Posts Tagged With: Our Lady’s High School Motherwell

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!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Categories: Competitions, Creativity, Literacy | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

A day at the Festival

Only the second day of term, but OLHS staff and pupils are already out and about in search of literature at the Edinburgh International Book Festival – and we saw other NLC schools too (take a bow, Kilsyth Academy). Fifty 3rd years and five staff headed east, arriving only just in the nick of time, thanks to some lousy traffic.

On the plus side, it meant we didn’t wait about for our first talk with Lari Don, discussing her latest book, Mind Blind, and encouraging the audience to discuss the positives and negatives of having superpowers. This went down well with some of the OLHS crowd who appreciated the interaction, especially when one of our own was invited to share their thoughts, while others wanted to hear more about the book itself.

Staff and pupils wandered off to explore the festival site, check out the fabulous bookshops – enter with your credit card at your own risk – partake of light refreshments, and just enjoy the sunshine. There isn’t a decent bookshop in Motherwell, and a lot of pupils were seen wandering about inside just soaking up everything on offer, and some took advantage of the Festival’s £2 tokens to purchase a wee present for themselves.

Our second talk featured contributors to a new World War I anthology, Tony Bradman, Linda Newbery and Paul Dowswell. Many pupils commented on how much they learned about the war from the discussion between the three authors, while others felt World War I was being talked about too much.

Pupils’ comments afterwards revealed an even split between those who had enjoyed Lari Don, and those who preferred the World War I talk. For some this was a fiction/non-fiction issue, some were more concerned about the presentation, and others the ideas that had been discussed. Meanwhile, the loveliest 3rd years enjoyed both, with many appreciating the differences in the speakers’ styles.

And perhaps best of all, there was a huge amount of interest in who else was speaking and when they could return, which makes all of the work worthwhile 🙂

Categories: Authors, Books, Festivals, Literacy, Reading | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The tale of Betty the Machete

Kirkland meets Angus and Brian the Brain at OLHS

Kirkland meets Angus and Brian the Brain at OLHS

3rd year pupils at Our Lady’s enjoyed an hour with Kirkland Ciccone, author of Catalyst longlisted Conjuring the Infinite. Kirkland ran through his own reading experiences as a child, explaining the impact of different characters and series at particular times in his life.

Pupils enjoyed Kirkland’s stories about growing up in Cumbernauld, with its lovely libraries and unattractive buildings (his words, not mine). Highlights included how not to get bullied (courtesy of Betty the Machete), the adventures of his young detective club, and an illustrated guide to when book titles go wrong.

Not surprising then that the pupils had a great time, and clustered round to get autographs and buy books. It’s fair to say that 3rd year now have the most autographed English jotters in the school.

Categories: Author visits, Authors, Events, Literacy, Storytelling | 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

My World of Work

Skills Development Scotland came to interview staff and pupils at Our Lady’s High School last term, following a project managed by PT Pupil Support, Mrs Lyn Zambonini, to pilot and develop their My World of Work website. The interview focused on the benefits of the My World of Work website and how we are using it within OLHS.

Rather nice Library Resource Centre in the background, complete with Brian the Brain from the main desk 🙂

Categories: Developing the Young Workforce | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

The Spine Poetry of the Stuff ‘n’ Thingers

The Stuff ‘n’ Things Club has grown out of the Creative Writing Club. The pupils didn’t always want to write, but were always happy to chat or take part in competitions and activities. So they’re basically a group for all sorts of stuff (and things) 🙂

For example: as seen on Helena Pielichaty’s blog: make poems from the titles on book spines. Here’s some of their work.







Categories: Books, Creativity, Literacy | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Fortunately / Unfortunately

Back in September Rhona and I attended an excellent seminar at the Scottish Learning Festival run by staff from Tobermory High School. Tobermory is actually a 3-18 school and the staff had done a fantastic job in involving the whole school  in a variety of very simple, but extremely effective literacy activities.

Inspired by Tobermory’s approach, I returned to school and organised the stars activity for National Poetry Day (which Lesley-Ann has already discussed) with English, Science, RE, Support for Learning and the Creative Writing Club. That worked really well, and created a lot of comment on P7 Open Night.

Some of the stars from Religious Education and English for National Poetry Day.

What’s next?

Tell-a-Story Day is October 26th, organised by the Scottish Storytelling Centre. It would be simple enough to hold a storytelling session in the LRC, but ideally I wanted some way for everyone to get involved in the creation of the story, not just a selected few.And of course, this had to happen without disrupting all of the usual classes and events taking place in the library and around the school.

Fortunately, many hours and brain cells later, I hit upon the Great Fortunately / Unfortunately Game of 2012!

Unfortunately, I didn’t have much time to organise it.

Fortunately, after some discussion with the Headteacher and some teaching colleagues, we had a working plan.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t sure how other staff would react.

