Storytelling

Titanic Project

This is OLHS’ successful submission for North Lanarkshire’s Excellence and Equity Awards 2017: Productive Partnerships – Purposeful Learning.

As a result of changes to SQA exams, staff at Our Lady’s High School, Motherwell, spotted an opportunity to provide an exciting programme of interdisciplinary experiences for some of our National 4 students. Our aim was to help pupils gain additional qualifications while expanding their life experiences and raising awareness of the options available to them on leaving school, all through focusing on the Titanic disaster.

We are now approaching the third year of this vibrant project which runs over three weeks of the SQA diet. The programme coordinators are PT Pupil Support, Lyn Zambonini, and Library Resource Centre Manager, Jennifer Macfadyen, but the project involves staff from across Our Lady’s High School, local businesses, voluntary groups and national organisations.

Following an initial introduction, the programme is split into four broad areas: ship building and design; life aboard the Titanic; the disaster itself; and the rediscovery of the wreck.

We were stunned to discover that the steel plates that built Titanic had actually come from the Colville Steelworks in Motherwell, making a wonderful connection with our local heritage. Pupils were lucky to experience Tata, now Liberty Steel, in the process of rolling the steel plates with a guided tour by staff at the plant, who also provided pupils with many stories of life at the steelworks and a thorough grounding in Health and Safety routines.

Although the Titanic was built in Belfast, we were able to take advantage of the Clyde’s vast experience in ship-building, visiting the Titan Crane at Clydebank, and the Denny Tank Museum at Dumbarton. Titan staff explained how riveting gangs worked, how the shipyards were a part of the community and how dangerous life was while the Denny Flotation Tank demonstrated the engineering expertise involved in designing and testing ships’ hulls. The group also discovered that Denny’s was even involved in testing some of Titanic’s lifeboats. This information became invaluable when learning about buoyancy with Science teachers back at OLHS, and designing their own hulls.

Pupils also learned more about some of the passengers and crew aboard and the different lives they led on a luxury liner depending on their class. English showed the films, A Night to Remember and Titanic, and compared the special effects and factual reliability of each. Our group were able to put their new-found knowledge into practice by working with Lifestyle Development staff to create a shipboard lunch for staff – although staff did not know until the last minute whether they would receive the 1st, 2nd or 3rd class treatment and dining experience.

To bring everything up to date we contacted Greenock Ocean Terminal who kindly arranged for us to have a tour of the Caribbean Princess. We used this experience as a focus on careers, bringing along our Careers Advisor, Miss Ruth Robertson from SDS to provide detailed advice. Seeing aboard a real cruise ship gave pupils a whole new way of looking at the world, and the numerous careers open to them. They were also keen to compare the Caribbean Princess to what they had already learned about ship design. They were definitely impressed by the safety regulations and the numbers of lifeboats.

Turning our attention to the disaster itself, Mr Walter Lee from the RNLI kindly came along to demonstrate what happened with the iceberg and graphically explain what would have happened to the Titanic’s passengers in the water, including the effects of hypothermia – he even brought along his own mini iceberg!

Other activities have included creating a map of the world demonstrating the Titanic’s route (Social Subjects); printing and poster making (Art and Design); trying out Morse code (Science); an afternoon swimming courtesy of NL Leisure (Lifestyle Development); building their own model Titanic (Social Subjects / Art); discussion of moral issues relating to women and children first and the treatment of 3rd class passengers (RE); further moral issues relating to the wreck arose following a screening of Ghosts of the Abyss: should the Titanic be raised? Should material be removed? Should the ship be left to rust to nothing? (English); and multi-lingual newspaper front pages (Modern Languages).

