Staff CPD: Online Resources supporting staff and students

Last week I ran a session called Online Resources: Supporting staff and students.

Turn out was reasonable with staff attending coming mainly from the Humanities and Arts (includes dramatic arts) colleges. The format was that I gave a brief demonstration of each of the resources and this was followed by 5 minutes for them to explore themselves.

I started with an introduction to Oliver (our LMS – Library Management System) which is on the MRC VLE homepage.

I showed them how they and their students could use Oliver to:-

  • create a reading list that includes both books and websites, and which can easily be emailed to students or turned into a link which can be placed elsewhere on the VLE, or in powerpoints for example.
  • check their own loans and set up their interests for automatic notification of new resources.
  • save time by using alternative provider which repeats the same search in a number of different databases such as Clipbank.

Next I returned to the Oliver Homepage which is split into 4 columns.

Screenshot of the Oliver Homepage

Screenshot of the Oliver Homepage

In the first column I highlighted the MRC blog (what you are reading now); links to both Peterborough and the British Library for tracking down copies of out-of-print titles that can be borrowed; the link to Dawsonera (e -books); and demonstrated the link to the Blekko Search Engine where you can search 3 search engines at the same time and compare the difference in results.

The second column took much more time as this contains quick links to our online databases. So I demonstrated and the staff explored four of these …. Britannica Encyclopedia; NewsBank; InfoTrac and KnowUK. All incredibly useful when encouraging students to use sources other than relying on Wikipedia and Google alone.


The third column contains links based around books and reading. With video book trailers; Book of the Week; a quick link to the MRC DEAR page; as well as “Books for Keeps” and “Read Plus”.

The fourth column contains useful things for research and critical thinking skills. Such as Plato (which looks at plagiarism); Internet Detective (critical thinking for KS4 &5); Welcome to the Web (critical thinking for KS3); Easy Peasy Bibliography creator, as well as links to Guides and bibliography templates.

The hour flew by and everyone found something useful for themselves or sharing with their students. Resulting from this I have been asked to do further work with Year 12 students on avoiding plagiarism, and…. I was walking by a classroom the day after my session and there on the white board was one of the databases – the teacher gave me the thumbs up as I walked on by!

Drop in on DEAR 2.3

The current focus of the Authors Page on the DEAR Homepage is…


William Golding


author of “Lord of the Flies“.

Next summer will be the 100 anniversary of his birth.

Lord Of the Flies is available  to borrow from the MRC


Book of the Week


 Click HERE to find out if this book is still available from the MRC.


Reading Groups in the MRC

Last years Year 7 reading group has successfully continued into Year 8.


They meet every Wednesday to discuss books, do a bit of creative writing, and share books and read together. It is great to see.

When this was launched we had a couple of lads in Year 11 who wanted a group for something for them. At the same time the Year 9 Carnegie Shadowing group was coming to an end and yet the students wanted to continue reading.


So back in October we launched a KS4 reading group and this has been meeting every Thursday, again reading, discussing and sharing books along with story writing, and doing word searches and other related activities.




There are spaces available in both groups – so if you enjoy reading and talking about books – come along to the MRC to find out more.

Able Writers Day Feedback


As part of the Literacy focus this year, looking at improving the writing abilities of students, Author Nicola Davies came in last week to deliver an all day Writers Workshop for our Gifted and Talented students in Year 8.


It was a great day here is a summary of the feedback from students…


Did you enjoy the Able Writers Day with Nicola Davies?

Yes I did. I thought it was a great experience.

I enjoyed the day with Nicola Davies.

Yes I enjoyed it a lot!

Yes it was very fun and interesting!

What did you learn?

I learnt that if you make a plan it’s more easier to do a piece of writing

I learnt how to do a quick plan if I am stuck; I also learnt how to write a good story.

I learnt how to get inspiration for writing

I learned how some words do not create images in people’s minds so you can’t use them in poems that have short lines.

I learnt that you can write a line of your story just by brainstorming a little!

I learnt a bit about Nicola Davies life and also good techniques for solving writers block.

How to brainstorm ideas better and how to write a story when given a base object.

How to write a short story other skills and about the author herself how she became an author

 What did you love?

Playing that quick 1 word game

I loved the part when we had to make up our own story that was fun.

I liked it when we had to describe the picture we had as the person

Hearing about her trips

I loved the fact that we did quite a lot of writing, and were creative for most of the day.

I loved it when we got to have a go at writing a piece of writing using the postcards

I loved the dolphin story!!!

The alone story writing.

Creating a poem

The time when we wrote the story at the end

 Did you hate anything?


No I did not hate anything.

I didn’t hate anything, but I didn’t really like the postcard bit as the postcard it got very difficult.

How she was going on about nature all of the time and wouldn’t let us do any fantasy stories


 Would you be interested in doing something similar?

Yeah sure

Yes, I would be interested to do something similar.



I would be interested in doing something similar again.

Yes I definitely would love to!

Yes, definitely!

Yes I would but it would be good if a fantasy writer could come in.





This was in conjunction with Authors Abroad

A-Z of Internet Tools and Techniques: Letter I

So here we are with Letter I of the tools and techniques which you can use to get the most out of the Internet.

I stands for….


Fully interactive, multi-media, broadband enhanced are just a few of the terms that spring to mind when I think of the interactivity of the internet.

Increased form of interactivity leads to greater reader involvement and engagement, two things that every teacher wants to encourage into their classroom.

Interactivity caters for and indeed increases the number of learning styles you can include, visual, written, audio, kinesthetic – all are possible with making use of the best sites on the web or creating your own online resources.

For instance I love using Flash to create interactive learning activities that include both the teaching objectives and information literacy objectives.


Bibliography Scott, Elspeth. (2009). All kinds of e-verything. School Librarian. 57

Carnegie Long List announced

The Carnegie Medal is awarded annually to the writer of an outstanding book for children.

The long list has recently been published and the MRC is currently buying any books on the list that we don’t have already!

I’m setting myself the challenge to read all of the books on the long list before the winner is announced. 52 titles in 6 months. That’s 2 a week….. I’d better get reading!

Books I’ve read so far….


Book of the Week


 Click HERE to find out if this book is still available from the MRC.


Book Fair – the results….


Money received £508.03 (This is sent to Scholastic Books)

£158 worth of free books kept for MRC

£44. Credit on our account to spend on books for the MRC in next scholastic sale!

A-Z of Internet Tools and Techniques: Letter H

So here we are with Letter H of the tools and techniques which you can use to get the most out of the Internet.

H stands for….

Hot Potatoes

Hot Potatoes offers a range of applications which you can easily use to build interactive games without the need for extensive programming knowledge.

It is free for educational use an includes includes six applications, enabling you to create interactive multiple-choice, short-answer, jumbled-sentence, crossword, matching/ordering and gap-fill exercises.

I have used it to test students knowledge following a podcast on the FAQ about the MRC, such as opening hours, number of items students can borrow etc.


Bibliography Scott, Elspeth. (2009). All kinds of e-verything. School Librarian. 57