The Education Show 2016

For many people in education circles this is the high point of the year.  For three days the NEC in Birmingham is humming to the sound of teachers, students, school leaders and yes, even us governors.  It is a place where you can get to grips with the finer details of the curriculum or Pupil Premium and then spend a while choosing some stickers for use as incentives, or a new stash of felt tip pens.

I decided to go on Friday the 18th for several reasons but the main one was the range of subjects in the workshop programmes.  Given that my main interest is in literacy and reading for pleasure, it seemed sensible to attend on a day that the workshops followed this thread.

For those who have never been before there are several things that I suggest you do:

  1. Wear very comfortable shoes
  2. plan your schedule for talks
  3. know what stalls you want to visit
  4. know what you want to buy
  5. bring a trolley/cabin suitcase with you.
  6. come as a group if possible as you can divide and conquer more stalls
  7. Get there as early as you can
  8. loads of water!
The main sessions that I attended were:
“Building a reading school”, Sheila Wood

For a librarian much of this was as natural as breathing air, but I think that it needs to be highlighted in some educational areas.  Sheila Wood is a great speaker who talks a lot of common sense and I found myself mentally cheering many of her comments and observations.  A fantastic speaker for any conference or training day.

“Assessing reading  without levels”, Chris Ratcliffe
For everyone working in a school there has been a lot of emphasis on how assessments can be made now that the government has removed the levels.  There are numerous packages on the market (many of whom were at the show) as well as the options of trying to use data that is already available in school.  Chris Ratcliffe helped steer a path through the maze and I am sure that many people felt more confident in the direction they wanted to go.
Getting ready for the new KS1 and KS2 English Tests, with Lesley and Graham Fletcher
this was actually a very practical session highlighting the changes to the papers for 2016.  We all received a six page handout with examples of the past and new content.  However the important part was that English teachers could ask specific questions about various elements and they received very in depth replies with examples.  As an outsider I found it fascinating, but I am sure that for any teachers in the audience it would have given then more confidence in dealing with the changes.

Education show 2016

Get your school reading for pleasure
 Scholastic Reading Hub

“Working with reluctant readers can be a challenge for any teacher or parent, and can often feel frustrating. There are a huge number of Reading for Pleasure charities in the UK who aim to help, and who can offer top tips on becoming a Reading Ambassador in your school.”

Speaker(s):Sheila Wood|Louise Johns-Shepherd, Chief Executive, CLPE|Claire Styles, Programme Manager, The Reading Agency |Cath Boulton, Head of Schools Business Development,National Literacy Trust |Jennie Albone, Head of Schools Programmes, BookTrust

This joint session gave the various organizations a chance to show the audience what they are about and how Education show.2016they can help those working in education.  I have been lucky enough to work with several of these charities over the years and they are all well known for some major projects.  However they all develop new programmes over the years, in order to cope with the changes in society, so this was an opportunity to find out about new activities that they will be promoting in the coming year.

Apart from these sessions I also spent a lot of time walking around the exhibitions and especially those that were associated with publishing.  It was good to meet up with friends from various publishers and to also ask questions at stands such as the National Memorial Arboretum and Teach Primary.  All told it was a very tiring and yet worthwhile day and I really would recommend it to anyone associated with education.

Thing 23 – Making it all work together

Wow, I am finally on the last of the ‘Things’ and it has made me look at something that I thought I would not use again.  When I was working for my last authority they brought in the use of Hootsuite for members of staff who wanted to tweet about what was going on in the library environment.  Unfortunately in those days it was less user friendly and we all gave up trying to use it and tended to send just the odd tweet about events from our own accounts.  Not the best way to build up a brand image for our users.  Hopefully the version that I signed up to today is easier to use and will enable me to keep track of the different social media that I use.

I have also signed up for Google alerts for things book and library based, although I do hope I don’t get overwhelmed by them.  We will see!

I just want to say thank you to everyone involved in the Rudai 23 things course.  It has been challenging, informative, helpful and above all a very friendly and supportive course to have been on.  I think it really does show how librarians in different countries, working in different fields are willing and able to help and learn from each other.  It has been a really lovely experience.

Thing 22 – Mobile things

I am rather a dinosaur as far as mobile technology is concerned.  My mobile phone is an old “clam shell” design that no one would want to steal (hopefully).  It can take photos but there is no capacity to search the internet, or I don’t think there is.  At the moment I prefer to keep it this way although I am beginning to consider a smart phone in the future.

My mobile technology is my iPad 2 which I have had for several years and would not be without.  I use it for note taking and taking photos at conferences and events as well as being the platform that I tend to use for reading my eBooks.  I tend to use Kindle but have Kobo and Bluefire reader as well.  I also tend to use the iPad for Facebook, Twitter  and checking my emails.

