For those of us here in the UK, February has brought a cold snap. As I walked through a local meadow on the fresh snow alongside some fox tracks, it took me back to reading The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey (Tinder Press). This made me ponder how engagement with literature enriches our everyday experiences, and vice versa, and reminded me how important it is to share our reading experiences and identities with children.
We hope you all enjoy a much-deserved break over the half term. Stay safe and stay in touch @OpenUni_RfP Lucy Rodriguez Leon
We’re delighted to have re-launched as a stand-alone evidence informed RfP website! The site has clearer presentation, better functionality and more space to breathe! You can now save your favourite Examples of Practice too, so do visit and enjoy! Thanks to Chris Riddell for his stunning illustrations.
Do join us for the last two of these cross curricular Book Blethers led by brilliant TRG Leaders. Generously, Mary Rose Grieve, a leader from Dubai is listing all those mentioned during the blethers and Marilyn Brocklehurst from Norfolk Children’s Book Centre is offering the books at discounted prices! See here.
RfP School Improvement Journeys
In 2020-21, the OU team are working with 40 schools on developing a reading ethos and culture that impacts on children’s love of reading, particularly for less engaged readers. In early February the team led extended interactive staff meetings with over 350 teachers, head teachers and TAs from 14 schools across Sheffield and Rotherham as part of this. It was a mammoth task of organisation for St Wilfred’s DfE English Hub - thanks to all!
School Improvement Team Member Marilyn Mottram (former HMI and Deputy National lead for English)
“It has been a delight and a privilege to be part of the OU team, working with English leaders on their RfP school improvement journeys. I am full of admiration for their resilience and creativity and for the quality of work that schools are generating. This promises to be hugely important, especially at this time when motivating children to choose to read and to read widely is more vital than ever”.
Children’s charity Bookmark is looking for volunteers to share their love of reading and help those at particular risk of falling behind. Might you know someone? Volunteers have two 30-minute sessions a week with a child for 6 weeks. The focus is on fun and building children’s confidence and enjoyment of reading, to complement classroom learning.
Claire, from St. Andrew’s C of E Primary School in Essex, is Reading lead across the Trust. Throughout the pandemic, she has worked to foster reciprocal, interactive reading relationships with families. Her example details how she used the ‘OU Reading Together Treasure Hunt’ to broaden children’s and families’ understandings of ‘what counts as reading’ and celebrate diversity in home reading practices.
Hollie and Kelsey, 3rd year BA Primary Education students at the University of Greenwich, were highly commended in the Gold Star Student Teachers Awards 2020. This example describes their journeys of reflecting on their reader identities and evaluating their subject knowledge. They also explain the methods that enabled them to develop their knowledge of children’s authors and poets.
OU/UKLA Teacher Reading Groups
Over 100 have begun and mentor meetings are progressing, the commitment and enthusiasm of so many teacher members and their leaders is remarkable in these challenging times. Groups work to develop their knowledge and practice in order to ensure more young people develop the life-changing habit of reading in childhood.
In uncertain times it was fantastic to kick off 2021 with a new group, full of enthusiasm. 40 staff from across Mid-Cornwall squeezed in to share their passion for reading. We held a book blether, created our A-Z of children's authors (still missing an X), discussed our reviews of practice, explored the website and shared ideas for developing RfP remotely during lockdown. We have begun!
The first meeting of the early career teachers’ group got off to a ‘Zooming’ start. We made introductions, reviewed our practice and shared favourite new books, including 500 Words: Black Live Matter by various authors and A Day in the Life of a Poo, a Gnu and You (a brilliant comic by Mike Barfield and Jessica Bradley). Our group padlet is growing!
30 members from across the area came to collaborate and explore RfP practice in January. We discussed the challenges of supporting readers through remote reading and began to explore avenues for improving our knowledge of children’s literature and pedagogy, using the resources available on site.
With a background in writing for theatre and television, Piers Torday is the author of the award-winning trilogy, The Last Wild, and most recently, the critically acclaimed duo, The Lost Magician and The Frozen Sea. His next book, a prequel to The Last Wild, called The Wild Before publishes in March.
This new article by the OU’s Lucy Rodriguez Leon and Jane Payler highlights the complexity involved in shared book reading and, amongst other elements, considers the importance of repetition in reading books to young children. FREE copies are available until March to download - do seize yours now!
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