Inspiration, Innovation & Information for school libraries and learning.
By Jan W
I recently read STOP WHAT YOU’RE DOING AND READ THIS! , Vintage Press 2011. It is a collection of essays written by people who are passionate advocates for reading.
I was particularly taken with the final essay, by Dr Maryanne Wolf and Dr Mirit Barzillai. Dr Wolf is the Director of the Centre for Reading and Language research at Tufts University. Dr Barzillai is a researcher whose current work focuses on the implications of technological innovation on reading processes.
Their essay “Questions for a Reader” talks about how ‘momentous and semi-miraculous’ it is that the human species ever achieved the ability to read. It then discusses the fact that an ‘expert reading brain’ is developed over time. This process can be short-circuited at any point by poor instruction, impoverished environments, lack of opportunity or motivation. The essay also discusses the ‘plasticity’ of the human brain, enabling the ‘reading brain’ to adapt itself to whatever is required by the reader.
They go on to share their thoughts and concerns about the current transition from printed to digital text and the possible effects of this change in terms of our traditional definition of an ‘expert reader’ – one who thinks, infers, imagines, connects, reflects and gains insights into their life and the lives of others.
As today’s children are increasingly immersed in digitally dominated formats for reading, the authors pose these questions:
Huge questions, with real resonance in terms of literacy teaching and learning in the 21st century. What do you think? Share your thoughts with us.
STOP WHAT YOU’RE DOING AND READ THIS!can be readily borrowed through interlibrary loan if it is not available from your local library.
By Peter Murgatroyd
The fourth edition of the annual K-12 series of the NMC Horizon Report examines emerging technologies for their potential impact and use in teaching and learning in the primary and secondary school environment in the next five years. Trends and challenges that will drive technology adoption in schools are also highlighted. The K-12 Horizon report is a collaborative research effort between New Media Consortium, the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), and the International Society for Technology in Education. The Report identifies six technologies to watch across three adoption horizons over the next one to five years:
The massive increase in the use of mobile devices and apps in the classroom and the rapid development in the tablet market leading to both more sophisticated and affordable portable devices are the dominant stories of the 2012 report.
And whilst game based learning remains on the edge of the near term horizon, Personal Learning Environments (PLEs) – collections of tools and resources to support individual learning - are gaining significant traction as both concept and practice strategy. The report notes that there has been a corresponding move away from centralised server based solutions as smart phones, tablets and apps have begun to emerge as an alternative to browser based PLEs and e-portfolios.
LeechBlock is an add-on for Firefox that allows you to block the sites that distract you when you need to be productive. You designate which sites you want to block and when you want your access restricted. For example, you can block YouTube and Facebook from 8am to 12pm on weekdays to keep yourself on task when you should be dealing with emails and writing that end-of-year report.
You can also give yourself time limits for certain sites. If going cold turkey is too much for you then allow yourself ten minutes of Goodreads time each hour before you get back to work. Don’t trust yourself at all? Block all dot-com sites for the afternoon. Want to keep yourself from checking work emails on the weekends? Block your school website to make that simple click a little more difficult.
LeechBlock is not a fool-proof solution to all your internet problems. You can set a password to slow yourself down but there are ways around every barrier and if you really want to check your newsfeed then Leechblock won’t be able to stop you. What it does do is make you stop and think before you automatically click on the sites you habitually check. It will allow you to change your patterns and hopefully break the bad internet habits that lead to wasted time.
This is a great tool to introduce to your students. Blocking Facebook during study sessions will teach them to stay focussed on the report they are meant to be writing. Try blocking wikipedia on the library computers for the first half hour of a research session so students are forced to check out other sources! Make them think about their patterns of internet use and if they are really making the most of their time.
Don’t use Firefox? No problem. Check out this article with similar tools for different browsers.
Have you ever used a tool like LeechBlock?
image by ladybeames
By Glenda F
A New Zealand based company Kiwa Media converts print books into QBooks – these are exciting interactive digital children’s books for touch screen devices such as the iPad and iPhone.
In April they won the e-learning and Education category of the World Summit Awards for the e-learning and Education category.
QBook is an interactive read-along digital colour picture book format designed by Kiwa Media for young children. QBook is an eBook, iPhone and iPad app that combines a narrator’s voice with original picture illustrations and touchable text that is synchronised to highlight and sound when words are touched.
