Stuff and things

The 2016 Carnegie Shadowing Experience

There is never enough time to do everything you plan to do. I knew that I would struggle to persuade students to join the new Shadowing Group, everyone is so busy and pressure is on the students to finish assignments, portfolios, exams etc. I received the Carnegie publicity material, bought a set of the shortlisted books and proceeded to put up my Carnegie display in the centre of the library.

The Head of English told me that she had three girls interested in joining the Group, oh well I thought to myself we’ll just go with three, after all they say that it is the quality not the quantity that is important. As the day progressed I noticed a girl hovering around the display, I asked her if she would give some thought to joining our Group. Then at lunchtime a couple of boys came in, again drawn to the display, so I asked them and they said that they would come to the meeting to find out what it was all about. They spoke to two other friends and before I realised what had happened I had eight students in my little Group, four boys and four girls, perfect!

They worked so hard and really contributed to the meetings, the teachers supported us by allowing the students to attend the meetings. Two of the Group entered the ‘Journey’ writing competition, sadly they never won,books were read and the Shadowing Magazine was completed. I am so proud of their commitment to the Shadowing process and the Shadowing Magazinemagazine_preview 2 turned out so well!

Cathy MacIntyre

Learning Resource Centre Manager

Taylor High School

Categories: Book Awards, Magazines, Reading, School Librarians, Stuff and things | Leave a comment

Maths Puzzle for Scottish Book Week


This year for Scottish Book 2015 Week the library at Taylor High celebrated the week by running a maths puzzle with some of our S1 pupils.  The puzzle was inspired by ‘The Young James Bond Series’, particularly ‘Shoot to Kill’ by Steve Cole and the idea was taken from ‘Brain-Busting Puzzles Series’ by Sarah Khan.

Pupils were put into groups of five and we discussed as a group why James Bond had inspired something Scottish. This got us all talking about the film franchise and why this series might have been chosen.  Only one pupil was able answer what the connection was.  Of course, it was the fact that his father was Scottish and therefore that was our Scottish connection.

An S6 pupil kindly volunteered to read a chapter from the book, giving some of our S1 a chance to explore a book that they might not ordinarily read. It was great to have one of their peers reading aloud and helped set the scene.

The S6 pupils stated “I enjoyed the activity and it was great to read to younger pupils and share a book that they may not have thought about reading before. However, you need to be brave, it can be quite daunting reading aloud to a class.”

Pupils were asked to pretend they were a Secret Agent trying to find a pattern of numbers and letters that would tell them what city in the world their mission would be in. Pupils were asked to find a pattern of six numbers that appeared three times.  For some pupils, looking for six numbers proved rather challenging and so, pupils were asked to find just two of the numbers.  It was amazing, as soon as, pupils had to look for only two numbers the quicker they found the code for six.

Once pupils found the pattern of numbers, they then had to find the letters that were attached to the numbers to discover the city. The letters were all jumbled but pupils were given a sheet that had a mix of possible cities across the world and soon discovered the answer was Berlin.

The next part of the task involved using their geographic skills, as pupils were that asked to name the country that the city was in and about their flags. (For me, the real challenging area of the activity was naming the flag colours!)

To round the activity off, each table was asked to name their group, which included ‘The Book Lovers’ and ‘The Big Ones’.

This really was a great cross-curricular activity, as it involved numeracy, reading, language and geography skills. It gave pupils an opportunity to explore literature and the world of maths further.   It also promotes the values of Curriculum for Excellence, particularly confident individuals and successful learners.

Well done to all the S1s who took part and my maths colleagues who took the time to be involved. It really was great fun and pupils work is now being displayed.

Categories: Curriculum for Excellence, Events, Interdisciplinary Learning, Literacy, Mathematics, Numeracy, Reading, Stuff and things | Tags: , | Leave a comment

The Crisis of our Libraries: A Talk by Alan Gibbons

If the video doesn’t show, please click here.

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Craft daft in the Library!


