Jason Mallon, teacher at Craigour Park Primary, discusses the effect the First Minister's Reading Challenge has had on their school's reading culture and how they have launched their very own reading radio station!
As a staff at Craigour Park Primary, we decided early on in 2016 that we wanted to encourage our pupils to read for pleasure. After having a somewhat challenging start to the year due to our school building being temporarily closed, our initial idea of a ‘Read to Rio’ challenge based around the Olympics wasn’t to be. After several months of being separated, we were re-united in the middle of August for the start of the new term. Sadly, the Olympics were just about over, but as a staff we knew that we had been on to something and couldn’t just give up. Thankfully, a new opportunity presented itself to us in the form of the First Minister’s Reading Challenge. Having read up on what was involved and after listening to the variety of ideas presented at the Edinburgh information event, it became clear that this was exactly what we needed as a school to continue our bid to encourage as many children as possible to read for pleasure!
We began the Challenge by holding a reading for enjoyment week with a variety of activities right across the school. Older classes buddied up with younger classes under the theme of Roald Dahl, helping one another to create something to wear for our big launch assembly at the end of the week based on one of his books. Alongside this, we also had a selection of revolting rhymes told by teachers each evening on our school website, with a mystery word that would form a special sentence at the end of the week. These, along with other activities throughout the week, really helped build up the excitement in the school for our big launch. On the Friday, we had a visit from Scottish Book Trust to see the challenge officially launched whilst also getting to witness our sister project, ‘Hungry for Reading,’ aimed at P1-3 children, being announced as well. We had one final surprise and that involved an appearance on our recently introduced ‘Craigour Reading Radio’.
Craigour Reading Radio
In an attempt to add a new dimension to the Reading Challenge, our Literacy Working Party in school decided to start a reading radio station for children and adults to appear on on a bi-weekly basis. The radio station incorporates children from a number of our responsibility groups who all come together to help organise each show. Members of the media group record and edit the show, our reading group help gather interest throughout the school (so much so that we have a list of guests waiting to appear each week)! Finally, we have our presenters Anna and Norah, both keen readers from Primary 7 who host the show themselves, putting a lot of effort into preparing questions for our weekly guest. All the children involved continue to learn from each and every episode they release and the show is getting better and better. We’ve had children from both ends of the school as well as teachers and visitors on the podcast in an attempt to demonstrate that reading can be enjoyed by anyone, no matter what age. As a school we think this ties in brilliantly with the key aims of the First Minister’s Reading Challenge and has been a fantastic way of getting children who have really engaged with the Challenge to speak about what they are reading, sharing this with a larger audience in the process. Furthermore, we have noticed children who may not have picked up a book as readily as others wanting to talk about what they are reading as a result.
It is clear that both the Reading Challenge and Craigour Reading Radio are working brilliantly side-by-side to encourage as many children as possible to read out of choice. We’re very proud of what we continue to see our children accomplish with their reading whilst always looking for ways to develop the ‘reading bug’ in our school. It is clear that the First Minister’s Reading Challenge has been accepted at Craigour Park.
Find out more about what we’ve been up to here: craigourparkprimary.wordpress.com/tag/reading