With so many amazing authors out there, we found it tricky to choose just some of our favourites to look at over this coming academic year. We have chosen these authors to provide us with different styles of writing to consider, fantastical story lines to excite, and stories with something to think about, but all to deepen our love of reading.
Author Visit For Primary 4 and Primary 5 (November 2023)
Matt Dickinson is an adventurer, expedition film maker and author. He thrilled the children in Primary 4 and 5 with stories of his experiences climbing Mount Everest. Based on his experiences, Matt has written a couple of series of books. Many funny stories were told and the children didn’t know which ones to believe! Certainly taking 250 Toffee Crisps on an expedition which led to them exploding at high altitude made us all laugh when his mates thought it was an avalanche. We all know the meaning of ‘gullible’ now 😂 He told them about the importance of reading and after his talk, many of the children bought signed copies of his books. Primary 4 attended a writing workshop led by Matt and Primary 5 all wrote him a thank you letter.
Thank you Matt for an entertaining morning.
Author Visit for Primary 4 and Primary 5 - July 2023
This week author, Alex Mullarky, visited our school and she led a workshop for the children in Primary 4. Her book, The Sky Beneath the Stone, is one of the books suggested for the 2023 Reading Challenge which the children can sign up for by logging on to: https://summerreadingchallenge.org.uk. First they set a reading goal and log your books on your profile. When they reach their goal, they will unlock a virtual badge and certificate. The Ready, Set, Read! Book Collection has been specially chosen just for you by an expert group of readers for the Summer Reading Challenge.
It is jam-packed with fun imaginative books to keep you active, get rewards, play games and earn badges as you discover awesome books to read.
Alex explained the process of having a book published from the initial notes on paper to the final, illustrated book on the shelf. She also guided the children through a writing task - helping them with descriptive language amongst other skills used when writing a book. Many children purchased a copy of Alex's book and enjoyed having it signed by her. Thank you Alex
World Book Day - 2023
To celebrate World Book Day all the pupils and teachers dressed up as characters from their favourite book. Everyone looked amazing and the day started with everyone gathering in the hall so that we could see all the costumes. Each class had a turn to parade around the hall and we all listened to the title of the chosen books. Some children had organised themselves to be different characters from the same story - what a great idea!
The day continued with ‘book activities’ in the classrooms which varied from games, book mark design, quizzes and art activities.
A fun day with many memories made. Thank you to all the children and parents for the thought and work behind the costumes.
Whole School Poetry Festival Day - February 2023
On Friday 17th February, the whole school gathered in the hall for our poetry festival. Each class had been working hard prior to the actual festival learning a poem to present to the audience. The poems were chosen from the schools’ poetry curriculum and the children learnt all the words off by heart. In addition, the children were all given the opportunity to recite a poem of their choice prior to the festival and three entries were then chosen to recite their chosen poems to the whole school. Teachers and governors also volunteered to contribute to the occasion.
Mrs Fish opened the morning with ‘The King’s Breakfast’ by AA Milne (A favourite poem from her childhood) and this was followed by class poems and presentations from individual pupils and many other members of staff. Some of the poems were serious ones and some were funny. Mrs Taylor told one called ‘My Pet Worm Henry’; she even managed an American accent and brought in a green plastic worm! Mrs Marr chose a poem about naughty children and Mrs Smith recited a Spike Milligan favourite.
The winners of the festival were: Chloe and Olivia (Year 2) for their recital of ‘Please Mrs Butler’ by Allan Ahlberg, Anna-Marie and Harriet (Year 3) for ‘The Ning Nang Nong’ by Spike Milligan and Heidi and Daisy for ‘The Tin Can Band ‘by Margaret Mahy.
A big well done to all the children who performed in the event and thank you for the enjoyment and memories that were made that day.
Performing in a Local Theatre - December 2022
In December 2022, the pupils in years 4. 5 and 6 performed in front of friends and families at the Carnegie Theatre in Workington. With all tickets sold for the performance, the cast knew they had to give it their best to make it the best performance ever!
Star Warts was the title of the play and any fans of Star Wars would soon realise that the characters and the plot were to follow this popular theme. The children sang, danced and delivered their lines to a very high standard. It would have been easy to think you were in a West End show. The jokes were funny and the costumes amazing. It had been a challenge for Mrs Taylor to acquire the bespoke costumes required but, she managed to source every single one we needed. CP30 and Princess Nebula's were the most difficult to obtain along with twelve Diddly Squits' masks.
Well done to this cohort of year 6 for performing so well and showing your confidence and enjoyment on the stage.
What will the play be next year? Wait and see!
Wordsworth Grasmere - November 2022
Following on from the whole school visit to Dove Cottage last academic year, workshops were organised in school to take the children's learning further around the topic of William Wordsworth.
All the classes had a half-day workshop each and these were delivered by education officers who are based at Dove Cottage.
