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SLA Blog » Recent PostsRSS Feed RSS

The SLA blog contains news about the SLA and topical information of general interest to our members. The blog has been running since 2004. An RSS 2.0 feed and information about how to subscribe to the blog are available.

Older blog posts are still available, though archived, on the website, but please check the date at the top of the post to make sure the offer or information is likely to be valid.

Help, I'm in Charge of the Secondary School Library!: Manchester, 28 February 2019

Our course Help, I'm in Charge of the Secondary School Library!, run by Susan Staniforth, will be held at Dean Trust Ardwick, 345 Stockport Road, Manchester M13 0LF on 28 February 2019. The closing date is 13 February 2019. Bookings received by 31 January 2019 are eligible for a discount.

Key Audience:

A course for secondary school library staff

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Copy and Paste Generation: Warwick, Warwickshire, 28 February 2019

Our course Copy and Paste Generation, run by Sarah Pavey MSc FCLIP, will be held at Warwickshire Schools Library Service,Unit 11 a/b Montague Road, Warwick CV34 5LT on 28 February 2019. The closing date is 14 February 2019. Bookings received by 4 February 2019 are eligible for a discount.

Key Audience:

Secondary school library staff and teachers

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Mental Health and Wellbeing in a School Library Setting: Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire, 28 February 2019

Our course Mental Health and Wellbeing in a School Library Setting, run by Marie (Maz) Udall, will be held at Chesterton Community Sports College, Castle Street, Chesterton, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire ST5 7LP on 28 February 2019. The closing date is 13 February 2019. Bookings received by 31 January 2019 are eligible for a discount.

Key Audience:

primary and secondary school staff

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Preparing the School Library for Inspection: Ilford, Essex, 13 February 2019

Our course Preparing the School Library for Inspection, run by Anne Harding, will be held at Redbridge Central Library, Clements Road, Ilford, Essex IG1 1EA on 13 February 2019. The closing date is 29 January 2019. Bookings received by 16 January 2019 are eligible for a discount.

Key Audience:

A course for primary and secondary school librarians and others with responsibility for the school library.

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How to Win a Nobel Prize

Rock the Boat publish books from around the world, aiming to find stories outside the mainstream and talking about difficult subjects. The books entertain, create empathy and, importantly, help young readers to question their beliefs and the way they live in the world.

There are free resources linked to the books and Rock the Boat have just added another resource - a scientific experiment which involves extracting DNA from strawberries. It is taken from the book How to Win a Nobel Prize, written for ages 9-12 by a real-life Nobel Prize winner.



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Discussion and Development 2019 2: Cognitive Science

We're doing a blog a week in January, and this week's is all about cognitive science - it focuses on revision and learning, and as well as the implications for delivery of information literacy, there may also be implications for reading for pleasure and word acquisition.


The Most Important Thing For Teachers To Know: Cognitive Load Theory

Cognitive Load Theory is said to be "the most important thing for teachers to know". It is important because our Working Memory is limited and can only process so much at one time. Thus, we need to manage its load.

In 2013, Prof John Dunlosky reviewed dozens of academic papers and rated commonly used learning strategies from the least to the most evidence-based. We have summarised them here.

10. Imagery for text

This technique consists of developing internal images that elaborate on the material being studied. Dunlonsky’s research showed that the benefits of mental imagery are short-lived. The strategy also does not seem to be widely applicable.

9. Keyword mnemonic
This strategy is particularly used when learning new words or a foreign language. It involves using a keyword to represent the new term. Research does not support the effectiveness of this technique.

8. Summarisation
Paraphrasing the most important ideas in a text can help to learn. However, this technique only works after students are properly trained in how to write summaries. Dunlosky suggests that this need for extensive training - which usually does not happen - reduces the applicability of the technique and that other less-demanding strategies should be chosen instead.

7. Highlighting
Despite its popularity, Dunlosky reports performance after reading and highlighting is not better than performance after reading only.