Fortunately a preparatory e-mail to all staff gave them plenty of warning.

Unfortunately, we had no paper long enough in school.

Fortunately, a bit of digging around in cupboards at home produced rolls of unwanted wallpaper.

Unfortunately, by the morning of Tell-a-Story Day, I had had no time to arrange pupils ready to wander the school collecting stories.

Fortunately, one of the teachers offered volunteers from her class and an enthusiastic bunch of pupils went off to get permission to be out of class at various points during the day. And then away they went, clutching letters (to remind staff), coloured pens and a roll of wallpaper under their oxters.

Unfortunately, as with all the best ideas, there’s always something you’ve forgotten.

Fortunately, after the initial run, I was able to add ‘NO NAMES PLEASE!!!’ to the instructions in big friendly letters and sent off my volunteers with a fresh roll of wallpaper.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough time to visit every single class.

Fortunately, the volunteers did visit a large number of staff and pupils, including the office, the janitors and the headteacher (twice!)

Part of the Fortunately / Unfortunately Game for Tell a Story Day at Our Lady’s High School, Motherwell

Unfortunately, at the end of the day, some staff reported that no-one had come to them at all  😦

Fortunately, they want it to happen again next year just to make sure they get a shot 😀

Categories: Creativity, Events, Literacy | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

The wee green man

The Wee Green Man is a story to help pupils learn how to scan for keywords.

The class has to close their eyes and imagine that what’s getting told in the story is actually happening to them (but you can keep yours open since you’d find it difficult to read that way :-)). NB The information below is not anatomically correct.

Once upon a time, there was a tiny wee green man. He loved to explore, but not just anywhere. The Wee Green Man liked to explore places that nobody else could, and because he was so tiny, he could get into tiny little spaces.

One day, the Wee Green Man decided to explore up  your nose. He slipped and he slid, getting covered in icky stuff (which is why he was already wearing green!), until he eventually managed to climb all the way up inside your head to where your brain is.

The Wee Green Man admired the vast empty spaces where your brain is supposed to be and decided to leave his mark (unfortunately, he’s a bit of a vandal). So he got out a can of spray paint and wrote in huge letters, a word. A word so vast, that now it’s sitting right in front of your brain, and you can’t see anything else.

Imagine that word – see it in front of your eyes. Focus on it. And then, once you can clearly imagine it, open your eyes, scan across the screen and put your hand up as soon as you see it.

The word selected of course, is a word on the screen or page in front of the class. Smaller words are more difficult. We then put the scanning into practice with Google searches or websites on the Smartboard, and remind them of the Wee Green Man whenever they’re researching.

Their sense of achievement at spotting the relevant word is palpable, and since it’s such a ridiculous story, they also remember it.

Categories: Information Literacy | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Zombies Inveigled

Zombies Inveigled was a brilliant initiative that I was asked to get involved with back in January. One of the XL classes had the chance to work with special effects make-up and wanted to create something appropriate to show it off. After discussing a variety of possibilities, the pupils decided that they would like to develop their own comic.

Over ten weeks, we introduced the class to graphic novels, and very much led by their enthusiasm and creativity, guided them through the process of creating their own using Comic Life software. We developed storyboards, scouted for locations, took hundreds of photographs, learned how to use the software and constantly evaluated, while specialist artist Kirsty McCabe taught them ever more complicated and gory techniques with their zombie makeup (see the Bodies in the Library for more details). The final product was printed in A3 and displayed in school, then shown at the XL Exhibition, with the class well deserved praise from all who saw it.

From a professional viewpoint, the variety and number of skills required was phenomenal: storyboarding; synthesis; planning; navigating through files; image searching; saving images from the web; copyright awareness; importance of titles; using a thesaurus; involving other staff; identifying locations; photography techniques; directing others; marketing their product; and perhaps most importantly, keeping the peace :-). Information Literacy fell into this process very naturally  and techniques were introduced as required.

Personally I’m delighted to have been involved in such an entertaining and educational experience, especially one in which staff and pupils learned so much from each other.

Categories: Creativity, Curriculum for Excellence, Graphic novels, Information Literacy, Literacy | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Cathy MacPhail

Our Lady's Latest

OLHS pupils in 3rd and 4th year won a competition back in October at the North Lanarkshire Catalyst Book Awards 2011 for the best use of the Catalyst blog. Their prize was a visit from award winning author, Cathy MacPhail.

The classes were enthralled by Cathy’s stories of moving statues, haunted hotels and creepy libraries. The Creative Writing Club also discussed lots of ideas with Cathy and sought advice for their own writing. Cathy was kind enough to answer all their questions and even set them a writing challenge at the end of the afternoon.

View original post

Categories: Authors, Book Awards | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Create a free website or blog at