The profile for Member-institution:
Cookstown Primary School
||Cookstown. Co Tyrone. BT808PF
||028 8676 2622
||028 8676 2921
||[Click to visit]
||5 - 11
Our school is situated in the town of Cookstown , Co Tyrone which is roughly in the middle of Northern Ireland! We have an enrolment of nearly 600 pupils, both boys and girls.
The school is well equiped and as part of our current pastoral care initiative, we have re-designed and resourced our playground areas so that the children have lots to do at break and lunch time.
Cookstown Primary has a keen sporting interest; hockey is traditionally very popular in the town and we also have football, netball and athletics teams.
I teach 11 year olds in Year 7, the final year at primary school. There are 3 Year 7 classes, and we as teachers work to develop pupils' creative as well as academic talents. Last year for example, we made an animated movie entitled 'Earl Saves the World.' The children wrote the storyline, scripted it, made the plasticine characters, and filmed and edited their movie on an e-mac computer. When we entered the animation for the Becta DVD awards we were delighted to win the national prize. The movie can be viewed by accessing our school website at the above address.
My school became involved in Comenius just over a year ago. Since then I have developed our Year 7 history scheme to include the theme of 'Emigration.'
In recent years we have studied the topic of 'The Potato Famine' with year 7 pupils. Emigration increased rapidly during this period of Irish History so it was interesting to explore its connection with the famine.
Work commenced in March 2004 with pupils exploring the effects of 'famine and migration' in their local district. A walk to the Pauper's Cemetery in Cookstown was arranged with follow-up resources and worksheets on the Cookstown Workhouse and Fever Hospital. The children were especially interested in statistical information regarding the number of paupers admitted to the local workhouse each year and the number of orphan girls who were sent out from the Cookstown Workhouse as emigrants to Australia. (information found in registers at the Irish Reference Library/Armagh)
Following my research at the Centre for migrational studies/Omagh, resources were developed on 'Crew and Passenger lists' from the 1800's. Pupils searched for passengers from the Cookstown area, their names, occupations ages etc. They were excited to discover surnames they were familiar with and in some cases , trace possible ancestors! Notices of 'Deaths and Marriages' from the Central Library's Newspaper Archive were also an interesting source of information.
In April 2004, we went on to explore what life on board a coffin ship was like. Extracts from Robert Whyte's 'Famine Ship Diary' provided excellent insight through the eyes of a Northern Irish man.
In preparation for May's visit to the Ulster American Folk Park,my class was divided into groups and given 6 Role Play Scenarios. These scenarios were based on the theme of Emigration during the Famine. Pupils wrote their own scripts; the aim being to depict the hardships faced by families at that time. They then rehearsed their lines and organised their own costumes, props and make-up. On the 25th May the pupils performed their pieces at various locations throughout the folk park, including the Docks and the Post House. They were filmed using the school's two digital video cameras and the footage was later edited on our e-mac computer.Thre of the short 'movies' have been uploaded onto the SELB website where they are available for viewing.
In June, contact with a modern day emigrant was arranged . The pupils e-mailed questions to an Irish/Canadian who had left Northern Ireland in recent years. They wanted to know why she had left Northern Ireland, what the food was like in Canada, how long it took to travel there and what she missed most about home etc.
At the end of the month, to conclude our history topic, pupils researched the internet to find out more about the extent of Irish emigration throughout the world. They also printed photos of Irish famine memorials erected in dozens of countries.
Next year I plan to share these ideas,lessons and resources with my two P7 colleagues. We also hope to explore the topic further through poetry, paintings and song.