About time I wrote something about the pilot session that Tim and I did with six Year 6 children at a West London primary school the week before last. I was surprised by how nervous I was feeling beforehand, as was Tim, but on reflection it shouldn’t have been so surprising. The first time we’d worked together, the first time either of us had done this group, and we really wanted it to go well too. The prospect of working together in utilising cartoons to help children was so appealing and promising – we didn’t want this beginning to go wrong, to let the idea, ourselves or the children down. Anxiety is important though, to put one on one’s mettle, and – we think it went well!
We certainly enjoyed it, and learned a lot from it, but more importantly, the school’s learning mentor, who took part in the group (and this was extremely helpful), gave us positive feedback about it (“I felt that the group was very enjoyable for the children (and me!), I noticed that they were all incredibly focused and supportive of one another”), and, even more importantly than that, she spoke to the children the following week and they were positive about it:
“it helped him to ‘be better’”
“she also enjoyed doing something ‘all together’”
“the group was fun”
“he found the group really good, (it) gave him a better imagination”
“he also enjoyed the teamwork”
To give a small flavour of what we did, this is what the children called (in their feedback) the guessing game, which took place near the start. Tim showed them how you could draw something recognisable very simply, line by line. He drew first a vertical line, and invited the children to guess who it was. Then a short line at an angle from the top of the vertical line. Guess again? Then another line at an angle. Guess. And so on. As he kept drawing small lines across the paper, one group member got it – Bart Simpson! (Try it yourselves). So, we then got the children in pairs, and one had to draw the other doing something they were good at, line by line, while the rest of the group had to guess what it was. And the more mistaken guesses the better, because then the subject of the drawing heard more and more things that the others thought she or he was good at!
So what next – to take what we learned from this pilot two-hour session and turn it into a programme, which we are currently planning to be of six one-hour sessions, probably weekly, ie over a half-term. Once again, watch this space!