Health and Well-Being

Titanic Project

This is OLHS’ successful submission for North Lanarkshire’s Excellence and Equity Awards 2017: Productive Partnerships – Purposeful Learning.

As a result of changes to SQA exams, staff at Our Lady’s High School, Motherwell, spotted an opportunity to provide an exciting programme of interdisciplinary experiences for some of our National 4 students. Our aim was to help pupils gain additional qualifications while expanding their life experiences and raising awareness of the options available to them on leaving school, all through focusing on the Titanic disaster.

We are now approaching the third year of this vibrant project which runs over three weeks of the SQA diet. The programme coordinators are PT Pupil Support, Lyn Zambonini, and Library Resource Centre Manager, Jennifer Macfadyen, but the project involves staff from across Our Lady’s High School, local businesses, voluntary groups and national organisations.

Following an initial introduction, the programme is split into four broad areas: ship building and design; life aboard the Titanic; the disaster itself; and the rediscovery of the wreck.

We were stunned to discover that the steel plates that built Titanic had actually come from the Colville Steelworks in Motherwell, making a wonderful connection with our local heritage. Pupils were lucky to experience Tata, now Liberty Steel, in the process of rolling the steel plates with a guided tour by staff at the plant, who also provided pupils with many stories of life at the steelworks and a thorough grounding in Health and Safety routines.

Although the Titanic was built in Belfast, we were able to take advantage of the Clyde’s vast experience in ship-building, visiting the Titan Crane at Clydebank, and the Denny Tank Museum at Dumbarton. Titan staff explained how riveting gangs worked, how the shipyards were a part of the community and how dangerous life was while the Denny Flotation Tank demonstrated the engineering expertise involved in designing and testing ships’ hulls. The group also discovered that Denny’s was even involved in testing some of Titanic’s lifeboats. This information became invaluable when learning about buoyancy with Science teachers back at OLHS, and designing their own hulls.

Pupils also learned more about some of the passengers and crew aboard and the different lives they led on a luxury liner depending on their class. English showed the films, A Night to Remember and Titanic, and compared the special effects and factual reliability of each. Our group were able to put their new-found knowledge into practice by working with Lifestyle Development staff to create a shipboard lunch for staff – although staff did not know until the last minute whether they would receive the 1st, 2nd or 3rd class treatment and dining experience.

To bring everything up to date we contacted Greenock Ocean Terminal who kindly arranged for us to have a tour of the Caribbean Princess. We used this experience as a focus on careers, bringing along our Careers Advisor, Miss Ruth Robertson from SDS to provide detailed advice. Seeing aboard a real cruise ship gave pupils a whole new way of looking at the world, and the numerous careers open to them. They were also keen to compare the Caribbean Princess to what they had already learned about ship design. They were definitely impressed by the safety regulations and the numbers of lifeboats.

Turning our attention to the disaster itself, Mr Walter Lee from the RNLI kindly came along to demonstrate what happened with the iceberg and graphically explain what would have happened to the Titanic’s passengers in the water, including the effects of hypothermia – he even brought along his own mini iceberg!

Other activities have included creating a map of the world demonstrating the Titanic’s route (Social Subjects); printing and poster making (Art and Design); trying out Morse code (Science); an afternoon swimming courtesy of NL Leisure (Lifestyle Development); building their own model Titanic (Social Subjects / Art); discussion of moral issues relating to women and children first and the treatment of 3rd class passengers (RE); further moral issues relating to the wreck arose following a screening of Ghosts of the Abyss: should the Titanic be raised? Should material be removed? Should the ship be left to rust to nothing? (English); and multi-lingual newspaper front pages (Modern Languages).

With so many stories being generated from the project, we wanted pupils to be able to record the aspects that were most important to them, from the ‘women and children first’ policy, to the lifeboats, to the role of the wireless operator, so we introduced the group to storyteller, Allison Galbraith, thanks to part-funding from the Scottish Book Trust. Allison demonstrated the art of storytelling, and guided the group through creating and recording their own stories, helping them to record their own voices for posterity. Allison started by introducing herself and just talking with the group, building pupils’ confidence in speaking before a stranger. As a result, although pupils were nervous about recording, they were keen to participate. Allison also demonstrated breathing exercises and vocal warm-ups before recording began, with further advice on presentation as we worked through the stories. Despite occasionally breaking into the giggles, every pupil managed to record their own work beautifully.

