1st session: FLY Festival at UEA: Talk- Anthony McGowan
We were taken to the Festival of Literature for Young People. As we waited to go inside the theatre for the talk, we looked at the books display.
Once inside the theatre, they announced the winners of the FLY writing contest.
Anthony McGowan talked about what writing is about and the relationship between writing and “the truth”. He told a story about his own childhood at school in Leeds related to the topic of bullying, which inspired him to write stories of the kind, so many of his books are a reflection of his days at school. Then, quite enthusiastically, he read one of his stories and asked the audience about the importance of writing stories from real life or made up ones. Finally he gave the audience the opportunity to ask some questions and there were some teenagers interested in knowing about the topics he chooses, tips for writing, age when he started writing or books to recommend. He gave them a few tips, mainly:
- To be a good and constant writer, always carry a notebook with you and write about anything surrounding you.
- Finish everything you start.
- Try to see things with a novelist eye (lots of stories moving around school).
- Try to be constant and write every day (he tries to type at least 1000 words a day).
- For teenagers, begin by being a good reader.
- Every word counts (he started with poetry at 15 just to flirt with girls, but it didn’t work, though it was a good way to start!).
An anecdote: as a civil servant (before being a writer), he used to daydream and write a lot at his boring office work, and that’s when he realised he would become a writer.
2nd session: Visit to Sainsbury Centre
We were taken to the Sainsbury Centre for a guided tour on representations of art in different ages.
- Greek figurines, around 6000 years old, possibly dolls, many found in tombs, so probably religious meanings. No written records yet.
- Hippopotamus from Egypt, around 2000 years old. Although they used writing, there is no written evidence of this piece. Found in a sarcophagus, likely to have been placed there to protect the dead body for a further life.
- Indian bronze figures with religious meanings, from the 11th century, hindu in inspiration. One of them was Shiva, the destroyer god who made recreation possible through destruction. There was a strong cultural transmission through art, as well as an oral transmission. Vedas were the first written evidence.
- Raven stealing the sun, northamerican (Canada) art which represents a rattle from a shaman in the form of a raven. There is a nice legend on this on how Raven started life by stealing the sun, moon, stars, water and fire.
- The 14-year-old ballet dancer, by Degas. Connected to the naturalistic movement and the french writer E.Zola, and his novel “Nana”, 1880.
- Antonio Saura´s “Hiroshima mon amour” painting, a desintegrating figure which represents a memorial to the dead people from Hiroshima.
3rd session: Reading and writing activities/ Using mystery stories (2)
Claudia handed out templates for reading/writing activities based on literature circles, a collaborative and student-centered reading strategy. After selecting a book, students are given a different role to work on it: artist, head honcho, connector or analyser. The teacher must decide carefully on the different roles assigned depending on the type of learner. Students work on this strategy after having worked on different activities (poetry, journals, mind maps, etc.) throughout a long period of time.
Collaborative work is important in the previous stage to discuss about the process and to learn from each other before completing their tasks on their own. Students rotate the roles as they read the books.
Students, by using this technique, can learn to take responsibility for their own learning and become stronger readers.
The last activity we did today was another Sherlock Holmes story in which we had to read, take notes and share ideas with our group trying to formulate hypothesis to solve the mystery. Each group had a different part of the story and by mixing the groups and reporting our part to the rest, we had to try to complete the puzzle and solve the mystery.
By Araceli Valero