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Engaging your Rogue Ones: bringing Star Wars into the classroom (TES)

I wrote the following article for publication on the TES online 'Subject Genius' blog series.
The original article can be found at: https://www.tes.com/blog/engaging-your-rogue-ones-bringing-star-wars-classroom


Engaging your Rogue Ones: bringing Star Wars into the classroom

Not that long ago, in a primary school just down the road, a young boy - let’s call him Luke Schoolboy – was in a rut. Disenchanted with Darth Teacher’s regime, rebellion was most definitely in the air. Bringing his encyclopaedic knowledge of Star Wars into his timetable, however, turned this Phantom Menace into a Jedi Master. As the latest film instalment hits our cinema screens this year, bringing Star Wars into the classroom is a sure way to get your rogue ones engaged in literacy lessons.

Luke Schoolboy is a character many primary teachers would easily recognise. Year 5, disengaged with his work, disruptive and simply not making any progress, especially in writing. With this in mind, I was asked to desi…

NEW TRAINING COURSE! Supporting Creative Writers for primary teaching assistants - November 2016

I am delighted to announce a new training course for primary teaching assistants. Supporting Creative Writers is specially designed to help staff engage and guide children through the writing process.

The full-day course is on Friday 11th November 2016 at Bowery Cafe and Visual Arts Centre, Headingley, Leeds.

See the poster below for details!

To book a place or for more information, please email me

"Excellent, inspiring, thought-provoking!" - ARTiculate Teacher Training Day

Course title: Becoming a DIY Writer by Stefan Kucharczyk Venue: Pudsey Lowtown Primary School, Leeds Monday 5th September 2016
Forget the back-to-school, doom and gloom Facebook memes, the start of a new term is a chance to bounce around new ideas and get back to being creative (even if it doesn't seem like that at 7am in the morning). 
What better way to get started than spending time discussing ideas for writing with the wonderful staff at Pudsey Lowtown Primary in Leeds.
I was asked to deliver a teacher training session focused on embedding the writing process, especially how to get children in a position to write and how to help them edit and redraft their work afterwards.
The school are embarking on a new direction with their literacy planning this half term, using picture books as inspiration for getting children acting, talking and writing. To prepare them, we looked at ways to unlock the mysteries of Armin Greder's chilling tale, The Island. 
The staff loved the practica…

Blood thirsty Macbeth posters

Macbeth
Creative writing workshop, KS2
Macbeth is a blood-drenched, gory and spooky tale. Too gruesome for little ones? Apparently not! The Year 4 and 5 children I have been working with this half term have become completely immersed in the Scottish play.  As well as getting the children to write short playscripts, developing the climactic showdown between Macbeth and Macduff (more on this at a later date), my groups have designed some concept posters for the play. The children chose a colour and symbol that represented some aspect of the play (bloody red, royal purple, a black cat for the witches, a chess piece for the king) and overlayed it with words that help tell the story. We used emulsion paint and big worn-out brushes (the ones at the back of the cupboard that nobody uses...) to achieve a battle-worn, scratchy effect. Gory blood splatters went down a treat too! Here are some fine examples!

Sakura - Making the most of spring blossom with some creative writing!

Sakura, Sakura!  
Creative writing workshop, KS2
Spring has well and truly sprung! Old news for most in the Northern Hemisphere, I know, but as the cherry tree at the end of my garden has now exploded into a cloud of pink blossom, the beautiful growing season is hard to miss. 
This natural inspiration is priceless and, following on from a workshop about iconic Japanese print The Great Wave, provides the perfect backdrop for some writing on the Japanese Hanami cherry blossom (sakura) festival.
Using a selection of Hiroshige and Hokusai woodblock prints as inspiration, my group spent the morning outside in the school garden getting up close and blossomy with the pink blooms. Following their senses, the children developed a vocabulary bank featuring precise verbs (floating, dancing, waving, gliding and so on) and evocative adjectives (silky, glossy, transparent, baby pink, sweet aroma and many more).
This was great fun and, as the blossom tree is in the middle of the playground, this is a won…

"We couldn't fail to turn when we heard it brutally roaring...." Creative writing based on Hokusai's The Great Wave

The Great Wave - Creative writing workshop, Year 6
Week 2: Drafting a narrative

After our previous work on vocabulary, this week's workshop was a chance for the children to put their rich language and ideas into action.

