Royal Society Young People’s Book Prize

Click on the image to link to the Royal Society website.

Our Lady’s have been selected as one of the judging panels for the Young People’s  Book Prize.

Our Lady’s has been awarded a free set of the shortlisted books which have now been pored over by pupils from different departments, checking them from the perspectives of design, marketing and information books. Groups reviewed every book and calculated an average score for each title. This involved a great deal of discussion and analysis as pupils discovered the value of not judging a book by its cover.

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As our analysis continued, we also discovered the value of this process for explaining careers connected tot he publishing and creative industries, demonstrating the large numbers involved in getting a book from idea to bookshelf.

Our volunteer judging panel will now check over the books in much more detail, preparing questions for authors and illustrators and creating our final submissions. If you would like further information or to volunteer for the judging panel please see Mrs Macfadyen in the Library.

 

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Edinburgh Book Festival 2017

Mrs Macfadyen is organising a trip to the Edinburgh Book Festival on August 21st 2017. This is a fantastic trip to see three different authors of three very different novels, then hang about in the sunshine, eat ice creamand check out the huge book shop.

Canadian Sebastian de Castell‘s novel, Spellslingers is a dramatic tale of tricks, romance, magic and comedy.

Catherine Barter’s first novel, Troublemakers, includes unknown mothers, family secrets, terrible danger and discovering the truth. She will be appearing with Swedish Christoffer Carlsson who is a criminologist and author. Explore his world with his first young adult novel, October is the coldest month.

If interested please give your name to your English teacher or Mrs Macfadyen asap. Tickets cost £3 each plus cost of bus, but the Festival are also supplying a £3 book token for every pupil who visits.

Plus the ice cream and cakes are awesome.

Titanic Project 2017: messing about in the water

The Titanic Crew spent this morning completing their writing challenges, preparing materials for the display and ageing their crew and passenger biographies with teabags and coffee grains. We were surprised to discover that one of the biographies, which were part of the first day’s tasks, featured a baby boy who also appears in one of the pupil’s written reports. The crew also enjoyed a viewing of Ghosts in the Abyss with Mrs Jeffrey, and spent the afternoon at Wishaw Sports Centre, practising their swimming under the benevolent eyes of Mrs McNeish and Mrs Dynes.

Thursday was spent preparing all of the remaining materials produced during this year’s project for display, almost destroying the Library’s laminator (no names, but you know who you are!). The very last day of our three week Titanic Project saw the group head for Greenock and the Caribbean Princess with Miss Walmsley and Mr McGleish, where they toured a modern day cruise liner and learned about life and work on the ocean wave. Our thanks to Princess Cruises and Greenock Ocean Terminal for their kindness in allowing our pupils and staff aboard.

Titanic Project: Liberty Steel

The Titanic crew visited Liberty Steel for a guided tour of the plant and to learn how slabs of steel are rolled and shaped into plates for ships, bridges and rigs.

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Titanic Project 2017: films and measurements

The Titanic Crew spent the morning watching the 1958 film, A Night to Remember, and compared it with the 1997 film, Titanic, that they were more familiar with. The pupils preferred the older film because it focused on the disaster. Throughout the film, our resident Titanic fanatic, PT English Mrs Millar, pointed out important events, areas of controversy and the background of various passengers.

The afternoon was spent with Miss Lees and Miss Wheeler from Maths who helped pupils to visualise the size of Titanic by comparing it with our school building. The crew took the trundle wheels around the yard for their measurements before working on their calculations. It turns out that the school could fit twice into the footprint of the Titanic!

 

Titanic Project 2017: posters, buoyancy and mapping

Start of Titanic Project week 2 and the Crew were working with Mr Weir from Art and Design creating Titanic posters in Photoshop (photos to follow). Next they learned about buoyancy and how enormous steel vessels stay afloat, making their own vessels with Mr Law in Science. Congratulations to the team of Omar and Conor whose boat was most successful.

