I hope you have all had wonderful holidays. Teachers will be thinking about going back to work, planning a few lessons, probably. I hope you will be thinking about some poetry orientated lessons for National Poetry Day, which is coming up on Thursday 4th October. If you need a little help, there are some FREE LESSON PLANS and other resources for National Poetry Day on the NPD website.
The theme this year is CHANGE. There are some poems about change on the NPD website here: https://nationalpoetryday.co.uk/poems/change-poems/
I still have some availability that week, if you want me to come to your school to perform and run workshops, but contact me soon to avoid disappointment.
This is a poem of mine that I have recently written on this theme, which might be suitable for KS2 and above to read and discuss.
us playing bat and ball,
my daughter and I,
under an ever changing sky
(sun – clouds – sun)
for year after year.
We played on this familiar beach
with those bats, and that ball,
which I’ve now passed on
to a couple of friends with a son
still young enough to have some fun
my daughter and I,
(she being grown up
and busy busy busy)
had left them for I don’t know how long
among the cobwebs in memory’s forgotten cupboard.
to see them being used again.
Here are the photos from the Junior Road Safety Officers event in Durham on 13th June 2018. The photos are great and all taken by Lee Dobson. There are a few of me and the poetry workshops below. More about getting the road safety message across through poetry in Durham schools here.
A great message in a shop window in Barnard Castle
I’ve done a lot of work over the years in schools promoting the Road Safety message using poetry. People ask me how does that work? Well, the Road Safety officers of the council block book me and then make the arrangements with a number of schools where they want to get the message across about things like crossing the road carefully, riding a bike wearing a helmet, encouraging adults not to speed (20 is plenty)… I visit with the Road Safety Officers and we have a fun time with a serious theme. Examples of some of my poems that I use for these kind of workshops are on my Road Safety Poems page, but we also get children to write and perform their own.
I’ve had 2 such weeks in June funded by Durham County Council and I have another in September. So far I’ve visited the following Durham and Barnard Castle primary schools: Finchale, Framwellgate, St Godric’s, Blue Coat, Green Lane, St Mary’s RC and Montalbo Nursery and Primary School.
It was such an enjoyable time with great work from the pupils and enthusiastic teachers. We produced some particularly good class poems with music accompanied by guitar.
As part of this block of work, I also performed and led a workshop at a Junior Road Safety Officers (JRSO)* event at County Hall in Durham, with pupils and teachers from 12 Durham schools, officers from Durham County Council, the Mayor and Ron Hogg (the Police and Crime Commissioner for Durham Constabulary). It was a fantastic celebratory event of the work of the JRSOs over the past academic year. We split up into 3 groups with 20 JSROs from the different schools in each. A Road Safety Officer facilitated each group, and 3 group poems were produced in under 30 minutes and then performed at the event. The standard was excellent.
* Schools nominate a minimum of two Year 5 and 6 pupils to be junior road safety officers for their school. Their job is to spread road safety messages by running competitions, speaking in school assemblies, creating noticeboards and organising campaigns. (https://www.durham.gov.uk/article/6548/School-road-safety-schemes)
On 22nd May, the anniversary of the Manchester Arena attack, I am looking forward to a day of creativity with E-ACT Blackley Academy to celebrate everything great about Manchester.
I’ll be performing some of my poetry to the whole school at the start of the day, then working with Reception children to compose poems celebrating Manchester.
In the afternoon I will be with a group of KS2 children and the plan is to write a school poem celebrating Blackley Academy itself.
Our thoughts will, of course, be with all of those who were affected by that awful event.
I Love Manchester CC-BY-SA Transport Pixels https://flic.kr/p/arpsFZ
Bees CC-BY Duncan Hull https://flic.kr/p/XRyGmV
I had the pleasure of meeting Christina Gabbitas at the Between the Lines Children’s Literature Festival in Sheffield on 24th February. We were both leading sessions. She asked me to be one of the judges of a poetry competition that she is organising, and I agreed. The competition is open to young people aged 7-14. The closing date is 30th April. Schools or individuals can submit poems. Selected poems will be published in a lovely book. Full details are here: http://www.christinagabbitas.com/competition/
World Poetry Day (21 March each year) celebrates and promotes the reading, writing, publishing and teaching of poetry worldwide. The day was declared an official observance day by UNESCO in 1999. But as many countries already had established traditional National Poetry Day’s around October time, this worldwide celebration receives very little publicity in those countries, including the UK. (National Poetry Day is Thursday 4 October 2018 in UK and the theme is Change). I say, the more poetry days, the merrier.
