TwLetteratura and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Published Fri 7 Apr 2017 - By Literature Wales

This blog post was written by TwLetteratura workshop facilitator Francesca Kay:

TwLetteratura encourages reading to students, responding to text using writing games, and teaching how to make and care for digital content. It forms a community that reads and comments on books via the digital app Betwyll. At its heart is young people holding an actual book in their hands, reading and enjoying it together.

A class of Year 7 pupils at Pen Y Dre High School and Year 6 in Goetre Primary School in Merthyr Tydfil have been reading Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in a TwLetteratura project. They have all been given a copy of the book, and are reading a chapter a day, and writing about it.

Each chapter is read aloud, and then various writing games are used to comment on that chapter. There have been rhymes, alliteration, news flashes, direct speech, leaving out one particular letter, and lots of other styles to write in. The writing is done on a paper grid with only 140 characters available. These ‘twylls’ are then uploaded onto the Betwyll app, where participants can read, comment on, and share the book with others.

I have visited the classes, to read to them and encourage them to write in different ways. They show me the work done with their teachers. I can also look at their work on Betwyll, and have added twylls and comments of my own.

It’s wonderful to see all pupils enjoying writing! The presence of the grid, and the restriction imposed by having to write in a short and concise way seems to remove the obstacles to writing that some pupils face. It allows the pupils to voice their own opinions too, and it’s very interesting to read what they think about the story.

Of course, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a wonderful book, and for me as a writer, one of the pleasures has been to study Roald Dahl’s sublime prose, and the mastery of his storytelling. Reading it aloud has been brilliant. And it’s very funny too, all of which the classes are enjoying.

Andy O’Rourke from Malarky Arts is visiting the two classes to produce artwork with them. There will be a small publication at the end of the project, using the artwork, and a huge selection of the twylls.

Jen Angharad, Manager of the POSSIB project will also run workshops encouraging the pupils to respond to the text and their twyll’s by exploring the Welsh language and interpreting language through dance. POSSIB works through the medium of Welsh and English and supports the development of Welsh language awareness and vocabulary through arts activities.

The project was inspired by a meeting between Kate Strudwick of Head4Arts and Pierluigi Vaccaneo (co-founder of TwLetteratura and developer of the Betwyll app) through their participation in the TANDEM Europe programme, an initiative to support international collaborations between cultural innovators. As a result, the project in Merthyr Tydfil has been set up as a partnership between Literature Wales, Head4Arts, TwLetteratura and the Italian Associazione Culturale Twitteratura, with 3G’s Development Trust and the POSSIB project. It is funded by Cardiff University, as part of the Pioneer Fusion project.

Francesca Kay is a poet and print-maker. She works in schools, libraries, museums, and even outdoors. She works with musicians and artists and is experienced in writing poetry for and with children. Francesca loves to share her enthusiasm for words and ideas, for nature and the joy of making things.