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, 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, 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, Nov 1 2014 02:45PM

There must be mysterious things afoot with Halloween etc as it seems my blog as of mid October has disappeared! So here follows a summary of events and thoughts since mid September.


Firstly an interesting visit back to Box Hill School as a consultant to talk through Extended Essays with the Upper Sixth for their International Baccalaureate. I was able to offer a follow up consultancy by email and a few took me up on this which kept me busy in the early part of October. It was great to work with them and to show them the skills of referencing and layout and they were quick to pick up on it which was very satisfying. It will be invaluable when they get to university.


I did some general library consultancy and training at Caterham School including a session on the Library Management System Access-It. In fact I am now offering freelance training on this system with the blessing of the Company and I'm really looking forward to promoting this again. it's a great system with so many features and all for the one price - no surprise bolt ons to worry about. It's also good to promote a family firm who do their own development work.


Creative Education kept me at the beginning of October with a couple of courses on The Effective School Librarian. One was in London and one in Manchester. I only had a couple of delegates on each but it was certainly interesting. In London one school was an inner city comprehensive and the other an independent girls school in an expensive area. I didn't think in a million years that the delegates would have so much in common - it just proves how wrong you can be. For example both had difficulty in establishing reading habits outside school - one because parents could not speak English or could not read and the other because although the parents were educated, they had an overseas nanny to look after the children who had similar issues. In Manchester my challenge was a delegate who was very experienced and knowledgable but wanted some formal training and a very quiet new recruit to the profession. Both had a great time and gave good feedback so I think I managed to get the balance right and give both an opportunity to express their views.


I have at last finished the Academic Honesty Course for the School Library Association - Yay! Hopefully this will now be up and running before too long. Time to think about the next one. Maybe cataloguing?


...and in between all the work on the Library front it's been a busy few weeks on the music front particularly with Morrigan, playing at Tenterden Folk Festival and more and also the filming of the Irish Music Session at the Kilkenny Tavern in Wimbledon.


So what's to come...well I'm doing some more development work at Winston Churchill School, sorting out some training with Osiris Educational, going to a couple of librarian meetings and then there is the Heath's Training Course on Academic Honesty followed by my inaugral appearance with Independent Thinking Limited at their Big Day Out Down South. Phew!

By sjpavey, May 18 2014 11:39AM

This month I have run a couple of interesting training courses both looking at the delivery of information skills.


Firstly for Creative Education, the day long course concentrated on the need for information literacy inclusion in the secondary school curriculum and ways in which this could be embedded. Part of the difficulty of course for librarians is the non statutory status in England and this is reflected in the lack of direct inclusion in the National Curriculum. So this course looked at opportunities to work with teachers in delivery and considered why some teachers were reluctant to embrace the library and the services of the librarian. What made this particularly interesting was that there were two qualified teachers on the course and so they were able to make insightful comments. Both had experience of school librarians and one was temporarily managing /caretaking the library until a librarian was appointed. Both agreed that they were unaware of the extent the librarian could be involved in teaching and learning and so hopefully this course achieved something in spreading the word. The course was very based on libraries and geared towards librarians and so it also covered learning styles and classroom management. It got me thinking about whether there is room for a course about the delivery of research skills for teachers.


The second course saw me back again at the wonderful Heath's Educational Books Showroom and we had a lively day dealing with research and writing up skills for 6th formers embarking on extended projects be it EPQ, IB Diploma Extended Essay or Cambridge Pre U. The delegates had a chance to put their own research skills into action by exploring the showroom for resources using a real essay title. We also looked at sources of information, evaluation and synthesis and touched briefly on academic honesty (although the latter will be run as a more in depth course in the autumn).


So next month I am returning to sessions with 6th formers and Year 10s in schools and leave the adults behind for a bit! .....and looking forward to the book being launched by the SLA.

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