Had a great workshop with the Students at Stowmarket High with their Tutor and mentor Vaughan Freeman. The students took direction easily and picked up on posture, diction and the all important conversation that they should have with years 1 and 2 about the book that they have read to them. This is a quiet revolution in early reading and engaging children with literature whilst giving the older students an amazing first experience of public speaking.
Today I was privileged enough to be asked to train up the year 6 pupils (including my daughter Rachel) to become reading Ambassadors for the story gift scheme. To be honest they are much easier to teach than the year 9's for several reasons and they were brilliant!
They will begin reading in pairs to years 1 and 2 next Wednesday and I can't wait to see how they get on. The teachers seem quite excited at the prospect to so that's a good sign.
If the scheme is successful and I am 100% sure that it will be then that means I can roll the scheme out to primary schools that have no secondary school close enough to have year 9's read to them.
Rachel loved her dad coming in and felt like a bit of a star I think.
This year sees East Bergholt year 2's become year 3's and we should start to see the effect that the Story Gift Scheme has had on them regarding their engagement with literacy. The true pattern will become more visible next year when the now year 2's go up into year 3 because they will have had 2 years of having stories read to them and discussing those stories with the year 9's.
I have trained up 6 reading ambassadors (great title for them I think) at Stowmarket high school and they are now going into Wood Ley primary and had an amazing first session. The training really makes it much easier for the High school children to engage with the primary school kids and have that all important discussion about each story. Keeping my eye one that one!
Tuesday next week I go in to train Bishop William Ward Primary school year 6's to go into years 1 and 2 in their own school and read stories to them and then have the all important conversation with them about the story that they have just read. This is a huge step up for the year 6's who will bit by bit become more engaged in the playground and generally with the years 1 and 2 thus creating a more cohesive school atmosphere (hopefully). Looking forward to seeing how that goes)
And to top that off I just had a wonderful day at Tollsbury primary doing an Authors day visit and having fun with the children of every year throughout the day.
Loving this being an Author stuff. It gives me a chance to hopefully make a positive change in each school that I go to?
Following the success of the pilot scheme which saw year 9's from East Bergholt High reading one a week to years 1 and 2 in East Bergholt primary school another two schools have engaged me to teach their pupils to read to years 1 and 2 and we are all keen to see this happen this year.
This year there is an amazing twist though because this year I shall be training year 6 in one primary to read to years 1 and 2 in their own school. This being because there is not a senior school close enough to send their year 9's in.
This will be a special challenge and yet may prove to be possibly easier and with as many if not more benefits to both year groups. Older children reading to younger children with a story tellers skill just shouts out the message to the younger group that by the time that they are grown ups (year 6! or year 9!) they all love reading stories.
This is going to be an awesome year and with any luck the scheme will grow and grow because the benefits are truly visible to all children.
Tonight I went to Suffolk One (College) to talk about the story gift scheme where yr 9 students go into primary schools to read stories to years 1 and 2 and got a great response from Stowmarket and Claydon schools who may want to take up the scheme.
Poor Mr Hethrington was comparing the evening but struggled with a throat infection so I was glad to be able to ramble on about the scheme for a while.
Looks like we might be spreading the scheme to other schools now and benefiting a whole bunch of more children!
I have been invited to talk at a celebration evening of the Pixel Edge scheme about the story gift scheme.
This is a huge opportunity to get another four schools involved in what is a rapidly growing successful scheme benefiting both year 9 students in public speaking and story telling in an amazing way and for years 1 and 2 to become addicted to stories and the older children reading those stories to them. Simple idea but phenomenal results for both age groups! (Vocal acting workshop for the older kids essential)
Now in the second phase where the first 12 yr 9's are recruiting ad training other yr 9 story tellers and are doing a great job so far.
Never seen such excitement in kids at both levels before. Pure magic is happening before my eyes. Just got to spread the word to other schools about how easy this is to do and how it benefits all children for years to come!!!
This has been an amazing week. Wednesday I went into my daughter's school to do a session on 'suspense writing' so I made up a workshop over night and it went down a storm with the kids.
I gave it little thought apart from being tickled by having made children laugh at how easy it is to slow crawl a sentence with the right words to create suspense until today.
Today I was a parent helper for the same class when they went off to Ipswich Museum for the day and had a great time it must be said.
At the end of the day one of the shiest kids caught me and said "Thank you for coming in on Wednesday Mr Cattrell. I really liked your session and it really helped me.
There are sometimes when you can only smile because you don't have enough words.
This morning I was rung up out of the blue by Hereford Radio station who wanted me to talk about the fact that people are using technology like Lexa to read to children instead of reading to children themselves.
I think that they felt that I should be admonishing the practice and promoting reading to your child, children every night but frankly life is not so linear and not everyone can or wants to. This is why I am becoming more and more passionate about the 'Story Gift Scheme' which is a different and yet magical approach to this whole issue.
Please let me know what you think especially if you have kids and don't have the time to read to them, I would love to hear from you to find out how we could help with that.
Today I had a meeting with Mrs Sarah Bowman from E.B. Primary, Mr Gavin Hetherington from E.B High school and the 12 story tellers in year 9. The idea was to get their feedback and to see if they wanted to continue the Story Gift Scheme as much as the Primary school children wanted them too and all 12 want to continue and get better at story telling!
The hour or so meeting was filled with how the students felt about story telling to the younger children and what they liked about it, what they could do better next time, how they could teach that to other children in year 9? The room was just a buzz of enthusiastic creativity from the 6 boys and 6 girls that have started the scheme even though the first comment when asked how they found reading to a whole class of year 1 and 2 was 'intimidating'! But here they are just as enthusiastic about want to do it again as the younger children are about having them come back for more story reading.
The story tellers were then shown the amazing feedback that the primary school children had given them and you could see that they were blown away by realising what a positive effect their story telling was having. It is a magical thing to be a part of.
Now each student has been charged with finding another story to read to the younger ones as well as to recruit another student from year 9 to be their partner in story telling thus doubling the numbers of story tellers.
We are slowly building a format (and learning from our mistakes whilst doing so) that we can offer out to other schools.
It's a quiet story revolution!
It looks like 'The story gift scheme' sessions are a big hit with the kids in the Primary and Secondary schools in East Bergholt and they will continue for another term!
The feedback from the Primary school children was amazing with so many positive quotes. They love being read to by the Senior school students and love the stories being read to them. (They cited 'I want a Hippo' as one of their fav's'!) They wanted more and more stories!
So now all of the children who don't get that story conversation at home will now get it in school. We (the adults) have been overwhelmed but the positive response and outcome of the scheme. The primary school children are apparently really excited each week on a Wednesday because a Wednesday is the story day!
So now comes the logistics of recording what these two amazingly advanced thinking schools have created. This means writing the whole project up as a 'How to...' for other schools pointing out that all schools are different and can tailor the Story Gift Scheme to suit their own needs. When we have something written down then this can be a template for other schools to get involved and each school that does will have children benefiting from this amazing thing.
At the moment this feels a bit like a hidden magical thing is being created by two schools that could, when properly reaveled to ther schools be of huge benefit to all those participating.
My aim in these workshops is to make it easier for children to understand how to write a story. So D J Cattrell is not just about books but about giving kids practical easy structures to understand all aspects of stories and how important they are in life from newspaper articles to Greek Myths around television programmes and over the hill of history. Stories are what we are, how we remember our world and how we make sense of it.
Wednesday 17th August 2016