Children’s Literature: Summer CPD

CPD doesn’t have to be in the form of attending a course; professional learning as a process comes in many guises. It could be something as simple as joining in a twitter chat, attending a book festival, watching a Youtube tutorial or reading a book for pleasure!

I am well aware that ‘Summer CPD’ is a topic that causes huge debate among the education community. I am also aware that, after an exhausting term, CPD may be the last thing that many teachers want to think about. And that’s OK. We all 100% deserve and need our holidays (especially after the year we’ve had!) but personally I’ve always felt that there’s plenty of time for rest, recuperation and squeezing in a bit of time for CPD.

My MA Children’s Literature course has taken a back seat in recent weeks due to COVID-19 but now that Summer holidays are drawing ever-closer, it’s time to hit the reset button and refocus my energy on my own learning goals. I am keen to make up for lost time and take advantage of some of the amazing CPD opportunities out there right now. Personally, I am interested in deepening my knowledge of children’s literature, as well as reading and writing for pleasure. So here’s just a few CPD events and ideas that I have my eye on this Summer…

1. Exploring Books for Children, Words and Pictures (Open University): Firstly, if you enjoy ‘learning through enquiry’ then you may like to try this excellent Open University course. This free online course comprises of 8-hours of independent study that you can work around your own schedule and complete from the comfort of your sofa. All you need to do is create an account and sign in; You can even download it to your Kindle. This OU course is extremely user friendly and encourages you to think deeply about illustrations and images as well as text. It prompts discussion, analysis and allows you to type your own responses as you go along. It’s modular too, broken down into 8 easily digestible chunks that you can dip in and out of whenever it suits you. Full of short, snappy activities and interesting insights, it’s something that you can complete in your own time as quickly – or slowly – as you’d like! I’m half way through and I can highly recommend it for those interested in Children’s Lit.

2. Exploring Children’s Literature Summer School with Nikki Gamble: If you prefer the idea of a live interaction and a steady routine, this 6-part webinar series (each 1-hour) has been devised to extend ideas introduced in Exploring Children’s Literature by Nikki Gamble, to provide space for discussion and dialogue and to consider how knowledge and understanding of children’s books can enrich our own lives as well as the lives of the young people we work with. The webinars will be presented by Nikki herself, along with a whole host of expert guests throughout. Weekly live sessions are on Tuesdays at 11am or 7pm (you can choose the time that suits you best when you book) and the first session is on the 21st July. It’s great value for money at £60 (students £40).

3. Read Examples of Practice: There are two brilliant websites for exploring examples of practice that are steeped in research and are proven to have a positive impact on children’s learning. If you are interested in developing your teaching of reading, look at the OU’s Reading for Pleasure website and explore the many valuable CPD videos, classroom strategies and examples of successful classroom practice. Likewise, if you are interested in developing your teaching of writing, take a look at the Writing for Pleasure Centre. There’s plenty to encourage you to reflect on your own strategies in school and how you might improve them next year. Both of these websites are treasure troves of ideas and inspiration!

4. Watch a Youtube Video about Exploring Pictures in Picturebooks: Mat Tobin recently hosted a webinar exploring pictures in picturebooks but sadly I missed it. Thankfully, he shared a link to the webinar video and an accompanying blog post. The video is 1 hour 10 minutes long and it’s based around the incredible work of Molly Bang, Maurice Sendak and Jane Doonan (I have since ordered my own copy of Picture This, How Pictures Work!). A Handout is also available at the end of the blog as well as an extensive reference list… This amazing content is definitely worth a watch!

5. Join in the discussions on Social Media: We could all do with a little time away from social media over Summer but Twitter is my one exception! I find it to be an amazing platform for sharing ideas and book recommendations. Surround yourself with a fantastic, supportive, knowledgeable teacher-twitter community and start joining in with the twitter chat. You’ll soon build invaluable relationships and a network of edutweeters you can learn from! Try joining in with some dedicated twitter chats such as #OURfPBookBlether on Tuesday evenings 8-9pm to discuss how to foster a reading for pleasure pedagogy or try the #writingrocks chats, which usually centre around an inspiring text (most recently Douglas Kaufman’s Living a Literate Life, Revisited). Follow the hashtag and one question is posted every 15 minutes that people can respond to. These insightful twitter chats can be fast-paced but they are worth it!

Don’t forget that reading and writing for pleasure can also be a form of professional learning too! Perhaps set yourself a goal to spend a certain amount of time reading children’s literature (my personal goal is a book a week) or try writing something of your own! If you can, take a trip to your local library and strike up a conversation with the librarian… you’ll be surprised by how much they know! Perhaps there’s an upcoming literary festival, author event or museum you might like to visit? The British Library has been doing some incredible stuff around children’s books lately! The opportunities are endless – and often they are FREE.

As a primary teacher and English specialist, I am always on the lookout for new experiences, new opportunities and new ideas to take back to the classroom so please feel free to add any other CPD ideas and opportunities in the comments below.

Miss P x

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