World Book Day is an exciting time of year, when teachers have settled comfortably into the routine of the year and new classes but before the pressure ramps up with summer exams. It is an opportunity to let your creativity out and let your bookishness reign.
Our school included in their calendar this year a ‘Literacy Week’ in the run up to, and culminating in, World Book Day. This gave us a wonderful opportunity to extend our plans but also opened up a fissure of fear – what do we do? How do we fill it? We had no extra budget for author visits, extravagant set creations or immersive experiences. So here is what we have planned for World Book Day and ‘Literacy Week’.
We want our World Book Day and ‘Literacy Week’ this year to be much more focused on consolidating knowledge and understanding. Therefore we have introduced an ‘Ultimate Knowledge Review’ for our students in quiz form. This runs from year 7 through to year 13. Each ‘round’ represents one of the three half-termly units of work we have completed so far this year. We hope it will offer a strong mid-way point in the year to review our previous topics and ensure those threshold concepts remain bolstered long after the topic has been taught. (See forgetting curve and testing effect for more detail on this) These take the form of a low-stakes quiz with an emphasis on the Tier 2 vocabulary that we have built into our curriculum throughout this year. Similarly, for Literature, there is also a leaning towards quotation retention in order to cement the pithy quotes from our set texts in students’ long-term memory. We are hoping doing this consistently in KS4 will pay dividends in the closed book assessments they face (see also my resources for Quotation Retention).
We are taking advantage of ‘Literacy Week’ to assess all our KS3 pupils on the Accelerated Reader’s Star Reader tests. This is our first year using it and still ironing out a few things in its application. Time and data will tell the impact this has had but gives us a good opportunity to test our students all within a one week period and raise its profile within the school.
We have no budget for Author visits or external companies. However, we are proud to have extended our book prizes this year to include: ‘Most improved reader’ in each year group; prizes for the Accelerated Reader certificates calculated monthly; Best dressed and finally a ‘Classic reader’ which incidentally in the highest certificate on AR and for the student who is reading at an impressive level of sophistication.
English House Cup
In an attempt to make our School House Cup competition academic as well as sporting, we introduced a House Cup this year. This is based on a half-termly writing competition. The top five entries receive points for their efforts as well as a standard 5 house points for every entry. Each half-term the cumulative scores are announced and the students have the opportunity to ‘steal’ the House cup from the previous front-runner should they have more winning entries. This really helps build a level of competition into reading and writing which is usually a solitary sport. Each House has a display case in the auditorium and the House captain has the honour of placing the trophy in the case of the winning House.
Here is a slideshare of my World Book Day Assembly with a focus on what we owe language and how language is connected to every subject through etymology and mythology. Confession: this may be as a result of my growing obsession with Greek and Latin word roots, word families and reading Stephen Fry’s Mythos. A delightful Christmas present from my brother I might add. I tried to demonstrate the immortality of language and story-telling in the light of our throw away, planned obsolescence culture. I give etymological links to sciences and geography. We have a proud Libyan, Egyptian and Lebanese contingent in our school so I explore the naming of these areas as well as doing a little story time reading out loud ‘The Story of the Sun’ and Phaeton from Mythos.
‘Get Reading’ Library Sessions
In other schools I’ve heard this called ‘Drop everything and read’; we are making a real fuss of the amazing resources we have available in our library. The dedication of our two librarians is awesome; they have organized a great deal of stands and activities in the library for break and lunch for both Primary and Secondary as well as classes’ normal fortnightly library sessions
‘Golden Ticket Event’
One of my favourite activities which really builds momentum throughout ‘Literacy Week’ is our ‘Golden Tickets’. Conveniently, our school show this year is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory so this creates some unifying ties between English and Drama. Each teacher and the librarians have a brace of golden tickets which they slip into the books of students in all years throughout the week. These tickets win them the opportunity to have an off-timetable lesson in the Library usually last lesson on World Book Day put on by our librarians.
Our idea for this year is to do a ‘Book Tasting Menu’ as the World Book Day website has a wealth of short extracts from books across a range of genres. Our plan is to kit the Library out like a mini-restaurant and serve different genres as different ‘courses’ as our students engage in the library in a new and unusual way as well as experiencing genres which they might not necessarily have chosen themselves.
Decorate a Door Competition
In tutor groups students design a book cover for their tutor room door. This is a great opportunity for our students to be really creative as well as getting them to discuss and research books. They have to demonstrate the main themes and symbols of the books they choose in their designs. We were surprised last year when we ran this for the first time, how zealous students became about their doors! A great benefit of this was not only to brighten our corridors and classrooms but it got students debating and discussing literature throughout their breaktimes and lunchtimes as they gave up lots of their own time to work on them. Similarly, I know a good number of students then borrowed the showcased books from the library in the weeks directly after as they were intrigued by what they might offer. Never underestimate the power of peer recommendations – even if they don’t realise they are even doing it.
Publishing Student Work
It has been one of my long term plans for our department to self-publish our students work, especially their creative writing pieces that we have collated from the half-termly writing competitions. A sister school in our academy chain first sparked this idea and we decided to keep the same name for our version: ‘Between the Lines’. This is a year in the making and lots of work behind the scenes from everyone in the department collating and proof reading the work that will be submitted. We are almost there!
This tied in nicely with the Art department who graciously supported our plans to publish by running a ‘Between the Lines’ front cover design competition. We want as much of this to be led by the students and to feel authentic not corporate and glossy.
Similarly, our Food Tech department has got on board and throughout the week is running a ‘Roald Dahl’s Revolting Recipes’ competition. This also dovetails neatly with our school show and it may be a recipe book you remember from your own childhood. Our students have been prepping and planning these recipes in their Food Tech lessons and will be showcasing their efforts to their peers during ‘Literacy Week’. The recipes within the book are linked to the different Roald Dahl books where they are first mentioned much like the Snozcumbers and Grobswitchy cake in the BFG.
Our Primary assistant principal has spearheaded the organization of a coffee and book swap morning on World Book Day for the parents in our local community. This was really successful last year and a great way to share literature as well as connect with the parents in our area. We are very lucky that our parents are very invested in our school and our community is a strong one.
Overall it’s shaping up to be a good week.