Inspiration, Innovation & Information for school libraries and learning.
Ever wondered what the chances are of having that picture book you've thought about writing and illustrating being published? Or have you mused about what journey the latest fiction book you purchased underwent to reach your school library's shelves?
Aspiring writers, librarians, and teachers joined established authors to hear what does it take to get published at the recent Publishing with Passion seminar held at Tauranga Intermediate School. A fascinating peek behind the scenes into the world of New Zealand children's literature was shared by author Susan Brocker, publisher HarperCollins NZ, and literary agent Barbara Else.
Kate Stone from Harper Collins outlined trends in publishing, the editorial decisions behind whether to publish a title, including the author's potential to have more than one book, and the checks a book goes through, including test runs with children and teenagers. About 22-25% of book sales in NZ are for children's literature. HarperCollins NZ publishes 10-15 children's literature titles annually, of which around 1-2 are picture books and the rest divided between junior fiction and young adult titles.
All HarperCollins books printed over the last five years have been set up to be potentially published as e-books. Tauranga author Susan Brocker described how her passions in life - history and animals, especially horses and dogs - have translated into her writing more than 50 non-fiction and fiction books for the US and NZ markets; eg Across the Oregon Trail, Brave Bess and the ANZAC horses (Storylines Notable Young Adults Non-Fiction Book 2011), and Saving Sam (Storylines Notable Young Adults Fiction Book 2010).
Susan’s writing tips and her life-story as an avid reader and writer since she was a child would be inspirational for budding student writers. Her novel Restless Spirit set in Waiouru and based on the fight to save the wild Kaimanawa horses had its beginnings during her childhood years. When not able to have a pony, Susan wrote real-life adventure stories about having a pony. Her first novel about a white stallion - written when she was nine years old then copied and given out to students by school staff, morphed in later years into the Restless Spirit. For Susan, a key ingredient for successful storytelling is having a passion about the topic. When you write what you feel passionate about, your story will sing to the child within.
For further information on writing tips and the respective roles of a publisher, a literary agent and a manuscript editor, as outlined by Barbara Else, see the Bookrapt site.
Consultation is now open to all schools and teachers, until 11 November 2011, to provide feedback on the development of the New Zealand schools e-Learning Planning Framework (English-medium) and it is important that librarians engage in this process.
The e-Learning Planning Framework will provide schools, teachers and librarians with a road map that will guide them as they develop skills, knowledge, and confidence in using ICT. E-Learning supports the teaching approaches outlined in The New Zealand Curriculum and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa through “development of knowledge, competencies, and values, enabling students to be successful citizens in a digital world”.
Development of an integrated, holistic, student-centered practice and school culture to embed information literacy and digital fluency into the curriculum is a core component of the draft framework. While the draft framework has at its heart an integrated, whole of school approach to e-learning and information literacy, school libraries are not identified explicitly. For the best possible student outcomes, the articulation of both the role of the librarian and a process for school libraries to engage collaboratively with teachers to support this vision should be part of the planning framework.
Student Learning in the Information Landscape (2005) highlighted the need and value of establishing a school-wide cross-curriculum approach for student information literacy development and aligning the various parts of the school’s information infrastructure – principally the school library (including school library ICT) and other ICT within the school – with a clear rationale for their respective complementary roles in contributing to student learning. The e-Learning Planning Framework potentially offers a structure and process for ever better alignement and integration of the library.
The Ministry notes that feedback from a wide range of schools is vital to ensure the framework is meaningful and usable.
So, review and discuss the framework with colleagues, provide feedback individually via the online survey, and participate in the e-Learning Planning Framework workshops and ensure that we make the most of this opportunity.
Details of the E-Learning Planning Framework and the consultation process are available from the Enabling e-Learning website.
Details of how to provide feedback and participate in both online workshops and surveys are available from the Virtual Learning Network website.
E-Learning Planning Framework: draft for consultation
E-Learning Planning Framework: background information for sector consultation
E-Learning and implications for New Zealand schools: a literature review
It's all in a label: About the library, About us, What we do, Who are we?
Website labelling is a key element in guiding your visitors to where they want to be. Labels are used throughout website navigation as signposts intended to help visitors locate what they need easily and quickly.
Good labels avoid confusion and jargon to create clear and unambiguous navigation as people browse and search your site. A quick Internet search reveals multiple ways in which library websites label links to their catalogue:
It is important to consider the following points when deciding which terms to use for your website labels:
While you are in the planning stages of your site there is an opportunity to talk to your prospective users about terms that they would use to describe particular content areas of your website. Remember that you are familiar with the content and terminology of your site but what is it that your site visitors expect and want to see?
Card sorting is one method which can assist you in establishing how visitors expect site content to be grouped, and what labels they would assign to each broad area. Open card sorts allow users to group site content cards and create their own labels. Conversely Closed card sorts provide users with site content cards and your predetermined labels for grouping them. Read more about card sorting including a description of the process on the Usability.gov website.
Depending on what type of card sort you use with a group of potential library website visitors you can then analyse the results to establish any:
Another approach to creating meaningful labels for your site is to survey your audience. Mark Aaron Polger has published some research he conducted this year which examined what vocabulary students prefer on library websites.
This article includes the survey questions (as an appendix at the end) that were asked which you might find useful in your own research and planning.
All of this valuable information gathering can assist you in creating a new school library website or adding further content to an existing site. Whatever labels you eventually decide on the most important thing is to be consistent across your site and use the same terminology whenever that label appears on a menu or as a link.
The main aim is to create a site that is responsive to your target audience by including their perspective in the organisation and labelling of your site's content.
Image from http://cghs.dadeschools.net/library/
Have you ever wondered why two people doing exactly the same internet search can get two very different sets of results?
