Setting the Scene
Thomas Deacon Academy has over 2200 students and not only do we have vertical tutoring (a cross section of students from each year group rather than the traditional single year group), but we also have a staggered 30 minute lunch embedded in a 90 minute tutor time. This set up means that every day there are 60 minutes of tutor time which encompasses the PSE programme, careers, citizenship, academic tutoring and has a two week cycle which matches the student’s fortnightly curriculum timetable. This programme is known as I-connect and each cycle has a different theme such as ‘The Big Draw’ and ‘Children in Need’.
One of my suggestions was to introduce a “stop & read” session where everyone in a tutor group, including staff, would stop and read for 30 minutes once in every cycle. Over the past two years this has morphed into DEAR (Drop Everything And Read) and has become a weekly event. To support this I maintain a website as a central focus for promoting reading for pleasure and make this available via our VLE (Virtual Learning Environment). This means that in every I-connect cycle (or fortnight) the DEAR Homepage focuses on a different author with links to websites; book trailers; activities and competitions. The purpose of these is to encourage students to try something new and widen their reading range, and to provide tutors with guidance and inspiration to run more interactive DEAR sessions.
During cycle 1.3 or 3rd October – 14th October I decided to focus in on and celebrate International School Libraries month (October) and indeed International School Libraries day on the 3rd October by choosing a set of books which has a library setting and a librarian as a main character. In previous cycles we had covered an illustrator and their picture books; and a text based writer so I was looking for something with a balance of both. I then remembered the ‘Library of Doom’ series and started building up the DEAR programme around this series.
DEAR Author Page
On the DEAR Author Page I included a link to Michael Dahl (author of both the ‘Library of Doom’ and ‘Return to the Library of Doom’ series); a link to a book trailer about the ‘return to the Library of Doom’; and another to a video interview with Michael Dahl. I wanted to include an extract from one of the books to allow tutors to have the text on their class screens whilst they read aloud to their tutor group. So I contacted Michael Dahl with the request and he kindly sent me back an extract from ‘The Book That Ate My Brother’. This then gave me the idea for this cycles competition, could our students imagine what it would be like to be eaten by a book and could they write a letter in a bid to escape to the librarian (me)!
The DEAR lesson Plan I created for tutors included this competition. Michael Dahl contacted Raintree and they kindly donated some prizes which included 2 signed books by Michael.
To raise awareness of the DEAR programme I made use of the Academy widescreen TV screens and the internal News programme (called The Word) and made several ‘e-posters’ for promoting who the current Author was.
On the second day I happened to catch a student browsing through the ‘Library of Doom’ books, and of the 9 titles available four had been issued in two days. By the end of the fortnight they had been issued a total of 13 times. They are still flying off the shelves – a month later.
I was disappointed with the low number of entries into the competition but the winners were very pleased with their signed books and book tokens.
1st Kimley 2nd Hayley 3rd Jodie
Michael Dahl Interview http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_1y45wNeB6I
Book Trailer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LPwXOq1rvco