Archive for the ‘Journal articles’ Category

Scottish Birds cover and last post for 2017

December 25, 2017

Through the post recently came the latest copy of Scottish Birds which I receive as a member of the Scottish Ornithologists’ Club (SOC). I was struck by the front and back covers which I think are possibly the most attractive of the year. The journal contains articles on in-depth research on birds in Scotland – their numbers, their habitat and trends in population. There are also shorter articles on rare sightings of visiting birds. I have to admit that I don’t read the research articles in full, but I particularly enjoy the photographs of birds which accompany the articles. I don’t count myself as a birder as I don’t do any serious bird watching. Please don’t use the term twitcher for bird watchers as this is regarded as pejorative, a bit like referring to serious runners as joggers or The Inuit as Eskimos. I’ve been given permission to scan and use the covers by the good people who run SOC. The front cover below shows a water pipit which was photographed at Skateraw, which is along the coast from Dunbar and on one of my mountain bike cycling routes in the winter. The article on this bird stated that is has a “prominent pale supercilium”  – unfamiliar terminology to me. Looking it up, supercilium (good illustrations) is “also commonly referred to as “eyebrow” — is a stripe which starts above the bird’s loral area (area between beak and eyes), continuing above the eye, and finishing somewhere towards the rear of the bird’s head”. Loral area is more new terminology. The scanned photo is not as clear as the journal cover photo, but you can see that this is a strikingly attractive bird, with its sharp beak which has a lightning streak of yellow, its pale plumage neatly folded to keep out the rain, its blacksmith crafted legs and feet, and black snooker ball eye.

Scottish birds front

Scottish Birds front cover (Click on all photos to enlarge)

The back cover has this photo of a Spotted Crake, captured at Doonfoot, near Ayr. This bird has the wonderful scientific name of Porzana, Porzana and there is a short video of the bird at this location here. While the spotted crake does not (I think) have the elegance of the water pipit, as it has a patchwork-looking foliage, it does have a fascinating beak, with what looks like a small boat on the upper part. As with the pipit, the spotted crake’s eye is prominent and alert to food in the water. Of course, the bird’s reflection and the reflection of the reeds by the water add much to this well composed photo.

Scottish Birds back

Scottish Birds back cover

This is the last post of 2017 as your blogger is taking a rest over the New Year, to return reinvigorated in early 2018. So where did 2017 go? Or 2007 or 1997 or ….? In a flash is the answer. Looking back on my extensive range of photos for 2017 and earlier blog posts, I recall the colours and reflections in a rockpool at Seacliff Beach on New year’s Day.


Vibrant colours and reflections at Seacliff Beach

In May, it was the smooth lines of the tattie dreels that drew my attention. Soon after, the first sign of green shaws appeared and before we knew it, September was well under way and the tattie machine was lifting the crop. This field is now a vibrant green, with the spring wheat coming through.


Smooth tattie dreels near Dunbar

Smooth tattie dreels near Dunbar

In September, the Tour of Britain came our way again and I was up Redstone Rig with my cycling pals – and many other cyclists – to see the peloton approach the big hill, with the rolling country side of East Lothian in the background.


Peloton at the top of Redstone Rig

Then I blinked and it was December and Seafield Pond was frozen over on a very bright, sunny and freezing cold day.


Seafield Pond frozen over


If my letter to Santa has been received and the white bearded reindeer driver is in a good mood, I may return with a brand new DLSR camera, with a video function. I’m off to leave out carrots for the reindeer and a large dram of Bunnahabhain for the man. I wish you all the very best for the festive season and a Guid New Year when it comes.


No Wikipedia for a day and harbour walk

January 19, 2012

Reading today’s Guardian with my breakfast cup of tea, I find an intriguing story about how  Wikipedia is planning to shut down for 24 hours in protest at a proposed bill in the USA, which Wikipedia claim will lead to a form of censorship on new media outlets such as itself, Google and Twitter. I’ve just tried to access Wikipedia and instead of being able to search, there’s a black screen with Imagine a world without free knowledge as the headline, and accuses the US Congress of ‘considering legislation that could damage the free and open Internet’. The article goes on to cite the views of both new media and ‘old’ media such as a newspaper proprietor. The bills which are being proposed, appear to be trying to stop illegal streaming, but Wikipedia and others think that this could be the thin edge of censorship.

One of the pleasures of living in a seaside town such as Dunbar, is that you can enjoy a walk to, or around, the harbour at all times of the year. Normally, in January, the bridge connecting the new (i.e. 1890s built) harbour and the old harbour, is up, so that boats can go to the old harbour for shelter from the winter storms. However, it’s been unseasonably mild and calm this winter, so on Sunday, the bridge was down and my wife and I walked across to the harbour wall side. The picture below shows a view towards Dunbar Castle  with a set of creels roughly stacked, in the foreground. There are a few boats in the harbour which use creels to catch crabs and lobsters, and you can see a creel boat in action off the Fife coast (visible from Dunbar) on YouTube.

