Each year, participating schools share the brilliant journeys that they take with Reading Gladiators
Let’s Celebrate: A Kind of Spark (Knockhall Primary School)
Using the quotes gathered from our reading, we worked on creating ‘Quotation Trees’. Sayings from the book that highlight the key themes are written in brown on the trunk and branches while key words are written on each of the leaves. These include: character names, places, emotion words, objects and key ideas. The hope now is to have the trees on display within our school and promote the book for other children to read.
A Kind of Spark: Week 6
To conclude our journey with Addie and Keedie, we created three discussion boards based on the book. The first board was about autism in general. The second was about the importance of being yourself and the third focused on learning from history. The latter was based on a thoughtful quote from the anime series ‘Yu-Gi-Oh!’:
“It’s our past that makes us who we are today. You must remember what happened before so you can learn from your past. You can’t ignore where you came from. It’s our history that shapes our future.”
The children agreed with the quote and made links to the points about history that were made in our book. We wonder if you agree as well…
A Kind of Spark: Week 5
For the Half Term challenge, the Year 6 RG team used their knowledge of autism from our book as well as from our sessions to create leaflets to be shared with the Year 6 community. Some children used their facts from the first challenge to make their informative leaflets. Check out these illustrative, informative pieces of work!
A Kind Of Spark: Week 4
There’s a lot to show here. To start with, for their weekly challenge, the children wrote a selection of quotes that highlighted the views and feelings regarding autism, as felt by Addie and Keedie. They wrote their chosen quotes on faded images of the front cover to later use in the RG Mini Challenge.
As well as finding quotes from the book, the children also wrote letters to Addie and offered her support as well as words of encouragement. In the book, there is talk about ‘masking’ autistic traits and being more like those who are not autistic. As someone on the spectrum myself, I believe it is very important for autistic people to talk about their feelings openly and be themselves. That way, they can be supported in the best way possible and as a society, we can understand them better and be more compassionate about their needs. One of the children wrote the letter shown in this update, whose words I found to be wise and heartfelt.
In the session itself, we started to use our chosen quotations for the RG Mini Challenge, creating special pictures called Quotation Trees. You will see these soon. We also watched a short animated film explaining more about autism. This encouraged the children to think about what they had learned about autism from the book itself. In this update, you will see some of the children’s thoughts, including thoughts about what the title means to them.
‘The Space We’re in’ – Week 5
This week was very emotional for all of us. The intensity with which we read the extract where Frank’s mum dies was palpable (there were a lot of tears). We all agreed that it is testament to Katya Balen’s amazing writing that we have been able to connect so deeply with her characters and experience such strong emotions through the story. When the book is finished, we are going to feel desolate, because it has become our favourite book. We really think that they should make a movie of it – we would definitely all go to watch it!
Where The River Runs Gold week 5
Reading Gladiators at Morley C of E primary school have drawn pictures of what we think the skep hearts look like. Here are our drawings.
What do you think?
‘The Space We’re In’ – Week 4
This week was all about codes and how much Frank loves them. We think that he likes them so much because they’re something that he is good at and that he can have some control over. When he’s coding, he can go off into his own world and forget all about Max’s meltdowns. Codes for Frank are like Max’s flapping, because they help to calm him down and make him feel good.
We discussed how Frank’s feelings about the golden ratio change when he starts to think about it in terms of numbers and spiral galaxies. When his teacher first tells him about it, he gets a little annoyed because he can’t possibly believe that the perfect answer to everything in the universe is art. He can’t solve and explain art, so how can it possibly be the answer! However, when he starts to see the golden ratio in terms of numbers and the spiral galaxies he starts to get very interested in it. We decided that it’s because he can see it on his own terms, rather than being made to view it in terms of art.
We know that the next part of the book is going to be a little sad, but we are still looking forward to reading on…
Where The River Runs Gold week 4
Reading Gladiators at Morley C of E Primary School have just finished part 2 of the book and it is amazing.
We wanted to share our Graffiti Trees with you.
A Kind of Spark: Week 3
Stepping into Addie’s shoes, the RG team had a go at writing persuasive letters to the Scottish Council in the attempt to convince them to build a memorial for those who were falsely accused of being witches. You can see some of their letters in this update, and in our third session, we explored the history of witchcraft further, creating small fact files using information from a video created by English Heritage. We then thought about Maggie from our book, and after creating a ‘Role on the Wall’ for her as a group, the children wrote diary entries as Maggie, showing her feelings and fears about what was happening to her.
‘The Space We’re in’ – Weeks 2 & 3
We have really enjoyed giving Frank some much needed attention over the past two weeks. First, we discussed in pairs what he was thinking at key points in the story so far and used evidence from the text to support our ideas. After that, we created our emotions graphs for Frank in pairs and found that we were all able to empathise with him and imagine how frustrating it must feel at times to have a sibling who needs so much attention.
