Saturday, 20 February 2010


A lot of my time recently has been setting up Junior in school.

Junior Librarian is a complete library system for schools. It allows pupils (and teachers) to borrow and return school books. It allows users to reserve and review books. Our version uses a barcode reader to check books in and out.

It's not cheap, but it is a good bit of kit and, although we are just getting started, I feel that it is going to be very useful.

I foresee it being used in many ways:
  1. Library books won't just get 'lost' any more. We should know exactly who has them.
  2. We can further raise the profile of reading in our school by using it to recommend books to the children.
  3. We can use it to guide our purchasing of books - if a type of book becomes popular we could then decide whether to buy more (or less) similar books.
  4. We can discover the books that are most commonly read by boys or by girls.
  5. We could use it to raise standards of writing by introducing a book review system.

We purchased Junior as this is hosted online, meaning it can be accessed over the internet anywhere in school and out.

One of the problems I had with setting this up is that I wanted pupils to be able to use the barcode reader to borrow and return books whilst in school. But out of school I want the children to be able to access the system to reserve and review books, and of course this can't be done without a barcode reader. So I asked if it would be possible to generate usernames and passwords for the pupils. I felt like this would be a perfectly reasonably request, and I'm sure I', not the only person who was ever asked for this facility. In the end it took absolutely ages to set this up. I had to download a file from SIMs, manipulate it in Excel and Access and then upload it. For somebody quite unfamiliar with this process this proved to be very difficult. I was virtually making phone calls every day trying to figure out why the file I had created just wasn't working. Luckily the helpdesk staff were really helpful and I finally got this sorted. But Microlib - you've got to invent an easier way to do this!

Year Six pupils loved scanning and labelling all of the books. It was really simple to do and they were really proud of their work.

The next part of the process (after half-term) is to introduce the usernames and passwords so that pupils can make full use of the site. I also want to train the staff to use the facilities of the site so that they can find out the most commonly read books in their class.

Long term, there is an option to upgrade to allow Learning Platform integration. This sounds really interesting - we'll see how we get on with the basic version first though.

Does anyone else have experience of Junior

Thursday, 18 February 2010


Whilst I don't want to sound like a salesman for Polydron, I had to share very briefly how delighted I have been with the apparatus, which the class have used to explore components.

Polydron Revolution is a system which allows children to explore gears and pulleys to make moving models.

We began by spending some time looking at pulleys and gears. We considered the directions of the turns and explored the ratio of the different sizes. Then we moved on to bevel gears which will turn horizontal movement into vertical movement.

Next we explored the use of these in simple models. We added wheels and struts to make our designs more complex.

For the following two weeks we explored the models available. We made the models on the instructions and then we added our own modifications.

The children were then allowed to let their imagination run wild and make their own models!!

As well as being lots of fun, the children were really creative in their work. They learned many of the principles of using components.

Here are some videos of our work:

Gears and Pulleys Polydron Revolution 2010 Part One from Wistaston Church Lane on Vimeo.

Polydron Revolution 2010 Part Two from Wistaston Church Lane on Vimeo.

Polydron Fairground Rides from Wistaston Church Lane on Vimeo.

More Fairground Rides from Wistaston Church Lane on Vimeo.

Fairgrounds 3 from Wistaston Church Lane on Vimeo.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

The Internet is huge...

I saw this on @2sparkley's blog and thought it was fascinating.

Sharing links with Sqworl

I heard about Linkbunch after reading about BETT on various blogs. Linkbunch allows you to share multiple websites by simple sharing links on just one page. I thought it was a brilliant idea. It would be great for sharing links with children for a research project or for parents when sharing some of the sites we use when studying a particular topic.

I later discovered Sqworl which I think has the potential to be even better.
Sqworl is incredibly easy to use. To create an account you'll need an email address and then create a username and password.

Then you can add links and give a description to each one. A unique page is created which includes the links and a screenshot.

The end result is very friendly-looking. I've created a page to share SATs revision websites at

The children could design their own pages to share websites that they like, or websites that they have used during topic work.