Discussion with pupils led to an additional trip which saw us taking the ferry to Rothesay and the stunning Mount Stuart House. This mansion was completed in 1912, the same year as the Titanic disaster and thus pupils were not only able to experience actually travelling across water – a new experience for all of them – but to see luxurious interiors similar to those of the ship they’d been learning all about.

The Titanic Project continues to develop with partnerships emerging as various individuals and groups express an interest in participating. In 2016, our pupils were even able to join with St Brendan’s Primary as part of their anniversary visit to Belfast to see the Titanic Museum for themselves.

The Titanic Project has been a huge success over the last two years. We have seen the pupils blossom, gaining in confidence, pulling together as a team, and their ideas of what’s available to them in the future have expanded rapidly. Each year pupils have created an exhibition of their experiences which have been visited by classes from across OLHS and visitors to the school, leading to further discussions and expressions of interest. Last year all of the pupils involved achieved the SQA qualifications. “Local investigations” at SCQF level 4.

Feedback from pupils themselves has been outstanding:

”I thought it would be boring, but it was brilliant!”;

“I liked how we went on adventures and explored all the museums”;

“I seemed to get a better relationship with people that I hadn’t spoken to since primary”;

”I actually wanted to come to school!”

The Project continues to explore new ground and build new partnerships. Staff coordinators continue to collect materials, ideas and contacts and we look forward to its continuing success long into the future.

Categories: Books, Communication, Creativity, Curriculum for Excellence, Developing the Young Workforce, Expressive Arts, Health and Well-Being, Interdisciplinary Learning, Investigations, Languages, Learning and Teaching, Literacy, Maps, Mathematics, Numeracy, Outdoor education, Posters, RE / Religious and Moral Education, Resources, Sciences, Social Studies, Storytelling | Tags: | Leave a comment

Safer Internet Day 2016

A collection of tweets and links for Safer Internet Day 2016.

As School Librarians, we spend a large proportion of our working lives showing young people how to discover, access and safely make use of information in all formats, so online safety is an integral part of our role. NLC schools might be on holiday, but ideally, our advice and influence continues to keep pupils safe online whether they’re in school or at home.

SQA supports Safer Internet Day 2016 – Courses available for young people in schools

UK Safer Internet Centre coordinate Safer Internet Day in the UK

UK Safer Internet Center – Education Packs contain plenty material including a collection of useful videos, including those below (which are ironically restricted via YouTube but available through Vimeo).

Play your part

Tamanna’s Story

Jessica’s Wish

Online quiz from the Open University: Are you a safe sharer?
Not sure I agree with all of their analyses. Watch before sharing onwards as this is aimed at adults.

Advice on passwords from Get Safe Online

Categories: Developing the Young Workforce, Health and Well-Being, Information Literacy, Learning and Teaching, Resources, Social Media, Technology, Twitter | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Taylor High School’s Adventure into the World of Knitting

Written by Cathy MacIntyre

I am job-share librarian at Taylor High School, Motherwell, North Lanarkshire. We like to encourage our S1 and S2 students to come along to lunchtime clubs and we wanted something that could rival other clubs operating throughout the school. Various ideas were put forward, it would need to be something that would keep their attention and was fun.

One of my colleagues is a knitting expert and agreed to help me on my mission.

Before we invested in our knitting needles we had to make sure that our members were serious. At our first meeting 10 came along, 4 boys and 6 girls. Nobody knew how to knit, initially our aim was to knit small squares and to sew them into a blanket. We would raffle or auction it and donate the money to charity. Long term plan I hasten to add.

The club started in September 2015 and it caused quite a commotion once word spread throughout the school. Two more students wanted to join so more needles had to be bought. We decided to make 12 our maximum number.

Mrs Dickson (one of our classroom assistants), our knitting expert, came up with an idea to keep the group interested, before we began to make our blanket, let’s show the students how to knit covers for their mobile phones. She brought in some samples and the group thought that it was a great idea.

We started by showing the group how to cast on 30 stitches and start to knit plain garter stitch. Thursday lunchtime, 12.25-1.10pm and we had a thriving club with 12 enthusiastic members. By the time they had their lunch the actual time spent on knitting was 25 minutes.

Some of the students thought that their knitting would grow quickly but unfortunately many stitches were dropped and had to be found but then we decided just to leave the mistakes because as they improved they could look back and laugh.

We lost a few members along the way but as one left new members joined.

Our little club have now mastered the garter stitch in such a small period of time. Some of the group are now knitting at home, one of our boys was going to Paris Disneyland with his family and he was worried that his aunt would be cold so he knitted her a chunky scarf. It was incredible!

