Inspiration, Innovation & Information for school libraries and learning.
by Lisa A
The research supports a compelling fact: what students already know about the content at the beginning of an inquiry is one of the strongest indicators of how well they will learn new information. Marzano, p1. Students who have a great deal of background knowledge about the topic are likely to learn new information readily and well. The converse is also true. Marzano, (p.3)
For students to ask meaningful questions and engage in rich learning, it is essential they have enough background knowledge to get to grips with a topic. Frontloading, knowledge immersion, attack or, as Ross Todd has put it, “wallowing in it”, gives students the opportunity to discover enough about a topic to start the real work of research.
Koechlin and Zwaan say that:
“students must have a good working knowledge of the topic before they can create questions or select effective keywords. They must have been immersed in the general topic to become familiar with the language of the topic. The time spent … providing exploration activities will pay huge dividends later in the research cycle.” (p.4)
Think of a topic with which you have little, or no, familiarity – for me that might be dinosaurs. Knowing little about dinosaurs I might start by asking some basic factual questions:
Fast forward a few nights – with time spent reading with my 8 yr old who, like many boys, is very keen on dinosaurs, and I have learnt a great deal about different types of dinosaurs. I now know when they lived; what they ate and that they mostly died out millions of years ago. I know some of their names (even if I can’t quite pronounce them –try saying Hatzegopteryx quickly!) and their dimensions. I can now start asking more meaningful questions that will lead to further speculation and deeper learning:
Marzano (p34-35) tells us that “virtual experiences can enhance background knowledge” and that one of the most straightforward ways to generate virtual experiences is through reading.
Even if our students have limited opportunities and experiences, we can open up a world of virtual experience for them through the resources we provide, both in hard copy and online, that will, as Loertscher, Koechlin and Zwaan tell us (p.6), “get every runner (learner) to the starting line for the main event (the unit to come).”
Lest we think that this is only an issue for our students while they are at school Marzano tells us that:
“background knowledge effects more than just “school learning”. Studies have also shown its relation to occupation and status in life. They found a significant relation between knowledge of this academic information and type of occupation and overall income.”(p.3)
So take a new look at your collection. Think about how you can immerse your students in background knowledge through the virtual experiences they can find in the books, digital and online resources to which you provide access. All the reading they do, both for fun and to discover more about a topic, has far reaching consequences in their lives – and you are the conduit that makes that possible.
“If I had to reduce all of educational psychology to just one principle, I would say this: The most important single factor influencing learning is what the learner already knows. Ascertain this and teach … accordingly.”
Ausubel, Novak and Hanesian, (p.iv) 1978. Building background knowledge for academic achievement. Robert J. Marzano. Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, c2004
Ban those bird units: 15 models for teaching and learning in information–rich and technology-rich environments David V. Loertscher, Carol Koechlin and Sandi Zwaan, Hi Willow Research & Publishing, 2005
Build your own information literate school, Carol Koechlin and Sandi Zwaan, Hi Willow Research & Publishing, 2004
Educational psychology: a cognitive view (2nd ed), David P. Ausubel, Joseph D. Novak and Helen Hanesian.. Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1978
Studentsand staff are increasingly bringing in their own electronic communication devices for use at school (Bring Your Own Device). Consequently, schools may need to rework existing acceptable use policies (AUPs).
Photo by Brian McMahon used under Creative Commons licence
Even if your school has not yet officially adopted a BYOD policy, there is a need for clarity around the use of these devices. Especially relating to their use in the school library and any other areas where students are using them without supervision. While this is a school wide issue, the library team needs representation and to input into the redevelopment of these policies particularly as they oversee daily internet usage within the library.
The challenge is to reword policies in a positive way. Focus on how these tools can enhance learning rather than focussing on what the students can’t do. Often school librarians are forced into the role of “internet supervisor” with the phrase “no, you can’t …” being used far too often.
I set out to explore this issue of AUPs in a BYOD environment.
So what guidance is available?
I started at the Netsafe website to check out their sample policies and acceptable use agreements.
What I found was really useful in general, but there was little acknowledgement of BYOD environments. The focus was on the use of school owned hardware and networks.
Then I checked out what was in the pipeline from the Ministry of Education via the TKI - ICT helpdesk
I found that there are lots of discussions in various forums, but currently no clear guidelines. Schools are kind of inventing it as they go along.
Eventually the responsibility for guidance will lie within the Network for Learning (after the Ultrafast Broadband rollout) but policy issues for this have yet to be addressed.
