Behind the Scenes at Nicholson Street

Eight students from Nicholson Street PS in Balmain, all aged 11 to 12, and in their last year of primary school, volunteered to participate in the Shadow Judging trial, as an extra-curricular activity.

Each student read all the CBCA Book of the Year 2021 Younger Readers Shortlist, over seven weeks beginning late in June, and including the school holidays.

Covid 19 lockdown happened and so the whole project was conducted from the students’ homes. Students read the school library’s copies, along with borrowed ones, with Covid-safe book swaps, some of their parents were happy to purchase copies for them. They wrote comments on post it notes and in a reading journal using the CBCA judging criteria and Aiden Chamber’s Tell Me framework questions as their guide.

Mr Lee, their wonderful class teacher organised weekly  8.15 am Zoom catch-up meetings. A member of the CBCA NSW Branch committee acted as facilitator. Students tried to share their reading without unduly influencing other readers’ judgements. Prior to their final Zoom, on the day of the CBCA Book of the Year announcement, each recorded their own choice of winner.

At the judging Zoom, each talked about their winner. There was discussion and a chance for students to change their choice if they wished, but that did not happen. We knew that in the real judging process there is a goal of consensus, but with eight judges that would be difficult, so instead there was a vote. The students enjoyed the process, particularly reading and comparing the different books.

The meeting lasted about 50 minutes, was recorded with parental permission as a video, later edited deftly by our NSW Branch President to its current length of 6 minutes. If you missed it first time around listen in now …

A big thank you to the eight participants: Adriana A, Apolline B, Isabella B, Isabel L, Audrey M, Anneliese N-B, Dylan P and Louisa S.

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