Improving Boys’ Literacy: Wales conference, CIA Cardiff

| November 11, 2008 | 0 Comments 

We made a return trip to Wales today for the Basic Skills Cymru (BSC) conference on Improving Boys’ Literacy, held in Cardiff International Arena. I was asked to do a presentation on how ICT can be used to inspire boys in literacy, especially those reluctant and failing boy readers. (The conference is primarily concerned with boys aged 9-14 years.)

This was a national conference for Wales and the most important such event being organised by BSC for this year. It was a launch for their special focus on boys literacy. BSC plan to follow it with a series of regional workshops which will provide the opportunity for some more specific skills development for teachers and advisers. The conference involved all 22 LEAs in Wales.

Our aim with children, as ever, is to…

The above word was made with SPELL WITH FLICKR Try it for a fun way to play with words.

Thank you to Jenny Stevens, and her colleagues in Basic Skills Cymru, for organising a superb event.

Thank you too to Nick Penn, Abertillery Primary School for sending the following:


I attended your course at the The Hill Education and Conference Centre in Abergavenny.

First things first – I had a great day! The content and delivery was refreshing and inspiring, and I hope I can translate some of what I learnt into my classroom.  I had tried Myst out before I came on the course, and felt that many of the children wrote way above their ‘level’.

Secondly I have attached some of the children’s writing as a result of their Myst experience. One of these pieces (We’ll call him “R”) is from a child who generally writes at around level 2.  He had difficulties in concentrating, often ‘off task’.  But R was a good listener and a great talker when the subject interested him.  You can see the difference that Myst has made to his writing.  The spellings are not all his!  R is dyslexic and has real difficulties in this area.  However, he was so proud of his work he did not want to record it on the computer with his spelling mistakes, of which he was painfully aware.  The fact that R wanted to carry on writing is a testament to the visual stimulus he was captured by.

I have copied them into a word document, but have their original powerpoints if you want to use them, just let me know.

I’m going to try Myst with my year 2s this term and hope to have the same success.

Thanks again,


I see a beautiful sky it is like a crystal and I stare at the red velvet rock. I see the enchanting land below me it is like burnt sand. I hear the breeze blow the beautiful sound coming from the wind chimes.  I feel the breathtaking breeze.  I feel calm and peaceful.
Suddenly, I hear a soft voice behind me. It was the girl I once knew her name is Catherine Atrus’s wife.  In front of me I see big trees winding up the wall it is like weaving ivy. Suddenly I feel excited about meeting the D’ni people.
I wait for Atrus in his study.  I see the pink uncut ruby I spin around to see a picture of Atrus’s wife Catherine and his daughter I see little boxes on the shelves I feel rather strange.  Atrus arrives.  I can’t wait to see what happens next.
Atrus appeared “I’m sorry my friend I kept you waiting so long” He is wearing a golden gown and goggles hang around his neck.  “Here my friend I kept this diary while I was writing Releeshahn.  I brought it along for you to have a look at on the way” he thrusts the book at me and I take it.
I hear a mysterious noise behind me it sounds like a flickering light bulb.  I spin around only to see a strange figure.  The man’s face is deformed, his hands are like crumpled paper.  His hair is weaving down his body and he wears rags sown together. He grabs a fireball then throws the ball directly at Atrus.  But it hits the curtains and they burst into flames.  He breaks the sphere and takes Releeshahn and Atrus shouts “NO!”  but the figure lifts his hands and taps the book and I feel a slight jolt and I’m in another old dimension.
R, 11


I hear a strange, mysterious crackling noise behind me. I spin around to see a man appearing from thin air; like magic! He wears tramp like clothes, ragged and scruffy, with dirty grey hair down to his shoulders. His face looks deformed, fearless with rage.  The look in his eyes sparkles with revenge.  He bends down to find a crystal full of flickering flames.  He launches the red hot fireball at the old curtain, which erupts into flames; then, plunging his fist into the crystal sphere, he takes the book in his wrinkly hand.  At that very moment  I spot him clenching another book .  Raising his fist in the air as if to salute Atrus, he brings it back down and touches his book before apperating to another world, taking Releeshahn.  Suddenly I feel a jolt, as if the book is pulling me toward it.  Panicking, I plummet after the anonymous figure
C, 11