It was amazing to hear how much the children had remembered about their visit last year when the education officer questioned them at the beginning of the school-based activities. They discussed some of the observations the children remembered in more detail and the children then had an opportunity to write with quill and ink - recreating contents that were likely to have been included all those years ago.
No emails in those days and letters/messages would take days to arrive.
How things have changed!
Read, Write Inc. In Action
Following a leadership training day and a whole school implementation day last month, Read, Write Inc. has begun. The staff have also been very busy preparing all the resources and buying equipment for storage. School is now filled with a whole new set of phrases all connected with the programme. Special friends, Fred in your head and chatty friends can be heard in many classrooms as the staff use the different terms used in the scheme.
Next on the agenda is storybook training sessions and then the new books can be used. So far the staff are really enjoying the scheme and so are the children.
'One-Day Creative' Shakespeare Workshop - March 2022
The pupils in Primary 5 have been studying Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare earlier this term and, to further develop their understanding of the play, they took part in a workshop run by 'One Day Creative'.
Matt was the leader of the day and he led the children on a journey through a world filled with love, friendship, loyalty and the bitter sting of betrayal. Along the way, they investigated key themes, tumultuous relationships and the narrative structure. The children had opportunities to include some of the original text from the play and some certainly had the the gift of the Shakespearean gab!
The children were impressive at remembering the main events of the plot (and the tricky names of the characters), also using their drama skills that they had practised preparing for the Christmas show at the local theatre.
Well done to everybody and thank-you to 'One Day Creative' for supporting our learning and creating memories of a thoroughly enjoyable day.
World Book Day 2022
World Book Day was special this year as it was the 25th World Book Day Celebration. We celebrated the occasion in a variety of ways this year. Everyone gathered in the school hall to listen to the story about The Word Collector and this was followed by a parade of children from each class. Members of the school council awarded certificates to various children for a variety of reasons. Every child in school received a book token and three books especially published for WBD.
The children then returned to the classrooms and the KS2 pupils read their favourite books to younger pupils. Some classes tuned into the online activities and events broadcasted live as the day progressed. There were book treasure hunts, quizzes and more competitions throughout the day and a good time was had by all. The adults in school never like to miss out on an opportunity to dress up and everyone looked amazing.
New Reading Scheme
Over the past twelve months the staff have been discussing the implementation of a new structured, synthetic phonics based reading scheme and, after visiting our local reading hub and looking carefully at the schemes that have been validated, Read Write Inc was selected.
Research has proved that the systematic teaching of phonics gives children the basics to be able to quickly read simple words. Once they have learned the relationships between letters and sounds, children can then use this knowledge to read unknown words.
The new reading scheme, with a phonics focus, will provide the children with the skills and knowledge to crack the reading code, allowing them to access to a whole new world of written texts.
All staff in school involved with the teaching of early reading will receive high quality training before full use of the scheme. However, they have already been peeping into the boxes!
Children's Classic at Keswick Theatre
The annual opportunity to attend Keswick Theatre went ahead this year after the disappointment of last year seeing the show cancelled due to COVID 19.
Since 1999, when the new theatre in Keswick opened, the children in Key Stage 2 have attended to watch the Christmas performance. The selection of performance is usually a children's classic story and this year was no exception with a fantastic dramatisation of Tom's Midnight Garden.
First published in 1958, this beautifully-written novel is a ghost story with a difference. A poignant examination of relationships, growing up and the passage of time, it is today considered one of the classics of children's literature. Phillipa Pearce won the annual Carnegie Medal and in 2007, for a celebration of the Carnegie's Medal's 70th anniversary, a panel named Tom's Midnight Garden one of the top ten Medal-winning works and the British public elected it the nation's second-favourite. Some of the children had read the book before watching the play and others spoke about reading the book following the experience. Whispers of - 'The old woman is Hattie you know,' were heard going down the rows of children in the audience and the behaviour of them all was exemplary - testament to the quality of the show.
An Opportunity to Perform in a Local Theatre
In December 2021, after a difficult year to be able to perform in front of a large audience, the pupils in Years 4/5 and 6 held their Christmas production in a local theatre.
This year's performance showed, yet again, the talents of the children at Bridekirk Dovenby School. The script was full of jokes and the audience could be heard laughing from the start to the finish. The children sang and danced with enthusiasm and the smiles on their faces showed how much they enjoyed the experience. It's always a fantastic opportunity for the children to work as a team and appreciate the skills of their peers; giving them memories that will last.
The only question asked at the end of the show was: 'What play are we performing next year?'
Wait and see!
Whole School Enrichment Days
Living and attending school near Cockermouth, the birthplace of William Wordsworth, lends naturally to the children experiencing the life of William and his family through visiting the houses he lived in. During 2021, a significant amount of money has been invested in developing the educational opportunities at Grasmere. In 1799 William Wordsworth arrived in Grasmere aged 29, largely unknown and writing innovative poetry in a new style. Whilst living at Dove Cottage with his family, Wordsworth wrote many of his greatest poems and his sister Dorothy kept her Grasmere journal. The children all visited Grasmere in November 2021 to discover the story of this remarkable time in William's life.
