Dr Hood (Chemistry) is clearly enjoying her summer. She has been doing some extreme walking in Slovenia in the Julian Alps.
One walk took us to a place called Tromeja in Slovenian or Drilandereck in German, meaning Three Borders. It is the place where three countries meet: Slovenia, Austria and Italy. We took the path from the village of Ratece in the valley bottom (at about 840m altitude) to the top of Pec mountain (1510m), a climb of around 670 meters. The last section of the path had 30 hairpin bends on it, so the walk involved quite extreme effort from me! That’s why I decided to get this photo taken at the boundary point. The views at the top were amazing. The background in the photo is Austria.
The books I read on holiday in Slovenia were the first two of Conn Iggulden’s trilogy about the War of the Roses, “Stormbird” and “Trinity” – great stuff, full of blood and guts, but I’m still not sure I understand all the complicated relationships between the houses of York, Lancaster and Neville after reading them!
Mr Bickford-Smith has been getting to know the friendly wildlife in the Galapagos Islands. He has, very fittingly, been reading “One Hundred Years of Solitude” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez alongside two sea-lion pups on Isla Isabela.
My daughter Louisa decided to read Tom Holland’s “Rubicon” with a couple of extreme scarecrows at her aunt’s farm in France!
Just in – our first Extreme Reading Photo of this summer! Many thanks to our mystery reader(no prizes for guessing who it is though!). Have a look at this Animoto of a selection of previous years’ photos. Perhaps we could plot a map of all the various locations where the reading took place this year and compile a list of all the book titles? Creative photos from your local area or back garden just as welcome as more exotic locations.
Don’t forget to send us your Extreme Reading Photos for the summer holiday competition. Here’s a very late entry from last year. It’s Mr Townley on the Hannibal Alps trip. We’re hoping for some good ones from this year’s Classics trip walking the length of Hadrian’s Wall.
The Open University is now offering Badged Open Courses for anyone wanting to try online courses, starting anytime. Learners can work at their own pace, signing up any time and on completion gain a digital badge which can be shared with employers, UCAS etc. Each course takes 24 hours to complete. Try something new like forensic psychology or develop your Maths skills with two levels of courses. Accounts are currently available to age group 16+
There are over 800 free courses including many introductory courses (without badges) – some of which only take 5 hours to complete. See the full list here
This summer holiday is longer than ever and the opportunities to stretch yourselves, learn new skills and escape into a good book are vast. We look forward to all your entries to this year’s Extreme Reading Photo Competition too!
For non-fiction reading suggestions don’t forget the Top Ten Reads (especially beneficial for those of you in 5th and 6th form and a chance to develop your knowledge of the subjects you are passionate about in Preparation for A levels and IB)
For fiction remember Mr Wayman’s (Head of English)Wellington 100 book suggestions. An eclectic mix of classic and contemporary fiction.
There are masses of reading ideas on the Lovereading4kids website including suggestions by age and theme and helpful additional information about authors. It is particularly useful for finding out about recently published books. For adults try lovereading.co.uk
The Carnegie Medal – awarded each year by school librarians for an outstanding children’s book is a good source of contemporary fiction suggestions for young people from 10 – 16.
MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses)
MOOCS enable all of us to dip into free online courses and to try new things. Have an explore of the big course providers below:
iTunesU Courses available on iPads and Apples devices.
Don’t overlook Twitter as a brilliant source of links, blogs, websites, quizzes and information. It is a fascinating source for enrichment and learning. Choose who you follow carefully and follow your passions.
Here are a couple of my favourites:
Open Culture @openculture The best FREE cultural & educational media on the web. Features free courses, movies, audio books, eBooks & thought-provoking daily posts.
I always find unusual, obscure and fascinating things I didn’t know on this website.
