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, May 3 2016 03:37PM

These last few months have been varied and have seen me out and about, home and abroad, in reality and virtually and more exciting adventures ahead.


At the beginning of February I was invited to run a workshop for Hampshire School Library Service on mobile technology. It gave me a good chance to try out my new toys of Leap Motion and Google Cardboard but it highlighted the fact that my new laptop does not have a normal connector for a projector. Amazon to the rescue following the event! It was a productive morning and most of the attendees were not qualified librarians so I hope it gave them some inspiration about what can be used creatively in a school library.


The BETT show provided some good follow up opportunities and I had useful meetings with Julia from TTS and Caroline from ReadingWise. Both great products and looking forward to using them as reference on some of my courses.


I had several Creative Education courses to run too - Developing the Role of Non-Teaching Pastoral Staff, Inspiring Struggling Children to Write and Raising Boys Achievement. All went well and it was good to run some directed at the Primary sector too.


I also was involved in consultancy at the inspirational Rathfern Primary School in Catford. I was able to talk with all the Phase Leaders about their literacy provision in the classroo, discussing ideas for getting the students engaged in their reading. I was also able to talk with the Headteacher about their central library provision - it is a great example of collaboration with the local public library. This school achieved outstanding status in its last Ofsted and it is not hard to see why. Such a turnaround for a school in a deprived area and it demonstrates what can be done with an enthusiastic, forward thinking management team.


Virtual training opportunites continues with Access-It and it is always a pleasure to get their new customers up and running and to see how they can develop their LMS for their customers.


However the greatest virtual challenge was an intriguing project with CILIP to deliver online training to library staff in the soon to be opened British Council Libraries in Pakistan. My first session was with staff in Lahore and I was concerned that the bomb blast days before the training might have resulted in a delay. Nonetheless we went ahead and the two mornings went very well. The first session was introducing staff to Dewey Decimal Classification and talking about the physical layout of the library and the second day concentrated on digital resources and future proofing. The feedback was excellent and the technology worked well - important as this was a first for CILIP delivering onsite training remotely overseas. I am really looking forward to repeating the sessions with Karachi. So good to see investment in library facilites instead of closure.


The other big event this month was the LILAC conference. It was amazing and I picked up lots of ideas. My favourite must be the introduction to Vine. I loved the concept of making a Vine to show the entrance to a library and what lies beyond the door. Our paper Effective Partnerships with Schools was well received and stirred interest from university librarians keen to work in collaborative partnership. The second day of the conference saw me taking part in the Lagadothon - one of 6 selected showcases of educational games at which I presented my jigsaw puzzle. The overall winner was Andrew Walsh with his information literacy game based upon a locked room mystery.


March concluded with a trip down to Canterbury and the University of the Creative Arts for a Teach Meet at which I presented the Leap Motion gadget and looked at ways this might be used particularly in sculpture and 3D printing. There were some excellent presentations and some cool ideas including using Russian stcking dolls to demonstrate hierarchy.

By sjpavey, Nov 1 2015 07:15PM

The start of October was marred by sleep deprivation from attending a folk festival in my other life!


The Access-It training continued at a steady rate this month with a variety of schools. It is so good to see people getting started and the system helping them to get books and resources out to the students. Some staff I train are not familiar with libraries which is a reflection on the type of recruitment being adopted by schools desperate to cut costs. But my trainees are always enthusiastic and it is nice to have an opportunity on the back of the catalogue sessions to point them in the direction of qualifications and support networks. I just wonder how many others are out there with no real idea of how to manage their library and no idea of where to get help.


Surrey SLA engaged me to run a twilight session at Guildford High School for Girls on visual literacy and we also had a chance to play with the talking products (some from TTS) and have a go with the Create an Essay jigsaw puzzles. It was a fun evening and good participation from the 30 who attended,


Next stop training wise was a course on Writing Skills for Creative Education in Birmingham. I love running this course because we get to indulge in creative play. It was an interesting scenario beginning the night before when the hotel car park was full save for one impossible space. A knight in shining armour appeared and offered to attempt to squeeze my car in for me but alas he didn’t have any luck either. Finally a hotel knight in shining armour appeared and allowed me to park in a disabled space – phew! However first man drove my car to the said space and I was a bit alarmed to see my car disappearing with me chasing after with my case and the man’s case too. All ended well. The next day one delegate was ill and one did not turn up so I just had one trainee. We agreed to do a one to one when suddenly the other delegate appeared – he had forgotten he had a training course and had gone to school where his colleagues reminded him! So it was a good day after all and lots of creative learning.

My AET course continued throughout the month and all the assignments are now safely in. I just have the microteach to do in November and then it’s time to submit my portfolio. It has been a useful course and has certainly honed my skills in preparation for sessions. Some of it is more directed towards adult education on an ongoing course run by an institution which is not so relevant to me but it has given me an understanding of pedagogy, andragogy, inclusivity and diversity, assessment and feedback.


The focus this month has been on writing and seeing the fruits of my labours! The SLA Cataloguing course will be live imminently, the Independent Thinking Press’s book “There is another way” is published officially on 2nd November and we have been working hard on the second edition of “The Innovative School Librarian” now putting in the final touches before it is delivered to Sharon Markless for an edit and thence to Facet for an estimated publication date of May 2016. It has been an almost complete rewrite and we had no idea that so much had changed since we wrote the original in 2009.


The final involvement to report is with Teen Tech. We have now completed the set of information sheets (ably compiled and designed by Rebecca Jones of ILG and overseen by Jane Secker). I am really looking forward to attending Maggie Philbin’s seminar on 12th November.


By sjpavey, Nov 1 2015 12:45PM

After a pleasant summer break in France where somehow we managed to avoid the monsoons in both England and further south from Normandy it was back to work fairly pronto for the Barbarian.


Before the end of August I was invited to return to Box Hill School to run a couple of induction sessions on information skills for the Summer School international students. We had good fun with game based learning including building Lego houses and the feedback was good.


Access-It training continued apace with the start of term in September and several clients new to the system as well as guiding existing users on the rather wonderful new OPAC. This allows you to create your own dashboard and save searches and resources that are your favourites. It also refines the One Search facility allowing cross searching against the catalogue and specified other databases or search engines eg EBSCO or Google Scholar etc. Then students can also create bibliographical records and citations from the resources they have chosen at the touch of a button and all this for free with the start-up package.


I returned to Roedean to meet their Headmaster and to discuss further the plans for developing the Library with him and the librarian. I am looking forward to seeing the outcome next year!


The main excitement of September though was enrolling on and beginning my AET Level 3 course at NESCOT. There are 12 of us all together with an interesting range of backgrounds from hairdressing and personal trainers to teachers from NESCOT. I managed to get the first of the three assignments in on time ….but will I sustain this ???


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, 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


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