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An author way: a shift in the pedagogy of writing (TES)

I wrote the following article for publication on the TES online 'Subject Genius' blog series.
The original article can be found at: www.tes.com/blog/author-way-a-shift-pedagogy-writing


An author way: a shift in the pedagogy of writing
A recent report by the National Literacy Trust into child attitudes towards writing indicates that the number of children who write for pleasure is on the increase. This is undoubtedly a cause for celebration for those of us who write for joy, work or for any number of assorted reasons. However, for many pupils aged 8-18 years – almost half of those surveyed in fact – writing is still an activity that fails to capture the imagination and for some remains an unenjoyable slog. I can empathise with both the joyful and the joyless.

I often wonder how my former teachers who cajoled, bullied and dragged me by the pencil tip to produce writing of any quality might now feel if they knew that I enjoy writing as an adult. The laying down of words is no longe…

New Training Courses for Spring 2018!

All courses are priced at £140pp (includes lunch and resources) at a high-quality venue in north Leeds.

Early Bird offer - book one of the first six places on any course for only £100!

 12 January 2018 - Using quality texts in primary literacy, Leeds, full day
26 January 2018 - Using film in primary literacy, Leeds, full day

  2 February 2018 - Supporting creative writers (for primary TAs) - Leeds, full day
  9 February 2018 - No fear Shakespeare for primary schools, Leeds, full day
 *Dates may be subject to change.

To see more, see details of my training packageshere or find out other ways to work with me.

For booking details, please email Stefan at articulateeducation@gmail.com




ARTiculate Interview - Amy and Nicola talk about working with me last term

Last term I worked with teachers Amy and Nicola from Leeds on a creative writing project. Designed around 'The Island' by Armin Greder, the theme of the project was immigration. If you like what you see, click here to see how your school could be involved or choose 'Work with me' from the nav bar.

See what Amy and Nicola had to say about working with me!




Watch the trailer for the film we made here:

Star Wars: Return of the Shadow Saber!

Star Wars: Return of the Shadow Saber (2017) The Star Wars saga continues with Star Wars: The Return of the Shadow Saber produced by ARTiculate Education and Trinity Vision. 
In this continuation of the sci-fi epic, the Sith, the Jedi and a group of vile bounty hunters are on a quest to reclaim the legendary Shadow Saber - a weapon of unspeakable power. Who will get their hands on it first and claim the ultimate power in the galaxy? This film was written, designed and performed by twelve children from Little London Primary School and Pudsey Lowtown Primary School, Leeds.
May the force be with you!




The Island - a movie trailer!

The Island - Trailer (2017) On the day the man arrived, the lives of the islanders were changed forever. This video was the culmination of an ARTiculate Education creative writing project with two Year 5 classes in Leeds that explored the issues of immigration, identity and belonging in modern Britain.
If you would like this workshop in your school, email me at articulateeducation@gmail.com and let me know.
The Island movie will wash ashore in September 2017 - enjoy the trailer!


ARTiculate winners at Pudsey Art Exchange 2017!

Summer is here again and so too is the Art Exchange - a community art project run by local artists in Pudsey, West Yorkshire. I have been working at Pudsey Lowtown this year as a collaborative English consultant and art teacher and this exhibition was the perfect opportunity to display some of the fantastic art work created by children at the school.

We even had three winners! A third place prize and two special commendations. Well done to those children! But prizes aside, this was the perfect way to end a year's worth of art teaching - the end of a process; and the idea of process is central to the way I have tried to teach art.

In what seems a growing trend, many schools choose to showcase art by holding a Creative Week or similar - a one week art frenzy where children take daily art lessons to develop their skills. Whilst it is great to see schools celebrating art by awarding it special focus, this approach is usually borne out of the lack of time to teach art regularly; chil…

Pulling the strings - children as authors

Being an author is not just about writing a story - it is about telling a story. I often tell the children I work with that they are like magicians or puppet masters: they can cast the spell or pull the strings of the reader. How they navigate the reader through the story is in their hands.

Over the last few weeks I have been working with a group of children at Valley View Primary School on a topic exploring immigration and the voice of both migrants and those who receive them. The work is based on The Island by Armin Greder, a tale of a man washed ashore and the community who decide what to do with him.

The key stylistic element I have taught these children is the skill in which they manipulate the reader. Whether it is dropping subtle hints as to what will happen later or using the weather to signal the worsening mood of a story (e.g. the sky getting darker, the rain getting heavier), these tools go a long way to developing the children's voice as authors.

Coupled with the fact…

The Dragon Boat's afloat! Art with Year 1

This half term I have been teaching art with Year 1. Far from just being an art project, this work has shown how vital DT in helping children apply what they have learned in core subjects.

For this art project, our topic has been the Chinese Dragon Boat festival, celebrated by Chinese communities around the world in early summer. We even had one here in Leeds!

Our challenge has been to create a dragon boat that will float on water. The children drew and painted 3D dragon heads to attach to the scaly bodies that will make the floating part of the boat.

The trickiest part was attaching the corks to the inside that would help the boats float on water. It took a lot of trial and error using a water tray to get it just right. The children did a fantastic job and have really enjoyed it.

