I know this is the most eagerly awaited and downloaded post of the year! As always, Helen Smith, Learning Resource Manager at Eckington School has produced the TV guide with a difference! All of the TV programmes or films in the schedule are based on books, which gives us a great chance to recommend the books to students. In addition, several school librarians have named their top three books based on the film schedule, so you have personal recommendations. Helen is very happy for you to share this widely, but please remember to acknowledge here when you do. Happy Christmas!
This beautifully simple. yet effective idea was shared on the internet mailing group SLN, and I immediately asked the librarian, Gavin Jones from Melbourne Girls Grammar, if I could share this with all of you. Gavin runs the website Read it! Loved it! and tweets about his love of books at @readitlovedit
The flipguides are a beautifully simple way for pupils to be independent in finding books, yet under the remote guidance of the librarian. They are simple and cheap to put together, and easy to add and take away books from once made. Laminated, they are durable and will survive much handling. Gavin has agreed to share his template with us, so that everyone can build their own guides, and it can be found here on his website, where examples of the flipguides he has already built can be found. If you do find this useful, a shout out to Gavin on Twitter would be great!
Sarah Masters, of Thomas Deacon Academy, usually kicks off the Christmas season on Heart by sending me her powerpoint Advent calendars, which she sends round to all tutors in December. This year, we have two from her, one for seniors and one for juniors. Enjoy!
The Senior calendar is too large to show in a preview, but you can download it with this link:Advent calendar 2018
And for the Juniors – the download link is under the presentation
It’s the time of year when inductions start happening for new students, or we start thinking about how we introduce the library to our incoming Year 7 students. This introduction is from Matt Imrie, blogger at Teen Librarian. If you haven’t yet discovered this wonderful resource, then sign up today! Matt has created one of the best fun introductions to Dewey – in my opinion! – with this fun activity using the Dewey Decimal Classification card game. Playable in several ways, Matt provides the rules and a free download of beautifully visual cards. Feel free to use this resource – but remember to credit the Teen Librarian!
If you have any great induction activities you’d like to share, please contact me.
Has your school ever taken part in the wonderful collaborative writing project called The Write Path, run by Bev Humphrey? Mine has – and I can tell you it is a wonderful and enriching experience. Students carry on writing each others stories, all around the world, so that the completion of a story can take 24 hours and go all around the world! Students get the chance to Skype with the school before or after them – my school loved talking to the school in Australia which had kangaroos in the distance! To find out more about how your school can take part in this wonderful collaborative project, see this page on Heart.
Jo tells us of her work in promoting wellbeing in her school.
I wanted to share some work I have done regarding wellbeing for Students with other librarians as I am aware this is a growing area of concern for schools, which may fall within our gifts to support.
I’ve been in my role as Library Assistant at a large Hampshire secondary school since the end of September, when I changed careers having spent a few years at home with my young daughter. I’ve learnt so much about working with teenagers and in a school but have so much more to learn!
I was originally asked to host an assembly for every year group at our large secondary school , providing an outline of how the library can support them. Feeling fairly confident of what I would say to the lower years who are much more engaged with reading than the older GCSE years, I wondered what was the best angle to approach it from that felt interesting and relevant to the students. So I created a very short anonymous survey and asked the following questions:
– what is important to their friends right right now?
-what is exciting their friends?
-what are the challenges facing their friends?
I pitched it from the ‘friends’ angle to enable students to be more likely to open up about others than themselves. Distributing the survey to all in Year 10 and 11, I received many results within 24 hours that highlighted some very interesting themes, so I decided to roll the survey out to all year groups. About 80% of tutor groups completed these surveys, the results of which were very enlightening.
The main theme that ran across the year groups was the importance of ‘gaming’ – I’d never heard of Fortnite, the X-box game, before reading the survey responses but I made sure I read about it afterwards as about 60% of all surveys across the year groups mentioned this as important and exciting! Anxiety was a common thread, the ’causes’ of which differed between the year groups. Years 7-9 suggested anxiety was mainly due to navigating difficult friendships, starting to think about choosing options, and completing a lot of homework. Years 10 and 11 suggested anxiety stemmed from a pressure to achieve in their exams (self imposed or from family), coping with the amount of revision, balancing revision with hobbies, not having enough time to do everything, eating poorly, worry about starting college, and concern over what they are going to do after college. Interestingly spending too much time on phones/gaming was also cited as a cause of stress!