We found it sad that Frank feels so unimportant in his own family and are looking forward to recreating the graphic for homework, putting the emphasis on Frank’s wants and needs rather than Max’s. As you can see, our wordle art turned out great! 🙂
A Kind of Spark: Week 2
For their weekly challenge, the children conducted some research into autism, which plays a key part in our book. They each wrote a list of ten facts; these lists were then shared with each other during our session. In the session itself, we discussed Addie’s character based on what we knew about her so far. Our ideas were gathered and placed on a First Impressions diagram.
A Kind of Spark: Week 1
The Year 6 Reading Gladiators team began their journey with ‘A Kind of Spark’ by Elle McNicoll. In our first session back in September, we had a discussion about what we knew about witches already. The children created quick sketches depicting witches and they each wrote a list of characteristics based on the witches they had seen in films and read about in books. We then looked at the history of witchcraft through a video by English Heritage, which highlighted that witchcraft didn’t really exist and many people were wrongly accused of being witches over the course of history. It was a great start to our RG journey and the children were excited by the wonderful front cover of the book.
A Kind of Spark
Our first RG group recently finished ‘A Kind of Spark’, the wonderful debut from Elle McNicoll, and with the help of Mrs Nicholson, created a piece of art.
The tree symbolises Addie’s growth throughout the story, while the leaves on it contain our favourite quotes from the book.
This is a book we have loved reading, and the children are planning on writing a letter or email to Elle to express their delight!
‘The Space we’re in’ – Week One
As soon as we looked at the cover of the book, we could tell it was going to be about space. Some of us found the extra effects on the front and back covers dazzling – which we found interesting.
Finding out that the book is about autism surprised us all, but we are lucky enough to have an RG who has autism – so we can have a first hand insight into what it is like to be autistic. We also talked about other invisible conditions such as OCD, dyslexia, ADHD & ADD.
We could all see that the shop assistant had caused Max’s meltdown and were shocked at how much people were staring at him when he was upset – even adults! It is evident just from the first few pages that life for Frank’s family can be very difficult and we hope that things get easier for them as the book progresses and that people start to understand why Max acts the way that he does.
‘The Way Past Winter’
Our first term as Year 6 Reading Gladiators has been interrupted by PGL, but we took our books with us and carried on reading so we didn’t fall behind. We have found this book interesting and exciting. In the picture we were looking for similes in the passage about the heart tree and deciding which was the most powerful. We cannot wait to find out what our next book is going to be after half term!
Welcome to Reading Gladiators 2021/2022
Welcome to Reading Gladiators 2021/2022. With new books and a new look on the website, sharing top quality titles with children has never been easier. Your login will give you access to the session guides and resources. All the details you need are in the Running Your Reading Gladiators Group introductory guide, including the key dates for the new Teachers’ book club sessions and LIVE author panel events. We hope you enjoy your first title. We can’t wait to meet your groups here in the online community and we look forward to hearing all about your first books very soon.
Week 3: The One That Got Away
As well as working on their main short stories for our anthology, the children read a selection of tales from Jan Mark’s book and wrote story reviews about them. Here, you will see three reviews about the tales ‘Chutzpah’, ‘Charming’ and ‘In Black and White’.
Week 2: The One That Got Away
As the children continued to explore Jan Mark’s anthology, the team took the opportunity to look at other examples during the sessions. In this case, the team read a few extracts from Shaun Tan’s visually stunning book ‘Tales from the Inner City’, and taking inspiration from the selection, they wrote their own short stories based on the illustrations. It was an absolute joy to read them! I was amazed and taken back by their magnificent creativity and story telling abilities. I was beyond impressed! I especially love the cliff hangers; these captured the mysterious atmosphere of some of Jan Mark’s tales. These stories were going towards our own anthology, which we started to work on for the school library. This was an awesome start to our project, and I can’t wait to see what other stories we come up with!😀
Week 1: The One That Got Away
In the lead up to our first session about our new book, I invited the children to look through my own anthology of short stories, to help them understand the concept behind anthologies and how one can choose the stories that they would like to read from them. As a passionate writer, it was very interesting to hear what some of the children thought about them, and it was a joy to know that they liked them. In the session itself, I introduced Jan Mark’s anthology through some role play, with a little help of a mischievous, miniature bat called Dennis (named after the Maker of Mischief himself). The children were confused and bewildered by the sight of a small match box with a miniature bat inside. They were soon aghast when they found out the truth. Putting their thoughts to paper, their words came together to form the group’s own version of ‘The One That Got Away’ – one of the children came up with an awesome title, which summed up the whole event brilliantly!😁
Week 4: The Space We’re In
To finish our journey with Frank and Max, the Year 6 Reading Gladiators used iPads with the website Padlet to create their own discussion board, showing what they had learned about autism from reading the book as well as the new ideas and thoughts that they have gained. It was an informative, productive discussion and I could not help but be proud of my group for what they had achieved during the course of reading this book🙂
Week 3: The Space We’re In
For the Half Term challenge, the Year 6 Reading Gladiators were given extracts from Libby Scott’s wonderful book ‘Can You See Me?’, which focuses on Tilly, a girl with autism. The book is based on Libby’s own experiences and gaining ideas from Tilly’s diary entries, the children had a go at writing their own entries, taking on the role of either a different character or Max as a teenager. When I read through the entries, I was taken back by how much understanding and empathy the children have towards those with autism. As someone with Asperger’s Syndrome, I truly appreciate the children being open minded and see that despite the difficulties, people on the Autistic Spectrum can still achieve so much. It’s been an honour to share my own experiences with the team and bless them for allowing me to be me.
