Day 2 at College Town Juniors, Sandhurst and what a delight to work alongside the children of this school, all 260-ish of them!
Lorraine Wade, Community Governor and Parent at College Town Junior School kindly wrote her observations:
Creative Writing Workshop
I have come into school to experience, well I don’t know what. Entering into the school hall that has been darkened, I feel I am about to go on a journey.
Mr Rylands introduces himself and his walking stick, Mr Walker. He asks the children to describe what they can see on Mr Walker, holes they respond. Why holes? Why are they there? He asks the children to come up with ideas, “to think out of the box” and any ideas are discussed, the sillier the better and the children don’t disappoint!!
“In the background I can hear a thunder storm brewing, it’s dark and looks as if I have entered another dimension.” He interviews a pupil, using Mr Walker as a microphone. He asks what she thinks of the scene in front of her? Where am I, what can I see, what can I feel, how do I feel? “Its dark and menacing, I don’t feel like its somewhere I would choose to be, perhaps not safe”. Has there been some sort of disaster? The children are asked what they think, another pupil says he feels like it’s a” hurricane” and, when asked to tell more he goes into great detail. “The gateway to the ends of the earth” says another, ideas, ideas, he wants ideas. “The sky is moving sideways and the lightening goes through it”, “it’s the edge of space”, all different ideas. There are no right or wrong answers.
Mr Rylands moves on; when we compare something to something else, what is it called? Hands go up with the answer similes. To say that “it is” or “was”, is a metaphor. There follows a simile or metaphor competition. Mr Rylands asks if we should go for a walk, a journey and we all go willingly. Whenever he mentions a simile or metaphor the children need to call out (in a somewhat dramatic fashion), what it was.
Using the beginning “Standing here, looking………..” write a something. There are no right or wrong answers, use Mr Rylands ideas, use your own, think, feel, smell, expand, imagine….Don’t worry about spelling, just get it on paper, corrections can be made later.
“I stay on the edge, watching the lightening bolts, cut through the sky like a knife through butter. I’m hot, very hot, I would like a nice cool glass of water but this place is a dry, arid dessert, nothing seems to live here, its seems dead and lifeless. Am I alone, has anyone ever lived here?”
Mr Rylands explains the importance of balance in our work. Again using Mr Walker, he demonstrates quality versus quantity and they need to be in equal proportion to make a good piece of work therefore balanced. We now have 43 seconds to complete another paragraph, using our own ideas.
“I decide to venture further into the abyss ahead of me……..”
An interruption, would we like to meet the lady that lives here? A class member stands up and tells her story of how long she has lived there. Enter the “mad mientist”. With no prompting or background story being given to them, the children explain about their lives and imagination flows! Some incredible stories come forth with brilliant acting too! Mr Rylands had simply asked the children if they were up for a challenge and their imagination did the rest, BRILLIANT!!!
This workshop has opened my eyes to my view of the world. Being an adult, I think I left my imagination at my eleventh birthday party, but it’s been reawakened! This is one “lesson” these children will remember this for years to come and the fruits of this exercise flourishing for many a year. Watch out JK Rowling!
Thank you, Lorraine.
And also a thank you to Lynne Wales, Coordinator for Learning Support Teaching and Support Service (TASS), and Veronica MacDonald, Learning Support Teacher for their reflections:
Different approach to Literacy used which initially put the children in an unfamiliar setting. The children’s attention was maintained through energy and pace. Getting the children involved in a variety of ways ensures they are focussed and attending to what is being said.
Both groups of children were captivated by the settting / stimulus used. The children found it a challenge to use similies and metaphors to describe the settting, they will need practise to think ‘outside’ the box and use their own knowledge and experiences to put into their writing.
Although the sessions observed today were very similar in content and structure, the expectation and outcomes were appropriate to the year group being taught. It was interesting to see the confidence of the children develop during the session, particularly when they were challenged (hot seating, not putting up hands, writing on the spot). The stimulating effect of using multi-media as a stimulus for the literacy lessons to engage and challenge the children was obvious in the way the children responded both verbally and in written form. However, there will need to be further work on developing writing styles using this type of stimulus and getting the children to slow down their writing – Standing here…….. without moving straight into the story.
There are many fantastic ideas and strategies given in these 2 days that are practical and can be taken back to the class room but there will need to be much build up of ideas and skills in developing their writing using this form of stimulus.
Great sessions, fantastic ideas to take back and use with our groups of children.
Category: 1) Events and Training days