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Mining Memories with Primary Two

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What would it be like to be a canary called CoCo working down the Kinneil Pit? Or a pit cat? Or a pit pony? Or an 11-year-old boy on his first day down the mine? Five and six-year olds from Bo’ness Primary School imagined they were the animals and children down the mine. They wrote these amazing stories:

I’ve been working with the Inner Forth Landscape Initiative to create digital stories about mining with primary school children. I’m writing a series of blogs to share their mining memories. This first post is stories by Primary Two at Bo’ness Public Primary School. I’ll tell you a bit more about the project:

Digital Stories

Digital stories are short audio sound tracks (less than 3 minuets) with still images over the top. They’re personal stories in the story makers own voice. I previously worked on three digital story projects with Britain from Above, The Govan Reminiscence Group and with Historic Scotland’s Trinity House. You can read about that project here.

This was unusual because it was creating digital stories but imagining the perspective instead of it being a storymaker telling their true story. It was also working with primary two children (age five and six) instead of adults. And we imagined we were animals!

Primary Two

The project started with storytelling workshops in class – we chatted about what makes a good story and using our imagination and memories to come up with lots of ideas. I told them an animal story and set them a brief to create their own short stories from the perspective of a pit animal. At first the pit ponies were wearing sparkley tutus and loved dancing but we talked about how great their use of imagination was and what a good idea it was to think about things like clothes and feelings – what would a pit pony wear to go down the pit? How might they feel going down the mine? They got back to work and learned one of the most important lessons about writing – it’s all about rewriting!

The class went on a visit to the National Mining Museum Scotland and had a talk about the roles of animals and children in the Mine from the Maria Ford, Chairperson of the Friends of Kinneil Trust.

They had budgies in the classroom so we talked about how the budgies might feel and what it would be like to be a canary. Then the children worked with their class teacher Mrs McNab to create beautiful books:

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And amazing canaries in cages:

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And 3D pit ponies with coal carts: Photo 11-03-2016, 12 55 52

And fields for the pit ponies to play in:

field

I’d popped back in to see how they were getting on half way through the project and was amazed by their new and improved stories and all the beautiful artwork.I came back again at the end of the project to photograph their artwork and to record the children reading their stories.

After that I edited the audio soundtrack and images together to create the YouTube stories shared above. We screened them along with stories from other classes at the Hippodrome Cinema in Bo’ness. It was so good to see the children’s amazing stories being celebrated in style on the big screen in a cinema!

This post is part of a series sharing the work from the Mining Memories Project. The next post in this series will be sharing primary five and primary six digital stories about the miners strike from the perspective of pick axes, bits of coal and even Margaret Thatcher!

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2016 in Education, Film, Media, nature, storytelling, Writing

 

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Maritime Memories of Leith and Newhaven

I’ve been working with older people in Leith and Historic Scotland’s maritime museum Trinity House to create digital stories. A digital story is a two to three minute audio sound track with still images over the top. It’s a personal story in the story maker’s own voice. These stories were inspired by the collections at Trinity House.

This week we had our red carpet premiere at the beautiful old cinema building of Destiny Church Leith. It’s one of the three remaining plaster cinema screens in the UK.

screen

We even rolled out a red carpet and over 70 people attended!

I introduced the digital stories at the event and thought that would be a good way to introduce you to the films now:

A Bow-Tow Remembers: Sophia Abrahamsen

Sophia is a Bow-Tow, that’s a person from Newhaven. She’s passionate about Newhaven History. On week two of the workshops Sophia read her first draft – it was so beautiful it was met by a spontaneous applause.  Who is Old Sherrag? Who lives in New Lane and why was Sophia abandoned as a child in Newhaven Harbour?

 

Watch the video on Youtube here.

From Lerwick to Leith: Stephen Hall

Stephen loved to talk about this family and that’s what this story is about. It’s also the first thing Stephen has written since school – I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s wonderful:

Watch the video on Youtube here.

Leith Docks: Ramsay Tubb

Ramsay began this story in school when he and two friends researched Leith Docks. Just what was it about the docks that captured his imagination?

Watch the video on Youtube here

All at Sea: Andrew Grant

Andrew is an amazing local historian. As well as bringing his local knowledge, Andrew helped digitise many of the images you see in these stories. Andrew had so many stories that his first read through was eight minutes instead of three. He had the challenge to shorten this and he chose one story – the story of his maritime training:

Watch the video on Youtube here.

How did the project begin?

I worked on a similar project facilitating digital story workshops with the Govan Reminiscence Group and Britain from Above. I’ll blog about that soon! I got chatting with Lucy at Trinity House and suggested digital stories would be a great way to engage people on their collections as well as capturing and sharing local history.

What did the project involve?

Firstly we ran a drop in recruitment session at the Living Memory Association venue in Leith’s Ocean Terminal.

We told people more about the project, shared some memories as a group and gave people a chance to sign up.

Each participant came to six two hour workshops with homework in between too. We drank tea, ate cake and worked on the stories.

The group gave feedback on each story – polishing a tweaking them and choosing the right images:

Lucy Bull provided the expertise on Trinity House and their collections and I ran the storytelling exercises. It was amazing to see the participant’s stories grow and improve over the weeks and it was wonderful to get such a brilliant reaction to them at the premiere.

UPDATE:

I’m looking forward to seeing this in the Edinburgh Evening News any day now. You can read about this project on STV here.

