BIS Book Week Boosts Reading and Writing
What better way to start the week than catch glimpses of Harry Potter, Macbeth’s witches and Rainbow Magic fairies strolling down the lush green fields of BIS? There was magic everywhere. With Wes Magee in the premises and a book in hand, all these students had to do was wave their wand, or should I say their pen?
This is certainly not the first book week celebrated at the British International School, Jakarta. But what makes this week unique is visiting author Wes Magee. Inspiring very young pupils from Year 1 all the way up to students in Year 12, Wes Magee certainly found ways to increase their appetite for poetry.
In a Year 8 workshop, Wes Magee set a mysterious atmosphere by reading one of his famous poems, “House on a Hill”. After the last line echoed within the four corners of Raffles, prolonged and hollow voices followed with “wooooooo”. That was not all. It ended with an eerie tone from a piano’s note. Students were enthusiastic to be a part of Wes Magee’s directions.
“Clever horror, not silly horror,” is what Wes Magee suggested, “to haunt your days and nights.” The audience’s laughter broke the temporary silence. The audience comprised about 80 to 100 teachers and students.
He then continued with a sad poem “Tracey’s Tree” which is based on Wes’ own experience when he was a teacher. As he read the poem, sadness filled the air. Some students were teary-eyed and every single one, sad-faced.
Perhaps intending to lighten up the mood, Wes Magee recited the “Boneyard Rap” and shortly afterwards students became familiar with its rhythmic form. Fingers snapping and clicking and feet tapping resonated not just synchronically, but also symphonically.
Students were fortunate enough to ask questions about writing and publishing pieces. When a student asked what he liked about writing poems, Wes Magee replied: “it’s a variety, a great long story.” Another all-time question was “Where do you get your ideas from?” Wes effortlessly generated new ideas in the venue and advised students to “look around”. He said, “Even in this room, what do you see? Do you see an EXIT sign?” Grinning, he pointed to the iridescent sign and continued, “I see a tiny creature living in that box”. Out of nowhere came the sound of a croaking cricket. Students and teachers burst into laughter.
English teachers then led their students to their classes in order to apply what they had learnt from the first part of the session. Students had Wes Magee and their teachers to read their work-in-progress. Twenty minutes before the session ended, they shared their first or so drafts. Students listened to their peers with all ears and applauded them for their poetic side.
Throughout Years 1 to 12, Wes Magee read various poems, building the same atmosphere that inspired students to write. Many used shape poems, some even illustrated their work. Some worked in isolation, while others were in collaboration. Whatever the outcome, the journey for these students truly was a splendid one, as seen in their calm and contented countenance whilst listening to and writing poems.
To maintain progression and sustainability, students will redraft their work and take part in a whole school project which will involve collating pieces to a book and selling books for charitable purposes.
Meanwhile, throughout the week, students, parents and staff carried with them their favourite books and when an announcement from Dr Barkei, Principal of BIS, echoed, they would DEAR – drop everything and read. Whether in Maths, Science, ICT or Business, students who were absorbed with events that took place in their favourite book adhered to DEAR times. The philosophy behind DEAR centres around the question: “how many students will always have with them something to read?”
To further expose children to reading, a workshop for parents: “Reading is Thinking” was conducted by Assistant English Faculty Head Joanna Shepley-Clark and English/EAL teacher Katherine Davidsen. Parents who attended enjoyed the experience becoming a student once again. They were given the opportunity to interpret the poem “The Sea” by R. S. Thomas and discuss with their ‘peer’ the effects the poem had on them.
Parents then understood the need for encouraging their children to engage with the text. Joanna Shepley-Clarke highlighted this point, further elaborating, “Reading is not just understanding the meaning of words; it is understanding text in connection to the world, to the self, and to other literature.” She further emphasised the importance of questioning and how this skill opens doors to deeper learning.
Parents further showed their dedication to fostering the love for reading during volunteer reading sessions at the Year 6 Pod. Promoting International-mindedness, these parents read books in French and Chinese, and shared literature from Mexico, South Africa and Australia. Students were engrossed with the stories and were amazed at the themes and plot.
Books do not only come in texts; they also have captivating pictures! The school is honoured to have had world-renowned photographer Riza Marlon to share with us Indonesia’s natural beauty. Book signing took place on Friday, March 09, and those who have seen his work have said “it’s a must-have”.
The exciting week ended with reading time with Dr Barkei. Students were fully immersed as they listened to their Principal reading his favourite book, “Kim” by Rudyard Kipling, a book first published in 1901. “I don’t know how many times I’ve read this book,” said Dr Barkei, “perhaps hundreds of times”. He then concluded with how through reading he enjoyed the atmosphere of India.
Reading and writing at BIS is indeed boosted in Book Week. But reading and writing is consistently reinforced and celebrated throughout the year. From September 2011 till date, books and other reading materials have been borrowed 41,887 times from BIS libraries!
Highlights of BIS Book Week:
Monday: House points quiz – guess the teacher behind his/her favourite book; Y1, FS, Y6, Y12 Workshop with Wes Magee; Photo Exhibition/Photos by Riza Marlon; DEAR; Book Fair
Tuesday: House points quiz – guess the teacher behind his/her favourite book; Y3, Y7, Y10 Workshop with Wes Magee; Photo Exhibition/Photos by Riza Marlon; DEAR; Book Fair; Reading is Thinking workshop for Secondary parents; Teacher workshop with Wes Magee
Wednesday: House points quiz – guess the teacher behind his/her favourite book; Y2 & Y5 Workshop with Wes Magee; Photo Exhibition/Photos by Riza Marlon; DEAR; Book Fair; Year 6 & & Buddy Reading; Wes Magee Book Signing; Whole School Assembly: Guess scenes from a book; Parent education by Wes Magee
Thursday: House points quiz – guess the teacher behind his/her favourite book; Y4, Y8 & Y9 Workshop with Wes Magee; Photo Exhibition/Photos by Riza Marlon; DEAR; Book Fair; Reading in Tutor Time
Friday: House points quiz – guess the teacher behind his/her favourite book; Photo Exhibition/Photos by Riza Marlon; Riza Marlon Book Signing; DEAR; Book Fair; Key Stage 3 reading with Dr Barkei; Book Bag competition award