#NZreadaloud invites teachers across the country to join in a special project: reading out loud to their students from the same New Zealand-authored book over a 6 week period.
The initiative runs for the first three terms of the year. A new book is agreed upon each term, and for each age group taking part.
#NZreadaloud founder Kerri Thompson says she was inspired to start the project after participating in the Global Read Aloud and her vision is: One book to connect Kiwi kids across Aotearoa.
Last year, Read NZ partnered with Kerri and her team to supply book tokens to support the process of choosing books for each term. In addition, we’ve been able to arrange Writers in Schools visits for the authors whose books are read aloud.
One such visit was a tour booked in for early April this year. Author of the most recent read-aloud choice Tūī Street Heroes, Anne Kayes, had her trip to Hawkes Bay to visit a group of schools planned before the lockdown was announced.
A virtual visit was scheduled instead. We asked Kerri how it went.
(Above: a screenshot from the visit. Some teachers shared the screen of the visit while having a virtual meeting with their own class! In the top row, from left: author Anne Kayes, Kerri Thompson, and Lisa Hayde from St Pius School in Hamilton. In the third row is Bianca Caske from Russell Street School in Palmerston North and bottom right is Sandra Howard from Tamatea Intermediate School in Napier. The other teacher not in the photo was Chelsea Brown at Waitoki School, north of Auckland.)
Last week your class had a virtual visit from author Anne Kayes.
How did that come about?
We had been reading and studying Tui Street Heroes for our Year 5 - 8 students. Right from the start I had connected with Anne via her website. When I saw this book and its reference to The Heroes journey I knew it was the perfect book for the beginning of the year. We kept in contact right through the six weeks that we read the book. Anne participated in weekly Twitter chats with the kids too.
We had organised a 3-day visit to Hawkes Bay to visit eight schools but due to Covid-19 this visit had to be cancelled. Anne reached out and suggested a video chat so when I got round to organising it she was really keen to participate in a meeting with students and teachers to finish the study of her book.
What sort of preparation did you and your students put in before the virtual visit?
I asked the kids to have any questions ready to ask. But other than that the kids just turned up!
I had emailed Anne prior to the meeting and asked her to focus on tips and suggestions for being a great writer. Pretty much we all turned up and had a great korero!
What sort of activities or presentation did Anne deliver to your class?
Anne was awesome. She made her presentation totally relevant to what I had requested. Anne had a couple of activities she did with the kids which they loved. So even though it was virtual, it was still interactive. Anne invited the kids to keep in touch with her and gave us all her email address - offering to provide feedback on the students writing. At the end Anne stayed on to talk to myself and my colleague and it was really inspiring.
How valuable do you think it is for students to meet and talk with an author, after they’ve read their book? Does it change the read aloud experience for them, and if so, how?
The meetings and connections with authors are one of the best parts of #NZreadaloud. I think it does change the reading experience for the kids. They have told us they love that they get to ask the author questions about the stories and see them 'in real life' or chat on Twitter.
It makes the book come alive. Through the meetings, chats, and visits the kids also learn what it takes to be a great writer. So they learn to see reading and writing as integral to each other rather than two separate subjects.
Why would you recommend the combination of NZreadaloud and Writers in Schools to other teachers?
I would most definitely recommend the combination of Writers in Schools and #NZreadaloud to other teachers. Our kids have told us and shown us how much they love connecting with 'real' authors. It brings the stories alive. They can ask the authors about their inspiration, characters in the story, and they often find out that authors do a lot of research before writing in order to make things real.
The kids learn lots from the authors and it is always a great thing when the authors are reinforcing messages teachers have been giving in their classrooms - it is great that the kids hear that other voice explaining and suggesting tips for being a great writer.
Kia ora Kerri!