A New Year, A New Term, New Books

Christmas has been and gone and is now but a distant memory as we settle down into the third term.  The library is not so heavily booked as it was last term as departments, especially in the senior years, are preparing for prelims, folio work and subsequently the National qualifications later in the session.  S2 Careers Library & Information Literacy Skills course will take place later this term.  Pupils will be taught how to use the Careers section of the library as well as finding relevant information online.  This is a part of the options process where pupils choose what they plan to study in 3rd year.

Junior years, in the main, still get a chance to use the library for personal reading during library periods in their English lessons.  Most visit the once a week, however, they are also given reading time at the beginning of each lesson.  It feels like loans are up on previous years; our S1 and 2 particularly borrow lots of books.  Time will tell if this feeling is matched in the loan statistics when they are run at the end of the session.

New Books

100_0890A batch of new books arrived just before Christmas, and most have
now been processed and are on display and available for loan.

Stan Lee Excelsior Award for Graphic Novels & Manga

We will also be expecting eight new graphic novels very soon as we embark yet again on shadowing the Stan Lee Excelsior Award. This annual award for Graphic Novels and Manga is the only such award judged by 11-16 year olds.  In Stromness Academy, pupils are encouraged to take part, extending their reading into a form they may not have tried before.  Each participant will get a reward card which when filled (all eight books read and rated) will be entered into a prize draw for a gift voucher from a local shop.



The library continues to be a very popular place to be at lunchtime, with sometimes 40+ pupils visiting (more than 10% of the school roll) at a given time, but usually averages aroun 30.  We try to keep it a relaxed space at lunchtime where a variety of different activities can take place.  On any given day one can find pupils reading, working on the computers, playing boardgames (chess, draughts, Connect4, etc), gaming on the PCs – although work will always get priority, playing Magic the Gathering, doing homework or project work, or just sitting chilling or chatting.

Recently, some pupils and Mrs Sinclair, librarian, have been playing ‘D&D Shorts’.  This is an abbreviated version of the Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game, adapted by Mrs Sinclair to enable 20-30 minute short games.  This proved popular with some pupils new to the game.


Library Activities – Dungeons & Dragons

Last period on Friday afternoons has been an enduring part of Stromness Academy for 30+ years.  There has been an activity in the library in one from or another since the mid 90s when we started with Stable Management (theory) and A Christmas library Display group.  When some pupils asked if they could play Dungeons & Dragons, I agreed and we haven’t looked back since, now going into our 17th year.

p1220459This term sees the Friday D&D group increase by another six pupils, having already gained similar number back in August, and another couple in October.  We now have 23 players,as well as a group of five more experienced players on a Tuesday after school.

This activity could not run with these numbers with out the willing and able help of three pupils who lead games, whilst I run the fourth – our newest players.  If they didn’t run the games, the activity would be restricted to 5 or six pupils at the most.

Each group will have the leader, the Dungeon Master (DM), and 4-6 players maximum. Groups could be bigger, but this would not make for a particularly good game experience within the time constraints we have.  Our new players are keen, lively and even come in at lunchtimes to create or level up characters; something we don’t have time for during the activities session.  I suspect there are a few budding DMs among them which will be useful when our seniors leave school.





Illustrator, Martin Brown, to Visit Stromness Academy

Last term, we successfully applied to the Scottish Friendly Children’s Book Tour (Scottish Book Trust) to have illustrator, Martin Brown visit the school. He is most well known for illustrating the Horrible Histories series of books published by Scholastic.

S2 and S2 pupils will be participating and we will also be welcoming P5,6 & 7 pupils from Stromness Primary school.

He will be visiting on Monday 11th May. The event will be held in the theatre during Periods 6 and 7.

From the Scottish Book Trust website (with permission) :

In May 2015 the Scottish Friendly Children’s Book Tour will be visiting Primary and Secondary Schools in Orkney and Shetland with the brilliant Martin Brown!

Best known as the illustrator for the hugely popular Horrible Histories series, Martin’s drawings have brought the foul facts and nasty nuggets of history to life for millions of children.

As well as sharing wicked, weird and wonderful tales from history, Martin will talk to your pupils about how an illustration for a Horrible Histories book happens – from author’s text, to ideas, through looking at references to the finished drawing – before encouraging your pupils to create drawings of their own. Guaranteed to be lots of fun and to leave your pupils itching to draw more, this is a fantastic opportunity for your pupils to meet the illustrator of one of the best loved series in (horrible) history!


