Authors Live: Darren Shan - A Cross-Curricular Zombie Project Part 1

McLaren High School made Authors Live: Darren Shan a central focus of their annual CfE Challenge, where several subject areas develop classroom activities on a single subject. In this first installment Louise Edwards tells us about how the project came about and explains the kinds of activities the pupils took part in. 

The Zombie CfE Challenge

Best-selling horror writer Darren Shan was going to be talking about his new 12 part 'Zom-B' series so, aware that Zombies are really on trend now in books, films and video games, I felt there was real scope for an exciting theme for cross-curricular activities which would fit nicely with the CfE Challenge at McLaren High School. For the Challenge all S1 pupils have two periods a week which are dedicated to various learning activities that meet the objectives of CfE across a range of subjects.

The CfE Challenge Team came up with loads of ideas for zombie-themed activities. It was decided to run the Zombie Survival CfE Challenge over 3 weeks beginning with a science tutorial for the whole year group, with the rest of the activities run on a rota basis. The whole of S1 also got to view the Authors Live event streamed live in January with the support of the Curriculum Leaders to allow them out of class. This gave the event maximum impact and a real sense of occasion.  

In preparation for the CfE Challenge all S1 pupils were given an extract from Darren Shan’s Zom-B to read and all the events were promoted by teaser posters throughout the school and on the plasma screen, creating a real buzz of excitement.

Courtesy of SBT we had sixty copies of the books from Darren Shan’s new Zom-B series and S1 pupils had the first opportunity to borrow them from the library. They needed no encouragement and over the course of the CfE Challenge over 70% of S1 pupils had read at least Zom-B with most going on to read the second in the series, Zom-B: Underground.

Other year groups were included by offering them a chance to view the Authors Live event with Darren Shan every lunchtime in the library and the whole of S2 and S3 also got to attend the Zombie science tutorial. At the end of the CfE Challenge all pupils were also able to borrow the 'Zom-B' books and there has been particular interest among S2 pupils which has expanded to Darren’s other books, including his 'Cirque de Freak' series.

Authors Live: Darren Shan - the pupils' perspective

“We were all gathered in the hall, the countdown to Authors Live was up on the whiteboard screen. The numbers finally reached 0 and the live stream started with Darren himself reading the prologue to his gripping book Zom-B. In the middle of the programme there were questions about the book and what inspired Darren to write horror, in which a question from McLaren High School was read out. It was certainly an interesting and fun experience, since Darren’s reading of extracts drew pictures in your mind as you hung onto his every word. Authors Live was an experience I won’t forget anytime soon.” Hamish

“I enjoyed the Darren Shan Authors Live event very much. Darren answered so many questions and surprisingly we even got a question answered from our school. We all learnt a lot about him and his new 12-book series, Zom-B. I read the first two books and they were full of twists and turns and I really, really liked them as they were also impossible to put down.” Dillon

In the next blog installment from Louise, she'll tell us more about some of the specific cross-curricular activities that she and her colleagues devised as part of the zombie-themed CfE Challenge.

If you'd like to use Authors Live in your school to bring reading and writing to life for your pupils you can get more ideas and resources from our other ambassadors on our Get the most out of SBT programmes page. 

Louise Edwards

Louise Edwards is LRC Coordinator at McLaren High School in Stirling. She recently took part in our Teacher Ambassador Programme which seeks to explore the creative potential of our Authors Live events in the classroom.