Creels on Dunbar Harbour

Schools in the digital age and a butterfly

September 23, 2011

Reading Mal Lee’s article in the new edition of Scan (in which I and my CSU colleague Judy O’Connell also have articles), I followed up the reference to Schools in the Digital Age. The authors argue that digital media is a ‘disruptive technology’ and will change the way that schools are organised in the future i.e. digital media will not just change the delivery of education. The authors point out that while many businesses have changed their management structures, school still operate on what they call an ‘industrial model’ which has remained unchanged for over 100 years. For TLs, it is worth downloading the 28 page summary and to look at some of the ideas presented there, especially those about learning spaces in schools, as there are implications for virtual school libraries here.

Out walking last weekend near Coldingham Beach, I spotted a flash of colour in the grass. The picture below shows the butterfly, which proved to be a very willing subject for a close up photograph by, from the butterfly’s point of view, a giant. The butterfly is the reasonably common Red Admiral whose proper name is the splendid Vanessa Atalanta – sounds like a great name for a film star, or female sleuth who solves murders in Madrid. I like the contrast of the vibrant colours of the butterfly with the grass.

Red Admiral aka Vanessa Atalanta

Digital Teacher Librarian and cygnet time again

July 1, 2011

A new issue of Digital Teacher Librarian  is now available. The focus is on learning commons and what the 21st century school library might look like. There are three very thought provoking articles which focus on both primary and secondary schools and they reflect their authors’ opinions, as well as their practices. We should always be looking to plan ahead, so if your thoughts have been going along the lines of planning the future look, functions and services of your school library, this is a very good place to start. I’ve talked about the idea of a learning commons here recently and these articles build on the issues I’ve raised about what constitutes a learning commons, and why that phrase may be a useful one for TLs in the near future.

It’s summertime here in Scotland and the two swans that I’ve been following in recent years, have returned to the site next to Dunbar Golf Course just along from where I live. This year, as you’ll see in the photo below, there are 5 cygnets – this is the same as last year, although one of the cygnets last year got trapped and was killed by crows. We’ll see what this year brings. The one good thing about swans, from a photographer’s point of view, is that they are very approachable. As long as you do not show any aggression towards the parents or young, swans will allow you to get very close to them. They are a very welcome addition to what I can see on an early evening walk along the golf course and on to the short beach and stretch of rocks.

NOTE: There will be no blog entries forthe next 2 weeks as I am on annual leave.

Swan and cygnets

E-books and an intriguing boulder

March 16, 2011

A bit of a stramash over the last couple of weeks about e-books and publishers wanting to restrict the time period for an e-book which is sold to a library for borrowing. An article in the NY times yesterday reported that Harper Collins would only allow a book to be loaned 26 times before it expired. Now exactly where the publishers got this figure is fairly easy to see i.e. 52 weeks in a year, 2 week loan = 26 loans. However, this does not represent the average lifetime borrowing for most printed books in public libraries i.e. the amount of loans until the book has to be replaced. Publishers fear that if libraries have too many e-books and lend them out too often, that this will affect their growing sales of e-books. On the other hand, it could be argued that if people borrow e-books from libraries, this could increase sales – as it does with many printed books. However, the power appears to rest with the publishers. Most schools now have e-books and these restrictions will apply to them also.

I found this boulder – OK, call it a big stone if you think that a boulder has to be bigger in the photo below while walking across the rocks when the tide was out, in the vain hope of getting close to some shelduck. I was intrigued by the various holes in the stone face – some like little caves, others like bullet holes and there was a skull-like appearance of the whole thing, as if at one point in time, it could speak and see and hear. The moon craters or thumb prints on the top – the more you look at it, the more you see. Another seashore sculpture.

Seashore sculpture

SIGMS article and Edinburgh in early Spring

March 2, 2011

Thanks to my colleague Joy McGregor, I can alert you all to an article in ISTE’s Learning and Leading with Technology journal, which you would do well to add to your favourites and to pass on the link to colleagues. The article – rather naffly entitled Not your grandmother’s library – gives some very good examples of teacher librarians using technology to very good effect i.e. by enhancing student learning. From the very well-known Joyce Valenza, to Keisa Williams and Wendy Stephens, the article highlights examples of the work of these three teacher librarians. Also in the issue of the journal are articles on tagging, Google sites, collaboration and advocacy. Well worth a look.

In Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital city, yesterday. A glorious early Spring today in (relatively) warm sunshine and a big blue sky. Edinburgh is a city for walking and you can reach most of the eye-catching attractions with fairly short walks. The centre of the city is dominated, on Princes Street which is the main thoroughfare, by the Scott Monument, the largest monument to a writer in the world. It is in praise of Sir Walter Scott , author of famous novels such as Waverley and Ivanhoe. At this time of year, it’s a joy to walk through Princes Street Gardens and enjoy the masses of crocuses which line the banks. The picture below shows the flowers below the Scott Monument.

