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Creative Writing through the Arts: Blog

Music Inspiration Day September 2017


Session led by Beth Higham-Edwards, a percussionist for the ROH, where each of us were invited to join in practical demonstrations, with a view to take back to school and share and use. Immediately I saw the value and could visualise using the games and strategies with my own class. It was only a few days into term and knew that my class needed some fun and energy - this was perfect. The games and techniques were easy to follow but felt technical enough to give them weight and make us feel expert.


I planned the games into a variety of lessons - PE, Maths as well as English - as warm ups, brain breaks and rewards. I even used a music game in a whole school assembly!


Selecting Pupils September 2017


Useful time to consider who and why certain children would be selected. I focussed on Disadvantaged groups (pupil premium) but also considered Free School Meals recipients, SEND, GRT and summer born pupils. From the nine I chose, only one did not return the permission paperwork and that slot was easily filled. There will not be any additional assessment for these children as the focus group echoes the SDP. All pupils will benefit from the input through the CPD (I'll receive) and through the literal inspiration and planning ideas derived from it.


Pupil Voice visit October 2017


Unfortunately due to timetabling for school assessments, Malika's visit was not as I'd expected (nor she) however she and I were able to find plenty of examples of more formal exchanges between pupils and staff. I pride myself on good quality marking, feedback and assessment - and the children's books were a rich source of communication. I had recently begun to reuse a method of a numberline to gauge confidence, which has been highly effective.


1:1 Music session November 2017


Beth and Sarah, came on a cold Monday morning. I had asked Beth to lead the warm ups and begin the listening sessions. I chose 'The Death of Tybalt' by Prokofiev to listen to and derive vocabulary and informal story formation. We compared it to 'The Rumble' from Westside Story by Bernstein, which is a direct echo of storyline from Romeo and Juliet. Interestingly most of the children preferred the Prokofiev and not the more modern piece.

Every pupil was able to and enjoyed composing their own pieces, using a choice of percussion instruments. This was an eye-opener. Children who I had anticipated finding this activity challenging did not - it was amazing! Each group organised themselves, with conductors and leaders, chose the tempo and the range of sounds they made. It also gave me a sneaky opportunity to audit the instruments.


Twilight November 2017


Good to share experiences and take new ideas that the other teachers had used so far. We were asked to consider the impact so far on ourselves, as teachers; the pupils and our schools. I found this really useful - it seems to be having a great deal of effect on me.


Art Inspiration Day January 11th 2018


Spent the day in a brand new location - certainly one I (ashamedly) did not know existed - Metal , in Chalkwell Park. We had an outline of the centre's role and projects, which was an eye-opener. Events that I had heard of such as Village Green, are just one of the projects they organise.

We met Meera, who led some quick activities, making and collaborating with the other teachers. It was good to share ideas and how the activities might be used with a range of subjects and year groups.

The next set of writing assessments were handed in too - it is hard to clearly define a direct correlation between the progress in writing and the CWttA projects - but as some of us talked about it has been part of the 'inspiration' and not the only stimulus.


Meera Chauda school visit February 6th 2018


My class met Meera and we worked through the steps to create a room, as demonstrated on the inspiration day. Meera and I had thrashed out the basic idea via email. To match our theme Brilliant Minds, I gave each pair of pupils an important thinker - from Greek philosophers to contemporary scientists. Using the first letter of their name the children formed simple questions and then had to answer them with the same first letter E.g. Socrates was asked 'What is your favourite colour?' and the answer could be scarlet or sapphire blue. The children then decorated a card room with objects and images, made from selected collage material to match the answers. The children were very keen to complete the activity. We ran out of time to ask her questions about her career, so Meera agreed for us to send some questions via email. Our next step is share the task with a partner class.

