Tuesday, 27 March 2012

100 words for grown ups week 36

 has a real twist to it-
"Now for this week’s prompt. As you know I like to be topical so I’m thinking Easter. However, I’m thinking a little outside the box! The prompt is quite simple but the trick this week is to prepare for NEXT week!
I want you to write a piece with
….‘What was the rabbit late for,’ wondered Alice…..
in it. You have 100 words making a total of 108. However, the last 10 words are going to be used to start a piece by someone else next week!! Good eh! The idea isn’t mine – it came from Winchester House School"

I LOVE Lewis Carroll's works- they are so deliciously crazy and use language in a way I could only dream about. I used Jabberwocky to inspire a previous post ( http://mrshalford.blogspot.co.uk/2011/08/100-word-challenge-for-grown-ups-week-7.html ) 

I have tried to write in a similar style for this challenge. Check out the others at: http://www.linkytools.com/wordpress_list.aspx?id=137743&type=basic

Alice returns...

The sun was shining magnificently. You may think this unsurprising, but as it was the middle of the night , Alice knew something tremendous was afoot. It had been so long since last she went.  Her mind filled with memories of grinning cats, pipe-smoking caterpillars,  babies which turned to pigs. Or had it been the other way around? And what about that dear dormouse? And what was  the rabbit late for? wondered Alice. Taking a deep breath she stepped through the looking glass back into a world she knew so well. However, things did not seem to be quite the same...

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

100 words for grown ups week 35

http://jfb57.wordpress.com/2012/03/19/100-word-challenge-for-grown-ups-week-35/  This is the link to Julia's page with this week's prompt... the red box...
Topical pieces will be a-plenty I'm sure with the budget tomorrow, however, finances not really my thing so I have gone back to my character , Kit (previous pieces about her can be found http://mrshalford.blogspot.co.uk/2011/11/100-words-for-grown-ups-week-21.html and http://mrshalford.blogspot.com/2011/09/100-words-for-grown-ups-week-10.html

Would welcome any comments , critiques welcomed .

Find the rest at: http://www.linkytools.com/wordpress_list.aspx?id=136717&type=basic

An unexpected turn of events

The last mourners had gone. Alone at last, Kit  kicked off her shoes and sank into the comfort of her Grandmother's armchair. Her racing mind was filled with an array of unanswered questions.
 The doorbell’s chime interrupted her thoughts, but she was surprised to find no visitor, just a battered red box on the doorstep.
She carried it inside and placed it on the table. Opening the lid she pushed aside the layers of tissue to reveal a smaller box and a letter with her name written in a hand she instantly recognised.
With trembling hands she began to read,
 "My dearest Kit...

In the picture- Anthony Browne

This week will be my first hosting of a twitter chat. Set up by a group of teachers and educators, #inthepicture aims to celebrate using picture books in the classroom in a variety of ways across the curriculum and age ranges.
Chats take place on Wednesdays from 8 til 9 pm and have covered a range of books so far including "Where the Wild Things are." and "One is a snail."
I have chosen the author and illustrator Anthony Browne  as my focus. http://www.childrenslaureate.org.uk/previous-laureates/anthony-browne/
 I have used a selection of his marvellous books with Y4 and 5 children to stimulate writing in class, as well as to read for pleasure.
This site showcases some of his illustrations

One of his more recent projects, the Shape game http://www.childrenslaureate.org.uk/previous-laureates/anthony-browne/shape-game/ looks fascinating and will be one to flag up tomorrow as I haven't used it (yet)

During the discussion I hope to flag up how I have used many of Pie Corbett's talk for writing techniques in my teaching.
http://www.literacytrust.org.uk/news_blogs/email_updates/interviews/pie_corbett and  http://www.cfbt.com/lincs/PDF/Talk%20for%20Writing%20Handout.pdf
One of the English units I teach is stories by the same author, and I would always get frustrated by having to choose sections of books and not having time to share the whole story with the children,  This is one of the strengths of choosing picture books; they are easy to finish with a class thus having the satisfaction of seeing a book through, and provide children with stories that they can use as a basis for their own retelling or continuations regardless of their reading ability.
This is in no way meant to infer that picture books are for the less able reader; Anthony Browne's books have so many meanings and sub plots that they are perfect for developing questioning skills, for inference and deduction,. What is not written is almost more powerful than what is (and in some cases most certainly is e.g. Zoo, Voices in the Park, The Tunnel, Into the Forest... the list goes on)

Here is a list of Anthony Browne books- apologies if I have missed any off the list. I have highlighted ones I have used; just a mere fraction of his work. If there are any omissions please let me know and I will amend.