They include exciting features such as the ability to play back the story at your own pace, to hear each word sounded or spelled out, to record the story yourself and to colour in the pages. Each QBook is also multi-lingual. Languages can be selected from English, Maori, Spanish, French, Dutch and Cantonese.
QBooks would be a great addition to paper based texts for classrooms and school libraries. They are interactive and fun and help develop reading and comprehension skills for students.
Many of the books published in this Qbook format are familiar and much loved New Zealand titles as well as retelling of traditional stories. They are all able to be downloaded from the iTune App Store
More information and a demonstration of Qbook can be found on the Kiwa Media website.
Did you know that you can now access the School Journal audio material through a self-contained intranet on your school computer network?
The School Journal Listening Post (SJLP) is an intranet which links all the Ministry of Education digital audio material, and can be supplied to primary schools on a single disk in mp3 format. The material includes stories from Ready to Read, Junior Journal, School Journal and School Journal Story Library.
It’s easy for students to use, students just click a graphical link and the selected audio story begins to play. It can be used for reading groups or for individual students with specific needs, and also contains extensive printable tracking sheets for students to keep a record of their reading.
Teachers tell me this is a great way for them to connect readers with amazing audio resources - the SJLP is much easier to organise than sorting through a pile of sixty compact discs, and it means that they can make the most of resources that the school already has.
The service will be updated annually, and pricing is roll-based. More information and an online demo are available here.
Pinterest is a fun and useful site that allows you to collect, organise and share ideas and images. You are essentially creating virtual bulletin boards (based on your interests) that others can browse and comment on. You can use images from the web or upload pictures from your own computer. Each image is called a ‘pin,’ and can include notes and links back to the place on the web where you found it.
Browsing through other people’s boards is a wonderful way to find inspiration. You can follow your favourite people, then grab their images and ‘repin’ them on your own board. To pin images from the web you just follow the instructions provided to install a Pin It button on your web browser. Every image you choose for your board will automatically link back to the site where it comes from.
Making an account is easy: just go to the site and request an invitation (or wrangle one from a current member). The site is invite-only, but my invitation came through a few hours after I requested it. Once you have your invitation you can register through Facebook Connect or your Twitter account. There is also an iPhone app so you can pin things on the go.
Want to see more? Check out this school library display board to get started. Pinterest is a great resource for teachers and librarians looking for ideas and inspiration. It would be a wonderful way for students to collect and share images and information when they are doing research on historical or literary figures and events. I would also recommend it for art students and secondary English students who are putting together static images. Fashion students could collect looks, fabrics and designs they love…there is something here for everyone!
Have you used Pinterest? How do you organise images from the web so you can keep and use them later?
image by dabblelicious
Free to Mix!
National Library Services to Schools have partnered with Digital NZ to create a very useful guide to reusing digital content.It gives you information, activities and ideas to confidently create a remix from material you know you have the rights to reuse. It shows students why copyright and licensing exist, how they work, and how they can apply licences to their own work through simple information, suggestions for activities, and links to more resources.
By using it, you and your students will be able to participate in the global remix community while demonstrating creativity and integrity. This will not only support you in creating exciting learning materials but will give you the background you need to prepare entries for the great New Zealand Mix and Mash competition. Once again, the competition will have amazing prizes for students and real opportunities for exploring their cultural heritage through a range of media and content. The competition will launch on August 4th so get prepared now by reading the guide and planning how you can encourage students to make the most of this fantastic experience.
The guide is a living document and will have more sections added to it, starting with some more specific help entering the competition. We can’t give away too much about what these will be as the categories are going to be a surprise but check back at launch!
If you would like to discuss the guide, or the competition, we have an online community where I am very happy to help you in any way I can. I will also let you know about workshops and events that are happening that are relevant to the competition.
Show n’Tell. Screen captures, screen images, screencasts.
There are a plethora of new tools and software that can make this easy, engaging and provide valuable language and presentation skills for students.
Imagine a carefully constructed and clearly delivered tour of the different Dewey sections of your library or a ‘how to’ on using the catalogue with screen capture and annotations done by students.
Richard Byrne, the author of Show n’ Tell in School Library Monthly also has a great blog Free Technology for Teachers. Its current, practical and has great free downloads on video creation, using Google creatively and Web 2.0.
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