With so many stories being generated from the project, we wanted pupils to be able to record the aspects that were most important to them, from the ‘women and children first’ policy, to the lifeboats, to the role of the wireless operator, so we introduced the group to storyteller, Allison Galbraith, thanks to part-funding from the Scottish Book Trust. Allison demonstrated the art of storytelling, and guided the group through creating and recording their own stories, helping them to record their own voices for posterity. Allison started by introducing herself and just talking with the group, building pupils’ confidence in speaking before a stranger. As a result, although pupils were nervous about recording, they were keen to participate. Allison also demonstrated breathing exercises and vocal warm-ups before recording began, with further advice on presentation as we worked through the stories. Despite occasionally breaking into the giggles, every pupil managed to record their own work beautifully.

Discussion with pupils led to an additional trip which saw us taking the ferry to Rothesay and the stunning Mount Stuart House. This mansion was completed in 1912, the same year as the Titanic disaster and thus pupils were not only able to experience actually travelling across water – a new experience for all of them – but to see luxurious interiors similar to those of the ship they’d been learning all about.

The Titanic Project continues to develop with partnerships emerging as various individuals and groups express an interest in participating. In 2016, our pupils were even able to join with St Brendan’s Primary as part of their anniversary visit to Belfast to see the Titanic Museum for themselves.

The Titanic Project has been a huge success over the last two years. We have seen the pupils blossom, gaining in confidence, pulling together as a team, and their ideas of what’s available to them in the future have expanded rapidly. Each year pupils have created an exhibition of their experiences which have been visited by classes from across OLHS and visitors to the school, leading to further discussions and expressions of interest. Last year all of the pupils involved achieved the SQA qualifications. “Local investigations” at SCQF level 4.

Feedback from pupils themselves has been outstanding:

”I thought it would be boring, but it was brilliant!”;

“I liked how we went on adventures and explored all the museums”;

“I seemed to get a better relationship with people that I hadn’t spoken to since primary”;

”I actually wanted to come to school!”

The Project continues to explore new ground and build new partnerships. Staff coordinators continue to collect materials, ideas and contacts and we look forward to its continuing success long into the future.

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Categories: Books, Communication, Creativity, Curriculum for Excellence, Developing the Young Workforce, Expressive Arts, Health and Well-Being, Interdisciplinary Learning, Investigations, Languages, Learning and Teaching, Literacy, Maps, Mathematics, Numeracy, Outdoor education, Posters, RE / Religious and Moral Education, Resources, Sciences, Social Studies, Storytelling | Tags: | Leave a comment

Mac Barnett: Why a good book is a secret door (TED Talk)

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St Aidan’s High celebrates Roald Dahl Week

With Roald Dahl Day falling on a Saturday this year (13 September), I knew the library would celebrate it in the week leading up to that date. And as it was my first big book event in St Aidan’s, I decided that the whole week would be devoted to Dahl.

As this year is the 50th anniversary of the publication of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, we used that novel for our theme. The week before our events, our newly recruited army of pupil library helpers prepared the library, with the help of some talented S6 pupils, by turning it into Wonka’s chocolate room, complete with a chocolate river flowing through the centre and an Augustus Gloop-filled pipe. By the start of our Roald Dahl Week, the scene was set.

Monday lunchtime introduced pupils to the characters of Charlie… as they were given the opportunity to interview Mr Wonka and an Oompa Loompa (aka a couple of very game teachers!) and find out about their lives in the chocolate factory.

On Tuesday, the chocolate room truly lived up to its name as pupils were invited to make their own sweets from mixed fruit, marshmallows and the contents of a chocolate fountain. Beforehand, pupils enjoyed some time standing about in the playground as, in pure synchronicity, the school fire alarm happened to go off at the same time as I accidentally burned the chocolate in a smoke-billowing microwave. (I will remember that moment should I ever be interviewed for CILIP Update’s “Most embarrassing professional moment”.) Back inside, and with fresh chocolate, pupils were also able to sample some teacakes gifted to us from Tunnock’s as well as goodies provided by our pupil Fair Trade group. And all this to the accompaniment of my dulcet tones reading aloud Augustus Gloop’s story – a warning about chocolate-gluttony if ever there was one.

