This week the National Literacy trust launched two new online resources to support families and educators.
The first is called Virtual School Library. You can access it here.
Each week the Virtual School Library will introduce a children’s author or illustrator and share books, videos and recommended reads.
Here’s an example from this week (w/b September 14th 2020).
The second is called Words for Life. You can access it here. Words for Life provides resources “for parents, children and young people to improve their language, literacy and communication skills from home” (NLT, 2020a, lines 3-5).
The resources can be accessed by age group and are practical and engaging.
National Literacy Trust. (2020a) Words for Life. [online] Available from: https://wordsforlife.org.uk/ [Accessed: 18/09/2020].
National Literacy Trust. (2020b) Happiness and wellbeing. Words for life. [online] Available from: https://wordsforlife.org.uk/ [Accessed: 18/09/2020].
National Literacy Trust. (2020c) Current authors of the week. Virtual library. [online] Available from: https://wordsforlife.org.uk/virtual-school-library/authors/ [Accessed: 18/09/2020].
As you keep up to date with the news you will no doubt be considering how we in education can work for a more fair and equal society. In classrooms using children’s literature as the basis for conversations is a good way in.
This author notes that: “Beyond addressing issues of race and racism, this children’s reading list focuses on taking action. It highlights resistance, resilience and activism; and seeks to empower youth to participate in the ongoing movement for racial justice. Children not only need to know what individual, institutional, and internalized racism looks like, they need to know what they can do about it.” (The Conscious Kid, 2019, lines 22-270).
Another great source of book recommendations in this field is from classroom teachers. Year 4 teacher, Miss Newton (@MissNewton91 on twitter) has shared this presentation of her recommended picture books. You can access it here.Going beyond sharing and talking about stories it is also vital to integrate the black experience across all the subjects that we teach. Miss Newton shared her planning for a Year 4 history unit which you can access here.
From children themselves as readers we can begin to understand how it feels to find oneself represented in the books that are around. Ananya Ganesh, a fifteen year old, had written about this in her blog post ‘We need more #ownvoices books’ which you can read here.
As well working in our individual classrooms in stories and the curriculum there are also organisations to support and develop diversity in education. One of these is BAMed:
“BAMEed is a movement initiated in response to the continual call for intersectionality and diversity in the education sector. All members are volunteers and have committed their time and efforts into creating a tangible support network to equip teachers and leaders with the tools to progress into and through the workforce.
BAMEed connects, enables and showcases the talent of diverse educators so they may inspire future generations and open up the possibilities within education careers.” (BAMed, 2020, lines 3-5).
BAMed is developing regional networks, resources and and a network of speakers. They have collected a useful book list which you can see here. This was curated by Darren Chetty (@rapclassroom), Kaen Sands O’Connor (@ksandsoconnor) and Books for keeps (ABooksforKeeps).
They also recommend exploring Letter Box Library which specialises in selecting and recommending books “in which all children can see themselves and which reflect our world community in all of its diversity” (Letterbox Library, 2020, lines 9-10).
Now is the time to use the amazing stories, resources and networks that we have around us to educate ourselves and the children we support to take action to grow up in a more just and fair world.
If you are interested in exploring the representation of black and ethnic minorities in children’s literature this CLPE survey was published in 2018.
BAMed. (2020) About us. website [online] Available from: https://www.bameednetwork.com/about-us/ [Accessed; 03/06/2020].
Ganesh, A. (2020) We need more #ownvoices books. website. [online] Available from: https://www.ananyaganesh.com/post/we-need-more-ownvoices-books [Accessed; 3rd June 2020].
Letterbox Library (2020) Letterbox Library. website. [online] Available from: https://www.letterboxlibrary.com/ [Accessed 3rd June 2020].
The Conscious Kid. (2019) 31 Children’s Books to Support Conversations on Race, racism and Resistance. Notew0rthy. [online] Available from: https://blog.usejournal.com/31-childrens-books-to-support-conversations-on-race-racism-and-resistance-9dbabc28360e [Accessed: 03/06/2020].
