Claire Harris: Sharing a love of reading at Foulford Primary!

In ‘How to Create a Love of Reading in School’, Yvonne Allan, head teacher at Foulford Primary reflected on the process which took her school from having a reading gap in terms of ‘reading for fun’ to a school enriched by a love of books and reading. Here, P7 class teacher Claire Harris shares her reflections on the school's involvement in the Royal Mail Book Awards scheme with her class of Primary 7 pupils working collaboratively with Primary 1 pupils in shared reading sessions.


 

After the mid-term my P7 class spent several literacy sessions both reading and discussing the shortlisted books in the ‘Bookbug’ category (0-7years) of the Royal Mail Awards 2010/11. The pupils then participated in a workshop with Pam Wardell from ‘Books Alive’ on how to tell better stories. We explored better storytelling using voices, characterisation, puppet making and percussion instruments. The children had to work collaboratively in groups to present one of the books to the rest of the class, using the skills they had been learning in the session.

They found this an enjoyable experience (if a little daunting at first), it was beneficial that everyone got to rehearse storytelling to peers in a non-threatening and supportive environment. 

With follow up training from staff from library services the pupils were ready to share short-listed books with the Primary One pupils. Both the upper primary pupils and infants thoroughly enjoyed these sessions. It was a great way for the younger children to experience being read to on a one-to-one basis in school whilst also being given the opportunity to ask questions and explore the pages freely.

The Primary 7s were able to develop their abilities in reading aloud, being a role model, asking questions and social skills. My pupils, then, were able to share their learning about storytelling to a wider audience on the day the library was officially opened by Gordon Brown. In front of the whole school and special guests, they presented a production which they entitled ‘Strictly Come Storytelling’. This was based on the Strictly Come Dancing TV show and involved two storytelling contestants with a panel of judges. The production demonstrated clearly with super acting skills the dos and don’ts of good storytelling. The whole class was extremely proud of their creativity and presentation skills involved during this presentation.

Some of the P7s and P1s also worked together again to add book reviews to the Scottish Book Trust website and were excited to see their work on the internet for all to see! This was particularly good for the P7s to help their confidence in writing book reviews and in asking open questions to the younger pupils to help write their reviews.

Both P1 and P7 pupils were involved in a voting ceremony organised by library services with each child voting for their favourite shortlisted book. On the 22nd February we watched the Royal Mail Book Awards ceremony live from the Tramway theatre in Glasgow on GLOW. All the children were eager to see whether their favourite story had won. There was a huge roar from some very excited Primary 1s and 7s when the winner, Julia Donaldson’s What the Ladybird Heard was announced.

Now at the end of the project it is easy for me to reflect on the positive impact on both sets of children. The project undoubtedly added to our love of reading here at Foulford whilst giving the older children confidence in their own abilities as readers and as a role-model to younger pupils. Friendships too have been forged and indeed hope to be maintained. It seems, in fact, that the kindness is being repaid by Primary 1 currently as they are supporting Primary 7's newest venture towards becoming a Fairtrade school. The younger pupils have eagerly become ‘Fairtrade detectives’, contributing to our displays and tasks. The Primary 7s have been extremely grateful for this.

As a class teacher I loved participating in this project. I know that the children too enjoyed this thoroughly whilst learning a huge amount about Literacy across Learning and indeed across age groups. This truly was a project which supported outcomes and experiences in Curriculum For Excellence plans but more than that, forged excellent peer work whilst allowing the children to have fun in their learning.

 

Photo credit: Paul Watt