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The Oakwood Academy Student Teacher Book Swap

On the 13th October our Teaching and Learning Ambassadors took part in a pilot scheme. Each of the ambassadors has the task of choosing their favourite book. In turn, one of their tutors did the same and swapped over.

This scheme is much more than just a book swap. The idea behind it is to develop the leadership and soft skills of our ambassadors and also for it to be an example to others in our school. By swapping their books and reading something that someone they trust has given them they are:

  • Learning how to keep an open mind. The book they are given may not be their first choice; it may be in a style of writing that they are not familiar with but it may open new avenues of interest for them. Being able to experience new things with an open and willing mind is an essential skill.
  • Learning how to deal with things that they may not like. Hopefully, everyone will thoroughly enjoy the book they are given, but there is a chance that one or two may not. They have made a commitment, and need to read the book to see the task through to the end. Even if they don’t totally enjoy the book, the task needs to be completed.
  • Learning how to speak to someone in a different age group, in a different position confidently about a subject. Students spend much of their day talking to their peers or being spoken to in an instructional way by their tutors or teachers. When we come to talk about the books we have read at the end of the pilot scheme, students will need to speak to an adult as an equal and share their opinions. In this context their conversation will be completely different to their normal encounters with staff at school and they will to learn quickly how to communicate in a new way.

The benefits are not just for our young people, however. The exchange allows our staff to see into the lives of their tutees and learn something about what they enjoy. By doing this, it develops the tutee-tutor relationship and provides a talking point for the future.

The skills that The Book Swap aims to develop have been recognised as ‘soft skills’ that employers look for when interviewing new employees and when trying to promote them. We are hoping that this simple task of exchanging a book, will open opportunities for our young people. In the near future, we are hoping that more of our students will have the opportunity to take part in this event.

 

The Review

The project was a great success, with teachers learning lots about their tutees and students finding something new exciting to take forward with them.
At the end of the project we gave the students and staff a short questionnaire to help us evaluate what they had experienced. Here are just some of the comments we received:

Name: Mr Burrows

What did you think of the book you were given?

It was a strange book which I would not have chosen due to its storyline. However I did enjoy reading something that is not an autobiography.

What did you think of the Book Swap activity?

Very good chance to chat with students about something not related to lessons. Level partnership!

What did you learn, or what surprised you about the activity?

I enjoyed the fact I could sit, chat and laugh with Tiegan and not really view her as a student. I saw her as someone sharing interest in, common ground between us.

Name: Tiegan

What did you think of the book you were given?

I think that this book was a challenging read, however I enjoyed the sense of adventure and adrenaline.

What did you think of the Book Swap activity?

I thought that it was a great way to read a book that you wouldn’t normally read.

What did you learn, or what surprised you about the activity?

I was surprised that I actually liked the book, I wouldn’t normally read it.

 

Name: Mrs O’Dowd

What did you think of the book you were given?

I really enjoyed the book it was a good choice with strong characters and a good but sad storyline.

What did you think of the Book Swap activity?

Again I thought it was a good idea, opening up reading material across different ages.

What did you learn, or what surprised you about the activity?

Surprised about how keen a readier Ella was and we now have a common interest we can chat about.

Name: Ella

What did you think of the book you were given?

I really enjoyed the book because I could imagine the characters and imagine what they would be feeling.

What did you think of the Book Swap activity?

I really liked the idea because it showed me what other people liked and made me read something I might not have thought to read.

What did you learn, or what surprised you about the activity?

I learned if I try something new I might like it.

Name: Mr Hayes

What did you think of the book you were given?

Enjoyable, an easy read. Clearly a book from a series of books – so you need to know the characters and how they develop over the books.

What did you think of the Book Swap activity?

A good idea to show how, and contrast the choice of literature between adults and students.

What did you learn, or what surprised you about the activity?

I covered the pages quite quickly. Didn’t finish the book though. Was surprised at the level of literacy involved.

Name: Kayley

What did you think of the book you were given?

I thought that the book was very interesting and that it contained very useful facts about Alexander the Great.

What did you think of the Book Swap activity?

I think that the activity is very useful as you get to see other peoples view on books.

What did you learn, or what surprise you about the activity?

I learned that you don’t have to stick at the same genre of reading to enjoy a book.

 

Name: Mrs Gilbert

What did you think of the book you were given?

The novel was very different from my usual choices and I was surprised by how pleasant it was to read something so light and amusing.

What did you think of the Book Swap activity?

The activity has been a lovely opportunity to find out more about my tutees interests and share something that I thought she might like. It also challenged me to read outside my comfort zone.

What did you learn, or what surprise you about the activity?

I was surprise by how receptive my tutee has been to a challenging and unusual book – her feedback has been so mature and thoughtful.

Name: Keona

What did you think of the book you were given?

I loved the book because it was very different from what I’m used to. I would definitely read more graphic move

What did you think of the Book Swap activity?

I think it is a great idea because you get to read new things that could interest you.

What did you learn, or what surprise you about the activity?

I don’t usually read but for this book I couldn’t stop reading, I found out that I really like graphic novels.

What was clear from this project, is that our students were able to develop the soft and yet vital skills, that we wanted them to, making them more equipped for further education and employment.