Writing from the perspective of one of Hokusai's cowering sailors, we tried to convey the right mood and atmosphere as the fishermen face down the monster wave. The superb example above, by a Year 6 boy, shows how we captured this scene perfectly... "One again, we faced our nemesis, the flowing nightmare: The Great Wave." Zing!

A good author needs a strong command of language. This writing, although excellent, didn't just happen! It was built upon the foundations of creative thought, a rich bank of vocabulary and the experience of applying it in sentences.

These were key parts of the process: 

Children read a model text to see how a piece is structured. We used this to make a plan for our own writing.We tried to retain a sense of mystery and su…

Banter like the Bard, thou goatish, Earth-vexing clack dishes!

Macbeth Creative Writing Workshop
Week 1: Bard Banter
Text: Macbeth, adapted by Leon Garfield.

With the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death this weekend, I have taken the opportunity to introduce a little bit of bard banter into my creative workshops. Starting a writing and drama project on any of Shakespeare's plays can be a daunting task, but helping the children get to grips with some cutting Shakespearean language is a great place to start. It goes without saying that getting the chance to insult the teacher with some saucy, impish quips certainly helps loosen up the shy performers!

Using the fabulous Shakespeare Insult Kit as a starting point, the children were quick to get to stuck into a little Elizabethan trash-talking. Here are some zingers:

Wipe thy ugly face thou fishified, fat-kidneyed ratsbane!    

Hark! Thou logger headed, earth-vexing hugger mugger!

Lead apes in hell thou toad-faced, gorbellied flaxwench!

Hark! Wipe thy ugly face thou goatish, guts-griping malt …

Creative writing based on Hokusai's The Great Wave

The Great Wave - Creative writing workshop, Year 6

Week 1: Vocabulary development








Inspired by Japanese artist Hokusai's masterpiece The Great Wave, Year 6 are starting on a creative voyage to bring the iconic print to literary life! We spent some time poring over the features of painting: the spray, the wave, the boats and, well hidden, Mount Fuji.

After reading an account of Ellen MacArthur's sailing voyages, we began to generate some cutting edge vocabulary to give our writing some sparkle.

This was the process:
Children labelled the features of the picture, including parts of the wave (crest, barrel, swell, lip)We chose personified verbs for the different features. 'Grabbing', 'scratching' and 'grasping' for the finger-like lip of the wave; 'screaming', 'slapping' and 'whistling' for the wind.The group selected similes for each of the features. The wind became 'a bellowing dragon', the boats were 'a floating feather&…

ARTiculate Bulletin wc 14.3.16 Have you tried Bambert's Book of Missing Stories?

ARTiculate Bulletin wc.14.3.16 Bambert's Book of Missing Stories
This story is not just a book of writing. It is a book about writing. Bambert lives a lonely, detached life with only Mr Bloom the greengrocer and the characters in his stories – The Book of Wishes - for company. Not convinced he knows enough of the world to make his writing believable, he sets his stories free on paper lanterns to find the characters and settings they deserve.
In brief: Have you tried?  Ideas for talking and thinking: How do writers write? That is the question and this book gives you the starting point for a discussion about where ideas come from.
Ideas for writing: Collaborate as a class or with another school on creative story writing.
Ideas for art: Give your stories wings by building paper lanterns.      

If you try any of the ideas I'd love to see the work your children produce!
'Have You Tried?' ideas sheet for Macbeth can be found here
To request this in pdf format, please join …

A galaxy far, far away... EPISODE IV

Turn your most wayward apprentices from scruffy-lookin’ nerf herders into Jedi Masters with this creative writing and illustration workshop.
Creative writing workshop -- six sessions -- fiction

EPISODE IV: THE WRITING BEGINS (ONE STEP AT A TIME...)
*all spellings are the children's originals!

Before they were to start writing their drafts, I set the group some short writing tasks: one short piece describing the setting and two pieces to describe the main characters that appeared in their story. We watched the first twenty minutes of Episode VI and discussed the different features of the settings. What would it be like to be in the desert of Tatooine? What would you see there? What would the Death Star be like? What could you hear, smell, see? I wrote a short description as an example which included some model sentences. The children analysed it and then used it to help structure their own
descriptions. Here is one example for a story set in a junkyard....