Author Archives: LAMac

Caldervale High School Pupils meet Children’s Laureate

I have just returned to school on a high (a literary high) having taken 10 lucky Caldervale High School pupils to a Scottish Friendly Children’s Book Tour event featuring the Waterstones Children’s Laureate, Malorie Blackman, at the Mitchell Library in Glasgow, on Wednesday 21st May. Malorie spoke inspiringly about her background, her love of reading and writing, as well as introducing trailers of her books and showing a clip from her BAFTA winning BBC programme, Pig-Heart Boy. Fourth year pupil, Zilke Bleyl was able to ask Malorie about her book characters, during the Q&A session and all of the pupils were able to chat to the author at the book signing session at the end of the event. Malorie took the time to speak to each pupil individually and pose for numerous photographs, while signing their books. It was a thrill for me to see my pupils so excited to hear and speak to such an inspiring author (does that sound corny – I don’t care!!!) We had a brilliant time, thanks to the Scottish Book Trust who organised the event.
Malorie Blackman

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Caldervale’s New Year

It’s been a busy few months in Caldervale High School’s Library Resource Centre.  It all began with the BOOKies’ Burns Supper way back in January.  The school’s two book groups joined forces to present an informal, traditional Burns Supper.  It was so informal in fact that we had cardboard cutout bagpipes escort in the haggis!!  Our school piper was unavailable, as was our usual stand-in fiddler.  The pupils were wonderful, leading the proceedings, addressing the haggis, toasting the lassies and laddies and providing poetic entertainment.  Everyone had a great time.

Our second event was much more sombre – our Holocaust Memorial Day Commemoration.  Staff from the Social Subjects and RME Departments spoke to the book groups about the background to the Holocaust and the impact of more recent atrocities.  One of the second year BOOKies lit a candle in remembrance and a moments silence was observed.  The pupils were then able to peruse a selection of holocaust themed fiction.

Then this week we managed a trip out to the Mitchell Library in Glasgow to attend the Scottish Children’s Book Awards.  Every year the Scottish Booktrust does a fantastic job of organising the awards.  This year each age category had its own venue within the Mitchell Library.  Our group enjoyed the 4 part quiz, round 1 was guess the book from the movie still, round 2 was book cryptographs, round 3 was based on the shortlisted books and finally, a general book knowledge round.  Great fun, interspersed with author talks from the shortlisted novellists; Diana Hendry for The Seeing, Barry Hutcheson for Book of Doom and Claire McFall for The Ferryman.  Everyone was pleased to see Claire McFall take the award, although secretly our group had been rooting for Barry Hutchison.

To bring us bang up to date, we held our annual World Book Day Quiz.  Teams of pupils and staff combined forces to do battle to be the team with the best book knowledge.  Two rounds of questions and lots of sweets later, the winning team emerged as “Radioactive Tuna Pasta” with 18.5 points out of a possible 22.  The team with the most original name was judged to be “We will do anything for Sweets” and they were rewarded with chocolate Easter Eggs – quite appropriate I thought!

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Christmas at Caldervale

We have been getting into the Christmas spirit at Caldervale over the last few weeks with a decorate your door competition to raise money for the Philippines Typhoon Appeal, Christmas Concert rehearsals and parties.

The school’s S1-S4 book groups celebrated the end of another successful session by coming together for their annual Christmas party.  The table was set, the crackers and place settings laid and the programme finalised.  The guests invited, including the Head teacher and the English department. After lots of snacks and cakes, the pupils provided entertainment consisting of poetry readings,  ‘Twas the night before Christmas and The night after Christmas, a Christmas quiz and music. Even Santa paid a visit.  Everyone was treated to a book gift from Santa, another little incentive to keep them reading over the holidays!

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National Poetry Day 2013

How quickly the years do pass!!!!  National Poetry Day again – a great opportunity to get your pupils thinking about poetry.  I tried a couple really quick activities with my book groups this year.  First of all using the poetry match up activity from the NPD website and then using raindrop and cloud/puddle templates, I asked the book groups to think of as many words as they could related to the theme of Water.  On the raindrops they could write one word but on the clouds and puddles they had to think of three linked words, it took a while for some of the pupils to get into it and some only thought of one or two words but others were in their element asking for extra templates as they thought of more and more obscure links! (Sushi – was one!)  The end result was our National Poetry Day Tsunami!


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Automated External Defibrillator (AED) Training

Last week I was lucky enough to be able to attend an extremely useful course,  Automated External Defibrillator Training.  I wasn’t even sure I had applied to go on the course but was assured that as I had responded to an e-mail asking which staff in the school had completed previous HeartStart training, I had been selected to attend this extended training session. Not something you would normally associate with the LRC.

Just to give a little bit of background to the reason for the course – North Lanarkshire, in conjunction with NHS Scotland and partner agency Amey, aims to install Automated External Defibrillators (AED) in each of its 24 High Schools, by March 2014, at a cost of £70,000. Given that the chances of surviving a cardiac arrest increase from 2% with limited CPR to around 40% with CPR, defibrillation within 4 minutes and paramedic response within 8 minutes, this seems a small price to pay to save lives.

