Two weekends ago, I spent an amazing Saturday at a school in Blyth with some people I admire most in my teaching bubble, learning all about reading and everything that entails.
For those of you who don’t know, Reading Rocks is a wonderful community which grew from a community of educators and librarians sharing and talking on Twitter about getting every pupil reading. It’s a place to share ideas for teaching reading and writing; reviewing and recommending books and sharing ways to grow a love of reading. It started as just a community of teachers, educaters and librarians loving books and now it’s grown into this incredible day of CPD. So far RR has been in the North, South and has even gone to uni!
When I heard that RR was coming to the North East, I knew I needed to get myself a ticket and I was lucky enough to get one!
The day came, I was up at the crack of dawn (in fact it was before dawn when I got up!) and set off to Blyth to Horton Grange Primary School for my day of learning, reading and bookish fun. Now, you know me by now, you know this is my idea of a WONDERFUL Saturday. It was so incredible to be there and see all of the amazing teachers who had given up their Saturdays to be there to celebrate reading! You have to sign up for workshops and, as I was so early (I know right, quelle surprise?!) I managed to get a space in the 2 workshops I wanted most!
My first trip was a trip to the bookshop (again, what a surprise!) but I was quite reserved and only bought 2 books!
One of the most amazing things about RR is that, not only does it unite teachers, but it brings authors along too! We were lucky enough to be accompanied by Piers Torday (author of The Last Wild trilogy and The Lost Magician), Dan Smith (author of so many amazing books, including Boy X and Below Zero) and Ross Welford (author of The 1000 Year Old Boy, Time Travelling With A Hamster and What Not To Do If You Turn Invisible).
Piers Torday was first up talking to us about the importance of reading for pleasure. His talk was just incredible – reading should make you think about who you are, what you believe and what you think you could be. Having never met Piers before, but beinga massive fan of his books (I told him the embarrassing story about reading The Last Wild on the train and a man consoling me because I was so upset), I was slightly starstruck and awed.
In the afternoon, Ross Welford took to the RR stage, talking to us about the importance of the magic of books. Not just magic (like wands), but finding the magic of reading. Once you find that, once you find that passion and spark, it won’t go away – you just have to know how to feed it. His talk was hilarious. I genuinely cackled at one point. He even did some magic tricks for us!
Last up was Dan Smith, who rounded up an amazing day with an incredible talk about how it’s stories that matter. It’s stories that bring out awe and wonder. It’s the stories that kids are interested in. He had so many wonderful tales to regale about his life (he’s a well travelled man, I did not know!) and even read us some of his letters home to his parents as a child (mainly about going to see Star Wars!).
(Are you still with me? Not much more to read!)
As well as the amazing authors, going to workshops was so inspiring. I’d managed to get on the list for Rob Smith‘s workshop about using films in the class. Rob is the founder of The Literacy Shed (you should check it out, I LOVE IT) and he talked to us about using videos for a variety of purposes (reading skills, writing lessons). I’m a massive fan of using videos to inspire writing, so I left the workshop feeling invigorated and ready to take on a new video. Also, he’s BLOODY HILARIOUS.
The second workshop I managed to get in was the main one that I’d hoped I’d get to go to. My brilliant friend Jack was doing a workshop all about vocabulary. Jack is amazing. He’s been a brilliant twitter friend to me, so I was a bit starstruck when I met him for the first time! He talked us through some amazing games to use in the classroom to get kids thinking about words and read us an incredible book – The Word Collector by Peter H. Reynolds. If you’re unfamiliar with Jack, he’s the creator of the brilliant Verbivore website, which you definitely need to check out (he does lose points however for his odd socks wearing!)
All of this amazing CPD, meeting teachers that have been long time twitter friends and my ticket was only like £20. I would recommend getting yourself to a Reading Rocks day if you can! It is worth every penny (and waking up at dawn hours for).
Massive thanks to Heather for bringing RR to the North! I can’t wait for the next one!