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Showing posts from 2018

Story Makers Company at Leeds Beckett University

Last month I was delighted to join up with the Story Makers Company at Leeds Beckett University - a collective of creative practitioners who work with schools across Leeds and beyond to promote storytelling and encourage young authors to find their voices. SMC held a creative event on 27th June where members showcased their excellent work to teachers. The event was a huge success - well done to all who were involved. To celebrate the event, the SMC published the first edition of Story Maker Dialogues : an interactive journal collecting ideas and 'think pieces' to promote discussion about creative practices in school. My article about developing creative writing in primary schools was included too. Click on the picture below to access the full journal. To find out more about the Story Maker Company, visit their website ! If the journal didn't load, please follow the link:  

ARTiculate newsletter: July & August 2018

Dr Peter Mugo Gathara (left) and Prof Kisulu Kombo (right) from Kenyatta University   Hello teachers! Jambo from Kenya! I’m here for a visit to Nairobi. When I have not been striding across the Maasai Mara, feeding baby giraffe to the Out of Africa soundtrack, I have been visiting the School of Education at Kenyatta University. Thank you for the welcome – asante sana !  But don’t be jealous UK teachers – it’s colder here in Kenya than it is in Leeds! Book literacy CPD for your school’s September INSET! Whether your school’s literacy teaching needs a bit of a shake up or a new sparkle, an ARTiculate CPD workshop is the ideal for your school’s INSET day in September. If your school is getting back to basics, I have workshops designed to help teachers choose and use quality texts, develop independent writers, engage reluctant writers and use more effective editing or redrafting techniques. For schools looking to develop and enhance their literacy teaching, I can guide your staff in u

Jambo! Visit to Brookhouse School, Kenya

Me (left) and the Doctor (right) in the fantastic grounds of Brookhouse School (no, it's not the Disney castle...) Our second week on our Kenya trip and an opportunity to visit the Karen campus of the Brookhouse School, Nairobi. And quite an experience it was too! A private school, Brookhouse is regarded as one of the most prestigious schools in the country and it is hard to deny that the campus is stunning: a small farm with ostriches, secretary birds and guinea fowl, life size sculptures of safari animals in the playground, the library with the 'learning tree' that is also a staircase (and also the pride and joy of Jonathan, the school's librarian) and a computer lab that is decked out like a space station. These are facilities that most schools in Kenya - and, for that matter, the UK - can only dream of. While this material investment may be out of reach for many schools, the schools commitment to creative learning is not. Meeting the deputy headteacher an

Jambo! Visiting the School of Education at Kenyatta University, Nairobi

The Doctor (that's my wife: no regeneration powers or Tardis but two hearts) and I both love to travel and this year has been a lucky one: a trip to Kenya in June to follow our visit to South Africa earlier in the year. Whenever we are away for 'workation', we always like to meet up with colleagues who work in education. It is a great opportunity to get insights into the perspectives, practices and challenges of educational practitioners around the world.   In Nairobi, I met with two leading staff from Kenyatta University: Professor Kisulu Kombo (Dean of the School of Education) and Dr Peter Mugo Gathara (Head of Department of Educational Foundations). It was a warm welcome and involved many cups of Kenyan tea, a visit to Dr Peter's house and sampling milk from Dr Peter's cows while we were there. Asante sana!  At Kenyatta University Nairobi: Dr Peter Mugo Gathara, Head of Department of Educational Foundations (left), me (centre), and Professor Kisulu Komb

ARTiculate newsletter: June 2018

Hello teachers! Happy half term to you all. You’re nearly over the line! As you roll into that post-SATs-practising-sports-day-empty-out-your-trays time of year, there is no better time to experiment. With that in mind, take your class for a magical browse in Ross MacKenzie’s brilliant The Nowhere Emporium , a place of secrets and wonders. Ideal for free-flowing creative writing for all of Key Stage 2 and the perfect starting point for some exciting art and drama. Scroll down for details on how to use The Nowhere Emporium with your class. Harris Burdick: the case file Last month, as part of a CPD course for primary leaders, I lead a workshop on creative writing that explored Chris Van Allsburg’s intriguing picture book, The Mysteries of Harris Burdick . After discovering a mysterious letter by Chris Van Allsburg, teachers were asked to write part of a story linked to the Harris Burdick illustrations. Their writing has been passed onto the relevant authorities and has been

