Volunteering for 500 words 2016

Are you familiar with the 500 Words competition? Established six years ago by Radio 2 presenter and TV personality Chris Evans, the story-writing initiative was designed to get children excited about reading and writing, regardless of their abilities. According to the official website, approximately half a million children have submitted stories to the competition over the last few years which equates to just over 215 million words- wow!

It’s not only 5 to 13 year olds who can get involved- even grown ups are allowed! The initial first round of judging is done by teachers and librarians from the UK, all of whom volunteer their time to read through the entries submitted by keen writers. One of our library assistants was fortunate enough to be selected for this process and Zoë has given us a run-down of her experience, which you can read below:

 500 Words 2016

500 words

I was able to volunteer as a marker for 500 words this year, given I never had the time in my previous life as a Primary Teacher!

Following selection as a ‘Super marker’, having missed out during the first round, I received an email with all the instructions to mark 27 stories in the 10 – 13 category.

Each story had to be given a mark out of ten in five different categories, using the drop-down boxes: ORIGINALITY, PLOT, CHARACTERISATION, LANGUAGE and ENJOYMENT. There were also rules about such things as plagiarism and expletives, as well as disturbing content.

My top four stories would go through to the next round, marked by The Reading Agency and they had to have unique scores. This was easier said than done as, upon reading, there were several of a very high standard.

The stories themselves were very interesting. Some were very enjoyable and of a high standard whereas others were imaginative yet difficult to read because of the lack of grammar, punctuation, sense and meaning. My favourites included one about Shakespeare experiencing time-travel, a skiing mishap, a boy in Myanmar and a ghost mystery.

Certificates were emailed to all the judges, along with:

From the bottom of our hearts here at Radio 2, we want to say a HUGE thank you to everyone who judged for us in the competition this year. All your top stories have gone off to the next round of the competition. We will shortly have the pleasurable job of letting those long-listed know of their success!

Everyone who marks for us will be entered into a random ballot to win a pair of tickets to the live Final at Shakespeare’s Globe on Friday, 27th May.

I look forward to being able to volunteer again next year.

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