This will be a project leading to the publication of a book created collaboratively by all learners in Year 4(2015 – 2016) attending St Margaret College.
St. Margaret College is one of the ten State Colleges which is situated in the Southern Harbour Region, ie. Cospicua, Senglea, Vittoriosa, Kalkara, Xghajra and Zabbar. It embraces ten schools: seven Primary schools (Zabbar being a large village has an Early Years school and a separate Junior School both having a population of circ. 500 pupils); 2 Secondary schools (Cospicua Middle School and Verdala Boys’ Secondary, which in two years time will be the College Senior Secondary School); and the Fortini Learning Support Centre. These ten schools altogether welcome over 3000 students.
Since St Margaret College is situated in a high risk poverty area, one of the key action plans that this College has embarked upon, through various projects, is to strenghten literacy skills in pupils but with a focus on nurturing and enhancing pupils’ creative aptitude and potential. In addition, the College believes that pupils will learn better and will have a more meaningful learning experience if they are the authors of their own learning. This also puts the College mission in line with the educational system in achieving one of the broad goals emphasised in The Framework for the Education Strategy for Malta 2014-2024, and in our opinion, the main and crucial one, that of:
“Reduce the gaps in educational outcomes between boys and girls and between students attending different schools, decrease the number of low achievers and raise the bar in literacy, numeracy, and science and technology competence, and increase student achievement.”
This will be a project leading to the publication of a book created collaboratively by all learners in Year 4 (2015 – 2016) attending St Margaret College. Through the production of an original story in the Maltese language the “focus” becomes “the learners’ acquisition of and ability to apply the skills and concepts they have learnt to complete realistic tasks appropriate for their stage of development” (National Literacy Strategy For All: 2014 -2019, pg. 28). In this case, the focus will be on developing the learners’ aptitudes towards Arts (Literature and Illustration) and Media (Publication of Written and Printed Work). To this end, an expert in writing (i.e. a famous author/ illustrator) and an expert in publishing (i.e. an established publisher) of children’s books will walk the learners through the process of writing: from the generation of ideas, to drafting, to revision of draft, to editing and publishing.
Learners will then be given the opportunity to put the skills learnt into practice under the guidance of their class teachers and with the support of the College Literacy Team. All teachers will be the mediators of the writing process as they will help learners to make the necessary links with the work done by the other classes. Team work and collaboration are key elements to the success of this project as learners need to use their productive and receptive language skills effectively (i) to be able to read and understand work done by other learners; (ii) and to negotiate with their team-mates the content and structure of the written work to be produced (iii) project their ideas in writing; (iv) contribute effectively to the flow of the story. This collaboration will help them appreciate and learn from each others’ work and contributions. Moreover, it will provide all learners with the opportunity to apply all language skills towards a common goal.
Throughout this project all learners involved will be given the opportunity to (i) explore different genres of writing that can be adopted to contribute to the flow of the story; (ii) learn how to create drawings / illustrations to visually depict key elements in their story; (iii) and learn how to display their work according to publishing parameters.
During the process, first group/class of pupils will decide upon which characters will be included in their story; what kind of characters (cheerful, adventurous, mischievous, etc.); the time and setting; and so on. Then from one classroom to the other and from one school to the next, pupils build their story like a jigsaw puzzle but at the end it will be one whole, coherent and delightful piece of work.
In fact this project originated from a pilot project which the Literacy Team carried out with the Year 3 pupils during the scholastic year 2013 - 2014 and was developed on the same lines but the English language was used and it was an experiment/experience without the aide of an author or a publisher. Pupils were given the opportunity to generate ideas for characters and plotted the story, which they then developed into a Big Book with the support of their teachers and the Literacy Team. This innovative project served as a spark for pupils and teachers to evolve this idea more professionally. The enjoyment that it created among these pupils and their constant request to repeat this experience led our College to embark on this project and therefore this proposal came to life.
The school also did a blog about the project. https://storjakatina.wordpress.com