Some (Further) Academic Context

Now that your projects have matured a little further, it is constructive to read and think a little more in depth about the relationship between your practice and academic theory relating to pedagogy. Here I have highlighted three themes which seem significant in your projects:

Literacy & Learning Outside the Classroom

‘Eloise’s news January 28th

Our babby brother jams Michel

was born on crismas day

and i wrote about it in my news

but all my teacher did

was put in capitals and full stops

and corect my spelling.’

(Sedwick, 2012, p9)

Many of you are interested in the obvious literacy aspect afforded by the setting, as well as the opportunity for children to be immersed in a learning environment outside of the classroom. In difference to the excerpt above, being outside of the classroom, or more traditional educational institutions with their rules and practices, can afford learners and teachers the space to do something different; to value something different. There are many texts and articles written on this subject, and some of the following may help you to consider this element of your project with more depth:

  • Sedgwick, F. 2012, Learning outside the primary classroom, Routledge, London- available in e-book format from the library
  • Waite, S. 2011, Children learning outside the classroom: from birth to eleven, SAGE, Thousand Oaks, CA;London;.
  • Qualters, D.M. 2010, Experiential education: making the most of learning outside the classroom, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, Calif.
  • Sobel, David. 2013  Place-Based Education: Connecting Classrooms and Communities.
    2nd ed. Orion Nature Literacy Series. Orion, Great Barrington,
  • Tzibazi, V. 2014, “Primary schoolchildren’s experiences of participatory theatre in a heritage site”, Education 3-13, vol. 42, no. 5, pp. 498-516.

Games in Education – Games-Based Learning/Play-Based Learning

For a number of you, you are introducing a game/play element to your project. For example, treasure hunts and quizzes. Whilst this is evidently an area in which you were immediately interested, and intuitively felt linked to an effective educational experience it is good to delve into this a pedagogical area with a bit more depth. Games and play in learning can be very effective, but they can also be superficial and ineffective. Here are some readings and a video case study to support your understanding of this area:

  • Fevre, D. (2012) Best New Games
  • Gee, J.P.  (2014) What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy by James Paul Gee
  • McGonigal, J. (2011) Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change The World
  • Salen, K. and Zimmerman, E. (2003) Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals
  • Whitton, N. and Moseley, A (2012) Using games to enhance learning and teaching: a beginners guide

Critical Pedagogy

A number of you are considering aspects of gender, socio-economic status and ethnicity in relation to literary education. In thinking about these aspects you are linking in with the theoretical area of critical pedagogy, which seeks to disrupt discriminate domination and homogeneity in education. For example, by creating education which opposes the oppression of women in society. Some of the following academic articles may help you to deepen your understanding and practice in this area:

  • Ghose, M. 2002, “Literacy, Power and Feminism”, Economic and Political Weekly, vol. 37, no. 17, pp. 1615-1620.
  • Mace, J. 1983, “Women Talking: Feminism and Adult Literacy Work”, Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies, vol. 7, no. 1, pp. 38-43.
  • Freire, P. 1996, Pedagogy of the oppressed, New rev. edn, Penguin, London.
  • Flynn, J. 2012, “Critical Pedagogy with the Oppressed and the Oppressors: Middle School Students Discuss Racism and White Privilege”, Middle Grades Research Journal, vol. 7, no. 2, pp. 95.
  • Makin, L. & Jones-Diaz, C. 2002, Literacies in early childhood: changing views, challenging practice, MacLennan & Petty, London;Sydney;.
  • Rie, S., Steensel, R.C.M. & Gelderen, A.J.S. 2017, “Implementation quality of family literacy programmes: a review of literature”, Review of Education, vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 91-118.
  • Anderson, J., Anderson, A. & Sadiq, A. 2017;2016;, “Family literacy programmes and young children’s language and literacy development: paying attention to families’ home language”, Early Child Development and Care, vol. 187, no. 3-4, pp. 644-654.
  • Hill, S. & Diamond, A. 2013, “Family literacy in response to local contexts”, Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, The, vol. 36, no. 1, pp. 48-55.