I'm trying hard to advocate the idea amongst parents that picture books are valuable for older primary pupils. As part of our reading journal work, we encourage the children to read as wide a range of books as possible. Some parents have expressed their views about picture books being inappropriate for "able readers", but a book such as Zoo (Anthony Browne) has such a meaningful subplot (unwritten) which allows it to be interpreted differently by different ages/abilities.
 I have seen some stunning examples of work influenced by picture books and know they are an invaluabe addition to a primary classroom. Very much looking forward to #inthepicture and sharing ideas.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Training teachers

This week's ukedchat is going to focus on - 'What should be taught to the next generation of trainee teachers?  http://ukedchat.com/

I am particularly looking forward to this as I have a trainee working with me in my class and do some tutoring sessions for the GTP and SCITT in the county.

School based training is where teachers learn the skills of working with others, with classroom management to name but two. However, as a class teacher I find my time being stretched to the limit (and beyond) as I try to support and guide my trainee as well as maintain a teaching role.

I'm not sure what the answer is- more funding to allow teachers who are involved with trainees to be able to fit in their feedback/paperwork in directed time would be a bonus. The strength of training in schools is that the person central to the training is actually doing the job on a day to day basis as opposed to the lecturer who knows all the theory (and may still teach  children to some extent) but is not immersed in the same way.

The pedagogy of learning , at the time of my training seemingly boring, but now often referred to, is as important as spending time in the classroom and ideally trainees need to spend their time both in college and in school. The SCITT course I am involved with http://www.dttpscitt.co.uk/ will be changing next year to 24 weeks in school. This is 2 more weeks than at present which will require a big change to the timetable.  Inevitably, some of the centre-led training will go . On a personal level I am saddened by this as I have led a DT session for the last 4 years. Feedback often indicates that the sessions from practising teachers are especially useful as they can share so many aspects of the subject.
I applaud the importance of the extra time in school, but wonder how this will impact on the overall experiences for the trainees.
So , Thursday's ukedchat I am hoping will provide some useful insight into effective training.

100 words week 34

This week, Julia's prompt is …but I turned it off….
All the details can be found on her page at 

I loved last week's picture prompt as I could go to town with descriptions. This week's was a lot more difficult. I have attempted a sci-fi theme; not one I feel especially confident with- but that is what these challenges are all about!
Writing 100 words becomes easier with practice (Better? that's the aim!) although I am still striving for inspiration for a longer project. Have written some book reviews recently which has heightened my desire to be able to do what a novelist does- keep the reader wanting to read on...

Anyway, here is my piece for this week. Find the rest at http://www.linkytools.com/wordpress_list.aspx?id=135539&type=basic

Journey's end.

With all lines of communication severed, Crane and Parks knew their journey home would be perilous. Electrical systems had failed systematically. Fuel levels were sufficient, but oxygen tanks were on critical. All non-essential areas had been shut down and the two surviving crew had relocated to the bridge.
Deep in the recesses of the medical bay, their sought after discovery lay- no longer in suspended animation. LEDs blinked in quickening sequence. Hairline fractures radiated across the toughened glass as the LEDs blink turned to a constant glare. Warning sirens echoed.
“I told you to shut it all down!” hissed Parks.
The lights flashed off-on-off...
“But I turned it off...”

