Supporting isolated adults via the Six Book Challenge in Sheffield

Dr Briony Birdi, Lecturer in Librarianship, shares with us her new project which is supported by the Engaged Curriculum Funding Stream.

Starting in October 2014, this new project supported by the Engaged Curriculum fund gives Information School students on the MA Librarianship and MSc Digital Library Management programmes the opportunity to work as volunteers for SAVTE (the Sheffield Association for the Voluntary Teaching of English, providing valuable support to some of Sheffield’s most excluded and isolated English language learners via our local public library networks and the national Six Book Challenge. SAVTE ‘recruits and trains volunteers to teach English to the most excluded and isolated people in Sheffield’, and relies in large part on volunteer input, and the Six Book (fiction reading) Challenge aims to ‘improve the chances in life for people who find reading difficult by building their reading confidence and motivation’.

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Voices of the Bottle Ovens: Oral history in Stoke-on-Trent

Dr Chris Montgomery, lecturer in dialectology at the University of Sheffield, tells us about his project which has received support from the Engaged Curriculum Project.

This project will see students studying English Language and Linguistics work in partnership with the Gladstone Pottery Museum, Stoke-on-Trent, to create oral history excerpts for visitors to the museum. These excerpts will be selected and edited using a pre-existing oral history archive stored by Stoke-on-Trent’s museums.

The Gladstone Pottery Museum is a well-attended working pottery museum in Stoke-on-Trent which demonstrates the processes of traditional pottery making in the heart of an area renowned for its ceramic production. It is constantly seeking to further engage visitors with all aspects of the site, one way of which is to use its oral history collection.

The oral history collection, linguistic aspects of which are currently being studied by Hannah Leach, a PhD student at the University of Sheffield, is an otherwise underused resource. The students working on this project will provide a way to bring the voices of those involved to new listeners, and allow increased engagement with the museum. The audio excerpts will be housed in converted phones in the museum’s Gladstone Room, which is to be re-launched to mark the 40th anniversary of the museum’s opening

The aims of the project are:

  • To involve students in a project that requires them to work in partnership with the Gladstone Pottery Museum and its staff
  • To produce audio excerpts for the museum that will further increase engagement amongst visitors
  • To work with an underused resource in order to tell the stories of the people recorded and publicise the archive

Further blog posts will detail the progress of the project, and a launch event will take place in January 2015.

The Literacy Exchange and Achievement Project

Alison McKenzie, Strategic Educational Partnerships Co-ordinator at the University of Sheffield, explains how the Engaged Curriculum initiative is supporting the Literacy Exchange and Achievement Project (LEAP) in Sheffield.

We know that Sheffield schools’ results at Key Stage 2 and 4 (end of Primary and GCSE) have been improving gradually over the last few years but outcomes still lag behind other areas of the country. We asked ourselves, if education is important in its own right but also as a driver of prosperity and social and economic regeneration, how can the University help to accelerate improvements in this field?

The University has, for some time, had a close relationship with the local education sector through outreach activities, student volunteering and teacher training links. From talking to teachers and Local Authority officers we were aware that there was great potential to utilise our students’ skills to support the sector in addressing this issue. As well as the possibility of practical support via extra people in classrooms, we understood that the University has a vast body of academic expertise on Literacy within Faculties. We simply needed a project to bring all of this together – LEAP! Continue reading

Listening Voices and Telling Stories

Listening Voices and Telling Stories is a project supported by the Engaged Curriculum funding stream, led by Dr Shirin Teifouri and Dr Kate Pahl at the University of Sheffield.

This project aims to investigate the connection between poetry, education and life stories. It draws on the ‘Storying Sheffield’ model, but engages with new audiences, in this case, women from different ethnic backgrounds and works in a new area, Rotherham, more specifically in a community library setting. It combines the pedagogy of constructing the space collaboratively with the women, together with a passion for poetry, literary texts, life stories and education.

The project’s main aims are as follows:

  1. To document our existing project in Rotherham through recording and putting together a series of clear and transparent project plans that show our way of working, including ideas for sessions, poems we have used, key themes, and methodologies, with a focus on writing, resilience and transformation
  2. To create an archive of writing including personal writing which will be available on a blog and in a booklet. This would include published as well as unpublished poets and writer.
  3. To pilot a new version of our project, in a new setting, to see if the model can be replicated elsewhere.

More information about this project is available on the Storying Sheffield blog, which can be found here.