“Poetry reaffirms our common humanity by revealing to us that individuals, everywhere in the world, share the same questions and feelings.”
“Poetry is the mainstay of oral tradition and, over centuries, can communicate the innermost values of diverse cultures.” (UNESCO website)
You could celebrate World Poetry Day in your school by learning about poems from different cultures, including from pupils’ own cultures. Or investigate different forms of poem, such as the Japanese Haiku or the Arabic Ruba’i.
Here are some teaching resources online that you may find useful:
On Friday 2nd March I spent an enjoyable day at Summerville Primary School in Salford. This was my third Patron of Reading visit to the school in a year, and was timed to be linked to World Book Day. The pupils were excited that I was there again (and so was I). We were building on previous work and now have a rewarding ongoing relationship. It creates a buzz in the school. It is a pleasure for me that I am now seeing familiar faces.
The young people remembered that last time I visited it was anti-bullying week and we had written some odd socks poems. They were keen to tell me that they had worn odd socks the day after I was there.
On this visit, I read poems from my new book, “What Are You Like?”. In the classrooms the pupils asked me questions about being a writer. We talked about the pleasure and importance of reading. Most of the children said they are keen readers. I told them how my parents read to me when I was young and that was what got me interested in reading myself and becoming a writer. I told them that writers were first of all readers.
I think other schools could learn a lot from this Patron of Reading scheme. Inviting a guest into the school several times a year is a good investment to give an extra dimension to the lessons. The on-going relationship reinforces the learning from the previous visits, refreshes ideas in the pupils’ memories.
So thank you Summerville staff and pupils. I look forward to the continuing rewarding Patron of Reading relationship.
What is a Patron of Reading?
A Patron of Reading is a school’s special children’s author, poet, storyteller or illustrator. The school and their patron develop a relationship over a period of time. Everything the patron does is related to helping encourage and develop a reading for pleasure culture in the school: book quizzes, blogs, book recommendations, discussions, plays, poetry bashes, blogs, book trailers and visits. The possibilities are virtually endless.
First mooted by head teacher Tim Redgrave, the idea has now spread to almost 200 schools across the British Isles. Find out more: http://www.patronofreading.co.uk/
I am pleased to be returning to Summerville Primary School on Friday 2nd March in connection with World Book Day. This will be my 3rd visit to the school in less than a year as part of the Patron of Reading scheme.
On this visit as usual I will be reading some of my poems, but there will be an emphasis on the importance and pleasure of reading and how being a reader can lead you to also becoming a writer. I’ll be reading from my new book which will be published on 23rd February.
The idea of Patron of Reading is to build up a relationship with the school rather than just a one-off visit.
“A Patron of Reading is a school’s special children’s author, poet, storyteller or illustrator. The school and their patron develop a relationship over a period of time. Everything the patron does is related to helping encourage and develop a reading for pleasure culture in the school.” Read more about the scheme on the Patron of Reading website.
IT’S WORLD BOOK DAY ON THURSDAY 1ST MARCH
I am booked for the day itself and just have 1 day left free that week, if any school wants a visit to help kick off activities. Please contact me soon to avoid disappointment.
There is a resource pack for primary schools available on the World Book Day website here:
http://www.worldbookday.com/resources/primary/ and other ideas here: http://www.worldbookday.com/ideas/
A big part of the World Book Day celebrations is dressing up as a favourite book character, teachers and students alike. Unfortunately that often leads to some pressure on parents to be creative. Here are 73 easy World Book Day costume ideas from mumsnet https://www.mumsnet.com/books/world-book-day-costume-ideas
Can you identify all of the characters of the teachers from Oldfield Primary School in Chester in 2012?
Just a quick reminder that World Book Day is 1 March 2018. That week is always popular and I have already been booked for the day itself. So if you want me to come to your school sometime that week to do poetry workshops associated with World Book Day, don’t leave it too late to book.
Update 7 Jan 2018: I am booked for World Book Day itself but still have some days available that week, book me soon though.