I took the survey results and looked at how well the library supporting the emerging themes of Wellbeing and Gaming and worked with Peters to identify a bespoke book list relevant for these themes. I also looked at the Literacy Trust’s article on GameLit which proposes a new genre, of fiction set in the same alternative realities to what users of video games experience. https://www.booktrust.org.uk/whats-happening/blogs/2018/january/5-virtual-reality-books-for-your-gaming-mad-tweens-and-teens/
I captured images of the new books that were coming in and included these in my assembly presentation, as well as creating a ‘New in the Library” display in the corridor outside the library
For Years 10 and 11 I drew upon the wisdom of Danielle Marchant, founder of the Pause retreats who had previously acted as my business coach when I was working in a senior HR role in Asia. Danielle, who had experienced burnout and set about to design the retreats that she needed but weren’t available, is the author of “Pause@ by Octopus books https://www.amazon.co.uk/Pause-press-pause-before-life/dp/1912023091 and we came up with 5 tips to Pause that were relevant for Years 10 and 11.
1) Breathe – I demonstrated the different between belly breathing which we do when relaxed and fast upper body breathing that we do under stress
2)Worry Jar – the act of writing down your worries and putting them in a jar, taking the worrying thought out of your brain and onto paper helps you to question if it really is something worth worrying about, stopping your mind worrying over and over about the issue causing it to be bigger than it really is, freeing up space to concentrate on other things!
3) Importance of Blank space – allocated unstructured time to help deal with the constant busyness of their life. This also included tips on using their phones less – e.g. not charging overnight in their bedrooms, switching off devices two hours before bed and picking up a book instead, ‘see the Sky before a screen’.
4) the importance of getting outside to re-energise – whether its walking the dog, playing football with friends, going for a run or eating your lunch outside
5) Readaxation – I referred to Nicola Morgan’s work on Readaxation and positioned this as the link between the library and wellbeing. That by finding a great book they can lose themselves in will help them reach ‘flow’ and take their mind off their anxieties or exams, as well as helping them sleep if reading before bed!
I signposted the following categories of books to them:
Since the assemblies, the books have flown out with reservations constantly being made. The GameLit has certainly been popular with the boys, they have been shocked to find something that taps into their game playing passions!
I am also hoping to set up a ‘Thrive’ lunchtime club to support wellbeing, and am in discussions about inviting Nicola Morgan in to the school to speak to Year 10 and 11 students, as well as parents, in October as they enter the crucial GCSE years.
The Trinity Schools Book Award was originally set up for a group of independent schools in the South East of England. Now in it’s fourth year, it has expanded to include other schools who would like to join. I have to declare an interest, in that I am part of this group, but that is not the only reason I am writing about this on Heart.
School Librarians around the country – and local School Library Services (where they still exist) have set up book awards all around the country. To see the variety of these look at the Local Book Awards tab on Heart. One, quite notably, has become a national award because it is so unique – the Excelsior Award which is the only book award to focus solely on Graphic Novels. This award is the brainchild of Paul Register, who was a school librarian when he set it up, and now is an independent trainer who teaches on the importance of graphic novels.
So with this plethora of local book awards, why am I flagging up the Trinity Schools Book Award as being a bit different? Well, we believe that our USP is that alongside the normal book reviews and reading the books, we have set up a Creative Response Review. The responses from the pupils to the books has been quite staggering! I thought that their responses deserved a wider audience, and that this is perhaps something that you might consider for your award as well. The creative response brings out a different side to the books, and the authors are usually delighted. Sarah Govett, who won this year’s Award with her book The Territory delightedly tweeted screenshots of the responses to her book after the winning announcement. To look at the Creative Responses to this year’s books on the theme of A New World, click on the link. You can see Creative Responses from other years as well, including an Everest cake, a lego response to Mortal Engines, a sea shanty, a piece of music, cosplay, and much more! Look under the Creative Responses tab on the website to see the other four years. Click on the logo at the start of this piece to visit the website – and enjoy!
Following a heated discussion about book donations on Twitter over the new year, Barbara Band who is a School Library, Literacy and Reading Consultant and a retired school librarian with many years of experience behind her, wrote this piece for Heart about what do you do with inappropriate donations? and should you have a policy for donations at all?
School libraries need to be well-stocked with a wide range of resources for all ages and abilities. Not just fiction books but also non-fiction to support the curriculum, provide inspiration for students’ interests and exploration of whatever piques their curiosity. School libraries cater for very specific needs, some of these will be the same in every school but each with have its own peculiarities: the curriculum, the interests of students which can vary wildly – a town with a local ice hockey team is likely to have a large proportion of the student body interested in the sport and I’ve worked in schools where there was a huge interest in fishing yet none of my local colleagues reported the same – and every school librarian will have a wish list of specific titles; the next book in a series, a new publication by a popular author, something they’ve seen in a bookshop that will fit in well with the collection.
In a time of budget constraints stocking a school library that fits all these parameters can be hard to achieve so donations can be useful. However, I would often find that the donations turned out to be inappropriate, nevertheless I still said “yes” every time somebody said “I’m clearing out some books, would you like them”?
