Not too long ago Courtney had a chat with Tania Withers, head of ESOL at St Joseph’s Catholic School, Upper Hutt. We knew Story Seekers was a hit with her students, as she kindly reached out to sing its praises. We were keen to gain an understanding of how our resources have been used to foster a love for reading and progress learning throughout the year (we were also curious to know which stories were class favourites!).
How long have you been aware of ER?
A while. I have around three or four other titles, but Story Seekers is my favourite.
How did you come across the Story Seekers series?
Your team sent them out for me to view on approval last year. I decided to purchase them immediately.
How often do you use the series?
I look after two groups: Year 3-4 and Year 5-6. I used the resources every day for a year, especially with the Year 3 and 4 group.
Did you find it simple to integrate the stories and resources into your lessons?
Yes, due to the versatile way in which they can be used. The resources that go with the story provide a great starting point. I often use the sheets, then expand on that with my own lessons that focus on aspects such as exploration of character descriptions and inferencing. Each story encourages exploration of story and character which really excites the students.
And what aspect of the series do your students enjoy the most?
My students loved the true story aspect of Miracle on the Hudson, it lead to plenty of researching online and in-depth analysis and discussion of each character in the story. They also loved it when the story carried over multiple books – they related to the children in the story and this sparked opportunities to work through “What would you do” and “how would you feel” questions, plenty of engaged discussions took place in the group. Whizz Bang was a hit as they loved that the children were a little older than themselves. Lastly, Dog Days was a great story to elaborate on as the dog was mysterious. It really got them thinking about the character outside the story.
What challenges do you usually have with your students, and how does Story Seekers help you overcome this?
I found that the Year 5-6 group struggled with inferencing, so I decided to introduce the concept earlier, with the Year 3-4 group I look after. The resources are so versatile that I can do many things with them, I can build on the basics given.
What would you love to see in future resources?