Secondary pupils on Andy Stanton
St. Paul's High School in Dundee recently screened Andy Stanton Meet Our Authors event to pupils in S1 and S2. Here, Learning Resources Manager Carol Moug shares the pupils' reactions to the Mr Gum books.
The Mr Gum books by Andy Stanton would generally be considered too young for secondary pupils. At St Paul’s Academy however we felt we should give it a go as part of our role as a flagship school.
The groups we chose to read the books were the S1 and S2 nurture group and one less able second year English class. The nurture groups comprise of a small selection of pupils who are more vulnerable within the school community than their peers. These pupils are not necessarily academically poor although previous events in their school careers may have left them behind others of the same chronological age and they often lack emotional maturity. The selection of the English class was more due to circumstance than consideration as it was an opportune time for the class to have a book read to them.
Four Mr Gum books were purchased. Titles were deliberately chosen that sounded a bit more ‘grown up’ than others. For example, You’re a Bad Man Mr Gum was not used. The four selected titles were:-
Mr Gum and the Power Crystals
Mr Gum and the Biscuit Billionaire
Mr Gum and the Goblins
Mr Gum and the Secret Hideout.
The pupils selected the book for their group, although the choice was one of two when the last selection was made.
Over varying periods of time, from one week to eight weeks, the Librarian went along and read the chosen book to these groups. One group was considerably delayed due to other events in their calendar but this did not seem to make a significant difference to their enjoyment of the book and participation in the event.
There were varying responses to the books from the groups. Both the nurture groups enjoyed their respective stories but the S2 English class felt that, although they enjoyed being read to, the novel was too childish for them. This brought about interesting conversations within the group of what made a good novel and the concept that not everyone liked the same things. The group finally understood that it was quite acceptable to criticise a piece of work as long as polite language is used and the points backed up by evidence and example. This in itself was a very good lesson. The delivery of the novel to the English class was more formal – in a classroom situation - whilst the nurture group were seated together on the ‘comfy chairs’. This may have affected the expectation of the different groups, the classroom group expecting something more ‘educational’ than perhaps they felt they received.After completion of the reading the S1 group prepared a montage from their book, Mr Gum and the Power Crystals and used Andy Stanton’s website.
Following the completion of the reading project the nurture groups were temporarily disbanded and the English group dispersed to different classes after the change of timetable. All the groups were reunited at 11.00 on Thursday 16th June to watch Andy Stanton Live on the BBC. This was a surprising success! Andy leapt around, as zany as his book characters, but the pupils adored it. Their reaction was assisted by two of the S1 pupils who giggled and chortled all the way through, infecting the others with their amusement.
There have been some interesting lessons learned from this experiment in St Paul’s. Don’t judge the pupils as too young, too mature, too anything, until you have tried it. Pupils enjoy being read to, especially in a comfortable environment. The responsibility lies with the reader to convey their personal enjoyment in the novel and convey that to the pupils in terms of intonation and expression. Young people enjoy humour and appreciate a good laugh. This was a unit of work that staff at St Paul’s would be keen to repeat, perhaps next time with an author more appropriate to the age range of our pupils. It was a well received and excellent approach to literacy.
You can share your thoughts on Carol's blog, or your own school's experiences with the Andy Stanton event, in the comment box below.
Scottish Book Trust Meet Our Authors Flagship Schools are four outstanding schools that have been selected as ongoing 'showcases' for their work with the Meet Our Authors Programme.
Read more examples and advice from our four Flagship Schools on how they are using the Meet Our Authors in their everyday planning and teaching to benefit their learners.
Related blog posts:
- Diary of a Literacy Event
- How Charlie Higson Helped Me Bond With My Son
- Meet Our Authors - A Teacher's Perspective
- Reading for Family, Health and Well-being
- How to Support Your Child's Literacy
- St Columba's are Shaken Not Stirred
- As Good as I Imagined: Why it's Better to Read the Book Before the Film
- What Are 21st Centuary Literacy Skills?
- How to Deal With the Gruffalo!
- Worth His Weight in Gold
- The Juggling Acts of Creative Learning
- Jaqueline Wilson and the Four Contexts for Learning
- Why Artemis Fowl Should Be in Every Classroom Part 1
- Why Artemis Fowl Should Be in Every Classroom Part 2
- Many Ways to Peel a Potato: The Flexibility of Meet Our Authors
- Jacqueline Wilson + ICT = fantastic presentations!
This project is funded by the National Lottery through the Scottish Arts Council Inspiring Communities Fund and Scottish Friendly Assurance.
Photo credit: Peter Sandground