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More Stories for Interactive Assemblies: 20 Story-based Assemblies to Get Children Talking Paperback – 17 Feb 2012
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If you want your assemblies to be alive, creative, spiritually provocative and interesting, read on. Lat Blaylock, RE Adviser with RE Today From The Church Times - June 2012 Low self-esteem is at the root of many children's difficulties. A wise school will ensure that its collective worship focuses on this aspect of its corporate life. And a wise publisher will look for volumes that make the task easier for hard-pressed teachers. More Stories for Interactive Assemblies, by Nigel Bishop, is just such a book. It is published under the Barnabas in Schools imprint of BRF, which in itself is a fitting mantra. Was not Barnabas the "son of encouragement" in Acts? This is a wonderful follow-up to a first book by the same author, based on the parables. Publishers of educational texts are notoriously coy about their publication figures. Not so in this case. The first volume trumpeted sales figures of 4000-plus, and I confidently predict that, if the marketing is right, this second effort will do even better. All assembly-takers struggle with the dilemma of delivering "one-off" assemblies, or establishing a thematic approach. The latter is far harder to achieve, but the author has come up with an ingenious idea that I have not come across before. Alan Bennett famously said that "Life is like a tin of sardines. We are all of us looking for the key." Nigel Bishop says that it is more like a visit to a residential farm. Basing 20 stories on one residential visit requires a vivid imagination. "What will Marcel do about a mistake with the pigs?" "How will Alexia cope with the challenge of strawberry picking?" The children will be on the edge of their seats. You can't sustain this theme for much longer than a month at the most, but 7.99 for 20 highly effective assemblies will have most head teachers raiding the petty cash. From REtoday Vol 30 No 1 (Autumn 2012) Stories are one of the best ways of engaging, challenging children and enabling them to reflect upon issues. Here are 20 linked but independent stories about a week's school trip for Year 5 and 6 to a farm. Among the themes covered are friendship, forgiveness and bravery. After each story there is a discussion question under 'Mental Switch-On' followed by some comprehension questions under 'So What?' The final part of each chapter is a prayer. The 'Mental Switch On' questions are child friendly and relate to the experience of children, e.g. 'How does it feel when someone calls you names?' and the prayers are in simple, accessible language. For schools who want to pursue the biblical text there is a table at the back which gives an index of curriculum and biblical links. Since the stories are related, the reader becomes familiar with the characters of the children and the teachers, so that the change brought about by the residential visit to each individual is fully enjoyed at the end. The stories can be used in PSHCE or RE to raise moral issues and are probably most suited to class worship, where the day to day continuity can be assured and the questions discussed more intimately and freely in a small group. The stories are solid and develop a theme but, for me, they lack pace and anticipation. In the right hands, however, a teacher or a headteacher could adapt the text or pause appropriately during the story to create an air of excitement. Recommended for experienced headteachers or teachers. Reviewer: Jane Brooke
About the Author
Nigel Bishop is Head Teacher at Strand Community School Grimsby, North East Lincolnshire. His teaching career spans 20 years. During this time, during which time he has taught children from four to eleven years in a wide range of schools in Grimsby and Cleethorpes, trying to share with them his passion for experiential learning. Nigel is also a Methodist Lay Preacher and has used his communication skills in all-age worship as well as numerous school assemblies. He hopes that the stories he has used in schools and churches might reach and inspire a wider audience through their publication. Nigel lives in Grimsby with his wife, Jackie, their children Nicola and Jonathan, and Megan the dog.
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