In the afternoon, Miss Moir from Social Subjects worked with the class on a giant map showing the Titanic’s route from Belfast to disaster, adding information about each port of call and passenger nationalities.

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Excellence and Equity Awards 2017

School awards highlight positive initiatives

Excellence and Equity Awards 2017
Productive Partnerships – Purposeful Learning
Our Lady’s High School, Motherwell
Titanic Project

 As a result of changes to SQA exams, staff at Our Lady’s High School, Motherwell, spotted an opportunity to provide an exciting programme of interdisciplinary experiences for some of our National 4 students. Our aim was to help pupils gain additional qualifications while expanding their life experiences and raising awareness of the options available to them on leaving school, all through focusing on the Titanic disaster.

We are now approaching the third year of this vibrant project which runs over three weeks of the SQA diet. The programme coordinators are PT Pupil Support, Lyn Zambonini, and Library Resource Centre Manager, Jennifer Macfadyen and involves staff from across Our Lady’s High School, local businesses, voluntary groups and national organisations.

Following an initial introduction, the programme is split into four broad areas: ship building and design; life aboard the Titanic; the disaster itself; and the rediscovery of the wreck.

We were stunned to discover that the steel plates that built Titanic had actually come from the Colville Steelworks in Motherwell, making a wonderful connection with our local heritage. Pupils were lucky to experience Tata, now Liberty Steel, in the process of rolling the steel plates with a guided tour by staff at the plant, who also provided pupils with many stories of life at the steelworks and a thorough grounding in Health and Safety routines.

Although the Titanic was built in Belfast, we were able to take advantage of the Clyde’s vast experiences in ship-building, visiting the Titan Crane at Clydebank, and the Denny Tank Museum at Dumbarton. Titan staff explained how riveting gangs worked, how the shipyards were a part of the community and how dangerous life was while the Denny Flotation Tank demonstrated the engineering expertise involved in designing and testing ships’ hulls. The group also discovered that Denny’s was even involved in testing some of Titanic’s lifeboats. This information became invaluable when learning about buoyancy with Science teachers back at OLHS, and designing their own hulls.

Pupils also learned more about some of the passengers and crew aboard and the different lives they led on a luxury liner depending on their class. English showed the films, A Night to Remember and Titanic, and compared the special effects and reliability of each. Our group were able to put their new-found knowledge into practice by working with Lifestyle Development staff to create a shipboard lunch for staff – although staff did not know until the last minute whether they would receive the 1st, 2nd or 3rd class treatment and dining experience.

To bring everything up to date we contacted Greenock Ocean Terminal who kindly arranged for us to have a tour of the Caribbean Princess. We used this experience as a focus on careers, bringing along our Careers Advisor, Miss Ruth Robertson from SDS to provide detailed advice. Seeing aboard a real cruise ship gave pupils a whole new way of looking at the world, and the numerous careers open to them. They were also keen to compare the Caribbean Princess to what they had already learned about ship design. They were definitely impressed by the safety regulations and the numbers of lifeboats.

Turning our attention to the disaster itself, Mr Walter Lee from the RNLI kindly came along to demonstrate what happened with the iceberg and graphically explain what would have happened to the Titanic’s passengers in the water, including the effects of hypothermia – he even brought along his own mini iceberg!

Other activities have included creating a map of the world demonstrating the Titanic’s route (Social Subjects); printing and poster making (Art and Design); trying out Morse code (Science); an afternoon swimming courtesy of NL Leisure (Lifestyle Development); building their own model Titanic (Social Subjects / Art); discussion of moral issues relating to women and children first and the treatment of 3rd class passengers (RE); further moral issues relating to the wreck arose following a screening of Ghosts of the Abyss: should the Titanic be raised? Should material be removed? Should the ship be left to rust to nothing? (English); and multi-lingual newspaper front pages (Modern Languages).

