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, 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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