 
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Posted by on March 6, 2015 in Education, Events, Film, Media, storytelling, Writing

 

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Memories of Maritime Leith

I’m really excited to be starting a new oral history project with Trinity House Maritime Museum and Historic Scotland. This is Trinity House:

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In Leith, just down from the Kirkgate Centre it holds a treasure trove of nautical objects, photos and records. Explore the amazing collection online here.

We’re going to be making digital stories with Leith locals to help capture and share some of Leith’s maritime memories. I’m facilitating workshops with museum learning and engagement consultant at Trinity House, Lucy Bull. We’re working to recruit participants in partnership with the Living Memory Association.

Find Out More

If you want to find out more there’s a drop in session at the Living Memory Association venue at Ocean Terminal tomorrow – 2pm with tea and cake (come in the main entrance and turn right, on the ground floor on your right. If you get to Waterstones you’ve gone too far). And we’re running a series of six workshops after that. By the end of the workshops you will have created your very own digital story.

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The workshops begin on the 3rd December, download a PDF poster for more information: Memories of Maritime Leith – A4 or see details below:

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What is a Digital Story?

A digital story is a two to three minute audio soundtrack with still images over the top. It’s a personal story, in first person and using the voice of the story maker. I’ve been working with the Govan Reminiscience Group and the Britain from Above Project during 2013 and 2014 to help create and share memories as digital stories. Here are two of the brilliant stories the workshop participants made about Govan.

The Plot by Bill Pritchard:

The Promised Land by Colin Quigley

Please pass this on to anyone you think has great stories to share about maritime Leith.

If your interested in Leith History, you might enjoy this post about Leith in 1907 with Millie Gray

 
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Posted by on October 27, 2014 in Education, Events, Media, storytelling, Writing

 

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Memories Are For Remembering

Earlier this month I had the pleasure of working with Generation Arts, a retired arts group from West Lothian. I last worked with them on National Poetry Day as part of the Mental Health Arts and Film Festival. This time I was running a Creative Writing and Reminiscence workshop for the annual Generation Arts Celebration Day.

My brief was to facilitate writing memories of old West Lothian and to share these with the Generation Arts participants at the end of their Celebration. There were 80 people coming to the event with an average age of 80 years. They did not all know each other so I needed to facilitate a space safe to encourage people to share with each other.

To help spark memories I had old photos of West Lothian and a box of objects from the West Lothian Museum. The objects included a miner’s helmet, a wage slip, a pinafore and an old brush. I also brought along some smells that I hoped would help recreate childhood experiences. A sweet shop, wood varnish, Brasso, coal tar soap…

The workshop was to be 45 minutes and it was brilliant to talk through my ideas for the session with my Poetry Mentor, Elspeth Murray a couple of weeks beforehand.

The plan was to do an ice breaker, to share an encouraging poem, to pass round some objects and to set a simple writing task. I had paper and pens and luggage tags.

I totally changed my plans once the workshop started, here’s what happened. There were eight participants and we sat in a circle. I introduced myself and asked people to share their name and one of their earliest memories as an ice breaker. The conversations that followed were wonderful. Memories shared would spark off one another and I realised my role was no longer to try to jog memories. Instead it was to say things like “Hold on Robert, Anne’s talking just now. Carry on Anne!”.

I dropped plans to tell them more about me and to share a poem. I was going to do that to help encourage people to share but they were already doing that. I didn’t want to break the wonderful atmosphere of sharing that were experiencing. Instead I thanked them and explained I had a whole bunch of objects and photos I brought along to help jog memories, but since we were already sharing so brilliantly that we didn’t need props to help us to remember.

We needed to capture some of their wonderful stories to share at the end of the celebration event. Several members of the group said they were enjoying the conversations so much they didn’t really want to write. I asked if they minded me writing down some of their memories instead. This worked well and I made sure I wrote down at least one memory from every person in the group. Some members of the group did write. We passed round the photos and objects and continued the conversations together.

After the session finished Robert came over to thank me. He showed me the picture of his Dad that he kept in his breast pocket. He also carried a threepennie piece. He told me more about what these objects meant to him. He said “memories are for remembering.” Robert’s words ended the poem created from the wonderful memories shared during the workshop.

Generations Arts Co-coordinator, Joanne Brown read the poem to the assembled masses just before the tea dance started. She did a brilliant job and we laughed and smiled as I hope you will:

These are the memories from Marion, Jane, Malcolm, Anne, Grace, Bill, Sib and Robert. 

I remember
I was the first teacher at Riverside Primary School.

I remember
Dancing the eightsome reel in the hall.

I remember
We used to go down on a Saturday to buy paraffin. 
Me, my Mum, my Dad and my dog.

I remember
Every miner had a number. 
When you finished your shift you got your token out of the pit heid. 

I remember
You got a threepennie piece for pocket money. 
You could get a lot with that, back then.

I remember
The bombs were falling..

I remember 
“What the hell are you going to do with that hand grenade?”
And I said.. “Get some fish!”

I remember
The steam trains. 
The kiddies loved-em. 
The steam used to go all over them.

I remember
Gala Day. 
You had a ribbon taped around your neck with a tinnie, hanging… 
for your milk when you got to the park.

Memories are for remembering.
***********

Read more about the event and see photos on the Generation Arts website.

Image Credit: Generation Arts, West Lothian

 
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Posted by on July 24, 2012 in Education, Events, poetry, Writing

 

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