Waycroft Primary School, Bristol

| May 7, 2010 | 3 Comments 

How good to be “just down the road” from our venue today: Waycroft Primary School, Stockwood, in Bristol.

We were joined by pupils and staff from Stockwood Green Primary, just a short walk away.

Jerome Monahan, independent education consultant and journalist, joined us today, and was kind enough to record his thoughts.

Session One

A boy enters, glances at the screen already filled with the colourful barren scene – rocks and wheeling bird – and he cannot contain himself: “’Wooooohhhh…’ he exclaims.

While the UK goes to work this Friday on an indecisive election, I am with Tim and Sarah at Waycroft Primary in Bristol. It’s a Myst day. The first session involves a 70-plus audience of Year 4 children. They are imagining themselves into the desert landscape. It is great to see Tim’s interactions – the way he plays the room is very impressive. He is a master at reinforcing positive behaviours – the need to take risks; the necessity of big voices especially in this echoing hall; the way raised hands erode concentration.

He manages to keep things open at all times inviting children to extend their thoughts and language. His drinking from an empty cup to prompt children to move beyond monosyllabic responses works well and the use of Mr Walker – his stick – as a means of moving into the world of Myst – suggesting his physical exploration of the realm before the children launch themselves into that world is neatly and unobtrusively done.

We move back and find ourselves in a gallery and greenhouse. Tim has cleverly cast a child in the role of the gardener and now another as the lady of the house. He quizzes them at the front and borrows from forum theatre – putting them on a hot seat so that the class can join in the cross-examination. Then he embroiders a story between them – stopping the story of an accident so that each can add to the account.

The door is revealed; encourages them to write to him – follow up.

We end with Mr Walker.

Year 3 and Year 4

Session Two

A new landscape – sea or sky? It’s a congested space and the children are on the move. I hate tables and chairs. It’s a great hall and they could write anywhere.

A many-headed monster at his feet, Tim embarks on exploration – warm or cold seas? We are much more speedily into Myst – a spiral structure is revealed. Children share ideas –Adam: ‘dragon’s wing – the parts of an animal’ he picks out ‘snakes and dragons’.

The children are getting the idea of ‘dripping ideas’ into the mix – we are going further into the landscape. We’re into adverbs – Tim demonstrates ‘walking cautiously’ The children are desperate to climb up the structure.

Tim is good at taking opportunities – someone suggests the spiral is a plant. Cue a move into Jack and the Beanstalk – the children tell each other what they know of the tale. He does this it seems to exorcise the tale so that now children are asked to share what they think lies on high they will break into new thoughts rather than rehashing what they know already. At least that’s what I think is going on. The emphasis is upon plenitude. Tim does not want to hear the ideas yet – they must hold and grow even more committed to their notions.

How are they climbing? They must enact how they will climb. ‘Dancing madly’ – goes down a storm.

We advance – and now it is time to put all the bits together. Climbing style? What is it? What’s there? Exodus. Back to places – time to write now.

Back to the front – as we ascend Tim encourages the children to cry out, but then they fall quiet quickly – the benefit of more reinforcement about managing transitions from quiet to noise to quiet again. Nest comes into view. Tim turns to Owl Baby and reads an extract.

The Myst bird opens up discussion of the bird’s coloured plumage and what conclusions can be drawn from it. Male or female.

Do they want to go down? Tim models having ‘a balanced argument’ whether to stay or go. Jasmine wins the debate and down we go – no noise at start – noise – and then quiet at end – it works.

“What’s that…”asks Tim. It is time to stop. Well done – self-administered pats on back all round.

Mr Walker sounds us out.

Adam and seven: : “I had a nice time and I enjoyed exploring the birds and thinking about what life they had. I think they were eating another little bird. It was interesting exploring up there. I thought there would be lots of bugs up there but there weren’t. I have never really seen a bird like that and thought about how it lives. It was interesting for me.

Year 1 and Year 2

Year 5 and Year 6

Category: 1) Events and Training days

Comments (3)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Stella Sage says:

    What a fantastic day! So many smiles and much laughter as Tim inspired the children to let their imaginations run riot and then write their ideas down. Pupils from Y1 to Y6 from Waycroft and Stockwood Green were totally engaged and entertained as they eagerly composed their descriptions inspired by internet pictures and Tim’s encouragement. The highpoint of every session was when the children shared their writing with each other. I am sure the pupils and the staff will remember this day for a long time and be eager to continue to develop their writing even further.

  2. Alice Vickers says:

    Thank you for an interesting day. The children were very engaged and enjoyed the approach.Lovely use of ‘hotseating’.

  3. Jo Dennis says:

    Thanks Tim, inspirational use of Myst! Makes me want to get my copy out and play it again… nevermind the children! 🙂

    Loads of great ideas and tips to use in the classroom to inspire writing. And great fun too. The children really enjoyed it and I’m sure they’ll remember your visit for a long time.

Leave a Reply