Write a Book in a Day 2020

Having only commenced the role of Knowledge and Learning Strategist at the start of Term 2 (I am acting in the role whilst Liz Green is on leave) I was able to observe the Write a Book in a Day experience in the library with fresh eyes and was most impressed with what I saw. The activities that took place on this day align closely with the most up to date Australian and global research on learning and skill development for the 21st century. 

In 2017, the NSW Department of Education unveiled several reports undertaken by experts that explored future skills needs. The results of these reports revealed competencies such as resilience, flexibility, collaboration, co-operation, communication, planning, time management, project management and problem solving as valuable qualities required to participate actively and effectively in the workforce. These skills (and more) were certainly on display as the girls worked to complete their book in a day! 

As the day unfolded, I soon learned that there was a time schedule with goals to achieve in certain time blocks. This kept the girls focused and allowed them to break the task into more manageable chunks. There were also parameters that needed to be included in each story which forced the girls to come up with creative and innovative ways of working defined parameters such as human characters, non-human characters, settings, issues and random words into their stories. 

What I witnessed in the early stages of the day is how quickly girls collaborated to define various roles that could allow the book to efficiently take shape. Roles were designated such as chapter writers, illustrators, team captains and editors. 

As the day progressed, I observed teams running into natural creative blocks, fatiguing, but then also finding a way through this via discussions. A visit from Ms Ugonotti and Mrs Long in the heart of the day helped reinvigorate teams as they moved into the editing phase. 

At the conclusion of the day I was able to see the finished works and visualise how all those discussions I had heard about random characters as I moved from group to group during the day had come to fruition. Please peruse some of the extracts of illustrations and writing included as pictures attached to this article to see samplings of what the girls produced. They are worth a look!

On reflecting on the experience, when asked what they enjoyed about the day a student stated, “I love WABIAD because you get to collaborate with your friends, utilise all your different skills and make something that you are proud of.” When asked what key skills were learnt on the day, another responded with “teamwork, collaboration and definitely learning to listen to others.” When asked what the most challenging part of the day was, one student observed, “coming up with the ideas is difficult, but once you have it, the whole day just flows.” 

The most touching moment when reviewing the works came when I saw the message the Year 10 Team had left at the start of their book. It read, “For the children in hospital. We can’t imagine what you are going through, but we hope our book gives you a laugh. We wish you all the best on your journey to recovery.” 

Write a Book in a Day most certainly only takes place due to efforts of the hardworking library staff who go to every effort to ensure the girls have a fulfilling and enriching learning experience. Thank you to Mrs Andrea Turner, Ms Ambreen Shah, Mrs Vivian D’Arcy and Ms Rachel Herkes for their dedicated organisational efforts. Most particularly, I would like to acknowledge the fine work of Ms Rowena Curtis who oversees WABIAD from start to finish and coordinates every aspect of the process with meticulousness and care. 

To conclude, there are two observations I noted that show a “culture” that is developing around writing stemming from Write a Book in a Day. 

The first was the message left by Year 12s who had competed in the past for the 2020 participants. Amid their Trial HSC, these Year 12s were able to pause and offer their encouragement to the younger girls through an inspiring letter that was left in every team space at the start of the day. 

The second is the highly enthusiastic approach our primary students are taking towards Write a Book in a Day which will culminate in Weeks 9 and 10 this term. Under the oversight of the primary school Teacher-Librarian, Ms Caroline Walton and in conjunction with the library staff at the senior school, the primary girls are working towards creating works that will be displayed in the senior school library in Term 4. 

Positive learning cultures are infectious as displayed through these two examples and are testament to the power a skilfully tailored learning experience can have in a school. 

Well done to all the girls involved in the 2020 Write a Book in a Day and congratulations on your efforts in not only writing magnificent books but also raising $4954.59 for the Kids’ Cancer Project.  

 

Mr Marco Scali

Acting Knowledge and Learning Strategist