The Conscious Kid. (2019) A children’s book list for anti-racist activism (image). Notew0rthy. [online] Available from: https://blog.usejournal.com/31-childrens-books-to-support-conversations-on-race-racism-and-resistance-9dbabc28360e [Accessed: 03/06/2020].
As the month of June begins there are some interesting activities taking place to draw our attention to the natural world.
The first is the annual event run by The Wildlife Trusts: “30 Days Wild“.
At the link you can sign up to take part as a family, a care home, a business or a school or group. When you sign up you will receive a downloadable wall chart to help you plan a month of wildlife centred activities along with some other useful and fun resources.
You can see the first two weeks of the calendar here.
Another activity that takes place next week is international Nature Journaling Week (1st to 7th June 2020). The aim of the week is to “come together as a world-wide community to celebrate and document the beauty and diversity of the natural world”. (NJW, 2020, lines 7-8).
As well as a theme of each day and “live” online activities there is a useful ‘for parents and teachers” page. It has suggestions for how to involve children in observing and recording nature in the early years, primary years and teenage years along with a website link to John Muir Laws’s resources.
Finally, of course, as always at this time of year Springwatch is running on BBC and social media channels.
There are live broadcasts on social media at 9am, midday and 5pm along with the terrestrial BBC2 program at 8pm on Tuesdays to Fridays for three weeks. There are live webcams streaming all the time, allowing wildlife to be observed live from wherever you are.
The weather is great so now is the time to go and look at the outdoors wherever you are and notice what is happening in the world around.
Nature Journaling Week (2020) Welcome to International Nature Journaling Week. NJW website. [online] Available from: https://www.naturejournalingweek.com/ [Accessed 29/05/2020].
Nature Journaling week. (2020) For parents and teachers webpage. NJW website. [online] Available from: https://www.naturejournalingweek.com/parents-and-teachers [Accessed 29/05/2020].
BBC 92020) Springwatch. BBC. [online] Available from: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b007qgm3 [Accessed: 29/05/2020].
The Wildlife Trusts. (2020) 30 Days Wild calendar. The Wildlife Trusts. [online] Available from: https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/sites/default/files/2020-04/combinepdf%20%282%29.pdf [Accessed: 29/05/2020].
Between May 16 and 24, Save Our Street Trees – Northampton will be asking people to turn over a #newleaf with a Virtual Urban Forest in their windows for everyone to enjoy on their daily walks, along with people all over the UK.
We’re tasking families and children to design a bare tree and display it in their window – and each day craft a #NewLeaf to slowly build up a tree canopy. Each #NewLeaf can have a message for passers-by, such as tree poems, tree quotes, forest facts and calming/motivating messages to get people through lockdown.
The idea is one of celebrating urban trees – but also new beginnings, new life, positivity and regeneration. We will be providing downloadable tree trunk templates, leaf cut outs, and lots of leaf art ideas nearer the time.
Watch this space! We’d love you to share photos of your trees and leaves during the Urban Tree Festival week via
Tomorrow two new national support resources for learning at home are being launched. If you are providing learning for your pupils at home or supporting your own children you might find these useful.
The first is by BBC Bitesize. This consists of daily lessons on the BBC Bitesize website along with special programmes on BBC iPlayer and the BBC red button. There will be a new daily English and mathematics lesson for all ages, supported by videos, practice tests, games and articles. There will also be lessons for science, history, geography, music and art. There will be programmes each evening to support learning at GCSE and A level for older students. Daily podcasts for primary and secondary pupils and an app are also part of this resource along with interaction on Facebook and Twitter for parents and Instagram for teenage students.
The other resource is from a new organisation called the oak national academy, a group of schools and teachers who have been commissioned by the DfE to provide a sequenced series of video lessons and resources. It is providing resources for pupils from reception age to year 6 in the subjects of English , mathematics and a range of other subjects and areas including science, humanities, creative and Spanish and for pupils in years 7 to 9 the subjects of English, mathematics, science, history, geography, Spanish, French, Latin, RE and art. The Oak National Academy can be followed on twitter here.
