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The SLA blog contains news about the SLA and topical information of general interest to our members. The blog has been running since 2004. An RSS 2.0 feed and information about how to subscribe to the blog are available.

School Writing Group Publishes a Book - Guest blog

KeswickA dark, historical fiction book called ‘The Reader’ has been written by Keswick School’s Writers and Illustrators Club under the pen name of K.S Aitken.

“The story has been team written by 17 people, ranging in age from 11 to adult, and has taken a lot of time and effort to produce,” said Helen Robinson, English Teacher and Librarian at the school .  “We did this team writing project to unite writers and combat the idea that writing is something that has to be done as an individual.  Some chapters were written by individuals, some by groups but the story is continuous and is something that we all feel has been a very rewarding experience.  It really has been a team effort and I am extremely proud of how the students stuck with the project over a period of around 18 months to complete all the drafts to get the book finished.  It is now published and available to buy.”

The idea to write a story together as a club came from a Reader’s Digest competition to write a story in exactly 100 words.  Helen wrote a story about a book that was guarding a secret and waiting for one particular reader to reveal the secret to.  The group played around with this 100 word story until it evolved into the prologue of a new story about a book that was developing consciousness, that wanted not just to be read but to help the people that read it.

The book was launched at the Words by the Water Literary Festival held at the Theatre by the Lake in Keswick on Saturday 8th March.  The story, about a book which has thoughts, feelings and opinions and wishes for more than just sitting on a shelf waiting to be read, contains some dark themes and is aimed at a teenage market.  In essence, it is a book for young people, written by young people.

It has been read by successful authors Jim Eldridge and William Hussey who described it as ‘a sheer delight to read’, and ‘a narrative bursting with ideas and invention which is original, clever and rather heart breaking.’  Helen, said that having a published book written by a team of young writers was a significant achievement.    “The process was difficult at times but the team didn’t give up; they worked hard to support each other and the story.  There have been real lessons learnt in how to give and receive constructive criticism and how, as a writer, to edit and redraft your piece of writing for the benefit of the story as a whole.”

To order a copy of the book, priced at £3.99, contact helenrobinson@keswick.cumbria.sch.uk.  
Helen has also produced a ‘teacher-made’ Accelerated Reader quiz for the book, which has a book level of 5.7  The quiz can be sent in Word format to anyone who orders a copy of the book with instructions of how to upload it on to the school’s AR platform.  There is also a trailer for the book which can be viewed on the website.

Also – in other news! - Librarian Launches Creative Writing Website

Keswick School English Teacher and Librarian, Helen Robinson has created a website to try and encourage students with an interest in writing and illustration from different schools, particularly from across Cumbria to interact with each other.

“I have a Writers & Illustrators Club in school, but I thought that there must be similar groups in other schools and that it was a shame that we are all working independently of each other instead of sharing ideas and working together.  Pupils who take part in things such as sport and music often get to meet students from other schools, but for pupils who like reading, writing and drawing, this can often be much more isolated.  I wanted to do something to give those pupils an opportunity to meet and work with others who share their interests.”

The website,  has been live for a couple of months now and has been shared with schools across the county.  There are pages where pupils can share writing tips and ask for feedback on their own writing and illustrations, information on local and national writing opportunities, links to other related websites and Keswick School’s Writing Club blog which is open to anyone to join in with.

“The site was created with the idea of providing a platform for pupils and staff in Cumbrian schools to share ideas about writing, but it would be great if anyone, anywhere could find it useful,” said Helen.  “I’d like to invite anyone to have a look and would welcome any feedback or ideas to help make the website a resource that can benefit as many people as possible.”
Helen Robinson, Keswick School

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Kipper is 25!