Before school, morning interval and at lunchtime and in their spare time, pupils here at Taylor High have been teaching the Librarian all about the language of emoji. I had been inspired by a news report about emoji and thought it would be a great activity in the run up to the summer holidays.

Our Library is a place where mobile phones are usually banned because it’s a busy wee place at times. However, on this occasion the rule of no mobile phones was broken. Pupils were asked to create different symbols they use most often when they send text messages. A small group of S1 girls were particularly enthusiastic about the idea.

The Library always has lots of different coloured tissue paper and various craft materials. What a great way to recycle these and provided me with a great excuse to use them. Perfect! I now have lots of different designs, a very cool wall display called “Talking our language” and lots of spare paper used up.

Our pupils were all keen to discuss this ever popular language and I learned a thing or two about the art of emoji.

Ice Cream Creations

It’s been a while since I last ran an ‘Ice Cream Craft Activity’ but I was inspired by a poster that my colleague, Cathy, had created. Our summer weather so far had been rotten and thought a lunchtime craft activity was much needed to brighten up the Library. Naturally, when the day finally arrived, the sun was splitting the sky. I really wasn’t sure if anyone would be interested as it was roasting outside but thirteen pupils took part and all were extremely excited and enthusiastic. Some even wanted more time to complete their marvellous creations!

Wow! What a complement to the library. It really does prove we have a wonderful community at Taylor High. Pupils’ creations as always were colourful and artistic.

Well done to all S1s who took part. Creations are now being displayed in the Library.

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S1 love food project and the librarian

I suppose it seems like an odd choice for a librarian to be involved in a project about food. You might ask yourself, where is the connection between libraries and a department that specialises in everything textile, food and balanced diet related? Well, the common denominators are literacy, personal writing and the media. I have always been keen to establish a project with the Home Economics department but was at a bit of loss on how to achieve this. However, not being afraid of a challenge, I began to think of possible ways to run such a project.

The idea for this activity came due to a discussion I had with the Principle Teacher of Home Economics, Scott Russell, and reading various cooking magazines. I then began to think of possible questions to ask our pupils and finally came up with a personal writing project that would get everyone talking about and celebrating food.

Scott said

‘Running a literacy project is a vital part of the S1 Home Economics course. I believe it is important to highlight the importance of going to the library for research, so what better way than trialling a project like this.’

As a result, the writing activity called ‘S1 Love food’ was created. Great! A writing activity that would promote the library, the librarian and the work we do within our community!

Pupils were asked to design a newspaper/magazine article using a template already made for them using ‘ComicLife’. (It is hoped to give pupils the opportunity to use this package in future.)
The main purpose of this project however, was to provide pupils with the opportunity to learn about the layout of a newspaper article, celebrate food and highlighting the importance of their school library in their learning.

Pupils were asked to complete a brainstorming activity for homework with the final article being recreated in either class or the library. The following questions were asked;

1 What is your favourite thing to cook? (It could be something you have made this year in Home Economics.)

2 What are the main ingredients?

3 Where is your favourite place to eat?

4 Who do you go with?

5 What is your ultimate meal and why?

By working collaboratively, both departments really enhanced this project, I had not previously included the brainstorming step in my original plans. However, this gave pupils the chance to note down key ideas before writing their article. The response from pupils was encouraging. Many pupils stated they enjoyed creating a name for their newspaper/magazine.

Well done to all the S1 pupils who took part and contributed to this project. I would also like to thank Scott Russell, Principle teacher of Home Economics and Louise Hamilton, Home Economics teacher for being involved with this fantastic activity. I hope that this is an event that can be developed further in the coming years.

Categories: Curriculum for Excellence, Literacy, Magazines, Stuff and things | Leave a comment

Fabulous Fiction Project

Once we have completed the Library Induction Fact Finding Mission we turn our attention to the Fabulous Fiction Workbook. This exercise allows the students to closely examine a wide range of genre which are placed on their table.

Initially the students were asked to choose 3-5 books and write the following:

Title, author, blurb, how the book is illustrated, who are the main characters and what genre would the book come under.