February 19th  Malika drop-in


Malika came to informally observe my class. Her remit to look for evidence of pupil voice. She happened to come on the first day of a new writing unit: we watched Alma, a short animation from Literacy Shed. The class responded well and had lots of comments, observations and questions. She also asked me about the Six Thinking Hats display, which is a strategy by Edward De Bono, for problem solving - giving six view points or methods to tackle a problem. 


February 21st RSA Network Champions @ British Library


Ideas for a network of schools, arts projects and other providers.


February 22nd CWttA Twilight peer support


What a week! So busy, so a yummy pastry and hot cup of tea was very welcome. It was nice to catch up and share what we'd used from the inspiration day and how the project was being embraced by our respective schools.


March 22nd Meeting with Vicky Wilson from Artsmark


Met to proofread and edit our Statement of Commitment, which was very useful. She was very encouraging and it was a very productive experience. By the end of the meeting, I had a complete document, ready to send to my Headteacher and a Governor to have signed, scanned and sent. Hooray!


March 23rd Planning for writing derived from Meera's visit


Made notes using the 'rooms' the children made to house great thinkers. Our topic being Brilliant Minds, I asked the children to select a famous, influential thinker including Socrates, Darwin and Mary Wollstonecraft.  They had to think of questions and answer in character, using the person's first letter of their name as the basis of their answer, to form an informal interview text.



April 19th 2018   Dance Inspiration Day


On the hottest day of the year so far, we were dancing! Fortunately there was air-conditioning in the dance studio - there were also enormous mirrors, which were overwhelming at first and made everyone stand to the side! However, very quickly, as we are a friendly, supportive bunch, we were bending and twisting like no-one was watching.


Lucy, a contemporary dance specialist, introduced a vast range of types of movement and approaches and structures to dance.


During each section we were challenged to improve and edit our group choreography by adding dynamics and additional actions. We used peer review to support the process. All of which was familiar to us as teachers.


Today's session brought together elements from the music and arts days:

  • Use of music to evoke mood and change the pace of movement - or for our use in school - to change the pace and mood through manipulation of sentence types and structure.
  • Use of images to inspire and prompt physical shapes, which for writing can prompt descriptive language


After the session, I emailed Lucy, to share my ideas for our session scheduled for the 3rd May.

I spoke to Lucy on the phone before the school visit. I explained the outline of my ideas.


Our school were invited to contribute to a local exhibition to commemorate a major flood in Wickford in 1958. So wanted to use Lucy's session to create some photos, from which I hoped we'd make some art. Added too this I wanted to make a story or poem by recycling Lucy's dance vocabulary.


We discussed the form of the session and by the evening she had sent me a lesson plan.


We were both very excited.

3-5-18   Dance session


We welcomed Lucy Blazheva to class 6S, the children were really enthused by the prospect of this session. We have several skilled athletes and dancers, so this was going to be a lot of fun. All of the class knew the purpose of the day and were able to explain and explore the pictures and vocabulary we had generated before the visit.


By the end of the session I had taken nearly 800 photos.


Soon after we began writing a folk tale, based on the events and people we had learned about from researching the flood.



21-6-18  Follow up meeting

Lucy and Lori visited me at NCPS, to chat about our experiences so far and were able to share some topic headings from our curriculum maps, and Lucy was able to suggest ways to incorporate dance.



Local commemorative exhibition of the Wickford 1958 - September 2018

27-6-18 Final Sharing Event & ROH Bridge Conference


As soon as I'd set up, I had lots of interest, in the work I'd taken along.

Went into the conference with eyes wide open. Left with some new ideas and lively images in my head.

  • the arts should not be treated simply as enrichment, but as an entitlement
  • creativity is often a 'soft' skill, used by many occupations, which is vital but hard to measure
  • excellence should be measured subjectively - what is expected from one, may be outstanding for another
  • celebrate the 'now' so as not always look forward
  • discovered: Toby Thompson poet
  • watched: dancers from South East College

29-6-18 As one year ends, another begins.


Received emails with the dates for 2018-2019. Very excited.