Why? Because you never know what gems you might find – after all, one day there may be a Harry Potter first edition that you could sell for vast sums (I wish!). But alongside that yes would be the caveat that the library had a stock selection policy* and that anything that wasn’t suitable would be offered to departments first and then given to charity. I never had a single person say they weren’t happy with that.
So how did I decide what to keep?
• The first assessment would be on the condition of the book or magazine. Was it in a reasonable state with no sticky substances or pages falling out? Was it damaged or defaced?
• Fiction – if it was a popular book then I would keep it for additional copies. If it was something that I didn’t think would be borrowed (for example, where I already had the book with a more up-to-date cover or it was by an author who was no longer read) then I would use it for the “reading boxes” that I stocked in every tutor group or put it in my regular book sale to raise funds for new stock. If the book was recent and “as new” I would consider it for a library competition prize.
• Non-fiction – these were assessed for relevance to the curriculum, accuracy and whether they were up-to-date. School librarians struggle to get others to understand that we constantly need to weed our stock. As librarians, our task is to help students find the information they need, to guide them to a book they may enjoy, and the ultimate aim is for students to become readers for pleasure and independent learners, finding what they want without our intervention. We cannot stand over every student and check what they have taken off the shelves – if a student does their homework using an out-of-date library book and gets it wrong, who is at fault? Facts change over time – we no longer have nine planets – and even recipe books have to be treated with caution. Older ones would not give guidance regarding unpasteurised products and pregnancy.
• Basically any book I added to the shelves from donations had to supplement or enhance what I already had. After that, any surplus fiction that I didn’t want I would pass to the English department for their classroom libraries although rather than dump piles of books on them, I’d catch staff when in the library and ask them to look through them.
• Likewise, if there were any books that I felt would be useful to the SEN department (fiction and non-fiction) then I would pass on these too.
• Non-fiction books would be distributed to relevant departments – again, I would remove anything that was horrendously out-of-date or in poor condition. Departmental libraries are different from the school library. Teachers are able to direct students towards particular chapters where the information is still relevant, for example, the section on gravity in a science encyclopaedia is unlikely to date whereas information about space travel would need to be checked.
• Some books, whilst not suitable for any of the above, could still be used – for papercrafts in the library, as backing paper for quotes, I’ve even used falling-apart graphic novels to create bookmarks (the Simpson’s ones were very popular!).
• The (hopefully) diminishing pile left would be taken to a charity shop – I know my local one collects books not suitable for sale and sells them for pulp so I feel that not only am I helping the charity but also the environment. However, there were always some books which wouldn’t even be suitable for this so those would be put directly into the recycle bin.
School libraries have limited space and each book needs to “earn its keep” on the shelves; keeping old and tatty books in case somebody might want to borrow them means no space for the new books. I’ve weeded sections before and been asked by students and staff whether I’ve bought more books – the old stuff hides the new! School libraries also rarely have store rooms so books that are removed usually have to be disposed of and we can’t stock a book on every single possible thing we may be asked for. Do continue to think about your school library when donating books but please don’t expect them to keep everything and maybe have a sort out of them first to save the librarian that trip to the charity shop?
* A stock selection policy should give the rationale for why stock is selected or rejected. A statement such as: “Resources are selected to ensure stock is of a high quality, current and appropriate. They form part of a balanced collection, providing cultural diversity, differing perspectives and viewpoints, without bias and stereotyping. Resources include a range of formats to support each subject as well as individual learning styles. Any donations will be considered in the same way.”
School Library, Reading and Literacy Consultant
This is the most eagerly anticipated and read post every year! The wonderful Helen Smith from Eckington School in Derbyshire produces a guide to Christmas TV every year, linking films to books. A great opportunity to promote reading! Helen provides this for free every year, and she allows free distribution. However, please ensure that you acknowledge her as the author of this guide. Also, Helen asks that if you enjoy this guide you consider donating to the page she has set up for the National Literacy Trust.
In one of those wonderful emails I sometimes get, author Cliff McNish contacted me with an amazing offer this week. He wondered if I would like to offer all of you his six writing guides – for free! These are the guides that are normally given to schools as a part of his author visit, but Cliff felt that in this time of shrinking budgets he would like to offer these out to everyone. Of course I said yes!
Cliff is the author of the chilling novel for teenagers Breathe, and the fantasy Doomspell trilogy, as well as books for younger children. You can see the books he has written, and learn more about his school visits on his website here.
The six guides are entitled The 4 Basic Stories, Five Easy Steps to Creating a Great Story, Creating great Heroes/Heroines in your stories, Creating Great Villains in Your Stories How to Write a Fantasy Story and How to Write a Ghost Story.
I hope that you find these really helpful to your school. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook or go to his website to find out more.