(Oak National Academy, 2020)
BBC (2020) Daily lessons start Monday. BBC. [online] Available from: https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize [Accessed 19/04/2020].
Oak National Academy (2020) Web home page. Oak National Academy. [online] Available from: https://www.thenational.academy/ [Accessed 19/04/2020].
FDLT Students Enriching Experiences – Mystery Skype and Zoom Room
This week Year 2 Foundation Degree Learning and Teaching (FDLT) students took part in a Mystery Skype activity and had extended discussions within a Zoom Room.
After the Mystery Skype task with the UN group on Monday, former UN Education Studies student Miti Mwape shared her experiences of teaching English in China. She highlighted the many opportunities that exist for mature students to work abroad (Teach and Travel in Hunan, China: http://teachinhunan.com/).
Dr Brenda Padilla (Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo Leónin) and her students scattered across Mexico took part in discussions with FDLT students within a live Zoom Room Video Conference. These online meetings resulted in extensive conservations between students on a range of comparative and international educational issues. The dynamic conversations crossed three continents, with FDLT student Nazia Saeed joining the discussions from India on Wednesday. Students from the Universidad da Vinci in Mexico also took part in conversations.
Our team from the University of Northampton would like to invite you and your staff to join our free online course on What if the sea level rises? Exploring language and culture in a future setting. This course has been developed as part of a European funded project, ‘Digital Learning across Boundaries’, that brings together teachers, student teachers and lecturers in Norway, Denmark, Belgium and England to connect classrooms, and to explore and share technology-related themes.
This is a fantastic FREE resource for primary and lower secondary teachers. It includes case studies of lessons and an international online community sharing ideas. We hope you can join in to develop and share your own ideas on our themes of survival, communication and sustainability.
The course runs for one week starting on May 6th and will remain on our website for teachers to dip in and out of as much as they want.
We hope that this is of interest. You can find out more and sign up here:
Alongside this free opportunity, I would like to let you know that we are recruiting for a new Postgraduate Certificate in Digital Leadership, starting on 20th May 2019. This is a one-year, part-time, fully online course that leads to 60 Master’s credits and can form part of an online Masters pathway open to an international audience. It is intended to develop both subject and leadership expertise, and is designed to accommodate complete beginners as well as those with some existing knowledge in the field. You can find more information here: https://www.northampton.ac.uk/courses/postgraduate-certificate-in-digital-leadership
Do contact me if you have any queries about either of these courses:
This week in the FDLT Year 1 groups we have been using the stop motion animation app iMotion and the video editing app iMovie. The students devised, scripted and designed short animations to explain an idea or process. After they had made their film they added music and sound effects from iMovie and sounds made themselves.
The films can be watched here:
It was interesting to see the skills, knowledge and understanding that students used as they worked in teams of three or four. They had to check their subject knowledge and understanding of the ideas and concepts they were presenting. Sometimes as they worked this evolved as they added detail: vocabulary and visual examples. They worked effectively as teams, taking different roles, co-operating, sharing ideas and solving problems. Cross-curricular approaches were evident as students worked across the subjects design, art, science, English, mathematics and computing.
Making stop motion animations allows people to move from passive users of technology to creative makers where the technology is a tool to create.
There are signs of spring all around us! The Woodland Trust has lots of great resources to encourage children to be nature detectives.
With older pupils you might track the effects of weather and climate change by using the nature’s calendar resources here.
With younger pupils you might use the Nature Detective resources to observe and explore outdoors here. This spotter sheet focuses on noting the first signs of spring.
Another useful set of resources is available from The House of Illustration, who have made a set teacher and pupil resources called ‘Illustrating Science’ based around plant life cycles and spotting nature outdoors which can be found here.
Woodland Trust. (2019) First signs of spring. [online] Available from: https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/naturedetectives/activities/2016/01/first-signs-of-spring/ [Accessed 20/03/19]