Submitting to the First Minister's Challenge: Gathering Evidence and Capturing Children’s Voice

Image description: a group of primary school children laughing

Impact and Evidence
When submitting to the First Minister’s Reading Challenge, your submission should not just cover what you delivered over the year, but the impact it had. Think of it like this – when you combine flour, eggs and sugar, you get a cake – but the impact is the happy child who gets to eat it! 

Some useful questions to ask yourself are:
•    How did those who take part feel?
•    How have they changed? 
•    What difference has this made to your school?

The answers to these questions don’t have to solely revolve around reading – for example, if you ran a reading buddy system that helped some the children you work with improve their confidence and make friends – that’s also a fantastic piece of impact that we’d love to hear. Think of what you capture as like a narrative – the best submissions include what you planned but also what changed, what impact it had, and what you’re thinking of doing next.

Children’s Voice
Capturing children’s insight into what you’ve delivered is crucial, both for your own reflection, and for us to get a sense of the change that’s happened in your school. However, consulting with children can come in lots of different forms and be a learning opportunity in itself.

There are lots of creative ways to gather children’s voice:

Post it note walls – ask everyone to write down a few words on small pieces of paper that sums up their experience. You can use this to create a display on your classroom wall or create an online Word Cloud that, at a glance, lets everyone have a say.

Words don’t have to be adjectives – for example if you read a book about robots and the word “robot” shows up in your Word Cloud, that’s a great way to demonstrate that that book had an impact on that child! 

For younger children you can also use different stickers with different emojis – this lets them pick how the experience made them feel!

Photography – taking videos or photos is a great way to document the process – but you can also let children be in charge! iPads are a great piece of technology, but you can also use disposable cameras: this is great for younger children, who will take photos from a completely different perspective to adults. 

Apps like ChatterPix can let you record and add narration to a picture – meaning children can go back to a photo of them, or something they did, and add their own voice to it!

Mark-making and visual art – asking children to draw their favourite part of your delivery can be a great way to centre their experience. Help them label each drawing using their own words – a drawing of a bed means a lot more when there’s the caption of “reading in my room gives me peace”. By using direct quotes you’re also showing children that their words, as they say them, matter. 

For older children, you can create a narrative through comic strip panels. What did they think of reading last year? What did they try this year? What do they want to do next? You can also use comic strips as a way to create a storyboard if you’re interested in making a video submission! Apps like FlipAClip are downloadable onto iPads, and a great and easy way for children to turn their drawings into animations.

News stories  - If you were reporting on the last year in your school, how would it appear in the news? Putting together a structure for children to talk about their experience can often combat that feeling of being put on the spot. You could create a physical front page, with headlines and pictures, or use the idea of a news report to structure a video entry – have children interview staff or each other about their experience. Bonus points for newsreader costumes!

Hopefully some of these ideas have inspired you. Even if you opt for a written response, or can’t submit photos and film, these could be a great way to facilitate a conversation with the children you work with about what they enjoyed about the reading culture you’ve built, and what changes it’s made. 

One last top tip – mind-map everything you did and note down your predicted outcomes. Then, when you get feedback from children, it’s just a case of ticking them off and noting down any extras!

That’s all for now, happy submitting!

The deadline for submitting an entry is Thursday 28 April at 5pm. 

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