Their experiences all included a guided tour of Dove Cottage, directed activities in the museum and a workshop that was specifically structured to be of interest to the different ages of the children from Reception to Year 6.
Drama in Lessons
Drama is incorporated into many of the English lessons in school. It supports the teaching and learning in many different ways. Drama helps to develop the speaking and listening skills and it is about far more than this. Activities are structured so they help children understand texts in more detail. Children are encouraged to perform parts of the texts and this can help with interpretations and give children more confidence with ideas for follow-up work.
Hot-seating characters from stories can help children to understand how a character may be feeling at different points in the story.
Acting out scenes from: ‘The Sleeper and the Spindle’.
Two pupils have been awarded prizes in the Cockermouth Rotary Club’s 2021 writing competition.
One was the joint-winner overall across the seven schools that entered the competition for her enthralling account of delivering a lamb in Blindcrake.
All Year 5 and 6 pupils across Cockermouth’s primary schools had been invited to enter the competition, writing a short piece entitled “My Happiest Day”. Bridekirk also enjoyed success in the Year 5 competition, with a pupil coming in second place across the schools for her emotive tale about a trip up Scafell Pike with her family.
Additionally, two more pupils were both awarded second place in the Bridekirk Dovenby entries.
Despite Covid restrictions preventing a formal awards ceremony from the Rotary Club, students received certificates and prizes in school.
Proud pupils hold certificates and prizes
At Bridekirk Dovenby School, we believe that primary school children participating in drama, experience an increase in self-confidence. We also have confidence that listening and speaking skills also improve through performing on stage. Plays are chosen to develop the children's knowledge of stories written by famous English writers. The children perform in a local theatre to packed audiences every year.
Scenes from the most recent performance of ‘Oliver Twist’
We have an excellent stock of books in school for our children to read but, every month, new books are being published and we work tirelessly to keep up-to-date with new releases so we can ensure our children have opportunities to read ‘old favourites’ and also contemporary fiction, that often addresses issues that they face everyday.
We also select books that help promote cultural diversity as having a better understanding of others can prevent children from developing prejudices later in life - helping them to empathise with people different from themselves.
An area we are planning to expand our book collection is non-fiction books. Our older children have regular timetabled access to ‘Read Theory’ and ‘Accelerated Reader Articles’ but expansion in our provision of non-fiction material is planned for the future.
Our English coordinator is a member of ‘University of Manchester Reading Group’ and has regular on-line meetings and follow-up tasks. The school is a member of ‘Poetry by Heart’ and Mrs Taylor and Mrs Herbert shared with trainee teachers some of Bridekirk Dovenby School’s ideas to enhance children’s writing at CTT last month.
Regular reference to ‘Book Trust’ also keeps us in tune with most recent book releases and which books are popular.
From Year 1 upwards, we put all children in the driver’s seat to develop their reading skills. The children are guided to selecting books from their 'Zone of Proximal Development' which means the books are a perfect level to improve their love of reading , while engaging quizzes and activities help hone students’ reading skills with authentic practice—encouraging growth.
We have a whole school celebration at the end of every half - term to share the achievements of the children. Certificates and trophies are awarded for a variety of reasons.
Who has read the most words in each year group this half -term?
Who has read the most books in each year group this half term?
Who has improved their reading level by the most points this half term?
Year 1 readers receive their certificates and special awards at the end of the year for children in school who read over 1,000,000 words -some as young as Year 3!
Authors at Bridekirk Dovenby School
Sadly, the coronavirus pandemic has curtailed opportunities for authors to visit us in person - something we have really valued in recent years, with authors such as Helen Haraldson and Cathy Cassidy visiting last year - but we have not let that prevent our children from connecting with them. Making use of excellent live web platforms, our younger children Zoomed in on a special Gruffalo afternoon.
For KS1 pupils, a trip to Dove Cottage helped them to experience first-hand the house where William Wordsworth wrote some of his poems.
KS2 pupils also visited Dove Cottage and attended a Workshop developed in partnership with the Armitt Museum Ambleside. Children had the opportunity to: explore poems and diary entries by William and Dorothy Wordsworth through an interactive story and Dorothy’s journal. They also had a guided tour of Dove Cottage and explored the interactive museum to enhance their knowledge.
Cathy Cassidy signed her books and Helen Haraldsen spoke about her work as an author
Mrs Taylor, our Year 6 teacher at Bridekirk Dovenby School is very proud that one of the pupils she taught a few years ago, Rachel Pattinson, loved writing so much, that she went on to write her own books and they were published.
In addition, Andrea Haley was a teaching assistant at our school and she talked to the children about writing her book:
'The Spider's New Friends' and the process of having it published. Many of them bought her book.