Any new members joining the club are made very welcome and are given encouragement and support by the founder members. Thus making knitting fun and enjoyable within this age-group.

It is now December and Taylor High school is busy preparing for the Christmas Show and for the Carol Service so a few of our members have got to go for rehearsals at lunchtime. Purl stitch has now been introduced and we have decided to extend the club to Friday lunchtime because the members have been so keen to master the art of knitting. Hopefully our little group will grow from strength to strength in the New Year.




Categories: Arts and Crafts, Clubs / Groups, Creativity, Curriculum for Excellence, Health and Well-Being, Interdisciplinary Learning, Literacy | Tags: , | Leave a comment

John Muir and the S1/S2 Book Club

Over the last few weeks the S1/S2 Book Club have been reading all about John Muir. Pupils have been discovering all about the life and times of this environmentalist and creating a wonderful display for the library.

The Book Club have been using the book ‘John Muir: Earth – Planet Universe’ by Julie Bertagna and in particular the teaching resources created for this book. As a group, we examined John Muir’s timeline and his legacy. This raised many questions such as, defining who he was, discovering all about all the places he visited and finding all about the areas of land his trust now own.

The following week, the group took the ‘John Muir Quiz’ to find out if we were like the man himself. Good fun was had by all.

During the final two lunchtimes, one very artistic S2 pupil designed a tree trunk, while other members of the group were on the computers researching. The information they discovered was then placed on the template of a leaf and placed on the tree trunk design.

Thanks to the S1/S2Book Club for making this such a fun and successful activity.

Categories: Books, Clubs / Groups, Creativity, Health and Well-Being, Literacy, Reading | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Welcoming S1 pupils to the world of the library.

Every year when the new term begins the school is full of chatter from our S1s. Cathy (the other half of my role) and I try to design and organise as many fun but educational activities as possible.

This year we intend to celebrate as many national events as possible. These include celebrating Roald Dahl Day from the 8th September to the 12th September (a day was not enough for our plans), Halloween (my favourite), Scottish Book Week, Christmas, the Chinese New Year, National Libraries Day, World Book Day and anything else we can come up with.

Some of the events we organise are for the library only, while others get various departments across the school involved. Even our craft competitions get the staff involved. Recently, we ran our first craft competition. Pupils were asked to design and decorate their very own craft t-shirt to celebrate the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. Many of our pupils were able to share stories about their experience of the games, be that from watching the television, going to the various sporting events, visiting Glasgow Green and even going to the dress rehearsal for the opening ceremony. It was wonderful to get to know some of our new S1 pupils and there were also a number of familiar faces to welcome back.

Our winners of the craft competition came from both S1 and S2. A member of our PE department chose the most creative.

Well done to all involved. We are really looking forward to meeting some new faces.

Categories: Arts and Crafts, Competitions, Creativity, Daily life, Events, Health and Well-Being | Tags: , | Leave a comment

The mysterious workings of the adolescent brain

Categories: Health and Well-Being, Video clips | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

This Land is Mine

Might be useful for debate, RE, Social Subjects.

Shared with permission.

NB Vimeo is not blocked in NLC schools.

Categories: Creativity, Health and Well-Being, Interdisciplinary Learning, Literacy, RE / Religious and Moral Education, Resources, Social Studies, Storytelling, Video clips | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Scottish Book Trust’s new writing campaign

Scottish Book Trust have just launched a new public writing campaign.

The theme is ‘home’.  Pupils are being asked to submit a piece of personal writing, such as a story, rap, song or poem based on their experiences, which shows what home means to them.

For more information follow the links below:

Categories: Health and Well-Being, Literacy | Tags: | Leave a comment

A message from Nicola Morgan

I have a suggestion which I hope will be useful to you.

I often have offers, competitions, giveaways, and links to fascinating
research – things to benefit or interest schools, parents, readers,
professionals who work with young people or who are interested in the same
topics as me – notably the brain, stress, and the reading brain. But how
can you be sure to see the information, without the time-consuming task of
reading my blog?

So, I’m starting a newsletter. Less than once a month, it will bring items
of interest or benefit to you – offers, competitions and giveaways; links
to new research about the brain/ teenage brain/ stress/ reading/ literacy;
and exclusive offers – including, in each issue, a prize for a
randomly-selected subscriber. Schools or event organisers will see months
ahead where I’m booked to speak, and will have the chance to book an event
at reduced cost.

