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

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

What do Public Librarians and Library staff do?

An excellent list from 2011 of some of the tasks Librarians and Library staff get involved with.

Good starting point for us too.

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Competition: Young Creatives 2016


What’s your favourite place in the UK?

Inspiring children across the UK to get creative and show us their talents. Tell us what you love about the UK to be in with a chance of being crowned our Young Creative of 2016. Whether you love to write, take photos, draw or make short films, we want to see your work! Submit your entry by 3pm on Friday 15 April 2016.

Primary and secondary levels.


1st place:

  • A set of Jeremy Strong books
  • A book bundle of various titles from WHSmith
  • A £100 Photobox voucher
  • A printed canvas or framed image of your choice from Photobox
  • A £250 voucher
  • And £150 worth of best-selling Puffin Books for your school library

2nd place:

  • A set of Jeremy Strong books
  • A £50 Photobox voucher
  • A printed canvas or framed image of your choice from Photobox
  • A £200 voucher

3rd place:

  • A set of Jeremy Strong books
  • A £30 Photobox voucher
  • A printed canvas or framed image of your choice from Photobox
  • A £50 voucher
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The Best Worst Christmas Jokes Ever

2015_1221_bestworstjokesOLHS pupils were invited to enter a competition to tell their best worst Christmas jokes, the ones that make you groan when you read them out of crackers. Extra credit was given for decorating their jokes.

Having asked four pupils to help colour in the banner – the letters were lightly pencilled in already – I was gobsmacked when they created a glorious Chrismassy artwork. So good in fact, that we’ll have to do the competition again next year so it can go back on display!

Anyone walking into the Library was asked for their opinion, so eventually there had to be two winning jokes.




What is green, covered in tinsel and goes “ribbet ribbet?

A Mistle Toad? 






How does a penguin build its house?

Igloos it together!



Here are the other entries. This was an extremely popular competition with new entries arriving every day and even some classes participating!

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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

Melvin Burgess Visit

As part of Book Week Scotland 2015, Chryston High School were excited to welcome Melvin Burgess to our school on Wednesday 25th November. The event was publicised in the library and across the school with pupils eager to find out if they had been picked to attend the event. 80 pupils were selected across S4 – S6 and due to the fact that the majority of the pupils attending the event wouldn’t be described as ‘readers’ to help prepare them for the visit I went into their English classes and showed a PowerPoint on some of Melvin’s books. It included the cover and blurb from ‘Bloodtide’, ‘Junk and ‘Doing It’, the main themes of the books and some reviews about the books. This led to an open discussion about the pupil’s first impression of the books and meant they had some understanding of Melvin’s works before the visit. Since these pupils would be categorised as reluctant readers  I was pleasantly surprised when a few of the S5 boys told me they were ‘buzzing’ to come and listen to Melvin and hear more about his books.

On the day there was definitely an excited atmosphere as the pupils all made their way to the hall to listen to Melvin. A few of the pupils told me they were really nervous as had never been to an author event before so weren’t quite sure what to expect. Melvin started the talk with ‘Bloodtide’ and although it took the pupils a while to warm up (being 9.30 in the morning) they were soon enthralled with his tales of Norse gods and the story of Siegfried and Brunhilde upon which ‘Bloodtide’ was based.

The next book the pupils were introduced to was ‘Doing It’, I think this was the book the pupils were most looking forward to hearing about, indeed it is the one that has been most borrowed since. Talking to a group of teenagers about sex is always going to get a few laughs, some shocks and a lot of embarrassed faces but the pupils really enjoyed listening to how Melvin went about researching and writing the book. It really brought home to the pupils that books do not need to be boring and that they can and will have stories in them that they can relate to, understand and laugh at.

After asking some questions and getting some really interesting answers from Melvin it was time for the pupils to purchase some books and take the opportunity for Melvin to sign them. There were a lot of pupils with red covers (Doing It) walking about the school that day.

Overall I feel that the event was a huge success, I have had a number of pupils stop me in the halls and come to the library to talk about Melvin and his books. Pupils have been borrowing his books since just before the visit and are still borrowing them now, I have a waiting list for ‘Junk’ and ‘Doing It’. It has been a great experience seeing the pupils enthused about an author and about reading books when it usually isn’t really their thing. I have already been asked if Melvin can came back again and when the next big author event is. Thank you to Book Week Scotland for giving the pupils at Chryston High the opportunity to listen to Melvin talk so passionately about his books and for helping to encourage the pupils to pick up a book and read.

