Oliver (Caviglioli) and I have been on quite an adventure in the last year. It’s just over year since Oliver pitched the idea that we could work together on a book. In our first meeting around my kitchen table we hatched a plan for five-step WalkThrus; a repository of the core ideas and strategies that most teachers should know and use. The Rosenshine booklet showed that there was a significant appetite amongst teachers for short accessible texts that explain how ideas from research can be implemented in practice. We felt that the five-step format had a lot of potential. It took about 20 minutes to write a list of things we could include.. quickly exceeding 50. We realised this would need to be a series and that arranging the ideas into various categories would give it a nice repeating structure.
At one level there are Why, What and How sections – allowing us to reference research sources directly in walkthrus of their own, then six series of strategies and a final section on how to implement them into a CPD process. With a few overlaps here and there, this approach has held up so far.
During the autumn we hatched a plan with our partners at John Catt Ltd. We then dashed through the writing and illustrating process – an incredible experience batting ideas back and forth. And, way ahead of schedule, we published the book in March.
Our plan was to produce a CPD package of sorts but we didn’t know exactly when. We couldn’t have anticipated that the lockdown would happen leaving us with so much time on our hands. Instead of visiting schools most days, Oliver and I have been working from home every single day since March. We put it good use. Various good people at John Catt – notably Alex, Scott, Jonathan and, more recently, Annabel – got stuck in and we were able to create and release our website www.walkthrus.co.uk and the whole CPD package months ahead of when we originally planned. This included powerpoints, notes, videos.. and the Kindle version. (It really does look great flicking through the five steps on your phone).
The initial response to the books was amazing with some fabulous pre-release review comments:
Then came the flow of pictures of people receiving the copies – which is a great thrill for any author:
We’ve sold over 20,000 copies already which is very exciting. Now the take-up of our subscription model has exceeded our expectations. Nearly 200 schools, colleges and ITT providers have joined us – mostly from the UK but also from a range of countries around the world.
As time as gone on, partly in response to requests from early subscribers, we’ve developed new ways to support teachers and leaders to engage with the ideas. We’ve tried to consider all the possible ways teachers might engage with the content – through in-person training to online training, as groups or individuals.
As ever, Oliver is quick to find a beautiful graphic way to represent what is on offer:
One of the main requests we’ve had has been to help people get started. We set up some webinars – some are recorded sessions that every new subscriber can access to gain an overview – and others are live. We’ll be holding a monthly live Q&A to talk to people about how things are going.
Most recently we responded to a request for a set of core WalkThrus explained in more detail. We ran a poll to decide which WalkThrus should be in the Core 10 and, while Oliver made online versions of the slides, I made a series of 10 minutes videos. My son taught me how to use iMovie and I put that to good effect (I think!).
To my great joy, I found new ways to show slides and videos within googledocs: You can play slides and youtube videos embedded in a slide all within a document that you also write on. This led us to create the interactive Core 10 Workbooks which allows a teacher to make notes on their reading and watch the videos and slides all within the google suite.. as shown in this video:
As we come to the end of term.. we’re brimming with excitement about the next steps. Work has begun on Volumes 2 and 3 – meet the full cast of characters:
In some ways it feels like we’ve just begun. I can’t express how grateful I am to all the people who have been early adopters – sharing ideas, offering suggestions, making requests and generally just being incredibly supportive.
The most recent tweet of joy came yesterday from AHT: Nicky Blackford. Here she is taking the materials and adapting them.. just as we had envisaged. It’s wonderful to see.
Thanks again to our partners: The John Catt team are magnificent: Alex, Scott, Annabel, Jonathan: we’ve created something special together!
Mainly thanks from me to Oliver. It’s just the most amazing joy and privilege to work with such a lovely, talented, encouraging and creative person. I feel incredibly lucky. One day we’ll be able to meet in person to have that overdue celebration.