Exotic animals join us for a workshop!

Written by Sally Hunt.

As a small business I try to do my best to support charities local to me, or the school I am working in. A teacher from St John Fisher School in Peterborough had been in touch to ask if they could book a workshop, but she wanted the children to be able to interview someone real, maybe even go out and about in the local area.

Due to transport constraints and the fact that there was nothing within walking distance I decided to ask a local charity if they would like to come in and be interviewed. The Exotic Pet Refuge is a charity which rescues and looks after pets that are far from the norm. In fact they have an alligator, snakes, owls and several monkeys among their menagerie, which almost equals a zoo!

Two lovely ladies from the refuge came into school and brought with them a bearded dragon and a corn snake for the children to hold. I had instructed them that they weren’t giving a talk – they were being interviewed!

Before they arrived we talked about the questions we would ask, particularly the background information – how the charity had started, who was involved, the most unusual pet, the funniest story etc. Each of the students in the class had a question to ask and I explained the importance of note-taking and checking details to them. I also told them to listen out for emotive expressions from Pam, the founder, as it’s always good to include a quote or two in the article.

Some of them picked up some great quotes and even used them in their headlines when they wrote up their article later. Most of the group picked up on the best quote from Pam: “The refuge is me and I am the refuge – I live it, breathe it, sleep it.”

The students wrote some fantastic articles and absolutely loved the day. I’m sure lots of parents were hearing all about it that evening!

 National curriculum requirements met by this workshop:

•             Make notes, draft and write, including using information provided by others

•             Revise, edit and proof-read through:

•             Reflecting on whether their draft achieves the intended impact

•             Restructuring their writing, and amending its grammar and vocabulary to improve

•             Coherence, consistency, clarity and overall effectiveness

•             Paying attention to the accuracy and effectiveness of grammar, punctuation and spelling

Primary children call workshop ‘cool’ and ‘inspiring’

Written by Sally Hunt.

I recently had the pleasure of working with a delightful bunch of 24 pupil premium children at the St Thomas More RC Primary School in Peterborough. Their levels were between 2c and 4c so each exercise had to be tailored to the most effective use of differentiation to give them the best possible chance of learning.

The children were from years 3,4 and 5 and are at the age where they love to share their ideas – and in fact they had some great ones!

At break time one year 3 asked her teacher if they would be doing this until the end of the day. When the teacher said ‘yes’ she jumped up in the air and whooped and all the children around her started cheering. I went and got a coffee and thought ‘I must be doing something right – they are loving it!’.

The enthusiasm continued throughout the whole day and I will always remember this group as the ones that wanted to carry on and on and on…. Just before home time I started getting questions as to whether I was coming back tomorrow…. Sadly I wasn’t, but it was lovely to leave them knowing they had not only learned lots, but had thoroughly enjoyed the day.

Their Pupil Premium Champion Francesca Trono sent me an email the next day with some lovely comments from the children.

One of them, Sophia (year 4), said: "I thought it was kind of inspiring because we practiced interviewing people and writing our ideas. Then we made them into an opening paragraph." Rhonda (year 4) added: "I thought it was cool when one of us pretended to be Jessie J and the other was a reporter. I liked it because if we want to become reporters when we're older it will really help us."

She also wanted to add her own testimonial: "The workshop was an interesting introduction into the world of journalism. The children were engaged in their activities and their confidence grew throughout the day."


Super young writers at Abington Academy

Written by Sally Hunt.

Pupils at Abington Academy deep in thoughtYesterday I had the pleasure of working with 30 Year 8 pupil premium pupils at Abington Academy in Wigston, Leicester. It was a full day workshop and I feared they would tire, especially as one or two of them had confessed to me that they hated writing! I couldn't have been more wrong. The morning went slowly, because everyone was so interested and asking loads of questions. They applied themselves with energy and enthusiasm and had loads of fun doing the interviews and being mock reporters. A big shout out to pupil premium co-ordinator Louise Claricoates who had really got in the swing of it and provided press badges which they loved wearing and really got in the part. I had to award a certificate for best dressed journalist at the end as one young man even came in a trilby with a space for a pencil!

The workshop ended with the students writing an article about their school merging with the school next door in September of this year. The schools are rivals at the moment and the children needed to be careful to keep their articles positive. Some of them even walked around the school during their lunch break getting quotes from students and staff..... that's dedication!

I came away having thoroughly enjoyed the day. One young man interviewed me! He wanted to write an article about me, and has promised he will email it to me. Unfortunately we couldn't photograph faces because of permission issues, but I did take a few pictures of backs of heads!

Since this workshop I've had press passes designed and they've gone down a bomb!

St George's Academy did it like dudes!

Written by Sally Hunt.

Journalism for Schools spent the day in Sleaford with a huge group of 260 year 8 students.

There weren’t enough computers to go round so we had written a bespoke workshop which involved writing the old fashioned way – with lots of lined paper and a pen.

The highlight of the day was the announcement that Jessie J was coming to town (not really …) and that our budding reporters had a rare five minute chance to go backstage with Jessie. They had to think of questions to ask her to make their newspaper story unique and interesting. They all rose to the challenge and some of the questions would have been fit for a journalist from a well-known music magazine. I knew a couple of Jessie J songs but by the end of this section I knew loads more! The children impressed us with their creativity - using song lyrics in headlines and the body of the article.

Despite the enormous number of children, I can honestly say that this was the most well-behaved group I’ve ever worked with. Well done St George’s Academy – you are a credit to your teachers and headteacher.

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