Task: Integrating Reading

Produce at least one blog post which responds to something from the texts shared above. Refer to the previous blog post for guidance on the way you should approach your reading – and remember; we’re not interested in what the paper says, we’re interested in the way you put it to work (how does it help you think about the things you’re doing in your project)


Half Term Reflections: Letter to my Real Life Hero

  • IMG_1598 In this session we got the chance to work through the proposed workshop materials and discuss how they aligned with the purpose of the activity. It was agreed that the elements of the workshop should work well within the setting of Elizabeth Gaskell’s House and will include:
  • A Treasure Hunt activity around the house in stead of a traditional tour
  • Discussion of clues and quotes from Gaskell’s writing which has relevance to themes of identity and gender today.
  • Exploration of Gaskell’s letters and friendships
  • The creation of a personal keepsake letter/poem/celebration for young people to give to their ‘real life hero’ – friend/inspiration who supports their healthy development of identity

These varied elements, game, trail, discussion of quotes, and creative writing should not only meet the purpose of personal, social, health education (PSHE) needs within secondary schools, but also link to the KS3 English curriculum in working with pupils on our varied literary heritage.

The task now is to make this happen with young people at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House!

Putting workshops together. Resources.

After our experiences today, I have stolen this video from the EdLab clay project which applies to our projects also. Look up the 7 Ps of planning effective workshops.

The Language of Clay

The 7 Ps of planning an effective workshop –

A short video to that shows the considerations taken to produce a meaningful experience. It goes with this worksheet. You may find this helpful, if not, there are other formats.

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Half Term Reflections: Quiz Masters Group

Unfortunately there was no one to test out ideas on in this session, which may be to do with the timing, description, or late promotion, it is hard to tell. However, there was a useful discussion, and useful progression points identified. Mainly it was regarding the need to be prepared for different circumstances, to make sure that there is enough to occupy children depending on their level of motivation and engagement. For example, having a warm up/starter activity planned. See the EdLab resources site for ideas: Also regarding the need to test and prepare the technology to be used, to ensure there is no frustration for learners.

The progression points identified related to practical organisation i.e. planning and sorting out dates,, locations and people in good time, as well as more in depth and meticulous planning for the activity in order to retain a clear focus on the project which was to empower children to construct an direct their own learning, from within a non-classroom learning environment.

Useful Links

Constructivist theories of education

We also considered the element of social constructivism in your project, so it would be worth reading about Vygotsky and how learners can construct learning together through their interactions

In regards to your aim of pupil empowerment in the primary stages this may also be useful:

Reflections on Half Term Activities: The Victorians and Literacy Group

Family Literacy Focused Group

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There was a lot prepared for this activity which was good, and the interactive games, creation and writing activities stimulated active participation from all the children. The freedom of choice over writing at the end was encouraging and positive, and yielded a variety of written works, from cartoons to poems.

In building upon this experience it is important to focus on the purpose of the activity, enjoyment and engagement with literacy activities. The history element is there as part of the setting and inspiration for learning, but there is no need to present dense information on this, rather seek to build on the interactive experiences so that the children feel bursting to write about something.

Useful Links:

Research report on effective and inclusive practices in family literacy

Interesting perspective on history teaching and the need for practical engagement and student creation

Government report on the teaching of history in primary and secondary schools

Key stages 1 and 2 History Curriculum: 

“Pupils should be taught about significant historical events, people and places in their own locality”



First Thoughts – Gaskell House

edlab Project Blog: Kate Hedges


When first  hearing about the edlab project I was excited and a little bit nervous to be involved in a project based education team, as I have never done anything like this before.  I enjoy practical tasks and hands on involvement in things in general. Edlab provides me with the opportunity to do something different while studying for my degree.

I am a Manchester girl and lived in the surrounding area of  Gaskell House but never knew it existed until recently. I have studied Manchester and The City as one of my units and I focused on inspiring women from Manchester from past to present. I am very proud to be working with the historical home of Elizabeth Gaskell and the connotations behind her name and what she stood for has helped society progress in equal rights for women and the working class today. Two subjects very close to my…

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