6. Rereading
Also a very popular technique, rereading seems to only help with knowing, but not with understanding. That is, it improves students’ ability to recall something as old, but does not enhance their learning for that topic.

5. Self-explanation
This strategy is used when students’ explain how new information relates to things they already know. Relating novel content to prior knowledge creates new connections and facilitates the development of schemes.

4. Elaborative interrogation
This strategy involves asking and answering Why and How questions. That is, thinking about a subject in more depth and detail, which strengthens connections in the brain.

3. Interleaved practice
Interleaving is the strategy of mixing up the order of questions across different topics. Research reveals this technique to be particularly effective in when teaching Maths and parts of the Science content. Commonly, students learn strategy A and solve a series of problems that demand strategy A, and then do the same with strategy B. Interleaving would be to learn strategy A and strategy B, and solve problems that can demand one or the other in a pseudo-random order. This way, students need to figure out the right strategy from the problem itself, which leads to a deeper understanding of the topic and better preparation for exams.

2. Distributed practice
Distributed practice is basically the opposite of cramming. Research consistently shows that studying small chunks of content spread out over time is more effective than studying long blocks of the same topic only once. To use it successfully, students should start preparing way ahead of their exam dates and organise their time with a calendar. In the classroom, teachers should review not only the previous lesson but also lessons from much earlier.

1. Practice testing
The most effective strategy according to Dunlosky’s research is practice testing. It consists of studying and reviewing by answering questions and actively bringing information back to mind. When this is done, information is reconsolidated, new connections are created, and memory and understanding are strengthened. When reviewing topics in class, teachers should always include low-stake quizzes. These can be of various types, as long as they demand active retrieval. Immediate feedback should be provided.


Seneca’s free homework and revision platform uses these techniques to maximise students learning. Students memorise two times more efficiently on their platform due to a variety of neuroscience principles. All their algorithms are based on these principles to repeat content in different formats at the right time. As a result, Seneca can maximise the student’s performance. This has also been proven during an academic study that has been published in the academic journal of the Chartered College of Teaching.

If you want to learn more about cognitive science then you can complete Seneca’s Cognitive Science for Teachers course (https://app.senecalearning.com/classroom/course/9f6bf15c-23fe-401c-810a-3bc66d761885) and become a Seneca Certified Educator.

For more information on what Seneca does and how it works, visit their website and sign up at senecalearning.com. It’s free!

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Part –time School Librarian required as soon as possible

Salary Scale: Dependant on experience

Hours: 1 day per week term time only

Closing date: Midday Thursday 31st January 2019

We are looking for a librarian to work in our school one day week during term time. The role requires someone who can:

  • To plan and oversee the organisation and management of the School Library
  • To develop and support information skills within the curriculum, in consultation with the appropriate teaching staff
  • To select, acquire, maintain the stock in good order
  • To organise, catalogue and classify resources to ensure effective retrieval
  • To make the Library attractive and accessible to pupils and staff
  • To promote the effective and efficient use of the Library and its resources
  • To proactively encourage reading and the enjoyment of literature
  • To support the school in the delivery and administration of literacy programmes

Belmont Junior School serves a community rich in cultural, ethnic, religious, social and linguistic diversity. We also offer a unique opportunity to work with children with physical disabilities and their team of support teachers and assistants as part of our partnership with The Vale Special School.

Please contact Sue Vickers or Nicola Strycharczyk for job description, person specification and an application form on office[at]belmontjnr.haringey.sch.uk or download them from our website www.belmontjunior.org

Closing date: Midday Thursday 31st January 2019

Interviews to be held on: Week commencing 4th February 2019

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CEO of TRA to retire

Sue Wilkinson MBE, Chief Executive of The Reading Agency, has announced that she will be retiring in July 2019.

Amongst many other successes, Sue Wilkinson has prioritised evaluation of the impact of reading programmes and commissioned significant evidence to show that reading can tackle some of the UK's biggest societal challenges.

Everyone who loves books has a lot to thank Sue for.

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