What happens is that web companies tailor their services, including news and search results, to our personal tastes. This personalisation is achieved by monitoring our searching behaviour and up to 57 other factors, including the type of computer and browser being used and our geographic location; and then tailoring the search results to achieve a ‘best fit’ with our profile.
In a recent TED talk, Eli Pariser argues that this means that we get trapped in a “filter bubble” and are not exposed to information that could challenge us or broaden our thinking. A case of being shown information that our personal profile suggests we want, rather than what we need to see.
This is another reason to encourage students to use a variety of searches and resources to verify information that they find, before they form their own conclusions.
Then discuss with staff and students whether increasing personalisation and the existence of ‘filter bubbles’ should change their searching behaviour.
image by: zzub nik
To be the “go to” person we need to be up to date, not just in the library world, but also in the wider educational context.
One of the most useful tools for staying abreast of developments in the New Zealand educational arena is the New Zealand Education Gazette: Tuku Tuku Korerō.
There is a wealth of information between the covers of this fortnightly publication – feature articles, regular columns, information about new learning resources, professional development opportunities (including National Library of New Zealand’s courses) and an enormously useful ‘Notices’ section.
In the current issue, I found two important new resources for working with Māori learners :
The Leadership section highlights two other resources relating to Māori student achievement soon to be available on the Ministry of Education’s Educational Leaders website.
Each edition features a different educational focus. Be the person that brings this information to the attention of your colleagues – they’ll love you for it!
The app is incredibly easy to use, and much less fiddly than the old star chart/ torch combo that many of us amateur astronomers have relied on in the past! You just point your phone at the sky to see which stars, constellations and planets (neatly labelled) you are looking at. As you move your phone the map scrolls automatically and shows you the celestial objects in every direction. You can also switch to manual mode and explore the star charts yourself.
Looking for a specific star? Want to check out Mars? There is a very handy search function. You type in the object you want to see and an arrow directing you there will pop up on your screen. I really appreciate the constellation maps as they make it simple to pick out the complicated shapes in the sky, and I also like being able to quickly put names to the visible planets.
Any students studying astronomy would benefit hugely from this app, and it will turn stargazing homework into an easy and enjoyable family activity, so their parents will love it too! Sky Map would also be attractive to any student interested in Greek mythology (or Percy Jackson fans) and I would suggest promoting it in conjunction with a quality book of myths and legends so that students can read all about the stars’ namesakes. It will work during the daytime, so you could even use it during class to get your students hooked.
Have you ever used Google Sky Map? Are there any similar apps that you like?
image by mirindas27
In April this year Daniel Russell launched a new game which tests your Google searching skills in the form of a daily challenge.
A Google a Day(AGAD)is a great way to test your students’ (and staff) search skills as they pit themselves against each daily challenge. “There is no right way but only one right answer” which allows searchers to use their experience of Google to win the challenge.
Searchers can either play normally or race the clock which adds another level of complexity to the game. Help is provided to guide the searcher and also to highlight searching tips they might not already know.
Daniel Russell the creator of the game also has an interesting blog about the learning and teaching of effective search skills.
For those of you with a wiki or blog you can embed a widget for AGAD. You will find further information and the code for the widget on the LibraryFit blog.
This would be a great way to encourage students to hone their Google search skills and learn new things along the way.
Is anyone using this in their school already?
A blog post prior to the launch of the game.
Be part of an incredible opportunity for students to engage in authentic learning by enacting change within a global context: ITU Telecom, an organization which facilitates global events for governments and industry leaders on behalf of the United Nations, is holding a World Event in Geneva at the end of October. The World Event is an opportunity for participants to think about and develop manifestos for change, using telecommunications technology, which address a range of global issues, from poverty to climate change and free access to education.
This year 10 000 students from around the world are invited to participate virtually in a project to design innovations which will help change the lives of others and address the following issues:
Read more about how your student can participate or view some of the amazing infographics, such as this interactive map which shows the relationship between global development and poverty in the last 200 years and think about how these can be shared with your school community.
Please let us know if your students participate. We'd love to celebrate NZ students' efforts to make a difference globally.
image by s_w_ellis
CamScanner is a simple app for Android and the iPhone that will turn your phone into a scanner. It only takes a minute to put the app on your phone and it is easy and intuitive to use.
You take a picture of whatever you want to scan (a document, your whiteboard, your colleague’s notes, an article…) and CamScanner lets you crop it using your touchscreen and turn it into a PDF. The app also processes the image to enhance the quality and can auto-detect edges and auto-crop, which results in a better image than you would get with your camera alone.
When your PDF is ready you can share it through email or upload it to Evernote , Dropbox or a Google Doc. CamScanner has a free version and a paid version. The free version includes advertisements and creates PDF files with a watermark, but those things might not bother you, depending on how you are planning to use the documents. Check out the Android Market and itunes for more information and how to get started.
With more and more students carrying smartphones in their blazer pockets, CamScanner could be a great tool to use in your library or classroom. Students can scan group brainstorms on paper and the whiteboard, quickly capture information for bibliographies and copy each other’s notes. If you run across a document you would like to share with the class you can instantly scan it, email it and put it on your class Moodle page without even leaving the room! CamScanner also offers you an opportunity to easily lighten your paper load by turning more things digital without having to haul documents all over the school looking for a free copier.
Have you used CamScanner? Would it be useful in your classroom or library?
image by osde8info
The copyright (Infringing file sharing amendment) Act and regulations came into force on September 1, 2011.
What is the Act designed to do?
The aim is to deter people from downloading and sharing copyrightable online materials such as movies, music, TV shows etc, using tools such as BitTorrents.
Why is it important?
For more information, keep your eye on www.3strikes.net.nz
image by Kurosugarlolita
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