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What is Literature for?

Shared via Duncan Wright

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Happy Hallowe’en

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Happy Halloween

Just wanted to share a picture of my Halloween display. I have already had to replace some of the books so it must be working.


Anyone else any pictures they want to share?

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More than 12 million fall into UK digital skills gap

BBC report that More than 12 million fall into UK digital skills gap.

The report, from charity, Go On UK, lists five Basic Digital Skills, all of which involve online safety issues:

  • Managing information: find, manage and store digital information and content
  • Communicating: communicate, interact, collaborate, share and connect with others
  • Transacting: purchase and sell goods and services; organise your finances; register for and use digital government services
  • Problem-solving: increase independence and confidence by solving problems using digital tools and finding solutions
  • Creating: engage with communities and create basic digital content
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Maths in the Library: The Roald Dahl Maths Puzzle

Roald Dahl 2015 was a big event in the Joseph Wilson Library Resource Centre and this year the library got our Maths Department and our new S1s involved.

Most are incredulous when I say we have a maths puzzle in the library. Maths and the library? What an odd combination! But really it’s just another creative way of promoting literacy and getting another department within our school community to utilise the library and the librarian’s skills to meet the department’s literacy needs.

Mark Dorris, Principal Teacher of Maths commented,

The department was delighted to get involved in the Roald Dahl Maths Puzzle as it gave pupils the opportunity to develop their problem solving skills. Pupils worked as part of a team taking the information given to complete the task. The emphasis was not only on getting the correct answer but being able to explain in detail step by step how the puzzle was solved.

The puzzle was inspired by characters from the ‘The Twits’ and ‘James and the Giant Peach’ because these were the books being celebrated this year by the Roald Dahl Trust and our library.

To begin this activity, pupils were put into groups of five and asked to solve the puzzle as a team. Each group nominated a member from their group to read the puzzle aloud. On the table there was a copy of the puzzle, a bundle of scrap paper for possible answers (very important!), pens, pencils and a larger piece of paper for their final answer.

Both Cathy and myself, firstly began by reading the puzzle aloud to the group. We briefly discussed the books that had inspired the puzzle and then it was left to the group to work as a team to solve the problem. This year, I have been fortunate enough to have a group of Sixth Year pupils helping and because the group was large enough a senior pupil was assigned to each table. This allowed our new First Years to meet and work with some of senior pupils and hopefully inspired them. It also really shows the newest members of our school what a wonderful community we have here!

Both the teacher and librarians were also able to walk around the various tables and guide pupils when answering the question. Once the groups began finding the answer, they used larger poster paper to create a colourful and artistic solution sheet.

I was really pleased by how well the activity went and the fact that some of our Sixth Year pupils were involved. This was a useful and different approach to the activity but it worked well.

The sixth year pupils stated:

This was a very rewarding and enjoyable activity. It helped us show the new First Years, that the Sixth Years are an approachable and friendly bunch here at Taylor High.

I would definitely recommend this type of event to other librarians and encourage them to be fearless when it comes to being creative with what the library can offer their school community. Trust me, as someone who would naturally shy away from anything maths related, I would say please don’t worry. If I can do it, so can anyone!

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School Librarians in Scotland: SLIC Library Advocacy 2015

DVD commissioned by SLIC and Cilips School Library Advocacy Group to promote the work of School Librarians in Scotland, collated, edited and produced by Julie Sutherland, Librarian at Forrester High School, Edinburgh.

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Don’t crush reading motivation

Don’t Crush Reading Motivation by Barbara Wheatley, Education Week, October 6, 2015

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The Crisis of our Libraries: A Talk by Alan Gibbons

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

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Summer School Workshop in the Library

August in the library means Summer School. A library workshop has become a regular feature of this fabulous programme of activities for some of our new S1s.

Great! This was an excellent chance to work with my job sharing partner, something that is rare because we have no cross over days. It would also mean we actually got the opportunity to speak and work with one another, instead of working via email, phone or notes left in the librarian’s notebook. A welcome change for both of us.

I had previously ran craft activities as part of summer school but this was the first year I had thought about designing a quiz, a book character quiz. It was something fun my job sharing partner and I could work on together.

Pupils were split into groups of five and asked to choose a name for their team but pupils were understandably nervous. That’s when Cathy came up with the idea of pupils in the group each suggesting a word and that word would form part of the team name. (Obviously, it had to be something pleasant but that is never really an issue with our pupils!) This caused much hilarity and chat.

