Alice’s School Report – Making Great Progress

Regular readers of the blog will know that I am a huge fan of Inanimate Alice, the online digital novel which looks to me, and an increasing number of teachers across the world, like it begins to define the future of reading for young people in a transmedia world. The power of Alice as a learning context for teachers and students is only beginning to be felt but for those who already ‘get it’ the benefits have been enormous, not only in terms of student engagement with the narrative as a quality story, but more especially with their immediate, spontaneous and almost universal desire to write their own versions, episodes and storylines using whatever tools they have available to them, even if that only amounts to pencils and paper. If you have any responsibility for teaching literacy, imagine a text so powerful that your students, including the most difficult to motivate, are demanding to write! Laura Fleming, a library media specialist from River Edge, New Jersey, who is responsible for Alice’s School Reports and the Inanimate Alice Facebook page, sums it up well:

“As students are interacting with the story, they are active participants in telling the story. They fully understand what it is like to walk in the character’s shoes. In using this digital novel I have never seen them more engaged in text.”

A new feature on the IA website is Alice’s School Report. The second issue has an interview with the series’ artist Chris Joseph and features the work of English teacher Nancy Boag and her second year students at Ayr Academy in South Ayrshire, Scotland. Read too about how, for one secondary teacher, using IA has not only transformed his classroom but his whole approach to learning and teaching – Just Trying to be Better than Yesterday.

Megan decided to set Episode 5 in Glasgow.

To see some more of her classmates’ stories click here.


The Lewis Chessmen

Storm clouds roll in across Lerwick Harbour

This time last week I was in Shetland on the final leg of the Discovery Film Festival Road Show, presenting a CPD session on Moving Image Education with a number of local teachers, and preparing to brace myself against the hurricane-force winds which were about to batter the islands later that night. The weather was so severe in fact that a number of children who were due to come from the neighbouring Bressay to our screening of The Secret of Kells on Friday morning were unable to come when their small ferry was cancelled.

Some of the famous Lewis Chessmen

Despite the weather we had a great time, and I also took the opportunity to have a look around the Lewis Chessmen Unmasked exhibition which is currently in the Shetland Museum until the end of March when, appropriately, it moves on to Stornoway on Lewis.  One of the most significant and iconic archaological finds ever in Scotland, the beautifully crafted chess pieces were carved from walrus tusks and whale teeth, probably in or around Trondheim in Norway in the 12th Century. How they came to be lost and subsequently re-found on the west coast of Lewis, and what has happened to them since, is as good a real-life detective story as you will find anywhere. The Lewis Chessmen Unmasked website is also beautifully crafted and has loads of great activities for children and teachers. Go there and immerse yourself in the story now.

Read more from me on The Lewis Chessmen here.

Watch a trailer for the beautiful animation The Secret of Kells and find some excellent classroom activities here.

You can buy a replica set of the Lewis Chessman here.