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, Feb 5 2016 01:12PM

2016 started early - well VERY early with a trip to Maidenhead for delivering an INSET session at Cox Green School on Curiosity and Creativity for Independent Thinking. I thought it would be tough at 8,30am the first Monday after the Christmas break but the staff were delightful and happy to join in with the session. After an hour keynote I ran a workshop on the same topic for a group of newly qualified teachers who all had fantastic innovative ideas. The amusing bit was the coffee and croisants trolley being positioned directly underneath a sign declaring NO FOOD or DRINK - well I just had to take a photo! Cox Green is a great school and they are using Ian Gilberts "Thunks" on a daily basis to try and evoke a sense of curiosity in their students to compliment their impressive exam results.


Next up was a day in Warwick at the National Grid as part of the Teen Tech initiative implemented by Maggie Philbin. With the launch of CILIP Information Literacy Group's resource sheets myself, Darren Flynn and Rebecca Jones were able to run sessions on research methods and questionnaire design as part of this Innovation Day. Student numbers were a bit disappointing but those attending were very enthusiastic - especially for Darren's session which foussed on crisp flavours - very apt as it was over a working lunch! We also had a fascinating tour of the premises and the highlight for me was the Innovation Room where we played with Leap Motion (I got one for Christmas - Yaaay!) VR Headsets, 3D phone Scanners and more. So inspiring!


Creative Education also kept me busy with a course in London on the Effective Mentor and then an Online Safeguarding course in Bristol. Both were filled with a good range of delegates which made for lively debate and discussion on these two areas so vital to be considered by schools today. I managed to dodge the first snow of the year in my trip west to Bristol but had a marathon run at the end to catch my train with about 30seconds to spare - phew!


I managed to squeeze in the annual pilgrimage to the BETT show but was a bit disappointed in the content. A lot about robotics but not a great deal to support information literacy really. It was good to catch up with friends at TTS, Plotagon, International Baccalaureate and to play on a few things - I have still to wade through the vast quantities of literature I brought back and to try on the tatfoo sleeves!


Much of the later part of the month was occupied by music events - it being the Burns Night season and also the season to get the tax done. However I am also penning another tome on reading for pleasure for Andy Walsh and that although a bit late is firmly underway!

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!!!

By sjpavey, Feb 12 2015 04:49PM

This month I seem to have concentrated more on the music side of my life with 8 Burns Nights in total as well as singing events. Nonetheless I have been able to squeeze in a few things on the information front too.


Attending the BETT show was a highlight on the calendar. I spent a few hours there and collected some interesting bits and pieces and found out about some new products too. Continuing my quest for lo-tech toys I stumbled across the Talking Products stand and bought myself a talking tile. These are large hexagon shaped push buttons about the size of a CD. You can insert a picture or writing into the top under the clear plastic and then you have 80secs of recording time. Brilliant for displays and interactivity and a great complement to my talking photo album and talking pen. I also spent time talking with Flashsticks who make interactive post-it type notes for teaching languages. They are interested in development and I was keen to try and see if they would consider moving into literacy with english language or information skills - I can see great potential here for labelling and signage in the library too. They would also be fantastic for revision in a whole range of subjects. Another stand I visited was Plotagon who have taken over rather from Xtranormal. Plotagon have now got an education arm and were offering free downloads. They also took on board requests for more up to date library scenarios and the need for a range of agegroups for students. It would be great if you could make your own characters too. I also stumbled across an alternative plagiarism checking software in UnPlag who are based in Ukraine and who seem to be challenging the Turnitin/Ephorus market. They say it is a system that has been designed by IT educationalists and it did look impressive - certainly one to consider if you are looking for plagiarism detection software. I was also impressed by Essay Writer which takes mind mapping that bit further to help students construct and develop their essays. It looked easy to use and although a capabel student migt be able to do similar on their own it did have some neat features such as automatic repositioning of text and references if you moved paragraphs around in the construction. The only drawback I could see is that it cannot handle footnotes referencing which is a pity. Finally the ExamPen WizCom stand caught my eye. This together with the Reading Pen (which has the addition of a dictionary/thesaurus and so cannot be used in the exam hall) can scan text and then read it to the listener. Headphones can be plugged in so that it does not disturb people nearby. I thought this was a neat solution for all types of student but particularly SEN and EAL. However my SENCO colleague has used them and said they take a bit of practise to work correctly. Maybe this is a move towards better use of technology in an exam situation.


This year BETT did seem to be focussing on 3D Printing, Apps that can replace a VLE and School Management System and robotics/coding. I did go and visit the Raspberry Pi stand in a vain hope that I could persuade them to let me into a PiCademy but alas it was not to be - no funding other than for teachers. BUT I did pick up lots of useful tips, sorted the new edition of Carrie Ann Philbin's book and have resolved to get to grips with my christmas present!


The other main focal point of January was progress on the second edition of the Innovative School Librarian and trying to get to grips with the chapter. Sally and I had a good chat through some of the issues in a pub meeting and prepared for the writing task ahead. It is interesting how our approach will differ in writing the new edition - it SHOULD be quicker but it is amazing how much has changed in the world of school libraries since 2009.


My other occupation this month was taking the reins of the Independent Thinking Twitter account for a week. This was heady responsibility indeed and I decided to foduc on providing a series of geeky slides to get people thinking about information. I managed to drum up a few more followers and gained some favourites and retweets for my efforts. It also sharpened up my tweeting skills and I have been making more use of my own account as a result.


February looks busier on the training front which is good and I'll be reporting back from Independent Thinking's Thinking Day in Nottingham as well as courses for Heaths and Creative Education.

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