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Book review of The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon

This captivating book follows the story of Lynnie, Homan and Martha from 1968 in Pennsylvania to 2011.
Lynnie , a young woman with an intellectual disability, and Homan, a deaf man with only sign language to guide him, make a desperate escape from the School for the Incurable and Feebleminded for just long enough to leave Lynnie’s newborn baby with Martha, a retired school teacher. Lynnie is quickly captured and returned to The School, but Homan, presumed dead, makes his escape.
Each chapter concentrates on one character, building up an intricate description of each of their lives. There is Kate, who works at The School and her unfailing support for Lynnie, Homan’s constant search for Lynnie (his Beautiful Girl) and her baby, and his belief that he will find her. Martha, who takes in a stranger’s baby and honours her promise to “Hide her.” and of course Lynnie, who is the “Beautiful Girl”.
I loved the way the story was written and found the characters incredibly believable. Rachel Simon has obviously researched her facts very thoroughly- the end notes give her reasons for writing the book. The fact that institutions such as The School existed until such recent times was horrifying and the way that children, babies and adults were kept there was deeply upsetting.
I read this book within a week as I quickly found myself swept along by events and wanted to find out if they would ever be reunited.

I would recommend this book without hesitation. It was a beautiful story. Moving at times, tragic in parts, uplifting and informative.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012


Writing from the edge has linked me into a daft blog game!

Why not is what I thought... here goes

You must post these rules.
Paste the questions the “tagger” listed for you in their post onto a new post of your own and answer them
Create eleven new questions for the people you tag to answer.
Choose eleven people to tag and put a link to their pages in the post.
Let each taggee know that you have tagged them.

So - here are writingfromtheedge's 11 questions with my answers:

Looking back, which author did you most love in that transition between childhood and becoming an adult? I WAS AN AVID FAN OF ANNE FRANK AND READ THE WHOLE SERIES AGAIN AND AGAIN

Which 5 plants or species would you always want growing in your garden (or hypothetical garden)

What would you try to save if the house went up in flames and you knew all the people and animals were safely out? PHOTOS FOR CERTAIN

Which country/city in the world (that you have never been to) would you most like to visit and why? THAILAND- FOOD, CULTURE, SOMEWHERE I HAVE ALWAYS WANTED TO VISIT

What's the number one favourite piece of music/song you would take to your desert island? IMPOSSIBLE TO NARROW DOWN TO ONE- IT WOULD CHANGE DEPENDING ON MY MOOD. AT THIS EXACT MOMENT- I WILL SURVIVE.

Do you read using a Kindle or would you if you could? NO AND NO BECAUSE I LOVE THE FEEL OF BOOKS

What individual item of food would you not eat, even if it was served to you at the Queen/President's dinner table? (Something ordinary, we're not talking about sheep's eyeballs here!) OFFAL, YUK

If you found an unexpected £20 in the bottom of your coat pocket, what would you spend it on - books, wine, plants, clothes, bills...? WINE :)

If your car could be any colour you want, what colour would it be? RED- IT IS- ALWAYS WANTED A RED CAR AND NOW I HAVE ONE.

Looking back, what do you most regret not buying (no matter how big or small) THE WINNING LOTTERY TICKET

Do you still have your childhood teddy bear? If so, what is he/she called? NOT ANY MORE- TEDDY

Here are my questions:

1) who from history would you most like to meet and why?
2) What would you like to be remembered for?
3) If money was no object, describe your ideal home
4) What was your favourite board game as a child?
5) Can you remember what your first wristwatch was like?
6) At a party what is the first "nibble" you go for?
7) Walking or cycling?
8) Best way to drink coffee?
9) Milk or plain (chocolate as if I need to add)
10) If you ruled the world what would be the first thing that you would change?
11) If you could see into the future, would you?

I'm not sure how to tag people so I will tweet this instead. Sorry if that isn't quite following the rules!

100 words for grown ups

This week's prompt is at http://jfb57.wordpress.com/2012/03/05/100-word-challenge-for-grown-ups-week-33/ and returns to a picture prompt.
Tricky one this week that I wasn't sure how to approach.
After a few failed efforts this is what I have come up with

Sea horse

Casually, she picked up the discarded pieces, her collection ever changing, not long treasured. Never-ceasing undulations smoothed away the roughness leaving muted hues of cream and grey.

Expelled-some in a whisper, others with a roar. Exposed to the elements, stripped bare ,picked clean, desiccated. To a casual observer, no more than flotsam and jetsam, but to the artist- building blocks for his craft.

Painstakingly collected, assembled, twisted, layered, woven. Complex forms created from nature's throw aways.

What was lost, overlooked, cast away ...is now looked upon, admired, celebrated.
The artist's task is done....

Find the rest at http://www.linkytools.com/wordpress_list.aspx?id=134366&type=basic