If you would like to sign up, the simple form is

You can unsubscribe any time but I hope you will find it so useful,
interesting and unintrusive that you won’t want to!

Please feel free to pass this to colleagues or friends.

With very best wishes for 2014,

*Nicola Morgan*
*Writes, speaks and blogs*

Categories: Authors, Health and Well-Being, PRD / CPD | Tags: | Leave a comment

El Dia de los Muertos 2013

You know when you reply to e-mails that start, “Would anyone be interested in …”. You never know what you’re going to get involved in, but it’s usually a lot of hard work, a fair bit of stress and a great big dollop of mixed relief and pride at the end!

That just about sums up El Dia de los Muertos – Our Lady’s style. This interdisciplinary project was the brainwave of Mr Pegard from the Modern Languages Department and run between Art, RE, Modern Languages and myself.

Day of the Dead is a cheerful festival remembering those who have died, and inviting them along to a massive party. In Mexico, people create ofrendas, or altars, covered in flowers and the deceased’s favourite things, dress up as Catrinas, or skeletons in costumes from the 1900s, and eat sugar skulls and pan de muertos or special bread, along with the usual party food. Celebrations are often held in cemeteries, and last for two days with bands playing and even parades.

So how do you transfer all of that into an afternoon for 2nd year pupils?

Well, RE took care of the altar, with pupils bringing photos and mementos of loved ones, and colouring crosses; Art made clay skulls and decorations; Modern Languages explained the background to the festival, and then there was me. What’s the role for a Librarian in all this?

Well, as usual, a bit of everything: ideas for activities (e.g. making hats for Catrina, after Rhona Skea pointed her out to me); identifying problems (if you hang out with Home Economics teachers, you’ll learn a lot about hygiene rules); identifying solutions (go and talk to the Home Economics Department, guys!); my personal favourites of taking photographs, researching, writing the quiz, and reporting everything afterwards; and of course being the go-to girl for the fiddly but necessary team lists. Well, I suppose when you insist on doing lots of investigations involving teams, it’s not surprising other people notice.

The whole event was a blast and the pupils loved it. They decorated cakes with fondant icing skulls, designed and made hats for Catrina, said prayers in Spanish and completed a Dia de los Muertos / Hallowe’en / All Saints Day quiz. The two hours flew past, ran like clockwork and the classes disappeared with their cakes and their photos, leaving us to tidy up, review what we did, think about what we should do differently, and put it all away for the next ten months.

Categories: Events, Expressive Arts, Health and Well-Being, Interdisciplinary Learning, Languages, Learning and Teaching, Literacy, RE / Religious and Moral Education, School Librarians | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

MVP @ Tulliallan 4th-6th October

Interesting weekend at the Police College, supporting pupils who are being trained in MVP. Although we only had 2 S5 girls, our HSPO and I, there were plenty of other schools from across Scotland so a great mix of people.  We were also joined by one of our DHTs for the duration of the workshops on Saturday.

Friday night was movie night, watching The Angel’s Share, introduced by actor Paul Brannigan himself.  He was happy to answer questions afterwards and was very open and honest about his upbringing which was similar to his character in the film although he said that was a coincidence.  Before the movie, pupils were split into groups in an almost “Apprentice” style teambuilding contest.

Saturday was a series of workshops all looking at different types of violence including bullying, domestic abuse and texting.  All speakers were experts in their areas, extremely knowledgeable and not afraid to skirt around issues.

Pupils were treated to a disco on Saturday night, after the winners of the teambuilding contest were announced – unfortunately not the team with our girls but they all did really well to perform in front of an audience of about 100 people!

After the group photo on Sunday morning, the remainder of the time was spent teaching pupils how to use the Playbook so that they can then deliver the programme to S1/2 when they return to school.

The weekend was most enjoyable and a real eye-opener in terms of what constitutes violence and learning strategies on how to prevent it happening in schools.

Categories: Events, Health and Well-Being, Librarians, School Librarians | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Can you read and dance at the same time?

Reading and dancing ‘good for health’ of Scots

Evidence suggesting that those reading for pleasure are healthier than those that don’t. Especially if they also dance, go to museums, theatres, libraries and participate in ‘cultural activities’ in ‘cultural places’.

Categories: Health and Well-Being, News, Newspaper articles | Tags: | Leave a comment

In their own words: what bothers children online?

EU Kids Online is a network that researches young people’s use and experiences of the internet across Europe.

