Inspiration, Innovation & Information for school libraries and learning.
Image used with permission from Whangarei Boys’ High School
In the previous post, I shared some examples of good practice in schools making the most of EPIC and looked at finding out about your school’s patterns of EPIC use and how that could inform your practice.
“As well as the website login details on all the Library computers, I have put a message into the Notices for the last week, we have made up cards with the login in details, the HOD English spoke at morning meeting, EPIC cards were afterwards put into teacher pigeonholes. At the next student librarian meeting I am demonstrating EPIC, Carrot2 search and talking about Any Questions / Many Answers. I will write something for the newsletter about using EPIC at home too, and I’m also going to spend some time each day looking at EPIC so that I become more familiar with it – the resources which will be useful for students and that I can promote to teachers.”
YOU knowing EPIC really well and how it supports the curriculum is probably the very best strategy of all.
What else do you do that you could share? Please add any strategies or useful tips in the comments below this post…
EPIC is something to celebrate – New Zealand and Iceland (population 320,000) are the only countries in the world to have created a nationwide consortium purchase to provide access to these databases through all libraries – public, school and university. Schools in other countries have to purchase access to databases individually if they want to provide this type of resource for their students – I heard both Jude O’Connell and Joyce Valenza at the Auckland SLANZA conference exclaim about how fortunate New Zealand schools are to have EPIC funded by the Ministry of Education! So, we know how it goes – use it or lose it…
How are you going to promote EPIC in your school this term?
Keri Keri High School- EPIC
At a secondary school library workshop in Northland recently, a group of librarians discussed ways to promote EPIC in their schools. We knew we needed to develop some strategies to make sure students and staff were aware of EPIC and all that it has to offer, and had the opportunities and skills to use it effectively.
We started with the data – looking at the statistics available on each school’s EPIC usage overall – this term / last year / trends over the past few years… These statistics give the number of logons and also a breakdown of which individual databases have been used. Contact your local National Library Adviser, the School Library LibLine ph 0800 542 5463, or the EPIC Manager for this information for your school.
Having this information available gives you a great opportunity for some evidence-based practice – investigating the current situation and developing an initiative to promote and teach about EPIC. Then, one of the ways of reviewing the impact of your initiative will be reflected in the usage statistics, which you can report on.
I talked to Wellington Girls’ College Library Manager Jenny Carroll about their practices and approaches, which lead to their school’s very high use of EPIC. As well as having brochures and bookmarks available to promote EPIC next to all the computers, the two most effective strategies were having:
Jenny said, “We have noticed that the girls now use it of their own accord and just ask for help if they are not having any success with it. We show them how to use the citation tools or email an article to themselves to read later, both of which they find useful.”
The WGC library team works with Year 9 and 10 social studies classes (the Australian / NZ Reference Centre is useful resource for the requirement to include New Zealand case studies as part of their research). They also work with senior classes across the curriculum, as using the databases is good preparation for tertiary study.
TotaraGrove Schoolin Whangarei developed a simple strategy to introduce EPIC to their middle and senior school students – first thing each morning the EPIC Monitors would log Encyclopedia Britannica PreK-8 home page onto the electronic whiteboards in the classrooms to browse before class. And then the day would often start with a quick look at a feature such as BBC Kids news or the Animal of the day.
See also this video clip of the library at Viscount School where EPIC is used regularly – all the students know about EPIC as a resource for them and know the EPIC user name and password by heart. Viscount’s annual EPIC usage is more than four times higher than that of the next highest primary school library. What’s their secret? It is actively taught.
EPIC databases are part of the “deep web” – subscription-only information, which will not be surfaced through a regular internet search. The databases contain thousands of full-text articles on a wide range of topics, from diverse publications. These articles have been professionally edited, often peer-reviewed, and don’t contain advertising or inappropriate material. When EPIC was launched it was described as “a mini, mediated internet”. The message to give students is that they need to have the skills to search, find, evaluate and use information from a variety of sources – in print, and online - web and database at school, and for tertiary study.
In the next post, I’ll share some strategies for actively promoting EPIC through your library…
by Alice H
Feel like you need another pair of hands in the classroom or library? Or someone else to reinforce your research message?
If you are planning a research or guided inquiry unit for next term, submit a research question to ManyAnswers a couple of weeks in advance about the topic of inquiry. The operators there will then put up a guided inquiry answer that will lead the reader through a search to find the information in a few selected websites. This will include tips on how to search, such as the entry below which suggests speech marks and specific key search terms.
So instead of your students wasting time, aimlessly surfing Google with irrelevant search terms you can then direct your students to the ManyAnswers site where they can be guided in the internet searching by using this “ answer” which will free you up to work one on one with the students.
The AnyQuestions service is also available for your students to use for one on one reference librarian support through chat software or you can book in for a class demonstration for the whole class to view a guided inquiry transaction on your topic though a data show.
Both these services are available in te reo Māori: Uiangāpātai and Whakautumaha.
Here is an example of a Many Answers Entry:
Children are born with an innate and magical spark of curiosity. They display a delightful sense of wonder as they investigate their world. Initially, this is through hands-on exploration. As they develop, their investigation expands from the physical into the intellectual realm.
This magical spark of curiosity, sadly, seems to diminish in some children as they progress through school. Reasons for this are varied, but possibly extrinsic measures and assessment is a contributing factor.
Libraries have an integral role in keeping the curiosity spark alive. The school librarian has a key role to encourage and foster children’s innate curiosity and their desire to discover and “find out”.
The provision of a carefully selected range of books, and on line resources is one important factor. But that is not enough. We need to consider how the library can pro-actively provide “curiosity stimulating” environments and experiences.
Traditionally, libraries have created displays around a theme. Themes are often chosen from external drivers such at curriculum topics (sea week, conservation week). While students’ interests may be piqued by these external factors, innate curiosity comes from inside the child itself. This is what we want to nurture.
Sherry Crow has published an interesting article called Fostering the Curiosity Spark in School Library Monthly. She reports on her research into students’ intrinsic motivation. She highlights the important part that adults play in fostering and encouraging children’s innate curiosity. The adult pays attention to the child’s intrinsic interests and provides the child with experiences to develop and grow that interest. This then, positively influences the child’s desire to pursue a topic as an “information seeking passion”. This is a role for the school librarian. Many school library vision statements mention curiosity as an outcome. What would we see happening, if curiosity outcomes were actively pursued?
Here are a few ideas:
What can you do/ are you doing in your library to actively ignite children’s curiosity spark and keep it alive? Share your ideas in the comments below!
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