Brainpickings@brainpickings (also @brainpicker) from Maria Popover
Periodic Videos Your youtube channel for all things Chemistry (from the School of Chemistry at the University of Nottingham) More chemistry at http://www.periodicvideos.com/ My favourites are experiments on coca cola and creme eggs.
Did you hear Alain de Botton at the Festival of Education? He gave a very interesting talk about the things we don’t educate young people in. Have a watch of the videos in his School of Life youtube channel. Thought-provoking and challenging!
If you are curious about Medicine and Science why not visit the Wellcome Collection in London. It’s free and fascinating. It also has plenty of information and research online plus an images collection here
If you are a Geography fan or just keen to improve your chances in the inter-house quizzes try these Geography Games
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10 Ways we are different
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We are quite different to anything else in the media for the following reasons:
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‘The free destination for the incurably curious’ and a must for students keen to study Medicine
After an interesting day visiting Westminster School Library and talking to other school librarians I made a quick dash to the Wellcome Collection before it closed at 6pm one Saturday last month. What a jaw-dropping place! You don’t have to be a budding medic to find this collection fascinating – it’s equally appealing to anyone interested in art or science too. The whole centre is free and you can wander in, take a leaflet to lead you on a trail, pick up an audio guide to dip into a range of exhibits which pique your interest or sit down and become absorbed in a book. Many of the galleries blend art and creativity in the exhibits alongside the medical information.
I found myself engrossed in viewing a collection of tools for the amputation of limbs over the ages whilst listening to surgeons’ accounts of operations now and in the past on an audio guide.
Choose your experience and follow the trail. From ‘pulse racing’ to ‘toe curling’
I love the ethos of the Wellcome Collection. This sign in the Reading Room says it all.
‘Come and experience the new incarnation of our Reading Room. An innovative hybrid of gallery, library and events space, the Reading Room is designed to encourage you to indulge your curiosity and explore more than ever before.
With over a thousand books and 100 objects – including contemporary sculptures, paintings, medical artefacts and manuscripts – the room is an open invitation to dig a little deeper into what it means to be human.
Settle down with a book from our shelves on a comfy sofa, contemplate life quietly or strike up a conversation with a stranger. You will find plenty here to inspire you. Drop by to spark connections and new ideas.
Located on level 2, the Reading Room is open during gallery opening hours. Just come whenever you have a moment – you may even chance upon one of our pop-up Reading Room events.’
So much to learn and amaze and I didn’t even have time to explore the shop!
Browse the whole Human Genome!
Back to our school library:
Don’t forget we have a collection of physical books on medicine in the Library as well as a growing collection of e-books. Here’s the current medicine reading list of printed books in the Library.
Lower 6th: Why not try the 6 Book Reading Challenge during the long summer break? Fuel your curiosity and invigorate your intellect for your final school year. You could try reading the same book as a group of your friends and discussing your responses when you come back in September. More excellent science books on the Royal Society Winton Prize for Science website and the Wellcome Book Prize too.
The Wellcome Library is free to join and you can access their wide-range of resources and read fascinating blogs.
As an interested layperson here is my suggested recipe for a medical summer:
Read 6 books: From the Library or our e-book collection or public libraries, or bookshops or anywhere!
A lecture: Listen to The Reith Lectures by Dr Atul Gawande on The Future of Medicine (on Radio 4 iplayer) ‘Surgeon and writer Atul Gawande explores the nature of fallibility and suggests that preventing avoidable mistakes is a key challenge for the future of medicine.’ (Radio 4 iplayer)
The National Literacy Trust questioned 32,000 pupils aged eight to 18 and the survey suggests ‘enjoyment and frequency of reading are both at their highest levels for nine years’ (BBC News)
This is such positive news and it’s encouraging to see that the press have picked it up. I heard Jonathan Douglas of the National Literacy Trust talking about the report on Radio 5 Live yesterday morning. It was a very brief interview but he highlighted the fact that they’d included questions on digital reading in the survey this time. He mentioned that it is as important for children to be able to read emails as it is for them to read Jane Austen today.