Their latest report is In their own words: what bothers children online? which questioned thousands of children about their online concerns, with interesting comments about YouTube, social networking and games sites.

Categories: Health and Well-Being, Resources, Social Media, Websites | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Dalzell Estate

The NL Challenge Group use the LRC for their weekly lunchtime meetings run by our Partnership Officer, Mrs Deborah King. I’ve been involved with various initiatives and lend a hand where it’s possible so it was nice to be invited along to the NL Challenge Group’s first expedition – a walk around Dalzell Estate.

If you’re not familiar with it, Dalzell Estate is a beautiful piece of woodland that runs from Motherwell all the way down to the Clyde, and is full of fascinating stuff, like ancient oaks, burial grounds and holy wells.

The pupils were there to practise their map reading but their curiosity was indefatigable. Anything out of the ordinary caught their eye, like the Covenanters Oak,

Wow, how old is it?
Is that the oldest thing alive?
Is it still alive?
How do you know?
How long do trees usually live for?
Why does it have crutches?
How does that help?
How much longer will it live for
Are you allowed to climb it?

or the holes in the wall where the pointing needed redone,

What’s caused those holes?
Is it for defence?
Is it for allowing water to come through?
Why isn’t it fixed?

Is there something living in there?

or the beastie that they planted on my arm,

Miss, what’s this?
Is it dangerous?
Will it bite you?
Why isn’t it flying away?
Why did you do that to it?

But the star attraction was the old, overgrown graveyard. They would happily have pored over the stones for hours, looking first for the oldest dates, but quickly getting involved in the details of the lives documented, and the surviving remains.

They noticed that one family had lost three children within a few days of each other and started to discuss what had caused the deaths.

They saw a group of four letters at the bottom of a stone and tried to figure out what they meant.

They commented on the phrasing, the lettering and the shapes of the individual stones before wondering what they would see if the stone was lifted.

They were extremely respectful and upset that the cemetery was so dilapidated, which led them onto who takes care of such places and who they ‘belonged’ to. And when we moved around to the pet cemetery, they compared how much  animals meant to people and whether they deserved similar burial to humans.

So much philosophical enquiry and natural curiosity just from a two hour wander around an old estate, and that’s not including the discussions of how clean the water was, why there were grills in the well and why certain paths had been deemed dangerous.

Grabbing that inbuilt inquisitiveness and showing them the skills that help them find the answers is one of the reasons for school librarians’ existence ( even though fitting it within the framework of the timetable isn’t always that easy). Fortunately, Health and Well-being is a focus for next term and I think this would just be a perfect activity, stretching body and mind simultaneously. Taking along the means for collecting materials and ideas could spark off dozens of additional avenues of enquiry.

I’ve asked the pupils to write their own blogs for the school website. It’s going to be interesting to see what they took from their afternoons, and how it compared with mine.

Categories: Health and Well-Being, Interdisciplinary Learning, Literacy, Outdoor education | Tags: , | 3 Comments

Health Fayre

Health Fayre and Librarians – what’s the connection I hear you ask? Well remember that last line in the Job Description – Such other duties as may be delegated by the Head Teacher etc – the catch all. It was sort of an inheritance. I’m part of the Health Fayre Committee and take an active part in the week long Health Fayre that’s held in the school Assembly Hall every March. Every year Health promoting groups are invited to get involved e.g. Smile Dental Health,  SAMH,  students from Motherwell College (studying Sports and Beauty courses) etc and stalls/areas are set up to accommodate them and all pupils are timetabled for a visit including our feeder Primaries.

All the contributors are asked to make their visit as interactive as possible. Taking this into consideration I offer the “Brain Gym” stall, it involves hands on puzzles and problem solving, and I try to promote reading here too  “Exercise the brain – read more” you get the gist. It’s usually a very busy time and there’s a definite buzz to the whole event.

As a Librarian you can usually be tied (naturally) to the library and you depend on pupils making the effort to come to the Library during non-contact time so there are definitely pupils who I might not encounter and I take advantage of the Health Fayre to meet and promote the Library to them. It’s great to be introduced to the P7s and there’s usually a plug for the Library then too from the DHT who has the Health Fayre remit.

All in all it’s great to be involved in the Health Fayre for 3 reasons

  • it increases awareness of the Library and Librarian – good PR opportunity
  • the Librarian is seen to be part and parcel of a whole school event
  • It’s good to be part of a team.
Categories: Events, Health and Well-Being | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Blog at