop in the library after school, selling James's book along with a nice current selection of fiction, including, of course, those by the coming authors.  They've left me the books so that I can sell them at the other events during the week, even trusted me with their cash locked away in a safe place and hovering in a paranoid corner of my mind for the rest of the week!

Tune in tomorrow for more exciting literacy happenings!  I'll have a bit more time so I might show you my literary menus

Monday, 24 September 2012

Literacy Week Day 1

The idea of having a week of literacy related activities in September was suggested by our Head of Inclusion (HoI), who became my line manager as of this term, in June and we started planning immediately.  Initially, she wanted every child to get a goody bag with stationery in it, maybe an author visit, and for departments to have a literacy focus in lessons that week...I think what we came up with is bigger than either of us anticipated on our minuscule budget!  Firstly, at the end of term I set a competition to design a logo for literacy week.  The picture below was drawn by one of our (now) year 10 girls.  This is on all the posters around the school and was stuck onto each of the goody bags.
I sent an email to a few of my contacts in childrens' publishing, begging for goodies &/or authors that might be available.  As far as guests were concerned, after some very enthusiastic responses I realised we'd be able to have someone every day (more about them later...).  Scholastic did wonders with a huge number of bookmarks, posters, postcards and sample chapters from some brilliant recent books and smaller amounts came from elsewhere.  HoI asked if I could get a book for every pupil, again Scholastic saved me with their online warehouse sale at the end of last term, and I went to Makro and bought a huge pile of sweets.  I also had a bunch of loyalty cards made for the library, I was so excited when they arrived, and we put a newspaper (at the last minute this morning) and small leaflet about punctuation and grammar in there as well as a bunch of stationery.  It took about 5 hours last week to pack 350 bags, the only time I've been relieved by our decreasing roll, they were given out at the end of today by tutors and I had a swapshop in the library for anyone that wanted to change their book.  I had a choice of about 12 titles and had considered literacy levels and interest when I put them in the bags but about 20 pupils came and changed them.
During the day today we had workshops with all of year 8 and one group of year 10 with Neal Zetter, a performance poet who works around London in schools and libraries for a very reasonable rate.  We were writing poems about food and just about every pupil got involved regardless of academic ability.  In fact, the lower ability group seemed to enjoy it most, and produced arguably the best poems, staying engaged and on task the whole time.  Neal did say before he came that 1hour sessions was his absolute minimum length of time, he prefers 90minutes, and that could be part of why the low ability session was a greater success as we stayed together across 2 periods.  I highly recommend getting in touch with Neal if you want to do something a bit different!
The best thing about this literacy week being 'sponsored' by the HoI is that she has the authority to get people to do things ;-) so every member of staff is getting involved somehow.  We have teachers reading stories at three locations every breaktime, literary themed lunches being served (I'll tell you more another day), literacy related starter activities happening in every department as well as a number of them organising their own competiitons...
There is so much more happening, I'll share later in the week!