A Barbarian in the Reading room

Welcome to my blog

 

Why this title? Well in my last school job I had a reading (as in reading a book) room and this was used on Open Days by the Learning Support Department. At one such event they put up a notice saying Leaning Support and I said "Oh I suppose this is the Reading (as in UK town to the west of London) Room now." They retorted by naming me the Barbarian and it has sort of stuck.

 

Sadly, this blog does not include much about Reading (as in the UK town to the west of London) or barbarians but will contain my thoughts on issues in the library and information world and also detail some of the events I have attended, places I have visited and courses I have run. Enjoy!

By sjpavey, Aug 3 2015 12:11AM

I can't believe it's been a year since I quit my full time job at Box Hill School to set off on my own. It's been a great year and full of surprises but a lovely blend of music and professional library work and a bit of an expansion into training teachers. I've met some amazing people and seen some wonderful places and libraries. All I can hope for is that next year is as good!


July started with the first of 4 courses for Creative Education - Effective School Librarian, Getting Boys into Reading, Online Safeguarding and Developing Writing Skills all in London. They were all good courses and all the delegates engaged well with the exercises and gave good feedback - in fact on two seperate courses I had the comment that it was the best INSET they had ever had!


I also did a double two half days sessions at Heaths for groups of Librarians - Harris Academies and Lambeth School Libraries. The theme was reading for pleasure and reading for information. I covered information about the act of reading and what we meant by reading before launching into ways in which we can engage the reader. This was a new format for Heaths but successful as the attendees also had plenty of time to look around the showroom.


On 13th July I ventured into Kent to speak at the CILIP Kent Day at Canterbury University. Due to a mix up I was actualy on earlier than expected and was the warm up act for the rest of a very interesting day on independent learning and the transition from 6th Form to Higher Education. There were some very interesting talks particularly about the expectations at University and the services offered by the public library service in Kent. In the afternoon I was engaged as part of a panel and we had lots of questions to answer. Overall a very good day and a lot of hard work particularly from Caroline Roche.


July was also the month that two of my Chartership Mentees finished off their portfolios. We all struggled to make sense of the VLE and getting everything in the right order and format. The good news for my next mentees is that I am now much more confident in what to do!


The other hard work was on the revised edition of the Innovative School Librarian book. We sent a whole day going through some more chapters and we are now on the final leg and hope to have the whole thing done by October.


So the Barbarian is now looking forward to a good holiday ...and writing a new online course for the SLA on cataloguing amongst other things!

By sjpavey, Aug 2 2015 11:40PM

June kicked off with some consultancy at Caterham School getting their cataloguing system ready for the new update and this was followed by running a cataloguing course for librarians and library assistants at Fortismere School and schools local to them. It was a fun session and everyone joined in the tasks with lots of enthusiasm. In fact June was quite a bit of a cataloguing based month as I also delivered some Access-It training to Epsom College.


The LISSEE meeting this term was held at Ardingly College and had an excellent agenda with interesting talks on independent learning projects and graphic novels. I learned a lot about the different types of Manga which was all new to me. After lunch I had the opportunity to run a hand on session on the talking products and managed to select a few willing volunteers to be filmed for TTS commenting on some of the toys.


On 10th June I attended the Librarians as Teachers Conference at Aston University . Amazingly I was awake enough to deliver my session - I'd been playing for a gig for Mars Chocolate in Surrey the night before until late and then had to drive up to Warwick to stay the night. Trying to find the right car park at Aston was a challenge but I succeded just in time. The talk on visual literacyt went down well with the audience of about 80 mostly from universities. Adam Lancaster was the other schools speaker and we also had presentations from the health sector and Jane Secker gave an outline of ANCIL and Andrew Walsh gave us some more gaming ideas. It was a great day and well worth the trip.


June was also the month I decided to enrol for September in the City & Guilds Education & Training Course (formerly PTLLS ) at NESCOT. I had an interview and received an unconditional offer ...so on Monday evenings in the Autumn Term it will be back to school for me! Really looking forward to it.


June continued with some mpre consultancy work at Roedean looking at possibilities for the recdevelopment of their library. It's an exciting project with plenty of options to consider.


Next stop was down to Southampton to run the Developing Writing Skills course for Creative Education. This was a new course for me but it all went very well. The amusing part was that I had got up at the crack of dawn to get to Southampton and avoid the traffic and then it transpired so had my two delegates who worked in a school 5 miles from my house. Still we agreed it was nice to have a day at the seaside!