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Wednesday was a much more peaceful affair, with our writing group creating adverts for their Roald Dahl inspired inventions. Top inventions included the Eye Glass (texting, facetiming and TV watching all available via your lenses when you put your glasses on), Hover Boots for when you’re tired of walking, and the Clobber Cupboard (giving you complete, ready-to-wear outfits). After all that excitement, we needed a relaxing finale, so we ended the week with a Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory film show (accompanied by the left-over teacakes).

The week’s events have seen our lunchtime visits soar, a trend which will hopefully continue over the next few weeks as we launch the Scottish Children’s Book Awards.

Categories: Events, Librarians, Libraries, Reading, School Librarians, Storytelling | Tags: , | Leave a comment

This Land is Mine

Might be useful for debate, RE, Social Subjects.

Shared with permission.

NB Vimeo is not blocked in NLC schools.

Categories: Creativity, Health and Well-Being, Interdisciplinary Learning, Literacy, RE / Religious and Moral Education, Resources, Social Studies, Storytelling, Video clips | Tags: , | Leave a comment

The tale of Betty the Machete

Kirkland meets Angus and Brian the Brain at OLHS

Kirkland meets Angus and Brian the Brain at OLHS

3rd year pupils at Our Lady’s enjoyed an hour with Kirkland Ciccone, author of Catalyst longlisted Conjuring the Infinite. Kirkland ran through his own reading experiences as a child, explaining the impact of different characters and series at particular times in his life.

Pupils enjoyed Kirkland’s stories about growing up in Cumbernauld, with its lovely libraries and unattractive buildings (his words, not mine). Highlights included how not to get bullied (courtesy of Betty the Machete), the adventures of his young detective club, and an illustrated guide to when book titles go wrong.

Not surprising then that the pupils had a great time, and clustered round to get autographs and buy books. It’s fair to say that 3rd year now have the most autographed English jotters in the school.

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Kingdom

For some ideas on how to put software into action to create something spectacular, have a look at Kingdom.

This is an outstanding piece of work by a teacher and a group of pupils at Porchester Junior School using a variety of online tools to create a whole world, its people, history and geography.

Categories: Creativity, Interdisciplinary Learning, Learning and Teaching, Resources, Storytelling, Websites | Tags: | Leave a comment

Author Kirkland Ciccone visits Coltness High School

Kirkland Ciccone with pupils from Coltness High School.

Kirkland Ciccone with pupils from Coltness High School.

We had a visit from author Kirkland Ciccone on Friday 13th September to talk to fourth year pupils about his debut young adult novel entitled Conjuring the Infinite. The book is set in a youth offenders’ institute for troubled teenagers.   It’s a cracking read, revealing a world of sorcery, supernatural powers, with a good mystery thrown in. Kirkland was very funny and entertaining but his enthusiasm for books was really plain for all to see. Kirkland also writes and performs in his own one man shows for theatre. He is also in the middle of writing his second young adult novel.

Categories: Advocacy, Author visits, Books, Libraries, Literacy, Reading, Storytelling | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

I think we might be getting through to them…

Pupil: Miss, if no-one knows when Jesus was born, why do we celebrate Christmas on December 25th?

Librarian: Because the Romans used to worship a god called Mithras, and his birthday was 25th December. Since people were already celebrating then, the early church decided to use the same date.

Pupil: Does that mean the copyright for Christmas belongs to the Romans?

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Storytelling tools

This article includes links to nine useful apps and websites that can help make reports a bit more interesting and visual. Unfortunately, the computers are on a go slow at school today, so I can’t explore the possibilities, and of course, any How-to videos are on YouTube so we can’t watch them in school.

Doesn’t stop the tools looking like a lot of fun and worth exploring.

9 Creative Storytelling Tools That Will Make You Wish You Were A Student Again

Categories: Apps, Journal articles, Literacy, Storytelling, Websites | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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