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].
Some of the tiny books in the collection were created by Charlotte and Anne Bronte about their own toys and others were made for Queen Mary’s Dolls House. Many are handmade by famous authors.
After exploring the collection of miniature books there is an activity that outlines how to plan and create your own miniature book.
You can also watch contemporary authors and illustrators read their own miniature books here.
When you’ve made your book you can share it social media using #discoveringchildrensbooks to @BL_Learning or email them to email@example.com
If you are concerned that your pupils do not have access to the internet the British Library are distributing printed packs through public libraries, food banks and sheltered accommodation as well as emailing PDFs to teachers.
There are lots of other creative and story based ideas to explore here.
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.
It is National Poetry Day on Friday 4th October and this year the theme is Poetry for a Change. There are free resources available for use with children here.
These include the opportunity to take part in a BBC live lesson on Thursday 3rd October from 2pm: details here. It lasts around 35 minutes and is based around similes, metaphor and alliteration. Children will get the opportunity to contribute to a mass live poem!
National Poetry Day (2018) Header image. [online] Available from: https://nationalpoetryday.co.uk/ [Accessed: 1/10/18]
Last week the FDLT year 1 students went on field trips to explore different ways of supporting learning outdoors. Led by Ken Bland and Georgina Hand, they explored fieldwork around a river including mapping the meander, measuring depth; testing speed of flow and exploring water quality. They also took a kick sample of the animal life in the water and used magnifiers to look at the creatures they had found. They explored the clues to the history of their location around the landscape.
Students also used the outdoors as inspiration for poetry and art. As a starter the students played a digital find it activity in pairs. Each pair was given a grid with things to look for, photograph and present as a PicCollage. The grids were based around subject content, subject specific vocabulary, and could be differentiated to the learning of the pupils. It is a good way of getting a group to explore the outdoor where they will be working in without unnecessarily collecting and damaging the environment.
parts of a plant
parts of a tree
parts of a tree
parts of a tree
We also looked at the work of artist Richard Long. The students then had a go at making walking poetry by setting a rule to walk, collect words and explore the outdoor environment. Some students walked ten steps and then looked up and looked down; others set rules related to collecting certain groups or patterns of words. This gave them the opportunity to use grammatical knowledge in a creative context.
two adjectives, noun, verb
number, colour, noun
two adjectives and a noun
two adjectives and a noun
Students also collected one leaf and tried to identify it using books and an identification app on the ipad. After this they had a go at writing a poem around the edge of the leaf. We discussed using scientific as well as poetic language.
We also looked at The Lost Words – see earlier blog post.
This day connects forwards into the PDT2016 learning beyond the school site module that the students will study in 2018/19.
On Monday 15th January at 2pm there’s a live lesson available to watch to inspire your participation in the BBC Radio 2 500 words writing competition. You can see information about the live lesson here.
Calling all story writers!
Now in its 8th year, Chris Evans’ 500 Words is one of the most successful story writing competitions for kids in the world and is open to every 5-13 year old in the UK. Its mission is to get children excited about reading and writing, regardless of their ability.
We’re creating a literacy Live Lesson to celebrate the launch of this year’s competition on 15th January. Content and resources will be tailored to different levels, but some of the higher-level content will be more appropriate for ages 7 and up.
Joining our hosts Helen Skelton and Barney Harwood, are acclaimed authors and 500 Words Judges Charlie Higson and Frank Cottrell Boyce who will be on hand to help and inspire children. The lesson will be brimming with top tips, and will provide pupils of all abilities with an essential story-telling toolkit to get them started on their stories.
We will also be featuring a follow-up programme called Live Lessons EXTRA. This will not be broadcast live but will be published on our website a day or two after the live broadcast, and will build on the outcomes of the live programme and put more of your questions to our experts.
Want to get involved?
Closer to the lesson date, we’ll be releasing more information on this page, including a full lesson guide for teachers and downloadable activity sheets.
If you’d like to be reminded by email or sent more information about the Live Lesson, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, please send your 500 Words related questions for our special guests, authors and 500 Words judges Charlie Higson and Frank Cottrell Boyce.
We love to hear from you and see photos of your class at work. If you are sending in any images or videos that feature children, please ensure that you have parental permission, as they may be shown during the Live Lesson and on our website.
In the email, please confirm your official relationship to the child/children featured, e.g. teacher, Brownie group leader, sports coach etc. and confirm that you have sought prior parental consent. Please also ensure the material is not sensitive or controversial.
Please note that this page is for the 500 Words 2018 – Live Lesson only. The 500 Words story-writing competition opens on 15th January and competition entries close at 7pm on 22nd February 2018. Full details on the 500 Words 2018 website here.
BBC. (2018) 500 Words 2018 – Live Lesson. [online] Available from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/2yRxNT9ws7MkJsFvbxPfhry/500-words-2018-live-lesson [Accessed: 12/01/18]