Our first Guest Blogger of the year, Catherine Stuart, has been kind enough to give an account of her experience with Fiction Express.
Catherine is a librarian with SLS Guernsey and has been using Fiction Express in a bunch of different ways! Take a look below and see what she's had to say!
Since beginning to use Fiction Express within my role as Teacher/Librarian, the biggest advantage I have found is that I can now spend more time focussing on the important aspects of developing reading skills and creating a passion for reading.
Having the extensive ideas for resources and tasks already planned for me by Fiction Express, it allows me to build and adapt on these ideas to suit each group of students that I work with, without having to start from scratch. This means I am concentrating on generating passion and excitement for the story and for reading, rather than perhaps stressing about an activity to achieve literacy success criteria’s that schools require.
I have used Fiction Express for groups with a variety of age ranges and abilities, from primary aged students through to secondary, within mainstream and Special Needs schools, therefore activities and resources can need differentiation. Fiction Express have provided different categories for resource activities meaning that each week I can keep it fresh and pick a different type of activity to complement the reading session; a valuable tool to use when the schools all have different projects they need to focus on during a term.
My sessions vary from being an hour-long literacy lesson to a 30-minute optional lunchtime Book Group. For my primary school lunchtime reading group, the slant is to create a passion for reading whilst maintaining a fun atmosphere, as this is an optional book group that children have chosen instead of their normal lunchtime.
The lovely thing about this group is that often some of the children decide to stay and talk about the book after the session is finished or request to do the quiz, as they are still within their hour-long lunchtime.
The benefit of using the non-live books is that I can select exactly the right subject matter to peak the children’s interest and focus on creating a joy of reading. To keep the excitement alive, I still use the voting facility. While our vote might not count or have an influence on the next chapter, there is still an element of feeling part of the book.
I would recommend the non-live books for sessions with a minimal time frame, or when you want to select a specific subject matter.
SPECIAL NEEDS HELP
Another group that I work with is within a Secondary Special Needs school. We first read The Bushcraft Kid, a story about an orienteering competition. This was ideal as it was comparable to sessions they will have in the future when they study for their Prince’s Trust Orienteering Medals. Reading the story helped to generate questions about situations that they will face in the future that we could discuss along with their teacher - a great way to ease any anxieties they may face.
Through all the books I have used so far there is a PSHE theme running through, whether it be regarding bullying or difficulties at home, which again generates conversations and opportunities for discussion in a relaxed non-judgemental atmosphere.
Another great feature about the chapters is that keywords are underlined. This means that there are always opportunities to discuss meanings of words and improve comprehension.
The way that Fiction Express is used is also very flexible. Whilst it is aimed at being a digital tool, this can sometimes be hindered by common internet connection issues that we all face in school at some point. There is always the facility to print each chapter.
I’ve started to use the logins with my students and they have begun to ask questions to the author through the forum. The excitement created when there is a response from the author is wonderful to see and makes such a difference to how the children view reading.
My reading group has increased from 8 to 13 in one week!
I have also noted the sense of ownership that the students have from having their own login, which means each student has their own voice and opinion with regards to the vote.
Fiction Express is such a flexible teaching tool. I can adapt the lesson format for each of my classes, depending on the timeframe, ability or theme of the session.
I have more increasingly been handing over all the printed resources for each chapter, enabling teachers to use them in the week in between my sessions. This allows them to see the quality of the resources and they have now begun to use these more in their lessons, which will benefit them in their forward planning for the future.
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