KipperLibraries everywhere can join loveable children’s book character Kipper the Dog and his creator Mick Inkpen as they celebrate 25 years of adventures topping children’s most-borrowed book lists. The Reading Agency and publishers Hodder Children’s Books are offering libraries the chance to win goodies including an all expenses paid library visit from Kipper himself in a special birthday competition.  The closing date is 21st May - for more detailed information look at the website or email Juliana Oliver

 

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Board Voting - deadline approaching

VoteDon't forget to cast your votes in our Board voting - closing date 12 noon on 30th April - only 15 days away!

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Weekend Course 2014 - Deadline extension

Manchester 2014 Logo WebWith the Spring break being late this year, and knowing that many schools are still awaiting decions from their senior managers and CPD co-ordinators, the SLA is pleased to announce that the Early Bird rate will be held for a further week until the closing date for booking - 8th May 2014.  NB we can take provisional bookings if that would help, but would need confirmation by mid May latest.  Book here  - www.sla.org.uk/weekend-course-2014.php

 

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John Betjeman Poetry Competition for Young People

BetjemanpoetrycompetitionEstablished by the family of the former Poet Laureate, the John Betjeman Poetry Competition for Young People seeks to foster a love of poetry in young people.  It is our aim to support literacy and creativity, encouraging children aged 10-13 living in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland to explore the world they see around them through rhythm and language.

Each child is invited to send in (by post or online) a poem on the sense of ‘place’. They can choose anywhere that is important to them – from their bedroom to a larger landscape, from their local park to their favourite building. The subject of their poem could be a city or a garden or a beach or a street – whatever moves them to write. We are asking them to capture in words what that place means to them.

Winners of the poetry competition are invited to read their poems aloud to an audience of judges, entrants, teachers and parents as well as sponsors and press, at a prize giving held on National Poetry Day, Thursday 2nd October, on the concourse of St Pancras station, next to the bronze statue of John Betjeman by Martin Jennings.

The first prize is £1000 (£500 to the winner and £500 to the English department of their school). The top three finalists will receive four standard class Eurostar tickets from St Pancras International to Paris, Brussels or Lille, donated by Eurostar. The two runners-up will each receive £100. £50 book tokens are awarded to commended entrants.  Junior/primary schools entering a whole class will receive a copy of The Puffin Book of Modern Children’s Verse on receipt of entries and secondary/senior schools, The Rattle Bag.

We organise eight poet visits a year to schools entering the competition and over the years the feedback from teachers and pupils has been inspirational.

Past judges have included Sir Andrew Motion, Laura Dockrill, Grace Nichols, Hugo Williams, Ian McMillan and Brian Patten.  This year, the judges are the National Poet of Wales, Gillian Clarke, and the founder of Gifford Circus, Nell Gifford.

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Who will be crowned Queen of Teen 2014?

QueenofteenTo celebrate all that is great in teen fiction… the love stories… the life stories… the vampires… the villains… the Queen of Teen award is BACK! Back to capture the imagination of teenage readers across the country, finding out which authors made them laugh, which made them cry, which one petrified them or inspired them… and which author will make them visit www.queenofteen.co.uk and nominate him or her as a potential claimant to the throne! Long live the Queen of Teen!

The Queen of Teen award was founded in 2008 to celebrate the most feisty and fantastic writers for the tween and teen market. 2010 saw Cathy Cassidy swipe the crown from the very first winner, Louise Rennison, and in 2012 Maureen Johnson won the coveted title… being crowned in her original high school prom dress. In its first six years the competition has been a huge success, with thousands of heartfelt nominations from readers about the books they care most passionately about and tens of thousands of votes cast for each shortlist.

Queen of Teen is now inviting nominations for this year’s award, which will be presented at a regally stylish award ceremony on 11th July 2014. Between 12th March and 29th April 2014, readers can nominate any author for the award, and the top ten nominated authors will make up the shortlist which will be announced on 1st May 2014. Superfans of each of the shortlisted authors will be invited to the award ceremony where they will be able to mingle with their favourite writers, invited journalists and other special guests.

Queen of Teen has a dedicated website www.queenofteen.co.uk with information about the award’s history, details on how readers can nominate and vote for their favourite authors and photos of each award ceremony.