ARTiculate newsletter: May 2018

Hello teachers! With the number of ‘awareness’ days slightly overwhelming the calendar, it is most certainly forgivable if you’ve blanked them all out. May is full of them, by the way. While National Handwashing Day and International Dawn Chorus Day (5th and 7th of May respectively, if you have your diary to hand) might not get your pulse racing, one awareness worth being aware of is National Share a Story Month which runs throughout May. So, if you are looking for a perfect sharing-book to celebrate, look no further than The Willow Pattern Story by Allan Drummond, a beautiful take on the story of the famous Chinese pottery design. It is ideal for reading together, alone or using it for your literacy lessons. Scroll down for details on how to use The Willow Pattern Story to set your literacy lessons aflutter. Greater Depth in writing CPD – Pudsey schools away day – April 2018 I was delighted to be invited to present at the Pudsey Family of Schools away day last week. It was an opp

ARTiculate newsletter: April 2018

Hello teachers! Lights, camera, ACTION! This month’s newsletter is all about film and about how it can be used to inspire creative teaching and creative writing. Read on to see how I am using it with children in classrooms from Leeds to Cape Town, changing the way schools teach and how children think about themselves as storytellers. I have even included a free resource to help get you started using film to inspire your class. If you want to know more, I offer CPD training on using film to teach literacy for primary teachers in the UK and around the world. Click here or visit to book it for your school! The Arrival: child migration in Cape Town ​​ One of the things that brings me to Cape Town this year is the chance to support a research project in one of the city’s primary schools. The project explores how child migrants to Cape Town are accommodated by the education system. Using innovative methods such as photography and The Arrival – a pictu

...and cut! Cape Town filming, day 2

A lovely way to wrap up the filming today at the primary school in Cape Town. Following yesterday’s session where we focused our imaginary migrant’s first day at school – an unfriendly, unwelcoming place – today we looked on the bright side: what would a positive, friendly school look like? Me filming on our beautiful set! After yesterday’s filming where the researcher and I had modelled a lot of ideas and techniques for the group, I was hoping that the children would get more of a chance to take the lead today. I hoped that this independence would be both in front of and behind the camera. We started off the session by discussing what they could remember from the previous day’s conversation - about what we had imagined might happen to the boy. Making a film had seemed a bit of an abstract process to them to begin with so I hoped that by refreshing their memory with their ideas, the children would see how these ideas correlated into the actual film. We then sat down to wa

Movie poster - The Arrival!

Ok, I know we are only half way through filming but I couldn’t resist making a quick poster for the movie! A lot of the work I do involves children filming or publishing their work. I think a fundamental part of developing children as authors or artists with a genuine sense of voice is that they get to see their work promoted, shared and celebrated. If you’re making a film for a real audience, then it needs to be promoted as a real movie. I wonder how much of a perception shift the impact of this has?  When you explain to a group of children that you are going to publish a book or make a film, one of the greatest challenges is convincing the children that you mean it – that their work really will get shared even if it is just locally in the school. This, I suppose, offers an insight into how they view their education. From past experiences, getting children to see themselves as authors requires an injection of confidence and when they see their work being shared publicly, I th

...and action! Cape Town filming Day 1

The film project got off to a flying start with the children at a primary school in Cape Town this afternoon. It was wonderful to be invited to work on this research project into migrant children’s perspectives on inclusion in schools. Last week, the lead researcher discussed inclusion with a group of six children from Grade 4 – a mixture of migrant and local children. To make this topic accessible, the researcher had used The Arrival by Shaun Tan: a wonderful picture book that follows the journey of a man and his family who leave their home to build a life in a new country; the story explores the challenges and surprises that await them. The book has no words and the fantastic illustrations make the book part graphic novel, part photograph album. Last week, the lead researcher worked with the children to take their own photographs around school to enable the children to identify things that showed that the school was including them (or not) in the life of the school.