Our annual conference took place at The Space in Norwich last week and we’re pleased to report that months of careful planning paid off, as the day was a great success!
Titled ‘Language is Power’, the day began with a rousing keynote from 2015 Carnegie Medal winner Tanya Landman who spoke of empathy, how books make us better people, the power of words and how everyone deserves access to books, education and reading. One of her most poignant statements was “language is power, speaking is power, writing is power“, a point we couldn’t agree with more. At the end of her inspiring speech, there was even time for us all to hear about her pig, Tilly.
This year, the day’s program was geared toward both primary AND secondary stages, meaning we were joined by a wide range of delegates, including KS2, 3 and 4 teachers, TAs and High School Librarians. Our workshops reflected this too, with sessions structured for the differing levels.
One of the first workshops to take place was Creative approaches to teaching grammar, helmed by Martin Illingworth, senior lecturer in English Education at Sheffield Hallam University. Martin acknowledged the difficulty of achieving targets and preparing children for tests, giving delegates a myriad of ways to approach grammar in a fun and interesting way. He even mentioned the benefit of blogging to creatively improve writing, an idea with which we concur!
Also taking place in the morning (and again in the afternoon) was Dr Patrick Ryan’s engaging workshop, All the World’s a Story in which he looked at how to use storytelling as a way to encourage pupils to approach Shakespeare. Delegates were given practical ideas and activities on how to utilise performance within the classroom, and were even encouraged to try out their own storytelling skills in the session.
After a coffee break, we were joined in the main auditorium by Amelia, Maddie and Eleanor from Litcham School. The girls were part of the Norfolk team who won the Kids Lit Quiz UK final in 2014 and then went to the world final which took place in New England last summer. The three of them are now involved in the Reading Agency’s Reading Hack initiative, as they wanted to give something back and inspire others to engage with reading. The girls spoke passionately about their life-changing trip, which along with seeing first-hand their enthusiasm for reading, was wonderful to hear.
Before lunch, we were joined by librarian Cheryl Wood from Norwich School who spoke about her experiences of working with authors, in particular the highs and lows of running author events for her school. The first of Tanya Landman’s workshop also took place, in which delegates wrote murder-mystery stories (all of which were brilliant!)
Lunch was served and delegates networked, took part in our specially prepared quizzes and were even treated to a story session from Tilly the Talespinner.
Before the final breakout sessions of the day, the wonderfully funny Paul Cookson treated us to a poetry workshop, testing the delegates’ creative abilities and proving that anyone can create great performance poetry.
We were incredibly pleased with how the day ran, and were delighted with all the feedback we’ve received since. If you attended- thank you! If you missed out but would like a further insight into how the day went, we’ve made a storify of the day’s tweeting, which you can see here.