Once they had completed examining and writing about their books the final part of the workbook asked them to write about the type of books that they would read and finally the type of books that they wouldn’t read. In both cases they also had explain why they would/wouldn’t read these books.

As I was adopting the existing project that Anna had produced I followed it to the letter.
I noticed that some students were struggling when they were asked to write about more than three books. I decided to limit the number to three and encouraged them to go back into the online Library Catalogue in order to compare the Genre that they had written with the Genre in the catalogue. I felt that this exercise allowed the students to reinforce accessing the Catalogue and it also gave them a better understanding of the Catalogue Entries. The students seemed to enjoy this additional part of the exercise and I suggested to Anna that we could incorporate it into the workbook.

Cathy MacIntyre

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Youth Libraries Group Scotland’s Celebration of Reading

Youth Libraries Group Scotland (YLGS) invites you to a celebration of reading:

  • Enjoy cake, nibbles and wine
  • Nominate books for the Carnegie & Greenaway awards
  • Win prizes

…and it is free!

This event is aimed at people with an interest in promoting reading for pleasure to children and young people.

The CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals are the UK’s oldest and most prestigious children’s book awards. Often described by authors and illustrators as ‘the one they want to win’ – they are the gold standard in children’s literature.

The CILIP Carnegie Medal is awarded by children’s librarians for an outstanding book for children and young people. The CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal is awarded by children’s librarians for an outstanding book in terms of illustration for children and young people.

Come along and take part in discussions about the books on our shortlists, and vote for your favourite. The titles with the most votes will be put forward as the YLGS nominations.

It is not necessary to have read all the titles before attending as we will have the books there and each will be championed by a different YLGS member.

This is a relaxed, fun event with a focus on what we love the most – great books!

As with all YLGS events there will be lots of laughs and excellent snacks!

This event will be held in room 14.25 of the Computing and Information Sciences Department in Livingstone Tower at Strathclyde University, with stunning views over the city.

A place at the event can be booked here:

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“Ode to Reading” by S1

Today, after handing out Pupil Library Helper application forms to eager S1 pupils, I wept and laughed in equal measure at the wonderfully honest responses of these innocent, enthusiastic, desperate-to-please children in their first week of secondary school, caught before they evolve into sulky, irritable teens who avoid the library at all costs (usually by Christmas, in my experience). Here are a few of the best responses:


Firstly, pupils were asked to give their name and year. 11 out of the 12 wrote their year as S1, the remaining one wrote “2014”. He won. It was a trick question.


Pupils were then asked “Why is reading important?”

  • “You can learn about life”
  • “It helps you aim for your dreams”
  • “It gives us creativity”
  • “You learn from reading”
  • “It expands your imagination”
  • “It educates the human brain”
  • “You can find stuff in books that you can’t find on the internet”
  • “Well, it helps your speach and it kinda makes you smarter”


Finally, my favourite:

  • “It helps people with there spelling”


And as this was an application form for a job in the school library, I had to ask why they would be a good member of library staff

  • “I can do anything you ask” (Being asked to do everything? Yep, kid, sometimes it feels like that.)
  • “I would help everyone that needs help”
  • “I hate mess” (What are you saying about my library?)
  • “I’d help everyone find a good book”
  • “Well, I don’t have anything else to do at lunchtime”

Okay, here comes the weep-y one

  • “I want to help people so I feel good about myself”

Last but certainly not least

  • “I would love it”


And after reading these, I’ve remembered that I love it too.

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Taylor High and Scottish Book Trust

An article to celebrate the work at Taylor High School during World Book Day 2014 has been published on Scottish Book Trust’s website. For more information click on the link below.

Many thanks to everyone involved.

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World Book Day 2014 at Taylor High School

One school community’s take on World Book Day 2014

Taylor High School staff and pupils have been very busy designing book covers for our World Book Day 2014 competition.  Various departments, individual teachers and lunchtime clubs were involved in this wonderfully fun and artistic event.  Pupils from across S1-S3 helped to brighten our already colourful corridors with their designs.

