SCBA: What did Elgin Academy get up to?

Students at Elgin Academy

Throughout the SCBA process we really enjoyed hearing from all the teachers, librarians and readers. Shelagh Toonen, librarian at Elgin Academy in Moray recently sent word of her Older Readers (12-16 years) group and all their wonderful work that they have completed around the shortlisted books. Shelagh's group read the shortlisted titles, Darkspell, Mosi's War and The Wall. They loved discussing topics such as magic, refugees and divided cities. We are delighted to share some of their experinces and photographs below.

Shelagh explains:

Elgin Academy took to the Scottish Book Awards with enthusiasm and glee. Almost a whole English class chose to be involved in a new and innovative project devised by myself and English teacher, Joanne Havinden. The pupils commited themselves to reading all three books in their own time and attended weekly after-school sessions in the library, as well as completing a wide variety of tasks in their classroom.

Library sessions included:

  • Discussion of the artwork, first lines, initial impressions, themes, quizzes, issues arising from the novels.
  • After-school meetings to participate in more in-depth discussion time. They talked about the characters, the setting, the plot and discussed how they relate to the ideas in the novels and which characters they identify with.
  • Building a wall in our library - inspired by The Wall! We also researched the topic of divided cities and divided nations and created our own political slogans.  

Their discussion has been fluid and personal and topic discussion has been driven by them. It is lovely to see that they have had great ownership of this project.

  • We researched many different themes found in the novels; propaganda, political slogans, world politics, sexism, divided cities and war.
  • Each pupil chose a style of discursive, persuasive or informative writing and produced a piece inspired by what they read. We have essays on the role of women in society, on immigration, on political structures and on the way vulnerable children are dealt with by society. These topics have been chosen and researched entirely by the pupils.
  • In relation to Dark Spell, we learnt magic tricks and looked at the importance of magic in literature and in society. 

We've watched their brains get bigger and their horizons grow in the last few months. It's been startling and wonderful.

  • In relation to Mosi's War, we produced artwork about the local area from the perspective of an incomer or refugee. How would they see our cathedral? Our forests? Our shores?   
  • The older readers also became teachers to a first year class and educated them about all of the things they've discovered and discussed throughout the process. 

After Christmas, the class divided into smaller groups and each group produced a book trailer for the book they most enjoyed. They were able to use skills from their film studies class and consolidated all they learnt in a really practical way. They were really excited about this bit and displayed some really wonderdul creativity!

On Wednesday 28 January, the group met Joel, our visitor from Malawi and a member of the The Scottish Refugee Council. Joel spoke about what it's like to be a refugee, what refugee status means and told them about some of the barriers he faced when moving to Scotland. The class heard first-hand why someone flees their country and why they have to seek asylum. Joel also spoke about his journey to Scotland and the pupils asked lots of questions. In return, the readers spoke about the themes within Mosi's War and our guest was very impressed and interested in the book! We have really enjoyed this year's experince and we're looking forward to attending the Scottish Children's Book Awards ceremony and meeting other reading groups on Wednesday 4 March!


That's some really wonderful work, Elgin Academy team! You can see more of their photos in the image gallery below.

Well, SCBA 2015 is nearly wrapped up; the voting deadline has passed, votes have been collated and the winners will be announced shortly. Stay tuned as our next blog will outline coverage of the SCBA ceremony that takes place on Wednesday 4 March.