With so many stories being generated from the project, we wanted pupils to be able to record the aspects that were most important to them, from the ‘women and children first’ policy, to the lifeboats, to the role of the wireless operator, so we introduced the group to storyteller, Allison Galbraith, thanks to part-funding from the Scottish Book Trust. Allison demonstrated the art of storytelling, and guided the group through creating and recording their own stories, helping them to record their own voices for posterity. Allison started by introducing herself and just talking with the group, building pupils’ confidence in speaking before a stranger. As a result, although pupils were nervous about recording, they were keen to participate. Allison also demonstrated breathing exercises and vocal warm-ups before recording began, with further advice on presentation as we worked through the stories. Despite occasionally breaking into the giggles, every pupil managed to record their own work beautifully.

Discussion with pupils led to an additional trip which saw us taking the ferry to Rothesay and the stunning Mount Stuart House. This mansion was completed in 1912, the same year as the Titanic disaster and thus pupils were not only able to experience actually travelling across water – a new experience for all of them – but to see luxurious interiors similar to those of the ship they’d been learning all about.

The Titanic Project continues to develop with partnerships emerging as various individuals and groups express an interest in participating. In 2016, our pupils were even able to join with St Brendan’s Primary as part of their anniversary visit to Belfast to see the Titanic Museum for themselves.

The Titanic Project has been a huge success over the last two years. We have seen the pupils blossom, gaining in confidence, pulling together as a team, and their ideas of what’s available to them in the future have expanded rapidly. Each year pupils have created an exhibition of their experiences which have been visited by classes from across OLHS and visitors to the school, leading to further discussions and expressions of interest. Last year all of the pupils involved achieved the SQA qualifications. “Local investigations” at SCQF level 4.

Feedback from pupils themselves has been outstanding:

”I thought it would be boring, but it was brilliant!”;

“I liked how we went on adventures and explored all the museums”;

“I seemed to get a better relationship with people that I hadn’t spoken to since primary”;

”I actually wanted to come to school!”

The Project continues to explore new ground and build new partnerships. Staff coordinators continue to collect materials, ideas and contacts and we look forward to its continuing success long into the future.

 

 

World Book Day doodles

S1 worked with their Art and Design teachers and Librarian, Mrs Macfadyen, to create doodles suitable for World Book Day book tokens.

As part of the project, we introduced pupils to the illustrator and Children’s Laureate, Chris Riddell, through an Authors Live video, in which he demonstrates his talent and discusses the value of doodling. Mrs Macfadyen also read to each class (including all the voices) while they worked on their own doodles, and the teaching staff shared their own sketchbooks to prove that doodling is going on all the time, and share its value as a way of relaxation.

Science: Fiction: Make: Believe

Recently the school entered a Scotland-wide creative writing competition for S2 pupils, organised by St Andrew’s University, called Science: Fiction: Make: Believe. Pupils were to write a 750 word creative piece about any Scottish scientist, alive or dead, or the impact of their discoveries or inventions. Through the collaboration of the English Department, Science Department and Library Resource Centre, all of our S2 pupils participatedwith staff selecting the work of Morgan Mackie (Alexander Fleming) and Andrew Ross (Dr Knox) as the two entries from Our Lady’s High School.

The judges have awarded Certificates of Commendation to both Morgan and Andrew, and they are invited to attend the award ceremony on the 4th March, at St. Andrews University School of Physics & Astronomy. A representative from the Royal Society of Edinburgh will present the prizes before an audience of pupils and their families who are warmly invited to the all-day event.

Well done, Andrew and Morgan! You can read their essays on our school website shortly.

Scottish Attainment Challenge

Our Lady’s High School is about to begin the Scottish Attainment Challenge. The programme for the first year of the Secondary Challenge aims to improve life and learning for all our young people in many ways, from improving attainment in numeracy and literacy, physical and mental health, to supporting parents and carers and building stronger communities. Through universal interventions – aimed at everyone – to interventions targeting specific groups, we hope to help our young people be as successful and happy as they can be.