It was a great group of pupils with lots of conversations about reading, summer holidays and looking forward to starting high school. We discussed memorable books from primary school, reading out loud and comic books.

Quiz team names included, The Yoda Book Club, Quiz Destroyers (pencils on fire), Dogs Play Football and Haribo Scooby Doo Club. Some of our S6 pupils were on hand to help pupils answer a few of the questions, take videos and pictures of the activity.

To finish the group were asked to create a monster that lives in the library for our walls. Creations were colourful and fun was had by all, even our S6s! This was a great way to get everyone talking and making our future pupils feel at ease about starting a new school and joining our wonderful school community.

Ian MacFarlane, Home Partnership Officer who organised Summer School commented;

“As part of my Summer School at Taylor High School, both Librarians in our Library Resource Centre organised a workshop for 2 groups of 10 P7 pupils making the transition to Taylor High School.   The Library Quiz Workshop provided the pupils with an opportunity to work cooperatively in teams whilst giving them a sense of what the Library Resource Centre can offer them when they begin Secondary School.

The feedback from the pupils was very positive in relation to the workshop itself and the delivery methods of the Librarians. I personally would like to thank Anna and Cathy for their hard work in putting on such a successful aspect of the Summer Programme.”

I hope the quiz is something we can develop in future and many thanks to Ian McFarlane, Home Partnership Officer for allowing the library to be part if this wonderful programme.

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Nicola Morgan – The science of reading

The Science of Reading – in 5 minutes

Post on Nicola Morgan’s Heartsong Blog.

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The Siobhan Dowd Memorial Lecture 2015 by Matt Haig

In 455 seconds: The Siobhan Dowd Memorial Lecture by Matt Haig.
If the video doesn’t show, click here.

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Reading Boot Camp 2015

At the beginning of the summer holidays, a group of North Lanarkshire School Librarians met for Reading Boot Camp, an opportunity to discuss pupils’ reading for enjoyment. This grew out of a discussion on our local forum about pupils selecting books that they recognised from television or film, having the stamina to read far enough into a book to care about what happened, and the assumption that all pupils knew how story works.

To get started, each person described their current work with fiction, detailing the year groups involved, how often they were involved, ideas that worked and issues that arose. Given all schools are different in pupil numbers, layout and staffing, naturally their respective Libraries will reflect those differences e.g. weekly or even fortnightly access to the Library is often impossible in larger schools.

These short introductions acted as jumping off points for wider discussions including:

  • the Librarian’s role in supporting the mechanics of learning to read;
  • Paired Reading: run by different groups in different schools (or not at all) including Support for Learning, Partnership Officers and Buddying schemes, with or without Librarian input;
  • splitting Library time between Information Literacy and Reading for Pleasure?
  • how to make reading ‘normal’ for more pupils?
  • supporting the number of readers that don’t tend to use the Library but buy their own books;
  • supporting the number of pupils who don’t know how to choose a book;
  • identifying the basics of stories – fairy tales, nursery rhymes, picture books etc;
  • helping pupils become more familiar with a wider range of writers, characters and stories – so many pupils only know stories made into films;
  • the role of audio books, and their respective issues with format, copyright etc;
  • trying something new vs re-reading old favourites;
  • making reading visible:  talking to pupils about own reading, encouraging staff to read along with class, Drop Everything and Read sessions (D.E.A.R.);
  • the value of reading aloud – could all lessons be introduced with a relevant reading?
  • the value of oral stortelling;
  • the value of ‘reading periods’;
  • dealing with the eternal shelf wanderers who will not settle with any book;
  • silence or quiet discussion with friends?
  • pupil concentration levels: books versus games;
  • encouraging pupils to think of themselves as readers;
  • whether books fit in a culture of instant gratification;
  • value of colour coding, genre layout, changes in stock layout?
  • the implicit criticism in what pupils ‘should be reading’ and what they’re comfortable with/capable of;
  • ‘laziness’ of capable readers;
  • value of competitive edge?
  • ideas from recent training days and articles.

It was clear that there are plenty of great initiatives taking place already, all deserving of a wider audience (and hopefully some will appear here soon!)

The first Reading Boot Camp sparked lots of ideas, provided a great deal to consider, and left all of the participants enthused and looking forward to the next meeting.

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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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