Creativity Hive Project – Steps to Embedding

Published: 10 June 2024 
Author: Helen Ackrill 
Group of 6 teachers stand in a circle in a classroom with a blue carpet and white and beige walls. They're smiling as they hold their hands over their heads.
Teachers take part in an arts-based continuing professional development session. Photo credit: Keystone Academy Trust

Helen Ackrill, Director of Staff Development for the Keystone Academy Trust, offers insight into their professional learning programme which focuses on using music and drama to support oracy and writing across the curriculum – with support from the Teacher Development Fund.

Over the last two years, Keystone Academy Trust and Charnwood Primary School have been supported and inspired by visiting artist practitioners. Team teaching and coaching have been the backbone of our Creativity Hive Project, adding to the training sessions that have brought our teachers together. One of our key aims was to use music and drama to bring oracy, vocabulary and writing to life for our children and we have seen teacher confidence in planning music and drama into all curriculum areas more than double (from 34–74%). 

Across spring term 2024, our teachers were keen to implement their drama pedagogy in their writing lessons, promoting oracy, engagement and aspiration. Feedback from our schools has shown that there have been higher levels of engagement from boys and improved teamwork, and we wanted to build on this when planning and teaching our writing sequences. Using the high-quality texts that we share in our reading and writing lessons, we wanted to hook’ the children and immerse them in these books. During a session led by the Coram Shakespeare Foundation, our teachers worked collaboratively on implementing drama in their upcoming lessons. We reviewed the guidance and outcomes from the Telling the Story’ document (Ofsted, 2024) and discussed how we could incorporate the embedding of vocabulary. This was an excellent opportunity to consider the children’s progression in their oracy and drama skills. Jordana (Corum Shakespeare Foundation) suggested that we first used objects related to the books to inspire conversation, using the scaffold of I know, I assume, I wonder’. Using containers and bottles full of liquids and powders, we investigated the language used in George’s Marvellous Medicine: listing powerful verbs, using alliteration and repeating adjectives for emphasis.

Three teachers sit next to one another on chairs in a blue-carpeted room. They're smiling as look at a collection of bottles in the middle of the floor in front of them,
Teachers participate in an arts-based continuing professional development session. Photo credit: Keystone Academy Trust

Taking this idea, we applied it to our own class texts and also included other activities we have learned, such as role on the wall, thought tracking, hot seating and talking objects, etc. 

In one of our schools, our Year 4 teachers planned to use these techniques when teaching the text-type of newspaper reports, using I Was a Rat’ as their class text. Using items from the story, the children worked in teams to discuss what they could know, assume and wonder about the main character. They then used role on the wall to note down their thoughts. As a class, they then collated their ideas and these were displayed on the working wall. As they had focused on describing the character, their understanding of key vocabulary from the book became embedded and this had such a positive impact on their ability to use tier two and three words and subject-specific vocabulary in their own writing – revolting, sewer, ferocious, exterminate, reluctant, washerwoman, page, etc. This was evident in their dramatic and alliterative headlines and subheadings, descriptions of characters and events and their use of formal writing features.

The children then used hot seating to explore the main characters’ feelings and reactions from the book’s first few pages – shock, confusion, sympathy – and used this information to create quotes for their newspaper reports. 

An important part of being a successful writer is making choices that match the purpose and audience of the text. The quality of the finished newspaper reports demonstrated the impact these approaches had on the children’s vocabulary choices. Significantly, they were also able to justify these choices.

We are excited to share these outcomes during our summer term training and reflection sessions and plan to use these in our staff development programme for all our schools and colleagues next year.

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Director of Staff Development for the Keystone Academy Trust