‘The One That Got Away’ – Week Two
After a week’s hiatus, we were excited to get back to our Gladiators session this week and share the short stories that we had read. ‘Birthday Girl’ seems to have been a favourite with us all – we loved the ghostly, supernatural nature of the tale. Today, we enjoyed reading ‘Nothing to be Afraid of’ and analysing the relationship between Anthea and Robin. We compared them to ourselves and younger siblings, agreeing that we all try to scare them in a fun and playful way. It was so clear at the end of the story that Robin enjoyed playing with Anthea, as he asked to go to the park again!
‘The One That Got Away’ – Week One
Well, what can we say? – our first session with this text was very eventful! Miss O’Rourke tried to fool us with her creature in a matchbox and even though we weren’t all entirely convinced that it was real, we got swept away by the excitement of the situation and chaos ensued. So much so, that one of our PE coaches came in to check that everything was ok, because he had heard the commotion outside! It was so funny, we are obviously excellent actors.
After introducing the book and having a look at the titles, we picked our favourite one and designed an alternative front cover for the anthology with the title that we had picked. We love the fact that we have the freedom to choose which stories really catch our eye to read before next week and we are excited to share our thoughts with the rest of the group.
Art isn’t a code… or is it?
While we were working towards the Mini Challenge, the Year 6 Reading Gladiators at Knockhall Primary School looked at the Golden Ratio in more detail. This concept was mentioned in our book, ‘The Space We’re In’ with Frank saying afterwards that art wasn’t a code. He thought the Golden Ratio was nothing but a swirly line. During one of our sessions, we put this statement to the test by using templates of the Golden Ratio to create our own drawings. This activity inspired us to think about Frank’s quote further and the children submitted their opinions to me so that they could be included on this poster, along with their amazing artwork. We leave you now to come up with your own opinions on the matter. Is art a code or do you think otherwise?🤔
Week 2: The Space We’re In
As part of their weekly challenge, the children were asked to create their codes using the code key on the front page of our book. I took part in the challenge too, so that when the codes were gathered together, a game was created similar to that shown on the quiz show ‘House of Games’. Here, we’ve called it ‘School of Games’ and the children found the puzzles fun to solve (despite one or two teething problems!). We also worked on our own doodles, inspired by Frank, drawing our favourite things, the places we love and the characters we grew up with. It was amazing to see the different creative approaches to this activity; some wonderful ICT skills were also demonstrated.
Week 1: The Space We’re In
The Year 6 team started reading their next book, ‘The Space We’re In’. The session acted as an introduction to Autism and allowed the children to discuss what they already knew about it. As someone on the Autistic Spectrum myself, having Asperger’s Syndrome, I shared some of my experiences and talked about what it was like for me in my school years. It gave the children a unique opportunity to learn about the Spectrum from a personal perspective.
Week 4: The Skylark’s War
As the Year 6 team continued to read this book, they also explored war poems written by those who fought during the First World War. This week, they continued to write as Clarry and Rupert, writing about their experiences and feelings during this hard time. One of the children submitted an amazing poem, which bought a tear to my eye. It’s powerful as well as emotional.
‘In the Key of Code’ – Week 4
Our AI drawings were all pretty similar, despite us not discussing what we thought AI was beforehand. We all thought of it as computers or robots that are watching us and gathering information. We then had a vibrant discussion about social media algorithms and their pros/cons. The last part of our session was spent debating whether robots make good companions (especially for older people). The consensus was that they were a good thing, but that they would need to be upgraded regularly to make them more invulnerable to hacking. This was because we didn’t want them to end up as a negative influence on people’s lives. We also suggested that it would be great if the robots could detect changes in elderly peoples’ heart rates etc, as they could get medical help early and possibly save their lives. Now we have finished ‘In the Key of Code’, we cannot wait to start our new book after half term!
‘In the Key of Code’ – Week 3
Today, we decided to write fairy tales for Emmy’s Mum and Dad. We are all really proud of them, as we collaborated to plan and produce some great stories using the character fairy tales in the book as inspiration. Once we had written them, we shared our stories with the other group. We are so close to the end of the book now and can’t wait to complete it next week!
‘In the Key of Code’ – Week 2
Good news – Emmy’s emotions graph is looking MUCH better now we have progressed further with the book. We had a great discussion about gender roles today and the origins of people’s ideas about gender stereotyping. We also addressed our questions and ideas about the book so far. Finally, we did some excellent choral reading of Orchestra 1 & 2 and read a few more pages of the book together as well.