Then it was back to London for the Haileybury Group meeting at Highgate School. They have a lovely refurbished library and I was able to pass on some tips to Roedean. I gave a talk on Visual Literacy combined with a play on the talking gadgets which provoked a lot of interest and comment. Unfortunately I could only snatch a quick lunch as I had to rush to the ISLG meeting in the afternoon at The Institute of Education Library. It was good to hear my friend Sally Perry tell us about the library which was fascinating and I hope to use the free pass to have a more detailed look around later in the year.


June was rounded off with speaking at the Capita Conference about the New KS3 English Curriculum by kind invitation of TTS. It was an audience of about 80 teachers who seemed surprised to have a librarian speaking and who asked lots of questions both at the end of my talk and also when i was on the panel in the afternoon. What was sad, was the number who did not have a librarian or a library in school - about a third of thise present. Many were using Accelerated Reader as a substitute for having a library which rather endorses the current trend for school libraries to be seen as an adjunct of the English Department and having the sole remit of reading for pleasure. In my opinion this is not doing any favours for professional librarians and may be part of the reason why head teachers are letting qualified staff go and replacing them with unqualified part timers and even volunteers. So many librarian jobs at present have abyssmal salaries, ask for no qualifications, and are often combined with other jobs such as exams officer, receptionist and reprographics technician. The cross curricular nature of the job and the teaching of information literacy (so important now ICT has been replaced by Computing) seems to have been lost just when it is needed most by young people.



By sjpavey, Jun 9 2015 03:56PM

May was certainly as busy as it promised to be with a lot of travelling around the country and meeting some great new groups of people and renewing old friendships.


First slot of the month was a Creative Education course on Personal Management that included time management and managing stress. I was a bit stressed myself as it was a new course for me and I had a diverse bunch of delegates but I need not have worried as all went very well. I decided to abandon the rather dry representations of the human body in the handbook in favour of some 3D wooden models where delegates could stick notes depicting areas where stress might manifest physically. The time management game with big balls and little beads went down well too.


Westminster School was the location for the Librarians of the Rugby Group's meeting and here I delivered the presentation on using visual literacy skills to explain the thinking behind information literacy and the interpretation of text. I also had time to show some of the interactive educational toys from TTS . Unfortunately I was unable to take up the lunch offer as we had a full day meeting for the finalised first 4 chapters in our revised Innovative School Librarian that afternoon.


Another Creative Education course in London beckoned next on Being an Effective Mentor. This was another new course for me but the feedback was good and the 3D wooden men came into action again. The course focussed on the role of Learning Mentors and was very detailed and evokes a lot of debate from the delegates and a lot of sharing of ideas


The Heaths course on IB to A Level Perfect Essay drew a crowd from home and abroad. This one is a regular for me and has proved successful. It was here I met Helen Jones from Malvern College and when I mentioned I was heading to Ledbury later in the month she invited me to call in.


Then it was north to Nottingham. The weather was awful unfortunatley which meant I did not see Rufford Park the training venue at its best. There was a good crowd for this annual training session for librarians in the Nottingham area run by Nottinghamshire ELS. The session concentrated on how the library could integrate with teaching and learning and we covered a lot of ground during the day. Again there was some time to look at the TTS products and other lo-tech toys.


The evening after Nottingham I enjoyed a "Zen drive" through the Peak District to Macclesfied to stay with my library pal Janet in advance of the SLA Manchester course in Altrincham the next day. This session looked at how librarians could use SMART targets to improve collaborative lesson planning and everyone came up with some great ideas for lessons and learned to understand more about differentiation.


May finished off with a trip over to Malven. It was lovely to meet Helen on a glorious day weather wise at the College and to meet her deputy head line manager. Her library is very impressive with lots of space and lots of ideas on how it could be developed. I took her advice for a drive through the Malvern Hills before arrriving at the hotel for Independent Thinking's Big Day Out in a Primary School at Ledbury. We were honoured to have the presence of Sir Al Aynsley Green at drinks and dinner and it was fascinating to hear about his time as Children's Commissioner and his plans for his presedential term at the BMA. He is a man passionate about education and who finds little good in the current system endorsed by the Government. Other entertainment that evening included Dave Keeling introducing me to Frixion Pens via a magic trick - I now have a set of them including highlighters.