The course was delivered by a paramedic, along with members of the St. Andrew’s Ambulance Volunteers, who reminded us of the DRs ABC (Danger, Response, Airway, Breathing, Circulation) and the recovery position, before practising our basic CPR on Resus Annie, finally progressing to the AED units. The defribrillators are designed to be used by untrained members of the public and the instructions are clear and easy to follow, you really just have to know basic CPR.

Having attended the course and listened to the paramedic’s statistics on the likelihood of surviving a cardiac arrest on the streets of Britain (less than 5%) in comparison to that of Norway (50%), where First Aid education is taught to school children aged 6-16, I feel that all of our children (ideally everyone) should know at least some basic first aid. Even if it is only how to put a friend, who collapses, into the recovery position while they get help. I went home to give my 15 year old daughter and her friend a quick first aid refresher – just in case! I just hope that I never have to use these vital skills but am more confident now that I can if the need arises.

That’s one e-mail I’m glad I responded to!

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Scottish Children’s Book Awards 2012

Also on World Book Day, the winners of the Scottish Children’s Book Awards 2012 were announced:

The winner of the Bookbug (aged 3 – 7) category is:

The Day Louis Got Eaten by John Fardell, published by Andersen

The winner of the Younger Readers (aged 8 – 11) category is:

The World of Norm: May Contain Nuts by Jonathan Meres, published by Orchard

The winner of the Older Readers (aged 12 – 16) category is:

The 13th Horseman by Barry Hutchison, published by HarperCollins

A video of the event will soon be available at the above link.

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World Book Day

Caldervale High School celebrated World Book Day, on Thursday 7th March, with its annual team quiz to find the pupils with the best knowledge of books.  Fifteen pupils and 11 members of staff took part in the lunchtime quiz in the Library Resource Centre.

Pupils were teamed up with members of staff from the English Department to answer two rounds of book-related questions.  The winning team, after a tie break to guess the number of pages in a copy of Tolstoy’s War and Peace, were “The Epic Musical Cookie Munchers”, made up of two first year pupils, a fourth year pupil, and an English teacher,  scoring an “epic” 19.5 out of 22 points.  Note to self – must make the questions harder!!!!

The winning pupils each received a £5 book token and all the participants were rewarded with a World Book Day Token.  The prize for the most original team name went to the runners up “District 12 All Stars”.  I’m never sure if the Easter Eggs are the more popular prize or not?  This year’s staff team, from the Social Subjects Department, handed in the best performance yet,  in the 7 year history of the quiz, with 15 out of 22.  All the pupils and staff involved claimed they enjoyed the event – though that may have been due to the bowls of sweets on every team table!!!

 World Book Day Winning TeamWBD Best Team Name


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Holocaust Memorial Day 2013

HMD (7)Caldervale High School’s S1/S2 book group, The BOOKies, met recently to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day.  This has become an annual event for the group to light a candle in remembrance of the millions of people who were killed in the Holocaust and other more recent genocides.

The RME PT and a teacher from the History Dept were invited to give the group an insight into the background to the Holocaust and this was followed by a short film promoting the theme for HMD 2013, “Lessons Learnt”.  Pupils were also able to study a display of materials and were introduced to “The Boy in Striped Pyjamas” by John Boyne, which the group will use as one of their discussion titles for the session.

One of the group’s S2 pupils lit a candle and a moment of silence was observed, during which the group were able to reflect on what they had heard.

Although this is always a very sombre occassion, the pupils are very receptive to the themes imparted both by the staff taking part and the HMD organisations films.  We try to send them away with the idea that everyone of us can make a small difference.

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Caldervale’s BOOKies’ Burns Supper

On Tuesday 29th of January, a few days late! Caldervale’s S1-S4 book groups, The BOOKies & Catalyst, hosted their 10th annual Burns Supper.

The pupils in the groups had been planning the Supper since the beginning of the new term and with a little bit of help from the LRC Manager, had selected music and poetry to entertain their guests.

Two members of the Catalyst group chaired the event and were joined by members of the BOOKies, who “Addressed the Haggis”, performed “The Immortal Memory” and  “The Selkirk Grace”.  The school’s captains “Toasted the Lassies” and responded in kind, with much hilarity from the audience.  In the absence of a school piper, the haggis was very ably “fiddled” by one of the school’s 3rd year pupils.

The Home Economics Dept did a fantastic job of decorating the room and preparing the wonderful haggis, neeps and tatties.  While one of the pupil’s parents contributed a lovely dumpling for dessert.

Scottish Booktrust Live Literature Funding enabled the group to invite local storyteller, Gerry Durkin, to the school for a class visit on the day of the supper and he kindly agreed to stay to be guest of honour at the event.

Everyone involved had a great time.  The pupils excelled themselves, coming to practices almost every day at lunchtime to try and get their pronunciations perfect and learning their pieces off by heart.  I couldn’t have been prouder if they had been my own children!

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Caldervale High School Library

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Thought you might like a quick look at our new library. I have told the pupils that it is a bit like a supermaket at the moment – every time they come in something is in a different place!