Another App that I have recently started using is the one for Easy jet.  It allows me to check in online and even gives me my boarding card, so that I don’t have to worry about printing it out.  However not all airports are set up for this and I have had them print out a card when I have gone to baggage drop.

I am not a great user of Apps and tend to go to sites via the browser but sometimes it is not possible to do it that way and you have to get an App for either the iPad or for the PC.  I suspect that my lack of concern about being connected 24/7 is something to do with my age.  Yes, it is good to have a phone for when you want it and also to be able to access information wherever you are, but I think that there is a real sense that the technology is overpowering us and that we need to get back to a stage where the human is in control.  Honestly, it does not matter if you are out of touch for a short while.  Anyway ‘rant over’, I think there is a time and place for mobile technology but as with everything else we need to use it sensibly.

Thing 21 – Infographics

Infographics seem to be becoming more popular especially when people are having to provide a lot of information in a very limited time and space.  There have also been several series of information books which are stylistically infographics and this seems to make the information more accessible to the intended audience.  I first came across Piktochart earlier in the year when I was doing a MOOC about Digital Literacy.  Whilst I managed to produce the short infographic shown above, I do not feel that I have got to grips with the layouts and the methods of adding to the page.  It feels as if all the things that I have problems with have been left to the end of this course, but I really do feel that I want to feel more comfortable with their use.  I suspect that they are the ones that I need to actually do with someone talking me through it, with me madly making notes that make sense to my brain.  I feel several visits to YouTube coming on.

Thing 20 – Presentations

I really can’t remember the first presentation that I did, but I suspect that it was before some of you were born!  It might seem obvious now, but the technology that was available has changed so much over the years; some of it has been helpful but there has also been a sense that people use technology as the most important part of the presentation, rather than being just a tool.  I suspect that most of us have suffered “death by PowerPoint”, the program is extremely useful and I use it as the basis for most sessions, however, as has been mentioned on Rudai, you do have to be careful about use.  The PowerPoint should just have the bullet points that you can expand on during your presentation.  Another thing that is a bit of a bugbear for me is spelling and punctuation; it really is frustrating to sit and look at a slide where there is a glaring mistake.

Most of my presentations have been part of my work in the School Library Service running sessions for teachers and librarians but I have also undertaken training in the Public Library side of my career.  Perhaps the most scary was a presentation at the British Library about a joint use library project with a colleague from City of Bristol College; an audience made up of Heads of Service can be very daunting.

I have thought about using other methods of presentation and have had a go at Prezi in the past, I just checked and I joined in 2012 but I cannot remember when I last used it.  In fact I just had a look and found just one practice piece, which I am putting up on this blog.  Maybe now is the time to go back and try again.

Well one day later I have had a go at doing another Prezi.  I still need to become familiar with the terminology but I hope that I am getting better.  I think it will show 7 “slides” rather than 6 because there is one which is a sub-slide of another.  Anyway here is my effort.


Thing 19 – The legal side of things

Copyright is some thing that we are hopefully all aware of and yet I have always had the feeling that people are happy to slide around the regulations if possible.  I can remember it being very frustrating when I worked in a public library environment when you had to tell someone that the could not copy their Ordnance Survey map or make 30 copies of a song for their Choir; they then went around to the local newsagent and did it anyway.  There are similar problems in schools, although they do have CLA licenses which give them wider use than the general public.  However, some staff seem to think it entitles them to do almost anything they want to do.  School librarians need to be constantly on their guard in this respect.

Of course it is not just the written word that has issues.  Images, music, even logos cannot be used without permission, but I quite frequently see slide shows with music and you know that it is probably copyright but they have just used their own CD to provide the background.  Very frustrating.  I have just done a MOOC on digital storytelling which was fascinating but which brought several of these issues in to focus.  Most of the students used images from Creative Commons and used the attribution system for both the pictures and for any music they used in the background.  It was surprisingly difficult to choose the right music in particular because even cutting off a few seconds of the theme could be seen as breaking the terms and conditions, so you have to be very precise about the attribution and the timings.

Basically, think of copyright as a bit of a minefield and be very careful to check what you are doing.  The article on the Rudai blog was extremely useful as it brought us up to date in a concise and understandable way, so thank you very much for that.

Thing 18 – Communicating through photographs

It is fair to say that the growth in digital technology has changed the face of photography and the way that we create, view and use them. As a child we had a camera and you bought a role of film that took either 24 or maybe even 36 photos.  A great holiday might mean that you had two or three rolls of film to be developed.  If you wanted to share the photos, you either had to have them copied (an expensive option) or you had to wait until you saw the people you wanted to share with.  Then we moved on to digital cameras which will take many more photos and can then be added to the computer and emailed to family and friends.

