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, Jan 3 2016 12:52PM

Bit of a catch up here as the last two months have been hectic with deadlines, training and music performances so I'm doing 2 months in one!


November and December were busy for me with Creative Education when I ran a number of courses on Promoting Reading in the School Library, The Effective School Librarian and Working with Parents to Raise Achievement, (in November) and then the Reluctant Writers course in December. The parent course was new and it was interesting for me to learn more about the expectations from Ofsted and the importance of keeping parents and guardians involved with the school and the curriculum. The delegates were really varied and I met some lovely people from very challenging schools including PRUs and a Virtual School. It really works both ways this training.


November also involved a trip to Stockingford Primary School in Nuneaton for the Independent Thinking Surprising Big Day Out. It was a fantastic day with lots going on and fun learning. Matthew McFall had his wonder room, Nina Jackson blew us away with bubbles, Jonathan Lear told us about the Monkey Curriculum and Mark Anderson had a real Star Wars bot running up and down the room. I delivered my magic eye visual thinking talk and the sight of 80 teachers all making magic telescopes was brilliant!


At the beginning of December I did a mini tour to the West Country for a couple of training sessions. First up was at Cirencester College with Gloucestershire LSE. This looked at how we can promote our libraries to our school communities and beyond and then in the afternoon we discussed the issue of censorship and considered scenarios where it might be appropriate and when not including online safeguarding issues. We had a good day and highlighted many issues. Thank you everyone for the great feedback


The second day of the tour was to The Hive in Worcester for the SLA Midlands group. This drew delegates from a wide area including as far flung as Switzerland and to a lesser extent Exeter. This session concentrated on Academic Honesty and Copyright. Again it was an excellent day and delegates commented in their feedback how much they had gained from the course and how much they had enjoyed it. I do try to gve my delegates practical advice and get them to try things out that they can take back and put into practice in their schools.


I was lucky enough to be invited by Jane Secker from LSE to a lunch with Maggie Philbin as part of the Teen Tech initiative that CILIP's ILG are involved with, She was speaking about the project to an HE group of librarians in the afternoon. It was lovely to meet her and hear her passion about getting students engaged with STEM subjects - particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds. I am looking forward to taking part in the Warwick Teen Tech Event in January.


This winter has been a writing month with the publication of There is Another Way and a grear response to my chapter on Libraries - thanks particularly to Caroline Roche for a great review on Amazon. It was also good to see many non-librarians commenting positivity too. The Innovative School Librarian is also nearing the end of the editing phase and we are on schedule for a publishing next year. Finally I have been invited by Andy Walsh at Huddersfield University to write a short book for him on reading for pleasure.


This winter has been a learning month. I had the final assessment for my AET - the microteach and now the folders are in for external assessment but I have passed. We should get the certificates soon but it is good to have a teaching qualification under my belt. I was also able to attend a very interesting free seminar at Kew National Archives on technology delivered by Andy Mink. He suggested a number of useful Apps and sites which would be very useful for a school library and also in teaching.


January looks busy for me too starting straight away on 4th January with an INSET session on Curiosity and Creativity for ITL. We were so pleased to get our paper accepted for LILAC in Dublin in March and I will also be presenting my jigsaw puzzles at the Lagadothon.

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, 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, 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, Aug 1 2014 11:35AM

I never imagined I would have such a busy and exciting month ...and officially I have not even left Box Hill School's employment yet.


I have just begun a new keep fit regime by helping out at a primary school in Kent. Following a visit at the beginning of the month and a consultancy report I offered to help out with the physical side of the job and spent two 8 hour days lifting, carrying and sorting in the summer heatwave to achieve the bulk of transforming one very neglected library into two inspiring places - one for infants and one for juniors. Seeing the project evolve made up for the fact that I was barely able to walk afterwards and hobbled around like a 90 year old! I have one more day to do at the end of August. It was so uplifting to be engaged by a forward thinking headmaster who realised the libraries could be the key to opening doors to the future for his young pupils.


Doors have been opening for me too and I may have the chance to pursue further my research interests into the impact of auditory learning through collaboration with GCSE Pod. There is so little research on comparisons between the use of audio alone vs video in retention of understanding and content. I have been thinking about the spate of articles on the distraction caused by overbusy wall displays in classrooms and think this could be linked into the same brain patterns in terms of pedagogy and resulting achievement of students. It would be brilliant to be able to investigate further. Does this also have implications for library displays I wonder? Could we use a form of audio tag as a virtual reality option rather like Aurasma has done with video?


Our action research group eLRARG has decided to look at revising our collaborative book The Innovative School Librarian and so we have all been given our homework for the Summer. Hopefully it will take us considerably less time to revise than the two years it took to write initially!


There have been so many things happening and I am writing a new online course on Academic Honesty for the School Library Association, my singing band Morrigan is really beginning to make progress and we have produced our CD and then there are the ceilidh gigs. I've also been keeping an eye on technology developments and following my bitter disappointment of the demise of Xtranormal and so pleased to see that Plotagon have taken up the banner complete with school scenarios (including a library) and characters. I never believed my freelance life would be so busy so soon.


However the best news of the month has to be my acceptance as an Associate with Independent Thinking. I never thought that my application would be considered and just being invited to interview was a great honour. The company say they seek out the inspirational geniuses from the nutters and so it was with trepidation and an X Factor like fear that I met them near Leicester. I spent a wonderful hour and a half with Dave, Nina and Hywel and at the end felt so excited and brimming with ideas. When two days later I discovered I had been welcomed into their family I was over the moon and am so looking forward to joining and working with such an amazing bunch of people.


So I have now trained my successor at Box Hill School, handed in my keys and the future beckons. Off for a holiday now!

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