Mathew Tobin, Senior Lecturer in English and Children’s Literature at Oxford Brookes University’s School of Education recently spoke at The Guardian’s ‘Reading for Pleasure’ conference.
Mat, who has 16 years’ experience of teaching in primary schools, led a workshop on ‘Literature into Literacy’ and presented inspirational ways to teach based around picture books. He spoke passionately about the wealth of resources that picture books can offer to inspire critical thinking, drama and cross-curricular planning, and used his own enthusiasm for the subject to engage his audience in how a novel can bring meaningful context to teaching.
Using the example of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Mat described how he has taught across all subjects using ideas from the book, including one activity involving turning the school classroom into the Great Hall from Hogwarts with a sleepover!
In his workshop, Mat gave teachers an image from a book called Flotsam by David Wiesner and encouraged them to write around anything they could see or infer from the image. Teachers fedback in groups, showing the wealth of creative discussion that can come from just one image in a book and the level of conversation you can have with children around it.
Mat is also keen on dispelling the idea that picture books are just for younger children and beginner readers, particularly when he teaches PGCE students. To support his love of picture books, Mat has created a Padlet (an online resource) on using picture books from foundation stage to year 6 with ideas around how these books can be used within the classroom.
Speaking about his participation in the event, Mat said:
'Being able to take the initiatives that I had trialed in programme modules and the Centre for Educational Consultancy and Development ( CECD ) Partnership seminars to the Guardian Education Centre in London was both exhilarating and enriching. With a focus on planning for successful learning across the curriculum through the use of quality literature, delivering my workshop to a range of professionals (teachers, lecturers, independent specialists) meant that as well as being able to support future teaching, my own pedagogical beliefs were challenged and celebrated. Working in this capacity in which I was able to build up a broader network of like-minded academics, authors and illustrators, all under the Oxford Brookes banner, meant that this great opportunity - and hopefully further ones - allowed me to gain stature and voice in celebrating the power of children's literature in education'