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!) the 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.
After a great Easter weekend on the cheap we come to Sunday evening and winding down time. The girls read to us after teatime and we then read to them but I had to ask "You are 10 and 13 years old so clearly we are not reading to each other to improve your literacy skills or improve your comprehension of the world, so why do we still read to each other girls?
Sarah said that for her she loved us reading to her so that she could leave this world for a while and disappear into the world we were describing and that she loved reading to us because she could act out the characters.
Rachel enjoys us reading to her because she doesn't have to think about anything, she can just relax and not solve any problems. She likes reading to us because she likes being the characters and feeling their feelings because if they are happy about something, I'm happy about that and is they are angry about something it makes me wonder why they are angry about that and I get angry for and with them somehow.
Reading every night with your kids is just so beneficial in so many ways.
Last week Tom Carson and I went to the Iceni school to interview children and Teachers about the books and about the Author visit that I do and we had a wonderful response as you can see from the first page of the website. It is something that will help me to advertise my availability to other schools which is great but also raises the profile of the Story Gift Scheme for when I can begin to promote that. My aim is for every child in the country to have a story time in schools and having those stories read to them by Year 9's of the nearest Senior school. The pilot is going incredibly well. Another two Yr 9's get to hone their story telling skills tomorrow and years 1 & 2 get to grill the story tellers!
Today saw another two Year 9 students form East Bergholt High School sit down and read stories to the years 1 and 2 from East Bergholt Junior school. The teachers were keen to tell us that their children were buzzing about it being Wednesday and because it is Wednesday is when the Story tellers come from the Senior school to tell them stories. Wednesday has become a special day in that school for those children and that by itself is awesome!
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