The day at Ledbury was amazing from the magical start of the assembly by candlelight and time to reflect to the wonders of the playpod (a kind of scapheap challenge) in the playground where the new equipment lay untouched in favour of upcycling the scrap and making camps. Also present doing sessions in the school with the children was Andy Salmon who owns Think a Link - a great idea for memory and being able to work things out. The session with Simon on engaging with writing was also excellent and I think it could be adapted to be a practical demonstration of referencing for 6th formers. Basically it centred on brainstorming ideas within your own team and then collecting ideas from other teams - all done under a time pressure with music. My session was about innovative libraries based on no money, some money and loadsamoney. I found some great ideas such as story tents and using dairy crates as lampshades to share. It was also wonderful to meet Jenny who is a professional librarian working at Ledbury Primary School and who has worked wonders in their library.


June is looking equally full on for me so more to report back then!

By sjpavey, May 16 2015 01:01PM

April kicked off with a wonderful visit to the amazing LILAC conference - this year being held in the Northern metropolis of Newcastle Upon Tyne. It was my second trip to this city in as many weeks but this time I had a travelling companion in Dr Carol Webb and so we completed much CPD and ideas for the revised edition of the Innovative School Librarian on the trip. Base Camp was the Premier Inn on the Quayside and we were at first a bit alarmed to find out the bridge opposite is home to the largest inland breeding colony of Kittiwakes. Luckily the hotel had good double glazing and my room was at the back - these birds are LOUD! In the evening we went on a magical mystery tour in search of an Irish music session and food - this was supplied by the Cumberland Arms and a surprise Lebonese resteraunt called The Bake (copious amounts of tasty food for a good price!).


Early the next morning we set off for the conference. The keynote was given by Julia Jones who stood in for Tom Wilson at the last minute to tell us about Unionlean - a great initiative for CPD for Union members and emphasising the need for information literacy skills from employers as a necessity for effective working practice. After a break to look at the stalls and the poster exhibition I found my room and set up my presentation What Does Independent Learning Feel Like? This presentation considered how to engage with text using visual literacy principles. It was a packed room with all spaces taken and a few more squeezed in! All the delegates were happy to join in with the exercises and the photo below shows some of the active learning we enjoyed. I was a bit disappointed that I was scheduled against Helen Blanchett and Lisa-Jane Ashes' session on Hunting assumptions: encouraging creativity and critical reflection through collaboration. This was another fantastically interactive session with Lisa's thought bombs and more. After a good lunch and lots of networking I attended Carol Webb's session in which she described the research for her PhD How can we raise information literacy levels in the secondary school? Again this was well attended and Carol showed us how easily we can make assumprions whereas the research indicates very different values placed on information literacy by teachers in schools. I then moved on to the talk from Leeds University about their Experimental Week. This approach to teaching and learning was devised to help librarians step outside their comfort zone in the delivery of IL skills. They also made reference to another LILAC session that I unfortunately missed but sounded intriguing - The Fishscale of Academicness which compares academic information sources with sea creatures and their dwelling places. Next on the list was an interesting take on teaching IL Skills at Hull University. In trying to cope with engaging with huge numbers of students they had decided to step away from specific embedded teaching within faculties and address the masses with a one size fits all approach. I am not entirely convinced that this works as personally I feel there is a big divide between arts and sciences students and even aside from content surely the timing of delivery needs to be considered too - those studying humanities tend to need IL Support from the first year whereas it could be argued that science students do not really begin investigative and independent learning until later in their course after the basic facts have been learned. The final session was titled Inspire to enquire: creative techniques for creative students. This was delivered by a team from University of the Arts, London (UAL). They showed us some interesting ideas such as using 3D objects such as Barbie dolls to invite questioning from students, posting 3D objects through the mail (I am sure there is a good adaptation here for school libraries exchanging with each other and creating a shelf of curiosities received) and they also shared their wonderful idea for visual learners and ESL students for an induction where they used drawing to show their engagement with the library. Sadly this enlightening session was also set against another that I would like to have attended which addressed the content of the transition year between Year 11 and Year 12 in the Irish Education System and using this for outreach work on information literacy. This experiment was conducted in three Dublin schools by Maynooth University . We rounded off the conference day with a quick dash back to the hotel to change into evening wear and then back to the Civic Centre for the Conference Dinner.


Next on the agenda was to write my chapter for the forthcoming School Library Association's updated edition of Sixth Sense. I am going to be looking at teaching Academic Honesty to the Sixth Form which ties in nicely with the online course I have written for the SLA.


I also ventured up to CILIP to discuss some ideas for their VLE and to think about how we could develop some CPD for school librarians which would fit with the PKSB for those thinking about Certification, Chartership or Revalidation.


Later in April I went up to Cambridge to CATS College to offer some consultancy on the library whcih will be relocated to a new campus. They will be splitting off the higher education branch and the school will be housed on the new site. The librarians though will be responsible for both areas. The emphasis will be on digital learning and so there was a lot to discuss and think about. It will be interesting to see it all in action in September.