Designs for book covers either had to relate to their teacher’s subject, school or something they were studying.  It was a great way to get the whole school community involved in celebrating literature and promoting literacy.

It was clear from the outset that running this type of activity would take some thought and planning.  In order to get staff as passionate about this idea as myself, it was going to take more than an email.  By simply visiting various departments and speaking to staff, the activity began to take shape.  However, I did send one final email at the beginning of World Book Day week to finalise everything.

Some teachers undertook this activity as a group project, while others got pupils to individually create a poster to become one design.  The response from both staff and pupils was great, as various departments got involved in this event.

The Art Department involved three of their S1 classes.  Their commitment to this project was amazing and this really made both teacher and librarian proud.  The focus of their design was ‘Alice in Wonderland’.  Each class had a different interpretation of this classic book.

The Maths Department took a different approach when creating a book cover for the Murderous Maths series.  One S3 class created a display by putting posters around their class door, while another class covered their door in their own personalised paper books to celebrate this book series.

A number of our lunchtime clubs were also involved, including the S1 Around the World Club, my own S1 Book Club and the S1 Euro Club.  Books included ‘The Demon Dentist’ by David Walliams and ‘Toro, Toro’ by Michael Morpurgo.

Similarly, the English Department also created some amazing book covers with their S2 classes to celebrate ‘The Book Thief’ by Markus Zusak , ‘Catching Fire’ by Suzanne Collins, ‘Tales of the Unexpected’ by Roald Dahl, the Harry Potter series and Tam O’Shanter by Robert Burns.

There were three winning categories all picked by our lovely office staff.  These included, the most creative, colourful and eco-friendly.  However, as the designs were extremely good, I decided to choose another winner but asked our headteacher to choose.  I was really glad that the final decision was not left up to myself.

An S3 Maths class won the most creative, an S1 Art class won the most colourful and an S1 Social Subjects class won the most eco-friendly and an S2 English class won the headteacher’s choice.

Well done and thanks to all staff and pupils who took part in this event.  It was really wonderful to see how enthusiastic and industrious everyone was.

Look at the Scottish Book Trust Website to read a fuller account of our World Book Day event.

Categories: Authors, Books, Competitions, Curriculum for Excellence, Illustrators, Literacy, Stuff and things | Tags: , | Leave a comment

TES article

With all due respect – Tara Brabazon

TES 14th June 2013

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The AyeWrite festival has launched its programme for 2013. This year there is a different programme for schools from 11th-15th March, as the main festival will be held during the holidays. Most of the programme is aimed at primary pupils, but there are also talks from Theresa Breslin, Vikki Campbell, Barry Hutchison, Allan Burnett, Roy Gill, Linda Strachan and Metaphrog. Tickets are going fast.

For further information, please see the Aye Write website, where you can sign up for their newsletter.

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A World of Reading

Despite there being roughly 8,000 books to choose from in the school library here at Braidhurst High School, the most common phrase uttered by the classes that visit is: “I can’t find a book!”

At times, over the past four years, when hearing the above statement being uttered, I have guffawed, shrugged, frowned, been exasperated all whilst trying my best to find a book that a pupil will read and enjoy.  

However, whilst contemplating this great dichotomy during one of my rare quiet moments in the library I had a light bulb moment of clarity. “Yes, of course, it’s not that there is not enough choice, but rather too much choice.  And to complicate matters more pupils are practically clueless when it comes to identifying which types of books they like and which they don’t like.”  Ahhhhhhh.  A huge sigh of relief.  

But then I had a greater problem……what to do about it?  How could I help 30 pupils at a time choose a book that they would enjoy? Not only that, but how could I inform them of what choices lay on the shelves for them to discover?  And most importantly, how could I make this FUN?  Was there a solution………?

And so in 2010 the ‘World of Reading’ scheme was born.

