World Read Aloud Day 2011

Just had an email from my good friend Ruby Veridiano at LitWorld to bring to my attention World Read Aloud Day on 9 March. Anyone who has attended any of my recent CPD sessions for teachers will be aware of what a fan I am of reading aloud to develop literacy skills, and when allied to such an excellent mission to spread global literacy, everybody wins. I’ll let LitWorld’s press release speak for itself and urge you to do whatever you can to register on the website and get involved.

New York, NY (January 12, 2011) – LitWorld, a Global Literacy Organization, presents World Read Aloud Day, an international celebration that motivates children, teens, and adults worldwide to celebrate the power of words and stories. LitWorld has designated March 9th, 2011, as the official World Read Aloud Day, encouraging participants from all over the world to participate in a global movement to advocate for every child’s right to literacy, safe education, and access to books and technology.

“Education, and literacy especially, are the human rights issues of our time. We all must work as hard as we can to make sure that children have the right to go to school and to learn to read and write so their stories are part of the fabric of the world as we know it,” says Pam Allyn, Executive Director of LitWorld.

With nearly 1 billion people entering the 21st century unable to read a book or sign their name, LitWorld believes that literacy is an imperative tool for survival. World Read Aloud Day brings awareness to the fact that millions of people all over the world could be lifted out of poverty if given the ability to read and write. It is a day where people all over the world can take part in the movement for global literacy.

Though LitWorld is based in New York City, participants of World Read Aloud Day do not need to be in the same city to take part in the occasion. World Read Aloud Day is a series of events and happenings across the world that will occur both online and in person, allowing for multiple ways to participate. Whether you are a teacher, student, blogger, or simply an avid reader, one can join in on this day by hosting a World Read Aloud Day event, or by taking the time to read aloud to a classroom or a single person. Participants are encouraged to use social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter to show their support, and linking their posts to LitWorld’s social media accounts and website, and to ask yourselves and others the question: What would you miss most if you could not read or write?

LitWorld’s global platform has created an imperative need for technology and social media to execute the organization’s work in connecting with partners, educators, and students all over the world, and the World Read Aloud Day event further encourages the use of these tools to take part. LitWorld will be recruiting World Read Aloud Day ambassadors and participants from different parts of the world, and has so far gathered a national ambassador list that spans from San Francisco to Chicago to Vermont. Prospective ambassadors are encouraged to visit the LitWorld website to view ideas on how to host a World Read Aloud Day event.


Hogmanay – A Poem for Burns Day

Interrupting the Highland tour to bring you a flavour of Burns’ Day. I was annotating some Burns poems for the BBC Bitesize website over the Christmas and New Year holiday, and thinking about a guest blogpost I had been asked to write for their Learning Blog. Hogmanay was a still, quietly eerie day in Alloway when I went for a walk, following parts of Tam O’Shanter’s famous and fateful ride, and the most bizarre thing happened. I decided to tell it in verse, given what was going round in my head at the time. So here it is, with apologies to Rabbie!


As I walked out on Hogmanay, towards the kirk at Alloway,

I heard a fracas in the dell, ahint the wa’ in old Rozelle.

A rustlin’ sound amang the trees, came driftin’ o’er in the breeze,

And turnin’ round with dreadfu’ fright, wow I saw an unco sight.

A Boxer dug, big, grim and broad, stood in the middle o’ the road,

And through the eerie silence bode an eldritch voice, crying ‘Oh my God!’

The dug it stood like ane transfixed, afore decidin’ what came next,

When sudden fae its dwam was jolted, off up the road the creature bolted.

Some ancient prehistoric de’ils, put life and mettle in its heels.

Read the rest of the poem here.

Or if you prefer to listen click on the title below!


Discovering the Western Isles

The Literacy Adviser is currently on tour to Skye, Lewis and Shetland with the Discovery Film Festival road show. We are screening some fantastic short films from around the world for young audiences, as well as public screenings for all ages, and tailored CPD sessions for primary and secondary teachers at each of the venues. The venture is aimed at raising awareness of the range of short films  available (emphasis on SHORT which is the key to using films successfully),  and demonstrating the ways in which film texts can be used in the classroom to develop literacy skills using a medium which is familiar and engaging. On a slightly different but related note, plans are well under way to include moving image texts in the Scottish Survey of Literacy and Numeracy from 2012. I have been working with the assessment team at SQA and a great bunch of highly committed teachers on that front and I hope to be blogging about it very soon. Watch this space!

Multiple Intelligence Re-Visited

One of my favourite modern-day educational thinkers is Howard Gardner, whose Theory of Multiple Intelligences changed the approach of many teachers in the last decade or so of the twentieth century. The notion that instead of asking ‘how smart are you?’ we should be asking ‘how are you smart?’ arrived, for me, like a bolt of lightning, simultaneously lighting up the way forward for learning, teaching, schools and education, and blowing away the myth that the only way to learn was by reading from a book or listening to an expert, and that the only way to prove your learning was through a written test.

Gardner’s reputation suffered somewhat when a minority of over-zealous teachers misunderstood what he was advocating, started labelling children according to their ‘preferred learning style’ (sometimes putting them in long-term groups with like-minded children) and trying to cater for the various learning styles simultaneously in every lesson, thereby driving themselves, and presumably the young people, to distraction. What Gardner was actually suggesting was that teachers take into account the fact that learners are individuals, and that learning is more effective when the differences between individuals are taken into account, rather than denied. Nor was he suggesting that it is possible for an individual to learn in only one way. Here he is, in his own words, from Intelligence Reframed – Multiple Intelligences for the 21st Century, published in 1999:-

“…..whether or not staff members have ever heard of MI theory, I would happily send my children to a school that takes differences among children seriously, that shares knowledge about differences with children and parents, that encourages children to assume responsibility for their own learning, and that presents materials in such a way that each child has the maximum opportunity to master those materials and to show others and themselves what they have learned and understood.”

Fortunately, Edutopia have recently revisited their 1997 interview with the Harvard University professor, along with a full transcript of the talk. Recommended professional development for all teachers, new or otherwise

2010 Reviewed

The stats helper monkeys at mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

About 3 million people visit the Taj Mahal every year. This blog was viewed about 29,000 times in 2010. If it were the Taj Mahal, it would take about 4 days for that many people to see it.

In 2010, there were 32 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 107 posts. There were 158 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 981mb. That’s about 3 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was May 17th with 293 views. The most popular post that day was Sticking to the Plot.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were,,,, and

Some visitors came searching, mostly for romeo and juliet, romeo and juliet pictures, back to the future, lord of the rings, and jaws.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


Sticking to the Plot October 2009


Picture Books, Comics and Graphic Novels September 2009


Fiction 10-14 September 2009


To the Immortal Memory of Robert Burns January 2009


Immortal Memory Robert Burns January 2009