World Book Day & Competitions

World Book Day takes place on the first Thursday in March – next week 5th March. Once again, we are planning a few activities around this national celebration of Reading for Pleasure. It is hoped both pupils and staff will get involved. The following is planned for 5th March. Some (or all) will hopefully be taking place.

  1. Bookish Event in library at Lunchtime on Thursday 5th March. Snacks and drinks provided.
  2. Book swap – swap your unwanted books with the selection available.
  3. Peedie Book Fair – courtesy of Stromness Books & Prints. There will be a small selection of books available for sale in the library.
  4. Teen Book Club – Scholastic book club leaflets available. Earn new books for the school library by purchasing books. Order online at: http://schools.scholastic.co.uk/stromness-academy
  5. Shelfies Competition – Match staff to pictures of their book shelves. Easter Eggs for prizes.
  6. Display – Classroom door posters: What teachers and other staff are reading.

Drawing Competition: There will also be a National Book Token competition running throughout the month of March and this will also be launched next week. Pupils can design a new book-themed token using the template provided . There are three categories: up to 8 years, 9–12 years, 13–16 years. An overall winner will be used on a real book token. 1974_thumb 1975_thumb 1985_thumbExamples of tokens from: National Book Tokens: www.nationalbooktokens.com/

FIRST PRIZE in each age range is:

  • £250 National Book Tokens for the school
  • £100 National Book Tokens for the school child
  • £100 National Book Tokens for the teacher

RUNNER-UP PRIZE in each age range is:

  • £150 National Book Tokens for the school
  • £50 National Book Tokens for the school child
  • £50 National Book Tokens for the teacher

Further details can be obtained from the World Book Day website. Entry forms available here or collect one from the school library. Entries should be handed in by the end of term.

Stan Lee Excelsior Award 2015



It is that time of year again (well, maybe slightly later than usual) when we return to thinking about Graphic Novels and shadowing the annual Stan Lee Excelsior Award for graphic novels and Manga.


This winner of this award is decided by pupils, aged 11 – 16, who read and then fill in a ratings form for each of the eight shortlisted books. These ratings forms are then sent off to the award coordinator to be collated with other forms from many other schools in the UK by April 24th so readers have plenty of time.

The eight shortlisted books finally arrived today and were processed and catalogued as a priority and they are now on display ready for borrowing.Processing SLEA

Information about the shortlisted books can be found on the official SLEA website. Click the image below to go to the website where further information about each title is available.

Screen shot of SLEA shortlisted books from the official website www.excelsioraward.co.uk/shortlist2015.html
Screen shot of SLEA shortlisted books from the official website: www.excelsioraward.co.uk/shortlist2015.html

House Points: Pupils reading and rating the books on the shortlist will be eligible for ONE house point for each book read and rating form filled and handed in.

UntitledReward Card: Pupils are also invited to take part in a reward card scheme whereby any who read and rate all eight shortlisted books and fill in a reward card will be put into a prize draw for a gift token (and other sundry prizes (eg. stationery or sweets). Further house points (hp) will be available for any completed (or partially completed) cards handed in. 1-2 books = 1 hp; 3-4 books = 2 hp; 5-6 books = 3 hp; 7-8 books = 4 hp.

Reading Record : A Reading Record task sheet for the shortlisted books is also available. You may use the SLEA Task Sheet provided to help you evaluate, rate and comment on each book prior to filling out the official ratings form. If you are in S1 or 2, you can use up to two of these sheets towards your Bronze or Silver Reading Record instead of any of the other task sheets.


Ratings forms are available in the library of can be downloaded from the ‘Resources‘ section of the official Stan Lee Excelsior Award website or copies are available from the display or Mrs Sinclair in the library.


Busy term – Quick Update

Careers & S2 Choices

January seems such a long time ago, let alone the February half-term break. Since then, the S2 Careers Information Literacy course has been up-dated based on evaluations from last session. Careers LiveBinders have been set up and can be found in the LibLinks tab (scroll down to PSE).

A major overhaul of the Careers Section has also taken place, with new leaflets being sourced from hundreds of organisations. This meant setting up mailing lists via searching organisation websites (based on the old leaflets) for contact details. Many have provided up-to-date leaflets which have been arriving in the post on a daily basis. These are classified, dated and filed. Some of the filing is being done by pupil librarians and this help is very much appreciated.


