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 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, 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.

By sjpavey, Jan 10 2015 09:55PM

I can't believe that I have not had time to update this blog since November and it has been an exciting time with varied work and opportunities.


November kicked off with a return visit to The Winston Churchill School to give some induction to the new temporary librarian and to help weed and sort the non-fiction stock and to identify gaps that would need to be filled. It was hard physical labour for 2 days between the two of us but I left it looking more user friendly and together we came up with a new arrangement for the library furniture to encourage use and exploration.


Heath's Bookshop ran a training session on Academic Honesty and we ended up with 10 delegates (including two internatiional schools) for a fun filled interactive day. The lego exercise proved a hit and everyone left with ideas for writing their academic honesty policy and with more of an idea about referemcing and academic style.


That same evening I met up with my new colleagues at Independent Thinking Ltd and we had a lively pre conference meal. Such a bunch of inspirational people and the conversation just flowed. I met a stand up comedian for children, experts in every field of information, people developing apps and brimming with ways to engage students and teachers in the educational process home and abroad. The following day was their Big Day Out at Glyn School in Epsom and my inaugeral Keynote speech. The morning session included the wonderful Christa an expert in Modern Languages whose finale consisted of us all writing what we could take away from her session on a coloured piece of paper and then making a paper dart and throwing it towards her. She advocates dressing up in her language classes so that students do not feel self conscious about speaking in a foreign tongue. At the exhibition I had a long chat with Jo Feast about Jigsaws (she works with a PHSE company of the same name) and we hoped we might incorporate my Create an Essay jigsaws into her company's product line. Then after lunch it was time for my talk on the importance of checking authenticity and only uploading verifiable information to the internet if we want to be able to rely on information in the future. I called it "Standing on the Shoulders of Giants". I had a good audience and it was received well with lots of questions - in fact so many we had to call a halt. I was followed by the amazing Jim Roberson who showed us just what our brains are capable of in true motivational style. It was a great day out and I'm looking forward to running a couple of workshops at the next one in Newcastle in March.


In December I ventured up north to Leeds to run a training course on supporting the EPQ for the Yorkshire and Humberside SLA Branch. We had a good day in the Leeds Art Gallery with very spectacular cafe facilities. Some delegates had already completed my online course for the SLA on this topic but managed to take more from the practical exercises. Everyone found something to help them progress with the qualification and I think it helped people decide to what extent they wished to be involved.


This trip was followed by a journey west for a training course on Mobile Learning in Gloucester organised by Gloucestershire Library Services for Education. The course required careful planning as there was only limited internet connection and no WiFi access at the venue. Still with a mixture of pre recorded video and using apps that did not require online connection we managed to obtain practical experience. I also took along a talking pen with sound dots and a talking photograph album so we could see how lo-tech could enhance mobile learning opportunities too. I organised the examples around Blooms Taxonomy for the non-fiction and then we also looked at how Apps and Web 2.0 products could be used for reader development. Again we all had a good day and I think everyone found something to try out for themselves in their own schools.


...and so to 2015. I am looking forward to running another course for Heath's entitled The Lost Library Years - engaging KS4 students with the school library and several Creative Education courses are on the horizon too. I've also just found out my paper for the LILAC conference "What does independent learning feel like" has been accepted so I'll be back to Newcastle in April.

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