The first intervention is the appointment of an Attainment Mentor to each secondary school. Our Attainment mentor is Geraldine McPhee who is looking forward to working with a small group of children to help us engage them more and support them.

We will also be creating an intensive reading recovery group for learners whose reading age is more than 2 years behind their chronological age -READ WRITE INC. as well as a reading fluency and confidence boost group for all learners with a reading age below their chronological age – RAPID PLUS and CHOOSE A PATH. Support for this will come from Mrs Patricia O’Neil and Mr Terry Cowan

Mrs Deborah King is going to assist with enhanced transitions. This work will focus on closing the poverty related attainment gap for targeted pupils. Finally, we are also involved in a project with Tapestry.  Professor Nigel Osbourne and his team are planning to support our school and Braidhurst High School, as well as all of the associated primary schools, in a community project.  The theme is likely to be Motherwell, Past, Present & Future.  All pupils in first year will be involved. We look forward to becoming involved in all of these exciting initiatives.

Literacy across learning

S2 are working hard on a writing competition organised by St Andrew’s University. The aim of the competition is to put Art into STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. Pupils have to link their Science and English learning by researching their favourite Scottish scientist and using the information to write a creative piece.

So far, we have been entertained by essays on Alexander Graham Bell, Alexander Fleming and John Logie Baird. Mrs Millar, Mrs Sinclair, Mrs Macfadyen and Mr McKendrick will judge the essays and choose the best two to represent the school. The overall winner will receive a voucher for £50 and the four runners-up £25. Good luck everyone!

Meanwhile, all of S1 were presented with their Pocket Literacy Guide, kindly bought for them by the PTA. These handy books contain rules for punctuation, grammar and spelling, as well as hints for writing in different subject areas. We know that S1 will put these guides to good use in all their subjects.

Visiting authors: Martin Stewart and Alan Bissett

We were delighted to host two author visits on Monday 5th and Tuesday 6th December in the Library with authors Alan Bissett and Martin Stewart.

bissett

Almost 100 S3 pupils were treated to readings, question and answer sessions and Alan’s take on everything from favourite books to films to River City, which he writes for, and how he used memories of his childhood friends to create characters for his first novel. Martin, speaking to S2, explained his writing process, the difficulties of getting published, how to write with a bored dog and his inspiration from photographs. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the visits and learned a lot about writing for a living – perhaps we will see some more published authors from Our Lady’s in the future!

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Thanks to both authors for giving up their valuable time, to Scottish Book Trust for co-funding the event and to Mrs Macfadyen for organising the visits.

British Sign Language class

A number of S6 pupils and two members of staff have been learning BSL now for three weeks, under the eagle eyes of Ian, Rachel and Helen from the Lanarkshire Deaf Club. We are becoming much more confident with our finger spelling, colours, animals, greetings, family groups and common signs. We can’t wait to start working in pairs on our conversational skills, beginning next week.

The ten week course, organised by Mrs Donnachie and Mrs Zambonini, is a chance for everyone to become more deaf aware, and to add to our communication skills.

Google Expeditions

Pupils went exploring today through Google Expeditions, an app that allows classes to visit coral reefs, the Moon, the Grand Canyon, Rio de Janeiro, World War I trenches or the rainforest through Virtual Reality.

Over 200  pupils participated from departments including Social Subjects, English, Modern Languages, Science and Nurture. Staff were equally keen to try out the technology for themselves, so there was a steady stream of adults wandering around with the viewers too.

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Staff in-service day 21st November

The whole staff spent an enjoyable and informative day on Monday sharing good practice across the school with a series of workshops. From Socratic Questioning to Literacy Profiling, from software demonstrations in SFL and Modern Languages to Political Literacy, from team building to Twitter, everyone came away with a really positive picture of all the innovative ways in which we are working to close the attainment gap and get the best out of all of our pupils in Our Lady’s High School.