S2 pupils are now learning about the careers section and have started on the 5 week programme of information literacy skills, careers research and building up their own profiles. This course should help pupils to make more informed choices about their S2 into S3 options.

Youth Achievement Award

Pupil Librarians and some activities pupils are continuing to work towards their Bronze YAA. We are currently reviewing progress and checking logbooks are up-to-date.

World Book Day

Thursday 6th March sees the annual Reading event in the library at lunchtime to celebrate World Book Day. This will be an informal event with snacks, tea, coffee on offer as we sit and discuss books or read extracts or just generally have a natter. There is also a (national) bookmark competition running alongside this.

Stromness Books & Prints are kindly allowing us to have some books for our Peedie Bookfair and they will be on sale Thursday and Friday this week.


Free £1 book tokens will be distributed to pupils who want them. They can be used in part exchange for full priced books or swapped for one of the special World Book Day £1 books.


Stan Lee Excelsior Award for Graphic Novels & Manga

It is that time of year again when eight graphic novels and manga, shortlisted for the Stan Lee Excelsior Award have recently arrived in school, been hastily processed and are now on display.


Also on display are a few non-fiction books about graphic novels, manga and illustration so if you want to learn more about the genre you can borrow these too.


This award is judged by young people 11-16 years of age who will read and rate each book in four areas: Story; Artwork; Characters; Dialogue. They may also make comments about the book as well. The rating forms are handed in then sent to the award founder and organiser, Paul Register, School Librarian at Ecclesfield School in Sheffield. These are then used to narrow the field down to 1st, 2nd and 3rd.


Last session, a few pupils took part in the award, but it is hoped more might take part this year as there appears to be a number of Graphic Novel readers in the (not so new) S1. Also, we are tying it in with the S1 and 2 Reading Record allowing pupils reading the shortlist to substitute up to two amended (silver) graphic novel task sheets for the usual required sheets. The pupils would also need to fill in the briefer official ratings form and hand in. There will also be a reward card, which on completion of all eight shortlisted books, will be entered into a prize draw.

Instructions for taking part in the SLEA

  1. Borrow one of the eight shortlisted books – get it stamped out by the Librarian.???????????????????????????????
  2. Use the SLEA task sheet provided to help you evaluate, rate and comment on each book. If you are in S1 or 2, you can use up to two of these sheets towards your Bronze or Silver Reading Record instead of any of the other task sheets.
  3.  Fill in an official SLEA Rating Form for each of the books you read and hand in to the Librarian.
  4. If you have a reward card get it stamped and initialled by the librarian when you hand in the rating form.

Reward Card

There are 8 Graphic Novels and Manga on the SLEA shortlist. If you read, evaluate and rate ALL eight of Reward card imagethe books you will receive a small prize. All fully completed cards will be entered into a prize draw for a £10 gift token. Ask Mrs Sinclair for the Reward Card.

Poetry Picnic


The annual Poetry Picnic took place yesterday, Thursday 3rd October and was attended by around 20 pupils over the course of the lunch break. This is now the 11th year we have been celebrating National Poetry Day. The Poetry Picnic idea didn’t really start until 2006, but we did have a ‘Poetry Feast’ back in 2004 when the theme was Food.

In the run up to NPD, during library periods, pupils in S1 and 2 did some keyword brainstorming around this year’s theme of water then wrote a few lines of ‘poetry’ which were then used to create tag clouds. The lines of poetry also informed the Cento (group poem) which produced on the day, although this will still be a work in progress with more lines hopefully being added before the end of term next week.


The Lower library was rearranged so that pupils could all sit around a large table, indulging in snacks as well as having the space to play the poetry pairs game (downloaded from the National Poetry Day website) and attempt to fit the poetry postcards, from The Scottish Poetry Library, together into a pattern – a postcard jigsaw!

Pupils also took turns in reading out some of the poems from the postcards as well as those from the pairs game. One pupil fortuitously grabbed a book off the poetry display (The Upside-Down Frown  : Shape Poetry by Andrew Peters, Wayland 1999) and happened to turn to a watery themed poem… totally unplanned as far as we were aware.

In the afternoon, the last S1 class of the week, spent about 15 minutes at the end of their library period playing the poetry pairs game and looking at the postcards.