Nowadays we live in a totally different world.  People take photos on cameras, phones and tablets.  They share them in all the old ways but they also have options such as Flickr and Instagram.  I  have had a Flickr account for some time, but have not used it to upload photos.  Perhaps I need to look at those I would not mind up loading.  Instagram is something I have wanted to get for a while, mainly because Chris Riddell, the Children’s laureate puts loads of his fabulous illustrations on this site.  It is his record of all the things he is doing as the laureate.

2015-07-04 18.15.25

Chris Riddell, 2015


when I went on Flickr I searched for libraries and came up with huge numbers of images of the most amazing libraries, big and small, public and private.  I suspect that most librarians have a great desire to have their own private library space, complete with comfy chair and somewhere to put a cup of coffee or glass of wine.  The first photo is of such a place, although the owners admit that they also have bookshelves all over their house.  I am lucky enough to have a workroom with bookshelves, but I am a long way off from being as organized as this room.


Library of Carrington Cottage Some rights reserved

   Usually I try and include a number of photos in my blog but in order to make things easier tend to include images that I have taken myself.  In general this is not a problem, but you do need to check that photography is allowed and that people do not mind having photos taken, also remember not to take photos of children without permission if you are doing an event.  The only problem with blogs can be the limited space and i have found it best to upgrade so that \i do not have the same limitations.

Thing 17 – Reflective Practise

I can’t believe that we are at the beginning of October and that we have now reached thing 17.

The post about reflective practice is particularly useful to me in my role as a Cilip Mentor.  It is the one area that 2015-09-24_1355 people become very worried about as they are not sure what it means to them.  I had not come across the diagram or Gibbs  reflective cycle, despite it having been around for most of my professional life.  If nothing else I would have expected to come across it whilst undertaking my OU degrees.

Having the sequence in a pictorial form enables you to quickly assess what you should be doing and where you are in the process.  In the article I greatly appreciated the fact that Stephanie showed us the various stages that you can go through in increasing the reflective elements of your writing.

I also think this might have some uses in my role as a school governor, so that I get a more holistic view of what is going on and where we need to be focusing as a governing body.  Definitely lots of things to think about and consider what they mean and where I should be focusing.


Thing 16 – Collaboration tools

A particularly interesting thing as digital media has made a huge difference in the way we collaborate.  When I first started working in libraries you would have to hold a meeting, send documents by royal mail and use the telephone if you wanted to do anything collaboratively.  As you can guess this made it very slow and tedious.  Then we moved on to the wonders of telex and later fax.  I remember having to send faxes back to the UK from Cyprus and watching as the whole system crashed as you were half way through the process, never mind the occasion a colleague dialed the wrong code and sent the document to somewhere in Japan.

Of the methods listed on the RUDAI blog site I have used DOODLE and I  really must get to grips with Google docs, usually I use Dropbox if I want to share documents with people .  I like the fact that you have templates on the  Google docs site which gives some help when starting something new.  There have definitely been times that I would have found this very useful and I think that a good use now would be when planning  YLG training days,as we all live some distance from each other and currently use email to check documents.

I am trying to think if I can come up with any other tools that I would use for collaboration and it what circumstance they would be used and nothing is really coming to mind.  Although I have just come up with another use for DOODLE.  I am a school governor and although the meetings are planned in advance we sometimes have to change or add in dates.  DOODLE might be a quick and easy way of finding out when people are available.  I would be very interested to hear what other people do and what suggestion they have for collaboration tools

Some new MOOCs for you

Supporting children with difficulties in reading and writing. (Coursera)  This has proved to be a fascinating course which is basically about working with children with dyslexia.  As a non-teacher it is great to see how the basics of phonics are taught and also to see how children can be helped in their learning.  The course does include an element of observation but it can be completed without this if you are not looking to gain a certificate at the end.

Powerful tools for teaching and learning: digital storytelling. (Coursera)  This is not something that I had really thought of before, but I agree with the title in that it could be a very powerful way of putting information across.  I am hoping to complete a short film for this (no more that 5 mins) and will try and embed it in the blog or provide a link if possible.  We have looked at choosing the topic and creating storyboards   There are some extremely useful video clips showing examples and also techniques.  This week we are looking at audio recording and then we will have to put it all together.  It should be fun!??

Parenting in the Digital Age. (Canvas)

There has already been a course on Childhood in the Digital Age, so this makes a perfect addition to the list.  there is a high incidence of child safety material which is excellent and I particularly like finding a resource called “Common Sense Media” that I had not come across before.  This makes you think about the resources available on line, the gaming, social media and how much time our young people spend using technology.

Developing your research project  (Futurelearn)  As we speak this course has been running for one week and there are another seven to go; rather a long course by MOOC standards.  However I get the impression that I am about to actually undertake a small research project during this time.  I  hope to add to this post during the next few weeks to bring everyone up to date on the subject and what i manage to achieve.