Scott Monument

TL abilities and snowy sprouts

January 6, 2011

Firstly, a very Good New Year to you all. The ever informative, imaginative and practical Joyce Valenza has presented us with a list of abilities that she would like to see TLs/SLs have, in order to be ‘fully loaded’. Now, the term ‘fully loaded’ may have many meanings and not all of them suitable for a family show, but in this instance, Joyce Valenza is talking about the ability of TLs to have mastery of a range of areas in order to be fully effective. The article highlights mastery of: publishing platforms, web based pathfinder creation tools; applications for digital stories; “cool tools for publishing digital work’; search tools and strategies – and many more. I’ll certainly be getting my teacher librarianship students to read this article and discuss it. It is aimed at practitioners, so I hope many of you will access it and think about how it fits in with your present role and your possible future role.

Over the midwinter festivals period here in Scotland, we’ve had – by our standards – a lot of snow and very low temperatures. If you are reading this is north America or Scandinavia however, what we’ve had will be fairly mild. One of the great features of snow, of course, is that it’s a boon for photographers. I took the photo below on a walk not far from where I live. It’s a field of sprouts which look like an army of terracotta warriors with white helmets. Sprouts taste horrible! How people can eat them with their chicken, turkey, veggie roast is beyond me. A recently cropped field of sprouts up the road from here had a flock of sheep in it, munching away. I think that the sheep should go in first. I’m sure that those of you who are sprout lovers – and the farmers – would not agree.

Sprouts in the snow

Not so Delicious and snowy creels

December 22, 2010

For those of you who engage in social bookmarking, you will no doubt have heard that Yahoo are going to close their Delicious site. This is potentially bad news for the many people in schools who have used Delicious and for many TLs/SLs who have encouraged their teachers and students to use this site. It’s also potentially embarrassing for authors of new books who, on p55, sing the praises of Delicious. fortunately in my new book I also cite other social bookmarking sites. All is not lost if you’re a Delicious devotee, as a very clearly written article by Webologist shows everyone how to save and export their bookmarked sites from Delicious. The other lesson, of course, is the transitory nature of most of the web, especially sites which are owned by multinationals like Yahoo.

More snow hereabouts and it looks like the 25 December will be a white one. One of the pleasures of snow is looking at how artefacts can be highlighted, and sometimes transformed, by a coating of snow. In the picture below, taken at Dunbar harbour, I like the way the creels are enhanced by the snow and it changes a utilitarian stacking of working creels into an abstract montage – at least that’s what I see. No blog next week because of holidays. Whatever your midwinter/midsummer festival is, I hope you en joy it.  

Creels at Dunbar harbour

Digital learning and early snow

December 8, 2010

From eSchool News a new report on digital learning and, in particular, on high quality digital learning. The report outlines what it regards as the key elements of high quality digital learning and these include: all students can be digital learners; all students have access to high quality course and content; all students have high quality teachers; funding and infrastructure to support digital learning are available. High aims indeed and the report recognises that these are aims and also that key barriers need to be removed. The report focuses on blended learning – a combination of ‘live teaching and a variety of technological tools, including online learning’ – which could help to produce more high school graduates in the USA, as well as more skilled workers. The 3 barriers? Time, funding and access. Plus ca change…

Here in Scotland, we’ve had an early dose of snow and ice which we’ve not had for many years in November. Of course, global warming will produce cooler conditions in the UK. The snow produces lovely, picturesque scenes and you can (as Australians say) rug up against the cold with hat, scarf, gloves, winter coat and boots and walk in the crisp sunshine we get at this time of year. It’s just than when you’ve had 4 weeks of mid to high 20s in terms of temperature, it tales a wee while to get used to. The photo below shows seagull tracks in the snow at Dunbar Harbour. It looks like hieroglyphics and for all I know, these seagulls may have Egyptian ancestors and may be leaving messages in the snow for the cognoscenti.

Seagull footprints in the snow at Dunbar Harbour

No books in the library and Burj Khalifa

November 30, 2010

In some quarters, when the future of school libraries in discussed, there’s an elephant in the room that is ignored. Debate about the future of school libraries and TLs/SLs has gone on for generations, including discussions about what the ‘school library’ should be called. Now there is a major difference. Take away books from the school library and what is the role of the TL? Ask most people in a typical school and they will find it difficult to find a full time role, and this is mostly because most teachers and students find it difficult to conceptualise that a digital collection needs the same amount of work as a print collection, and maybe more. So we need to start discussing the future – the real, digital future – of school libraries, and working out what the TL’s (whatever s/he may be called in the future) role can and should be. A good place to start is Mal Lee’s article – see it as a challenge.

I have been travelling for the past 4 weeks, to New Zealand, Australia and Dubai, where my wife and I spent the last 2 days of the trip with our son Stuart and daughter in law Catherine. If you’ll pardon the pun, the highlight of the visit was going up the 124th floor (of 160 floors) of the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building by quite a long way. From the observation deck, you get a superb view of Dubai, and there is a strange loss of perspective because what would normally seem skyscrapers in cities such as Sydney or London, appear to be quite small. I took photos but the ones on the website are better. Outside the Burj and the surrounding area, there is a large lake and on the hour and half hour, music plays and fountains rise in time to the music. Quite a spectacle, part of which is caught in the photo below.

Fountains at the Burj Khalifa