It just goes to show how vital art and DT are to children's learning - not only do they draw in creative aspects of learning, completing a project like this requires knowledge of science, maths and perso…

Check out the trailer for our Star Wars film: Return of the Shadow Saber!

Courtesy of the media wizards at Leeds Trinity University's Trinity Vision, this is the first teaser trailer for the Star Wars film scripted, designed and starring twelve fantastic primary school children from two of my Leeds writing groups.

Enjoy and may the Force be with you!




From scribe to Force master - story writing with purpose

How do you craft a story for an audience? How can you encourage children to begin to think of themselves as authors rather than children in a literacy lesson? Key questions for teaching creative writing in primary schools and this week I discussed these ideas with a group of Year 5 children as we wrote the openings to our Star Wars stories.
The children agreed that a quick pace was important to writing and adventure story. Short sentences, using powerful verbs, limited descriptions - all things that help absorb the reader in a whirlwind of action.
What was trickier was knowing how to 'craft' the story for a reader who hasn't seen the planning process. How do we reveal just enough about a character, a place, a quest etc to root the reader in the story but keep them interested by what is NOT said? I call these 'suggestives' - how you suggest something to a reader without telling them. The origin of reading for inference that is taught in KS2, it is essentially writin…

Filthy wretch or poor thing? Rethinking the Island, KS2, Week 1

A treat for the final half term - a new workshop at a delightful school in Leeds! This half term I am working with two Year 5 teachers to develop a cross-year group, cross-curricular writing project based on my favourite picture book, Armin Greder's The Island. I've done this book many times and every time the response is different!
This week, we got to grips with the facts, possibilities and mysteries of the story. What do we know about the story so far? (we only ever read up to page 6 to leave it on a knife edge...) What doesn't this story tell us and what could we infer or predict?    
We looked at the crowd of islanders who 'welcome' the stranger's arrival. As in every class, country or community, no group ever sees the world the same way and we discussed how the islanders might react differently to the man. Is he a poor thing who needs to be rescued? Is he a curiosity? Is he a threat?
We each adopted an islander and took on their perspective for a great dra…

The mystery of the lost temple.... STAR WARS creative writing workshop, Year 5

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away a young warrior discovers a lost temple that will change everything....

This is the context for a Star Wars writing workshop that began this week with a class of Year 5 children. Drawing on their ability to think creatively, their understanding of how to craft an exciting adventure story and the Force (obvs), this week the children began to draw out story maps outlining how their adventure will unfold.

First we jotted down key questions to be answered: is the warrior a hero or a villain? what will they discover? what will stand in their way? What will they learn about themselves on the journey?

Some of their ideas have been terrific - especially the understanding that a great adventure story needs to have thrills and spills, a gripping opening scene and (mild) peril!

Star Wars is such an excellent vehicle for engaging reluctant writers in the classroom. They all want to shape a well known story that they love, there is lots of m…

Happy Chinese Dragon Boat Festival! 端午節快乐! Art with Year 1

端午節快乐! Happy Dragon Boat Festival!
Art class - Year 1 (age 5-6)

Signalling the start of summer, Dragon Boat festival is a Chinese festival of colour, flavour, sound and action. An event that takes place all across China, other parts of the world also celebrate the festival with a boat race - including our fine city of Leeds which hosts a boat race on 24th June 2017.


With my Year 1 class this half term we are exploring the sights and sounds of the festival starting with the beautiful Dragon Boat Flags that decorate towns and villages in the build up to the race before being awarded to the competing racers.

Here are some examples of our dragon boat flags that we made this week. Using pre-cut paper triangles, the children cut the spiky trim from a strip of paper. We then practiced some Chinese characters that describe our racers - fast, good, strong, brave and the champions - before painting them onto the flags with slim brushes and black paint. A job well done.

Next week... we start…

SALE! Buy my teaching resources for free!

Buy my creative literacy resources for free by using the discount code JUNE-OFFERS at my shop on TES online. Sale ends 30 June 2017!

Visit my shop at www.tes.com/teaching-resources/shop/articulate_education or click here and follow the link. 













Small print...
- voucher is worth £3 ($3.97) as are most of my resources
- first time buyers only
- see www.tes.com for full details

May the Force be with us - Star Wars film making project at Leeds Trinity University!

A few weeks ago, in a university not far away 12 primary school children teamed up with Trinity Vision media department at Leeds Trinity University for an epic film making project. The task: to write, script and film a new Star Wars film in four days. No pressure.


After devising several brilliant ideas for an exciting story plot, the children settled on an adventure quest to find a lost legend (no spoilers, sorry....) featuring merciless bounty hunters, an army of wicked Sith lords as well as heroes of the lightside, the brave Jedi Knights.

The children made costumes, masks, lightsabers and even robot armour with the help of the university students and staff.

After choreographing the epic battles, perfecting the script and rehearsing their lines, it was off to the woods to film it under the expert guidance of the Council of Elders at Trinity Vision.

The project was an excellent success. The children's fantastic hard work and enthusiasm was matched by the expertise of …

Great visit to Anfield Primary School, Hong Kong

Enjoyed a great visit to Anfield Primary School this morning - a lovely school surrounded by beautiful hills and forests in Hong Kong's New Territories.Was great to meet some of their staff and discuss potential plans for the future.

Watch this space!

Presenting at National Pingtung University on migrant learners in education