I stare, amazed with what I see before: crystal blue sky, old abandoned mountains, and forgotten cliffs. I can also see a bird circling the air with pride in its land.  I can hear the sound of wind chimes playing peacefully  – the tune of harmony and melody. I can hear the wind flowing gently.
I feel as though I’ve been brought to my own heaven but now I begin to wonder; does this land hold more than just beauty or  does this land have some haunting pasts?
I gasp, I hear a gentle voice behind me, the sound of a mother humming a lullaby. Then I turn and see Catherine, Atrus’s beloved wife. She is wearing a long ruby gown and in her hair she has miniature plaits. She also holds a baby in her  arms – it must be Atrus’s new  daughter.
My eye twitches from the beaming sun fighting to get trough the atrium. Suddenly I sneeze. from the pollen that tickles my throat. “ Oh hello, you’re here , Atrus wont be long , go ahead and wait in the study.” says Catherine.  She is leading me to a door in front of me. I’m nervous my knees are shaking I take a deep gulp.
“ Atrus wont be long “ says Catherine.  I wander around but I don’t see anything amazing just ordinary writers things :  scattered books everywhere, bookshelves.  It doesn’t seem as though it is owned by the creator of ages. As I wander around the room I see a peculiar  book which when you open it an old age appears it has bolts of lightning going through it. I can also see a crystal shining towards me; it is pink with a hint of white. I also see a letter it says: ‘thank you for your request for padlocks’ .What would Atrus want padlocks for?  My eye catches a sphere it is padlocked and bolted maybe it holds Reeleshan. Suddenly a door opens I quickly turn and see a shadow of a man on the walls lit by candle light! Could it be the one and only Atrus?
‘’Hello my friend, Catherine told me you’d be here.’’ I see a man with strange goggles hanging on his neck. He is wearing a long sunny yellow gown and on his face is a shabby goatie beard. ‘’ Here, you may want this. They are my hopes for Reeleshan.’’ He places the book on a nearby table. He walks around the room at a medium pace ‘’I see you have found my study then.’ says Atrus ‘’ Tomahna has become very unguarded and I think someone is lurking around my study. We cant have anyone reading Reeleshan. In a flash the book Atrus gave me flies across the room and lands on the floor by the glass sphere which holds Reeleshan.  A shabby man with long grey hair reveals himself…
The shabby man produces a ball of fire and aims it at Atrus. “ NO!  REELESHAN!’’ exclaims Atrus. But it is too late! The shabby man takes Reeleshan and smashes the case it is held in. ‘’Oh no what are we going to do?’’ Atrus passes me the journal. I start to take a running leap and as the book opens I jump and soon realize I’m in another world!  Racing through time the wind sweeps my hair. I feel as though I’m in a time machine.  I wonder nervously what my adventure will bring.
C, 11
Suddenly, I hear a crackling noise behind me. I turn to see an anonymous figure. He’s wearing dirty rags as clothes and teeth as brown as a tree trunk. In his eyes, rage explains his scruffiness. I’m thinking revenge is on his mind as he bends down and picks up a glass ball glimmering with fire. Unexpectedly he throws the ball at the curtain beside me and in front of Atrus. Atrus screams “Get out.” But my feet are frozen to the floor. Raising his fist into the air he smashes the globe and grabs reeleshahn. I spot another book in his hands.
He plunges his fist into the air and disappears. I feel a jolt. I’m being pulled out towards the book perhaps a new world…
M, 11

I stare, amazed at the enchanted view before me. A giant, crystal blue sky, with a black eagle hovering over the balcony.   I hear the wind whistling, a wind charm playing some beautiful, yet mysterious music.  waiting patiently for Atrus, I get the butterflies, wondering what mysteries are in store for me…
Suddenly, I hear a familiar, gentle voice behind me. I turn to face Catharine holding a baby dressed in a white clock. I see two doors: one for the study and another with a padlock on it.  I see vines of green and golden ivy dangling from the ceiling, the pollen of the plants make me sneeze, the sun is beaming through the multi coloured ceiling. “breathtaking isn’t  it” she explains “Atrus wont be long. Go on ahead into his study and wait for him there.”  I constantly feel that things are going to be mysterious and scary in some ways.
Cautiously, I walk into the strange and gloomy room, exchanging looks with the floor. The first thing I see is a sphere, I take a step closer and I realise that there is a book  named Releeshan, I see a passage way with a painting on: there are the duni  men and woman standing on rocks. I go back to the book and take a closer look, the study doors creep open… nervously I wait to see what scary things are in store for me.
I spin around to see Atrus holding an old battered journal, then he gave it to me.
“Hello my friend, Catharine told me that you’ve been here a while” said Atrus “sorry I kept you waiting”   He wore  a golden cape and around his neck hung  a pair of laboratory goggles, he had scruffy, short and greasy hair and his glasses were perched upon his nose.
While Atrus gets the keys for the book I hear a strange voice behind me. I turn to find a man appearing from thin air, he wears ragged and torn clothes with filthy brown hair dangling from his head to his shoulders. He spots a tiny fire ball and bends down to grab it and throw it, but it only catches the curtain next to us I can see in his eyes there is evil and revenge. While I help Atrus the man plunges his arm into the sphere, then he grabs Releeshahn and I notice another  book in his arm, after me seeing the book he raises his arm as to solute us, he brings his arm back down and then appperates into another world.
Atrus screams of rage we both feel a tug now flying into the same world.
C, 11

Category: 1) Events and Training days

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