Shadowing Group Reports
Fortismere School, Muswell Hill, London
Group leader Gillian Ward says that the Carnegie shadowing scheme is "excellent in encouraging students to read books that they probably wouldn't have picked off the shelves".
This shadowing group consists of 40 Year 8 students who are invited to participate. They are generally picked from a list compiled by English teachers, the school librarian, who runs the shadowing scheme, also invites students she knows are good and avid readers. Most of the members are from the top English sets, but the group leader says, "Sometimes students who we don't expect to get much out of the trickier books are the ones that surprise me." Meetings are held every Tuesday in term time and take place at lunchtime, in the library, in a private room, "to make it feel special". Students let the group leader know how they are getting on with the books, spend time writing reviews and so on. It is not compulsory for students to stay for the full lunch hour, but they are welcome to do so.
Usually only about five or six of the group members manage to read all of the books, but the group leader keeps a checklist to track reviews that are posted to the site. On the day the Carnegie Medal winner is announced, a "proper red carpet, gold envelope party" is held, where refreshments are provided, and the winner is announced, leading to some disappointment from students when often the judges don't agree with their choice! Following this, the group leader prints out all the reviews the members have written, plus any photos taken during shadowing, and puts together a book as a record of the experience. Gillian also plans to start running sessions on this in conjunction with the local school for the deaf.
The group leader uses the website regularly and takes advantage of all its features. The outcome hoped for was that the students would enjoy the experience, which was achieved for about thirty five of the forty group members last year. Impact on young readers is not measured formally, only informally by word of mouth and by reading members' reviews. Many of the English teachers access the website to see what their students are writing.