It is lovely to have a nice clean blank page to work with, however, I am still searching for the perfect lay out! Dreading getting my storage materials back though! There is a lot less shelving space than in our old library and much more computing space – a sign of the times perhaps?

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National Poetry Day 2012

Here is a look at the star wall we created.

It has been ages since my last post!  I thought, however, that my book group’s National Poetry Day efforts merited a mention.  I should also admit that I stole (or maybe “copied” is a better description) the idea from Jen at OLHS.

As the theme for NPD this year is “Stars”, Jen thought it would be a good idea to create characters based on some of the named stars in the galaxy with her creative writing group.  (I hope that is a proper brief description of the activity you related to me, Jen!) While Jen has managed to develop the idea in to an Inter-disciplinary project I decided to keep it as a simple task that would fit into the lunchtime book group’s remit for the day.

Jen sent me a huge list of all the named stars, which I divided up amongst the book group – asking them to choose a star and create a one line description of the character they thought the star would be if it was a real person.  We had a lot of fun, with male and female characters emerging, prince and princesses – we even had star marriages!

Thanks, Jen!  Good luck with your expanded NPD project.

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Famous Last Words

Do you ever wish you had just kept quiet in a meeting? I do – frequently! I’m just one of those people who, when there is an awkward silence after volunteers have been asked for, have to stand up and say “I’ll do it if no-one else wants to…….” and does anyone else ever want to? No!

Last year I did that very thing when our School Fund Committee was looking for a new treasurer. I was led to believe that it didn’t involve very much apart from around Activities Day at the end of May. “Oh!” I said – “well, that can be quite a quiet time for me with the change of timetable, etc. I suppose I could do it if no-one else wants to!”

Who were they kidding – all through the year there has been a plethora of different requests for funding, invoices to pay and records to be kept and come Activities Day!!! Did I forget the BOOKies & Catalyst Book Group Farewell parties, helping out at the Awards Ceremony rehearsals, proofreading the S6 yearbook, supervising new S6 study classes and last but not least, the packing up to move into our newly re-furbished school? Quiet time, who was I kidding???

Saying that I have actually enjoyed the experience of monitoring the School Funds, it has brought me into contact with a number of staff I wouldn’t normally see and brought a lot of them into the library which they normally wouldn’t visit. It’s also enabled me to feel a part of the wider school community.

Roll on next year – I wonder how long it will be before someone will want to take over from me?

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Catalyst Review Prize

Caldervale High School has just taken advantage of  S4 pupil, Damon Allan’s Catalyst Longlist Review prize, with an author visit from Dead Boy Talking author, Linda Strachan.  Damon introduced Linda, with a short resume of her life so far, before Linda herself spoke to the group about her Catalyst 2010 winning novel, Spider and her 2011 longlisted Dead Boy Talking.  The book groups were enthralled by her Powerpoint presentation depicting her research with the Fire and Police Services.  Some strong stomachs were needed for a few of the scenarios recounted. Linda took time at the end of her talk to answer questions and sign copies of both of her books.  All of the pupils thoroughly enjoyed sharing Damon’s prize.

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World Book Day

Well, yet another World Book Day has come and gone!

To celebrate Caldervale High School LRC hosted its annual WBD Team Quiz.  4 pupils ranging from S1-S4 teamed up with a teacher from the English Department to battle it out to be named the WBD Champions.  What a battle it turned out to be – with questions ranging from “What is George Orwell’s real name?” to “Which novel won the North Lanarkshire Catalyst Book Award for 2011?” – the winning team scored an incredible 21 out of 22.  Maybe I should make it harder next year.  The winning team, “The Incredibubbles” were rewarded with Book Tokens and the Team with the most original team name, “A Series of Unfortunate Answers”, won chocolate Easter eggs.

The staff team called “foul” as due to a last minute team entry they lost their English teacher, who went on to lead the winning team!  I won’t tell you what position they finished in.

Everyone had a great time, hopefully learned something and pupils and staff got a chance to mix in a social atmosphere.

BTW – George Orwell’s real name is Eric Arthur Blair and “Time Riders” by Alex Scarrow won the North Lanarkshire Catalyst Book Award for 2011.   I’m sure you all knew that!

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Scottish Children’s Book Awards

I had a great day out of the LRC yesterday when I took a group of pupils from Caldervale to the Scottish Children’s Book Awards at the Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh.

We traipsed through the drizzle in Princes Street Gardens to the theatre. Where we took our seats for the ceremony. Some of our pupils were a little bit disappointed that their favourite Theresa Breslin didn’t win but others were delighted to see Nicola Morgan take top place, in the 12-16 category, for her novel “Wasted”.

The Scottish Booktrust did a fantastic job of hosting the awards and our pupils thoroughly enjoyed the whole event, especially getting a chance to meet the three authors in their category at the book signing. All of the authors took time to speak individually to the pupils while they signed copies of their books or handed out pre-signed postcards.

A happy group skipped back through the wind to catch the train home! I’d thoroughly recommend getting involved in the Scottish Children’s Book Awards from the initial reading and reviewing of the shortlisted titles through voting and finally attending the ceremony.

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