Keep Calm and Carry on Learning – Part 6

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Need a new book?

In the sixth in a series of blog posts, Dr Verity Jones, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Education and Childhood at UWE, and Online Project Lead looks at a new storybook for key stage 2 pupils and how we can use it to excite and engage home learners.

Six weeks in …

… and there’s growing concern for children’s progress in reading becoming more apparent as home schoolers struggle not only to get time to sit and do reading, but also access new material children want to read. With school and local authority libraries closed, many families are having to put up with what’s on their own shelves. Some communities are organising street book swaps, or joining the local librarian for an online storytime, or a socially distanced friend or family member may be doing  a Zoom bedtime reading session.  All of these are great ways to inspire and enable reading moments. But are there any other books and how can we use them to engage children at home?

In April I was delighted to be part of the team from UWE, Bristol who received the Geographical Association’s silver publishing award for our book: DRY, the story of a water superhero. If you are in need of a new book for your collection, then this might be something you can enjoy at home –  we have got a free electronic version (in English and Welsh) you can access here: English Welsh.

This book is based on the conversations and findings of research in five river catchments across the UK drawing on experiences and memories of drought and water scarcity. We took some of these findings and wove them into a story about a girl in year 6 who needs to do a school project that sees the ups and downs of engaging in community action. This may have resonance with many young people who have been active in the climate strike protests.

The judges from the Geographical Association commented that the book found the perfect balance between powerful personal story line, excellent art work and delivering a range of geographical facts. They felt it would engage and empower our key stage 2 audience. If your young folk only want to look at the pictures then there is plenty to look at in Lucy-Gorrel Barnes beautiful and thought provoking illustrations.

In addition to the book, there are free teaching notes available here.

These notes are filled with challenging and engaging activities that include developing the concepts of ‘water footprints’ and ‘UK droughts’. They are designed to deepen children’s thinking and facilitate questioning, discussion and debate.

Join a free ‘Dry’ webinar on Thursday 21 May

While we would be delighted if you were to dip into these free resources, we would also like to invite you to a free webinar.

On 21st  May we are holding two, 45 minute sessions; one for parents / home educators (10:00-10.45 GMT) and one for teachers (11:00 – 11:45 GMT). During these sessions we will take you through how you might use the book at home and in school and offer some ideas about the kind of activities which we know engage and enable children to become creative, critical thinkers.

If you would like to take part in this free webinar please email : dry@uwe.ac.uk

We hope you enjoy this book and it offers a new reading moment for your children during lockdown.

Dr Verity Jones is Senior Lecturer in Education at the University of the West of England, Bristol. Online Learning Project Lead and Acting Associate Head of Department for Learning, Teaching and Student Experience.

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