Thanks to all staff who threw open their doors to others!

Donald Dewar Debating Competition

Huge congratulations to our debaters Grant Mackin and Christopher Wilson on another outstanding display in this prestigious competition, held in Kilsyth Academy.

The boys were drawn against the first of Kilsyth Academy’s two teams, arguing against the motion: “This House would ban Referendums.” Kilsyth’s second team then debated with St Maurice’s Academy on the same motion. The judges were very impressed with all four teams, making clear that the standard of debating on display was far in excess of that normally seen in a first round heat.

After deliberation, the teams from Our Lady’s and St Maurice’s progressed to the second round of this national competition. Well done boys! #pollitolhs

Kids Lit Quiz 2016

Ten pupils from Our Lady’s took part in the West of Scotland heat of the Kids Lit Quiz at Our Lady’s High School, Cumbernauld. The teams were selected from volunteers who participated in the OLHS heats run by Librarian, Mrs Macfadyen.

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The Kids Lit Quiz is the work of former academic, Wayne Mills, who comes from New Zealand. Wayne wanted to acknowledge and motivate pupils’ reading in a competitive way, and now travels the world organising the Kids Lit Quiz in Hong Kong, South Africa, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, USA and of course, the UK. He writes all of the questions himself which remain a closely guarded secret.

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OLHS entered two teams of pupils with two reserves, who practiced hard in the lead up to the quiz, checking their knowledge of children’s stories from nursery rhymes and fairy tales to the latest teen fiction and graphic novels. On the day, the teams answered ten rounds of questions and were even joint round winners on three occasions. Our eventual placings of 11th and 17th are a credit to all of their efforts in what was an extremely difficult quiz.

Our two teams, their reserves and Kids Lit Quiz creator, Wayne Mills.

Our two teams, their reserves and Kids Lit Quiz creator, Wayne Mills.

Many thanks to the pupils who took part:
S1: Chloe O’Neill, Sarah McDonald, Imogen McFadden, Cailin Smith, Laura Findlay
S2: Eva Winton, Olek Kyc, Finn Ross, Sophie Galloway, Erin Keating

With thanks naturally to our mascots, Brian the Brain and Angus the Ape.

Edinburgh Book Festival 2016

A bus full of enthusiastic readers headed for the Edinburgh Internal Book Festival on Monday 29th August. Pupils came from S1-6, including the Advanced Higher English class who came along to pick up some tips for their creative writing.

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Our first session featured relatively new writers, Lisa Heathfield and Katherine Howe, who focused on how they had written their books and the research involved in getting the details correct. They had plenty of advice for aspiring writers and encouraged questions by giving away badges. Hands flew up from purple blazers!

Our second talk featured crime author, Anne Cassidy, who has published over forty books. She very quickly had the audience laughing as she explained all the ways that she had killed off her characters. Again OLHS pupils were keen to ask questions, including Conor who asked how Anne would kill him off if he appeared in one of her books. Anne made arrangements with him later on.

The Festival sponsors kindly provided book tokens for each pupil which were quickly snapped up to buy books and get them signed by the authors, providing further opportunities to ask yet more questions. We also  wandered around the gardens and book shop, ate ice-cream and generally chilled out in the beautiful sunshine.

Edinburgh Book Festival

All pupils who signed up for the Edinburgh Book Festival trip on 29th August should pay their money now to Mrs Macfadyen.

The cost is now reduced to £6, thanks to the bus being paid for OLHS and a grant from the Festival. In addition, every young person visiting the Festival receives a £3 token to spend in the Festival bookshop.

If you want to find out more about the authors we are going to see, click here for the Festival website  or look up the individual authors.

Lisa Heathfield on Twitter: @LisaHeathfield

Katherine Howe’s website and Twitter: @katherinebhowe

Anne Cassidy’s website and Twitter: @annecassidy6