It was awesome (S1)

We could write lines of poetry (S3)

It was fun (S3)

Great fun (S1)

Blumin lovely (S6)

Brilliant as usual (S6)


Rewarding Reading

Last session nearly all of S1 received their Bronze Reading Record certificates recognising the reading they did over the course of the year. Requirements were to read 5 texts, at least 3 of which should be books. Texts also included magazines; video games; films; TV programmes. Pupils were expected to just read one text and produce one task sheet a term which could be done in library periods or, in many cases, as homeowrk. Of course, many pupils did read more than these minimum requirements.

Over the summer holidays the Bronze Reading Record task sheets have all been up-dated to provide space for pupils’ personal response to texts in line with Curriculum for Excellence Litereacy Outcome 3.11a as well as adding an extra couple of task sheets for pupils to chose from: Mock Facebook page (for lead character) or prepare a Two Minute Talk.

Literacy > Reading > Enjoyment and choice

I regularly select and read, listen to or watch texts for enjoyment and interest, and I can express how well they meet my needs and expectations and give reasons, with evidence, for my personal response.

I can identify sources to develop the range of my reading.                                         LIT 3.11a

S1 Pupils moving on up to S2 will be required to further extend their reading, challenging themselves to try out new genres as well as aiming to meet LIT 4.11a outcome whcih is similar to 3.11a.

I regularlyselect and read, listen to or watch texts for enjoyment and interest, and I can express how well they meet my needs and expectations and give reasons, with evidence, for my personal response.

 I can independently identify sources to develop the range of my reading.                      LIT 4-11a

For Silver, S2 pupils will be expected to read 10 books on 5 different genres over the course of the session. They will need to read 2 books and do 2 task sheets each term.


 More information about the Reading Record and access to PDF files of the Bronze and Silver task sheets can be found on the Reading Zone page and the Reading Record Page.

World Book Day / Peedie Book Fair / C2C Book Club

It is World Book Day time of year again and there are a few things happening in the library this year.

Readings from favourite books will take place on Thursday 7th March at lunchtime. Snacks will be available.

Pupils will be offered free £1 book tokens to use at local bookshops, the ‘Peedie Book Fair’ or in the C2C Book club catalogue (see below)

There is a national  Bookmark Competition which pupils can enter.

There is a local writing competition Young Orkney Writers, led by the Orkney Library (see previous posts)

There will be a ‘Peedie Book Fair‘ kindly supported by Stromness Books & Prints who will kindly be supplying a small amount of books for sale. The £1 book tokens can be used at this.

The C2C Book club leaflet is being currently offered to pupils. They can purchase books through the leaflet, via the school library, or online at


Further details for all these can be obtained directly from the Librarian.

Have you got your Book Club catalogue? Great books from only £1.99 and free books for our school.

Nearly February

It is hard to believe that were are already at the end of January. S4 Prelims have been and gone and S5 Prelims are due to start soon. February inservice and half term is next week – seems awfully soon! Weather has been mixed with snow in a small part of the West Mainland affecting one bus a week or so ago and storm force winds causing all school transport to be cancelled today. The school is quiet, yet the library is ‘busy’ in the sense of it is booked and the smaller classes are still coming to read, do research or use the computers.

The ’12 Words of Christmas’ competition presentation took place last week and our overall winner was from 2M. Her entry was forwarded to the national competition and was picked as a runner up by the author Anthony McGowan.

School results:

S1 – EW 1T The snowman looks sadly at the sky as streams of light emerge.

S2 – CM 2M The snow was whiter; the tree was brighter, when Santa was real.

S4/5/6 – IT Shimmering star sent startled shaggy shepherds, surprised, seeing sweet smiling sleeping son.

Staff – CM Shopping, cards, presents, decorating, concerts, cooking, parties, dancing, wrapping, cleaning. Knackered.

Two events / activities are currently planned for this term:

Pupils will be given an opportunity to read and judge graphic novels for the Stan Lee Excelsior Award. This award is a national one with pupils from many schools taking part. The graphic novels are now ready for borrowing and will be on display in the library. A Friday lunchtime group (with coffee or hot chocolate available) which is open to all who are interested, takes place from 12:45 – 1:15pm .

World Book Day is on Thursday 7th March. This is still in the planning stages, but it is hoped that there will be a lunchtim reading in the library. Free £1.00 book tokens will be available and can be exchanged for the special £1.00 books or used in part exchange for a full price book at local book shops. Plans also include a bookmark competition which ties in with a national one being run at the same time.