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Thursday 3 March 2011

Thinking Beyond Alice

I’ve been teaching with 'Inanimate Alice' since January and it has been a long old term. We are coming to the end of the session and closer to the day when we will leave Alice behind. So what has changed? What have we all learned?

Throughout this series of lessons and Blog Posts I have tried to be open and honest about what I expect to get from ‘Inanimate Alice’ as well as providing great lessons for my students. From the beginning I looked at this as a learning process for me as much as anyone.  

Increasingly aware that the assessment tail was more and more wagging the dog, as an English teacher I have been for some time questioning the value of some of the Writing in my classes. Indeed, beyond a very shallow assessment remit, Writing is more and more becoming a redundant exercise in schools. How much of what we get the kids to write in class ends up in the bin at the end of the day? Or gets sent off to some anonymous marker at SQA? If we cannot convince students that Writing is important beyond the narrow assessment criteria we present to them then how can we expect them to value writing?

As well as creating their own digital episodes – I hope to post them in the next week or two -my class will write about ‘Alice’. But they will publish their writing in a blog and use those posts as part of a submitted report. They will develop their episodes into more traditional creative writing and produce a class ‘book’ of stories. For if they have learned one thing from their study of 'Inanimate Alice' it is the importance of audience. Using words like ‘publish’ and ‘create’ seems to have given what I foolishly perceived as a class of not overly talented pupils in English a greater sense of purpose and enthusiasm.

Standing back and watching these kids completely submerged in their work has shown me that Curriculum for Excellence can and must work. The cross curricular elements married to the collaborative possibilities Alice provides, suggests, I think, that if we are to engage our young people in the future we must construct lessons in which the process of learning is at least as important as the end product. Assessing their ability to try new things in new situations, to be given the time and space to take risks without worrying about narrow criteria has shown me that there is a better way.

It’s no longer Education, Education, Education. It’s Engagement, Engagement, Engagement!


  1. Looking forward to 'watching' the stories and reading the students' reflections.

  2. Sounds like it has been a success - I've been toying with the idea of having a go with my Y7s. I'll be keen to see the outcomes.