My only gripe is the lack of mention of school librarians and school libraries in the press coverage. As school librarians we are passionate about inspiring young people to read for pleasure and promote an enthusiastic reading culture in our schools – whether it be fiction or popular science, biography, history – you name it we encourage it! Key to enthusing children and young people to read is allowing them the freedom to choose their own reading material and not be judgemental. I only hope this report doesn’t bring in its wake articles criticising children’s reading choices. As adults we don’t all read weighty classics all of the time!
School librarians are experts in books for children and young adults. We read as many books as possible, keep up with the latest releases through The Bookseller, School Librarian publication and the press. Film tie-ins are hugely popular with our pupils and we make sure we stock these. We offer e-books which can be read on pupils’ phones and other mobile devices so that they need never be without a good book in the holidays.
As the report acknowledges, reading initiatives are a great way of inspiring children. The Summer Reading Challenge in UK public libraries engages younger children in particular and teenagers as ‘reading activists’. In our school Shadowing the Carnegie Book Award gets pupils reading the same 8 shortlisted novels and heated debates occur over there responses to the books. Although the survey found that boys are reading less than girls in our school the boys often appear to be keener to share their reading and ask for book recommendations. Our breaktime ‘Book Chat’ book club is frequently boys only although a few girls are starting to come along.
Parents can help too by reading with their children but also as reading role-models – sharing their book choices and reading with their children.
Press coverage of the children’s reading habits survey.
It’s interesting to see the way the different newspapers and news websites emphasise different aspects of the report:
The BBC reports that ‘Increasing numbers of UK schoolchildren are choosing to read in their spare time, with six in 10 having a favourite work of fiction, research suggests’
The exams are just around the corner! Good luck to all our IB students who start their exams on 4th May – Bank Holiday Monday – when many of us are enjoying a day off. IGCSE exams commence on Tuesday 5th May. Best of luck to all of you.
I’m sure many of you know the following websites but here’s a reminder of useful revision places:
Gojimo I’ve recently come across a free revision app called gojimo It was created by a student for students and is available for Apple and android devices and also via the website to use for online study. It covers the major subjects at IGCSE, GCSE and A Level. Gauge your current knowledge of a subject by trying a quick random test or revise topics.
Memrise claims to “make learning languages and vocab so full of joy and life, you’ll laugh out loud.” It does seem to be a way of making vocab learning less painful and more game-like.
Quizlet “Study Tools – Quizlet’s flashcards, tests, and study games make learning fun and engaging for students of all ages.”
If you are as obsessed as Mr Atherton with improving your knowledge of the Geography of countries of the world try these tests of your knowledge.
Don’t forget to use the Library! The librarians are here to help you – with book suggestions, inter-library book and article loans, assistance with the e-library online resources, essay research and referencing and lots more. We always welcome your questions.
The Spiritual Room (the former Auchinleck Room) is a designated silent area so this is the place to go for getting solid individual work or revision done. If you are working together – talking over topics and testing each other then the glass pods are the place to be. Please leave the Library quietly and do think of others by taking all your books and files etc with you when you leave for lunch and breaks to free up space for others.
The fastest boy in the world by Elizabeth Laird (Pan Macmillan)
The middle of nowhere by Geraldine McCaughrean (Usborne Books)
This year’s beautifully colour-coordinated collection of shortlisted books have arrived! We discussed them with Book Chat club on Wednesday and they chose to start reading The Fastest Boy in the World and When Mr Dog Bites first. We have multiple copies of the books and are hoping to shadow the prize with a number of 3rd form tutor groups. 5 of the titles are also available as e-books. Are you up for the challenge of reading all 8 over the Easter holidays? If this is too much you have until 22nd June to read them and choose your winner!
On Monday 23rd March the Y9 Scholars and Exhibitioners started their shadowing. They enthusiastically chose shortlisted titles to read over the Easter holidays.