At it’s heart the scheme is very simple – it’s an inter house reading competition for all S1 and S2 pupils.  Each week each house group in S1 and S2 visits the library for one period .  One of these periods is spent picking a book.  The next period is spent delivering pupils a ‘lesson’ on a particular genre – informing them of what exactly an……adventure, fantasy, horror…….story is and charging them to discuss and reflect on whether or not this genre is their cup of tea or not i.e.: introducing them to the ‘World of Reading’.  And so this should help them the next week when they visit the library to pick a book.

Not only do I endeavour to make the ‘lessons’ fun and interactive but each pupil also earns points for their house group with each book they read, therefore, encouraging them to get competitive.

Furthermore, to encourage them to read widely and to be open minded to new genres they are awarded more points when they borrow a new genre they have not tried before.  However, to ensure fairness they earn one point regardless of the genre.

The ‘World of Reading’ is not a recipe for perfect, whole sale success but it does give the pupils a framework to work through when picking a book to read plus it’s a way for pupils to gain house points which could make a difference, come June, to who wins the inter house shield and more importantly who wins the ‘World of Reading’ trophy, and by participating in the lessons they are becoming better informed, more confident readers.

Well, that’s the grand hope anyhow………


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Excellent plagiarism guide spotted by the North Lanarkshire Education Resource Service

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National Poetry Day at Greenfaulds

To celebrate National Poetry Day last Thursday (4th October) we invited a group of six teachers to the LRC to read their favourite poems. Around 40 kids came along from across the school and were welcomed with cakes and snacks prepared by Mrs Mullaney and myself.

The winner was Mr A McDonald, with Dear Friends, We Surely All Agree, by the one and only Roald Dahl.  Thanks to all the speakers and pupils, of course, who voted!

With the support of the Literacy Committee, I managed to propose a number of other LRC/departmental activities that would be undertaken to celebrate and promote the event, using the theme of “stars”. A few departments were involved.

For s1,I selected some poems including Escape at Bedtime by R. L Stevenson and Stars and Planets by Norman McCaig for the pupils of Ms Armstrong’s Art class to illustrate. Ms K Armstrong and I were delighted with the results. Mod Languages teacher Miss Deans had s4 pupils translate, in Spanish, the poem Riding a Rainbow by Ken Nesbitt.

I’m not finished yet! At the moment Ms Russell’s s4 English class and I are doing some poetry analysis including  some of the Star themed poems from the  Scottish Poetry Library’s collection. They are working on some attractive displays to go with it. Later, we’ll come on to a research/information literacy unit on the Hubble Telescope!  It’s all go at Greenfaulds!

Photos to follow (tomorrow – left camera in fleece).

They dreamed no dreams

as the stars kept their endless watch

Iain Crichton Smith

Categories: Creativity, Curriculum for Excellence, Expressive Arts, Literacy, Stuff and things | Tags: , | Leave a comment

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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Welcome to the Three Ring Circus, the blog for school Library Resource Centre Managers in North Lanarkshire.

LRCMs have a demanding job:

  • we work with pupils and staff;
  • we write and teach lessons on using the LRC, researching, copyright and anything to do with using information;
  • we research, purchase, catalogue and organise thousands of resources in our LRC collections, whether books (ebooks, audio books, plain old books), online materials, artefacts, DVDs, software, etc;
  • we advise on literacy, from which books to read next, to organising author visits, to identifying and evaluating resources for subject investigations;
  • we’re often required to take on several tasks at once: cataloguing resources, issuing books, answering the phone, e-mailing the careers adviser and settling a class all at the same time (this actually happened);
  • we keep up-to-date with what’s going on in education, libraries, publishing and technology and somehow synthesize it all for the benefit of our users;
  • we identify useful ideas and persuade other staff to come on a journey with us to make something spectacular;
  • we’ll turn our hand to anything, using our skills to build models, organise events, take part in expeditions, write stories and poems, and of course, support every member of staff and every pupil in the school in whatever ways we can, including being a friendly face;
  • very occasionally we might get a chance to shelve something 🙂

But if you ask someone what a librarian does, they’ll put a finger to their lips and make “Shhhhhh!” noises.

We’d like this blog to share with you, and each other, some of the many, many tasks that we get involved in to support the learning and teaching and life of our schools.

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