No Pens Day

09 January 2018


At Whalley Range, students are already given many opportunities to develop ‘presentational talk’, but this year we have focused on developing what Voice 21 have coined ‘exploratory talk’. Through the development of oracy in the curriculum, students have been engaging critically and constructively with others’ ideas in group discussion with an emphasis on replacing more informal language with standard English.

This Autumn we launched ‘a year of oracy’, so to get students and staff in the mood for this, ‘No Pens Day Wednesday’ was our summer kick-off event, inspired by the national initiative from The Communication Trust.

It has to be Wednesday – No Pens Day Thursday doesn’t have the same ring to it, does it?!

A creative and divergent mix of activities and lessons took place on a bright July day, showcasing fantastic teaching and learning to get everyone talking:

  • Year 10 gathered around a campfire (imaginary of course – great use of the iPhone torch) to create and tell their own Gothic ghost story
  • Year 9 historians developed their acting, technological and communication skills as they devised movie trailers based on the Manchurian Crisis (you may have to google it), while Year 7s created an oral Torah on Project Day

A ‘No Pens Day’ activity involving a smart board activity and group discussion

No Pens Day Wednesday (I know it just rolls off the tongue!) was a triumph of voice, creativity, communication and collaboration. It was prepped for with a twilight, sharing ideas that teachers could choose to use or adapt for their own subject focus, and an introduction of our oracy strategies to be launched with students in the Autumn.

Now it’s the end of term one, and we are teaching our three ‘talk protocols’ (Say it Again, Think and Ink and Talk it Out) and working across faculties to develop ways of using talk to explore, rehearse, repeat, revise. But our first ever No Pens Day lives on our shared memory and gives teachers and students confidence that they can put their pens down!

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