The month rounded off with catching up with Martin Neyland and Ken Wickstone at the Access-It Roadshow. Here they were demonstrating the fantastic new features for rhe new look OPAC. Some such as the One Search that allows you to search the catalogue and other databases at the same time are already a new addition to the old system but others such as drag and drop personal dashboards, browsing statistics (for those books left lying around in the library after a lesson or breaktime and are obviously used but not borrowed) and a book carousel option are all new additions.


Finaly my busy month ended with tapping into the Library 2.015 conference Emerging Future: Technology and Learning Although prodominently American I always find this free online conference useful and this year was no exception. Downloadable from here


...and so onwards to May which looks equaly busy. which is rather good


By sjpavey, Apr 1 2015 04:11PM

It's been an action packed start to the year and juggling music and consultancy has been fun and vibrant.


February started off with a welcome return to Heaths in Sutton to run the "Lost Library Years" course about KS4 engagement with the Library. The course was well attended which made for some lively discussion on many of the issues we covered from identifying opportunities within the packed curriculum, revision techniques and some games. It is likely that some coursework elements will remain even after the curriculum changes due over the next couple of years and so there will always be room to teach information skills to this key stage. We know these skills are so important for universities and the workplace and yet it is often just assumed students will somehow assimilate them without any formal guidance.


The Independent Thinking Day held on a Saturday in Nottingham was inspiring with a session on Mindfulness run by David Hodgson and then followed up after a great lunch with a general debate on the future direction of education.


Next stop was a course for Creative Education on promoting reading and the school library. I had two delightful delegates in a nice hotel near the Southampton waterfront. We discussed the various evidence from recent surveys on the state of reading and reading for pleasure amongst secondary school students. The talking tiles, photo album and talking pen helped to inspire ways to engage students further together with many other ideas.


Following up from BETT 2015 I met up with two representatives of TTS in London. We had a useful and productive meeting with a two way flow of information. Many of their excellent innovative products would be so useful in numerous ways within a library environment and I am hoping to work with them further to see how the ideas can be incorporated into the teaching and learning us librarians do!


Another Creative Education course I ran in Manchester was on Online Safeguarding. This was a new course for me and I was delighted in how smoothly it went and the fact that I received excellent feedback from the delegates - very reassuring as there were no librarians on this course. The course was well written and easy to deliver and my knowledge - albeit mostly from a library and tutoring background served it well.


...and so to Newcastle and Independent Thinking's Big Day Out at the Racecourse. I delivered two workshops - one on Visual Literacy use in Information Literacy and another on how we can get students to cope with the information overload from online and print sources. Both sessions were well received by the teacher delegates and requests for the slides. One delegate emailed me the day after to tell me excitedly that he had already used some of the techniques in his lesson that day. It was an action packed day conference with Nina giving great ideas on the use of iPads, Roy showing us his hero learning path - part of his Butterfly Model, Dave filling us will laughter and learning, working with Hywel on the literacy strand summary videos, Will sharing the alternative route to a perfect OFSTED via Dr Seuss and great conversations with Tait, Martin, David George and Nick Owen and of course Lisa and Dave Harris for bringing it all together. Did I forget to mention that we also had Matthew McFall's fantastic cabinet of curiosities on show which was wonderful - all those gadgets to play with. I am so looking forward to the next BDO in Ledbury in May. These events are so inpiring and they really do get you thinking about the whole education process.


There was more inspiration at the LISSEE meeting at Mayfield where a group of librarians from Independent Schools gathered to listen to speakers including Rosie Hill talking about her book service and a great informative session on the CILIP qualifications framework. After a good lunch we discussed other hot topics such as Apps for revision and Library Policies.


It has been a busy couple of months with my colleague Sally and I continuing to work on our chapter for the new edition of The Innovative School Librarian ..and so far we have all managed to keep to our deadlines - quite an achievement! I have also written a chapter for the new second additional Big Book of Independent Thinking which is about why we need school libraries and librarians more than ever in this day and age. I am also drafting another chapter for a forthcoming new edition of SLA's Sixth Sense looking at teaching academic honesty. My information skills support products also seem to be selling on Teachers Pay Teachers which is nice and comforting


So immediately after Easter I am packing bags to deliver my paper at the LILAC conference - yes back to Newcastle again. At the BDO one of our first tasks was to say "Motivation" in a North East accent and by the end of the day it was perfected so I shouldn't have to take a dual language dictionary this time!!!

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