HOTBOOK, our digital resource for secondary schools, is now available to download from

Here's what Geraldine Brennan wrote about it in the TES:

"Some schools have managed to bring in cutting-edge technology with no financial outlay at all. According to Besa, two-thirds of schools make significant use of the internet for free downloads of online curriculum content.

English teachers, for example, can now access a digital literature resource pack called HOTbook, which offers classroom activities for Years 8 and 9. The programme is supported by the Institute for the Future of the Book (if:book) and funding from the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation.

HOTbook draws on social networking to engage pupils in reading and writing in response to an anthology of poems and extracts from plays, novels and non-fiction texts (including Barack Obama’s inauguration speech) presented as short films, Flash animations, podcasts and HTML web pages.

The 40 pieces include classic texts such as Macbeth’s “Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow” speech, William Blake’s “Tyger, Tyger”, Chaucer’s Prologue from The Canterbury Tales and Shelley’s Ozymandias sonnet. There are also contemporary contributions, including poems by Roger McGough and Benjamin Zephaniah and specially commissioned works.

The HOTbook activities are framed within “messages from the future” (the year 3010), where the curator of the museum of the history of the book needs help to select the most significant pieces of writing from the past for display. The curator’s non-standard English is another opportunity for pupils to explore how language is developed, and they are encouraged to post comments on them as they would on a social networking site. The project can run in as little as an hour a week.

Ellie Clark, head of English at Queensbridge School in Birmingham, says the role-play aspect of the project attracted her to investing time in piloting it. “We were very pleased with the reading and writing work the activities generated and the pupils were very positive about it, especially boys and lower-ability pupils.”

ICT investment is no longer about laying out for a cutting-edge system that takes months to install and few people understand. Smaller, ad hoc investments can also produce amazing results."



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