Mr T goes to Edinburgh


Alarm set for 0500hrs and my brain wakes me up at 0350hrs instead…  Ah well – at least it meant a free and easy run down a deserted A9 to Edinburgh’s Royal Mile and the Radisson Hotel where Bill Boyd (The Literacy Advisor) was running a seminar on reading strategies.  Having forked out £8 for a coffee and two small poached eggs on toast (the hotel wouldn’t sell me a single cup!) around 35 eager busy tailed teachers trooped into the Holyrood Room to listen to Bill.

Now Bill (who also looks much younger in real life – change that Twitter avatar mate!) has what some people call ‘presence’. He stands in front of a room, probably quivering inside but grabs his audience, gets them laughing and onside and then proceeds to fill their mushy Saturday morning brains with good stuff that wakes them up. And so it was with his seminar. Before getting to the essentials, Bill spoke about digital narratives, the new texts and also reminded us of what CfE etc is saying about reading. We watched several interesting clips about reading and digital text and then he ambushed us with a spelling test! I fully agree with Bill why the heck is “Desiccated” spelt that way? Enough to put one off coconut for life unless stranded on a tropical island. …

Once our brains recovered we then moved onto the business of the day. Suffice to say Bill was full of little tips and comments that added to the sum of the parts he was discussing.  The seven strategies ranged from prediction, questioning, comparing, looking for patterns, making pictures, summarising and finally evaluating. At each stage Bill showed examples, made us do tests (on a Saturday – has he no shame?) and got the room thinking. I could hear the thinking…and the pain.

To finish our beloved Literacy Adviser went through some textbooks, recommended sites and then gave a quick insight into twitter for Personal Learning Networks, for bookmarks and the power of sharing. I

I also gave a very quick and garbled 5 minutes on how I used Samorost, am using Inanimate Alice as digital narrative and the arrival of a new game Machinarium. The handout I issued is here. I didn’t actually say most of the notes as I had started talking about writing too much and swiftly changed the focus to the reading side of things.

Overall?  As I told Bill it wasn’t just about coming down to Edinburgh to learn new ‘stuff’ but also to reaffirm what I already knew/used and also to be reminded of ‘stuff’ I had perhaps forgotten or not used in a while. For those reasons it was well worth getting out of bed early for. The return journey UP the A9 was cursed by the sight of ASDA lorries in convoy and I finally arrived home at 1934hrs having driven 397 miles.

Bill…you were worth it! Thank you for a good day and for my lunch at the National Gallery and a very interesting conversation with yourself and Mike Coulter. CPD at its best.! Feel free to nick quotes about your seminar and add to your blog.  Did he mention his blog? Of course he did! 😎


  1. Dave,
    Thanks for the generous comments. It was great to meet you yesterday at last, and thanks again for the contribution on Alice and Sammy. I was delighted to see so many teachers willing to give up their Saturday morning and I thought there was agreat buzz about it. I will indeed nick the best bits of your blogpost to promote the next event!Hope to catch up with you again soon and see you on Twitter.


  2. Dave, brilliant to meet you yesterday, thanks for sharing some top thoughts/stuff.

    Great observation too about @literacyadviser Bill Boyd’s ‘presence’, never thought of it that way before, but you’re right, he has.



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