Designing alternative ways of using the app: this was the final challenge for the three Welsh schools involved in our Creative Collaborations project.
After an entire year of practice with social reading on Betwyll, the three Welsh-medium primary schools we worked with in Caerphilly used the expertise gained to invent new ways of using the app.
Each school was encouraged to devise other contexts where Betwyll could be used and to explore their proposed adaptations with their classmates. The idea that got the most votes was investigated and developed with the help of the teachers and our partner Head4Arts.
Based on the students’ proposals, our team created three prototypes for the app that we presented in the classes last week, at the end of the summer term.
The prototypes: music, heritage and a youth movement
These three were the areas that the pupils decided to explore in their prototypes. Each project idea included texts and drawings created by the students during the final workshops.
With Miswig Cymru, Ysgol Cwm Gwyddon turned what learned through a previous school project into a social reading journey into the Welsh music scene, with links to songs and videos to comment on.
Ysgol Penalltau let us discover the Cymru Cyffroes, the wonders of Wales: five different sections focused on language, food, sport (guess what?), myths & legends, and landscape.
Finally, Ysgol Gymraeg Trelyn introduced the Urdd, a major organisation for children and young people to promote and support the Welsh language through various activities and residential camps.
During the three prototype presentations, the pupils had the chance to know more about the app back-end and to have their projects published in realtime. They were all really excited to see the final product of their collective efforts on screen. But also curious to know what the other classes had invented and eager to send their feedbacks via twyll.
The previous stages
In the school year 2018-2019, the TwLetteratura Caerffili project has brought together Year 5 pupils from three Welsh-medium primary schools from Caerphilly in pioneering the use of our app. The students first read and commented on Dan Anthony’s Rugby Zombies – Sombis Rygbi. The author himself was involved in the facilitation together with poet and creative writer Rufus Mufasa.
Then, they worked alongside translator Ioan Kidd, illustrator Huw Aaron and publisher Gomer Press to create a Welsh version of Dan Anthony’s book The Bus Stop at the End of the World. Arhosfan Ym Mhen Draw’r Byd was launched in Cardiff in May 2019 at the Millennium Centre during the Urdd Eisteddfod and has helped stimulate discussion about how books for children are translated for Welsh speakers.
One of the teachers involved, Helen March, Deputy Head at Ysgol Cwm Gwyddon, shared:
Using the app made reading together a lot more fun and really helpful. The children loved it. It was modern and effective. By the end they were so used to it they would go and produce poetry or raps without a second thought. Using 140 characters was perfect for getting rid of waffle and being able to hone in on paragraphs, vocabulary and characters was invaluable.
The project was made possible via Creative Collaborations grant from the Arts Council of Wales, a programme supporting innovative and imaginative partnership practice, where the learners are included in the planning and direction of the work.
This remarkable adventure has also benefited from the support of a wide range of partners, including Gomer Press, Literature Wales and the team from Menter Iaith Sir Caerffili, all coordinated by community arts organisation Head4Arts.