This term’s book study deserves its own blogpost!
Let me tell ya all about it …
It was a gamble to select #tumeke for #NZreadaloud. Being an epistolary novel (a narrative told through a mash-up of social media posts) we wondered how it was going to work as a read aloud. After closely reading it before making the decision, I realised there was a great story full of relatable characters, surprising friendships, Kiwi content, fun, and quirkiness. The thing that was really fantastic was the potential for other learning opportunities that could come from a study of this book; alongside the regular comprehension learning we always do. This has become something high on our criteria list when selecting the books to use; as for many of us the book becomes the central part of our classroom programme.
However, the reading aloud part has been way more challenging than a regular novel. I had to figure out the best way to include emojis while reading aloud so that it wasn’t distracting from the story. I had to make sure the kids knew who was speaking while reading short text messages that were stop and start. I was lucky in my classroom that my Principal had bought 4 extra books for the kids to use in class. This made all the difference as they were able to follow the text as I read but it also meant they could go back to the book to re-read or look at something more closely. What was impossible to read aloud were the intentional spelling errors though the book! I did alert my kids to this aspect of the story and we discussed the reason they were there; to give authenticity to the characters.
The multi-media delivery of the story really engaged my kids (and others from what other teachers have said). All the kids were motivated to really study each community noticeboard as they realised that these notices became integrated with the characters, their stories, and the Newtoun community. I loved how the book opened up numerous learning opportunities which were engaging and authentic. The book was a brilliant example of how it can be the centre of your programme; with many reading, writing, and inquiry activities inspired by happenings in the novel. For example kids got curious about wrestling and the different moves that were mentioned. Kids were writing raps and poems and sharing on the Flipgrid. There were opportunities for kids to follow instructions and draw, then create their own instructional videos or diagrams. There were opportunities to teach persuasive writing and learning about advertising techniques and then create posters for real events. Kids got interested in the foods that were written about (lollycake, pastel de nata, goat curry). Kids saw kamoji as a legitimate form of communication. Kids were exposed to Diary Writing as a way to express feelings and happenings. These were just some of the learning opportunities that rose from the text. There were many others!
The biggest learning and the one that has taken over many of our classroom programmes is The Festival! With the book being centred around the organisation of a community festival, I had the idea that we could culminate our reading with a virtual festival. I didn’t really know what this would look like but it was one of those authentic learning opportunities which I knew we had to embrace and run with! It has certainly been organic!
Firstly we got each class involved in #tumeke to elect 2 class representatives who would attend weekly virtual Committee meetings on Zoom to plan and organise our very own Virtual Festival. This in itself has been an incredible learning experience for these kids; why and how to take meeting minutes, how to stick to agenda, how to make decisions, running to deadlines etc.
Kids in one school have created a #Tumeke website so we had a central place for all festival stuff. These same kids have used Roblox to create and build a #Tumeke game within this platform using the characters as game players. It is very cool and we can’t wait for festival week for the kids to be able to go in and play! Every class is putting together a virtual slide for the festival which will include links to go and watch or participate in something. As an example, here is a photo of the Gaming Arcade that two of my boys are creating for the virtual festival.
The virtual festival took place during the week of 14 – 18 September. It had varying levels of success. For many classes kids accessed a myriad of ‘virtual’ stalls, games, and activities that had been created by other students and had a lot of fun over the 3 days the festival was ‘open’! I think maybe for others the end-of-term busy-ness meant limited time was able to be spent on it. All in all it was a massive success to have kids drive the majority of this learning experience.
I know my kids (and I) especially appreciated the #Tumeke Roblox game built by a few talented kids at Tamatea Intermediate; big ups to Daniel and Luca for this. Also to the other Luca, Max, and Dexter who all had specific ‘jobs’ putting together the #Tumeke website and Roblox game. A special mention has to go to their teacher Sandra Howard for understanding the value and learning involved in a project of this type. Without your encouragement, support, forward-thinking, and drive the kids wouldn’t get experiences like this. This was real and authentic from start to finish; life-long skills right there!
Here are a couple of photos of my kids enjoying the Roblox game:
After contacting the author Michael Petherick early on in the readaloud, he agreed to get onto Twitter so the kids could connect on that social media platform. This has been so valuable as along with the obvious things like the kids having their questions answered and sharing to him what they like about the book, the kids learn about being a respectful digital citizen and also how to structure a meaningful tweet – all lifelong skills!
One other very special part of our virtual festival was the hot-seating Zoom session with @deadlyicedagger. This took place on Friday 18th September at 9.30. Our incredible author got in character and had all 6 classes of children totally captivated for a whole hour. While our students asked @deadlyicedagger questions he would respond with answers that had everyone in fits of laughter. This was a very special hour and I feel extremely privileged to have had the opportunity to connect with our author for this activity.
This hot-seating session with @deadlyicedagger (AKA Michael Petherick) has been the highlight of my 6 years doing #NZreadaloud. This is not to take away anything the other authors have given to us, but this was one out of the box! Having our kids see him totally in character and being silly and having fun just topped off an amazing term of #Tumeke.
Here are a few photos from this session;
The schools lucky enough to be the Hawkes Bay have a special treat in store on Tuesday 22 September. Tutira School will host author Michael Petherick (aka @deadlyicedagger) at our very own Festival thanks to the wonderful support of Writers’ in Schools Programme. Due to COVID and the Level 2 restrictions, we are limited to under 100 visitors so at this stage as well as the kids at Tutira we have invited the senior class from Kereru School and the class from Tamatea Intermediate who are participating in #NZreadaloud. We are in the process of organising what we will do but ideas so far are:
Who can shovel the pile of dirt in the shortest time
Kiss the Goat (and other cute farm animals!!)
A ‘live’ rap battle with the author
create your own wrestling move competition
card and book swap
So we are hoping it works out and is a whole lot of fun for everyone.
I will definitely take photos of our festival at Tutira – be worthy of another blog post I reckon!!