In previous years, it has been very gratifying for the shortlisted authors to see how much their books mean to their fans: reigning Queen of Teen Maureen Johnson says:

“I have savoured my reign as Queen of Teen. I have tried to rule with a FAIR and EVEN hand, demanding only the smallest of tributes, like gold bathtubs, dancing trees, and total control of the weather. I leave my fate to the winds. Will there be a new ruler? No one knows. I am watching a dancing tree in my gold bathtub while making it rain, so my mind is regally elsewhere."

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Foyle Young Poets 2014

Foyle Young PoetsThe Poetry Society runs the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award 2014, the world's largest and most prestigious award for young poets aged 11-17 years old.  Last year's competition attracted entries from a staggering 7,478 young people from 75 countries worldwide, making it one of the largest literary competitions in the world. The 2013 winners (15 top winners and 85 commended poetsa) spanned the globe, from Nigeria to Malaysia and from right across the UK. Now in its 17th year, the competition once again invites young poets to enter their writing.

The Poetry Society is thrilled that The Foyle Young Poet of the Year Award 2014 will be judged by Grace Nichols and Simon Barraclough.  Any young person writing in English can enter the competition, whether they have been writing for a long time or just started, and the competition is free to enter. Full details on entering the competition can be found at www.foyleyoungpoets.org

The top 15 winning poets will have their poems published in an anthology in March 2015, which will be sent out to more than 22,000 people worldwide, making it one of the largest circulated poetry anthologies in the world.The current anthology 'Rattle the hatches’is already published, and celebrates last year’s winners and invites entries to the 2014 competition (free copies for schools and individuals can be requested by emailing fyp@poetrysociety.org.uk)

The top 15 poets will attend a week-long residential creative writing course at the prestigious Hurst Arvon centre in Shropshire, where they will be tutored by this year’s judges, or receive a visit to their school from a professional poet, followed by one to one and distance mentoring (age dependent).The 85 Commended Winners will receive book prizes and a year's Youth Membership of the Poetry Society, the UK's leading poetry organisation.

All 100 winners of the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award benefit from ongoing support and encouragement, via publication, performance, promotion and internship opportunities throughout the UK. In 2013, Foyle winners were showcased at the BBC Proms, Cheltenham Literature Festival, Ledbury Poetry Festival and the Southbank Centre.

The prizes will be awarded at a special ceremony held at the Royal Festival Hall in London on Thursday 2nd October (National Poetry Day).  The Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award also incorporates a year round programme of activity aimed at encouraging creativity and literacy in schools. Every year the scheme nurtures best practice in creative writing teaching, identifying committed ‘Teacher Trailblazers’ to act as mentors and share lesson ideas. Foyle and the Poetry Society also offer additional poet-led workshops and events to a number of ‘applauded schools’, to reward their continuing commitment to, and enthusiasm for, the Award. The newly relaunched  Poetryclass site offers a wide range of free downloadable teaching resources, including special Foyle lesson plans based on previous winning poems.

Since it began in 1998, the Award has kick-started the career of some of today’s most exciting new voices, including Poetry London editor Ahren Warner and Derbyshire Poet Laureate Helen Mort. The Award represents a career -changing achievement for many. The phrase ‘Former Foyle Young Poet’ is now commonly found in professional biographies as alumni continue to make their mark on the wider literary world, their names appearing on bookshelves and at festivals the world over. The Poetry Society’s online Alumni Library celebrates the successes of these exciting new voices.

The Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award 2014 is generously supported by the Foyle Foundation.

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'Dance to Rio' - KS2 Resources

The National Schools Partnership in association with 20th century Fox have just produced some KS2 dance resources based on the upcoming Rio 2 film, which include a DVD featuring a live dancer teaching Rio dance moves for children to learn. You can see the sign-up page here: http://www.nationalschoolspartnership.com/rio2.php

These great resources have links with PE, Art, Geography and Literacy so be sure to sign up for the free DVD.

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