In the meantime, help is available via various social media sites where practitioners are discussing and sharing experiences in self created on-line communities.
A first port of call is the MLE (Managed Learning Environment) Google based reference group which is an online community of educators and technologists discussing various aspects of ICT as related to NZ schools. I was pleased to find several discussions there re BYOD, as well as some schools sharing their updated AUP.
Another avenue is the Virtual Learning Network (VLN) where practitioners share their policies and experiences in a BYOD group:
Another website we need to be aware of is the enabling e-learning area on TKI
So I guess, the long and the short of it is: we are in evolving times….things are being developed … but not quite there yet…wherever “there” is.
“Social media can be an effective tool for engaging with learners and communicating with parents, whānau and communities. Teachers who model good social media use will grow learners who apply positive, respectful values in their interactions on social media platforms.” teachersandsocialmedia.co.nz
In early 2012 the New Zealand Teachers Council formed a reference group to provide clear guidelines for teachers using social media in their classroom programmes. Social media use is an area where there have been ethical dilemmas for teachers. The Council wanted to provide guidance so teachers could embrace social media with confidence.
The Council has launched the Teachers and Social Media site with the primary aim of promoting discussion among teachers about classroom use of social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. As Sean Lyons says in one of the video clips “it’s about using Social Media for a purpose, and putting the right safeguards in place”.
The resources available on this site include:
It also has a useful set of FAQs for teachers wanting to move into this area.
CC image from Christchurch City Libraries
More than two years on, after the initial 7.1 earthquake in Canterbury and its sequence of equally devastating aftershocks, I pause to reflect.
How life has changed for Cantabrians! Both our inner and outer landscapes have changed forever. Christchurch city and its environs offer devastating scenes of destruction and demolition to make way for building anew. Our inner bodies are suffering in the same way with the ongoing physical, mental and emotional effects and subsequent health issues related to loss, injury, and stress.
Through all these experiences we have been forced to shift our focus. It is no longer about why did the earthquake happen - science has given us those answers. It is more about what am I doing and is it the right thing for me now? Answers only come with deep reflection, and lots of discussion.
Once the initial survival issues of the crisis were past, we have been forced to make life changing decisions about our homes, work and families. This has made us prioritise what we really value in life and identify what really matters: the basics.
Many people have changed jobs and career paths; many have moved schools; cities, countries; many have closed down businesses and many have been creative in opening new ones.
The earthquake crisis has given us unprecedented opportunities for change. Initially, people spoke about a return to “normal” but I don’t hear that talk any more. Normal means going back to what we had before. We are confronted by an unknown future. We are involved in building something new, something future focussed - not backward looking. We will build on the best of our past experiences and create something relevant for generations to come.
For schools, the recent announcements about reshaping education in greater Christchurch attempt to address innovative opportunities for education across the sector. Consultation is ongoing as schools consider what their future might look like.
My purpose here is to relate these earthshaking experiences back to the school library world. This sector is also experiencing a ground shifting shake up. We keep hearing about staffing cuts and zero budgets. We sometimes hear the question “why do we need libraries when we have “google”?”
This is our opportunity to go beyond asking “why?” Why do we need a library in our school? We already know the answer: school libraries support student learning and literacy development.
Being clear about the “why”, we are then in a powerful position to address what we do and how we do it. In times of crisis we are forced back to the basics, the things that really matter.
Take away the professional staffing, but leave the books, computers and buildings. Can this scenario maintain information, inquiry and reading services that support student learning? The library, chugging along as a book exchange facility, provides mainly print resources. The focus could only be on maintaining daily operations, a facility without the active facilitation of the library staff to support learning.
Take away the buildings and the books but leave the professional staffing? Could we still maintain information and reading services that support student learning? This situation necessitates innovation and use of evolving web based tools, as well as print resources, to enhance student learning. Library staff are relieved of their focus on operational functions. Time and space are opened up for focussing on developmental and educational opportunities. I know that some innovative Canterbury school librarians have had to do just that and I am in awe of their exceptional resilience.
In spite of closures and retrenchments, there are possibilities for the future, but only if we place our focus on the critical role of the library supporting student learning. It is not the books that do that, it is the proactive intervention of a library professional. As the Canterbury educational structure is realigned, we have an opportunity to think beyond what we have had, towards creating exciting and innovative services and environments that will support student learning needs well into the future. Buildings and paper don’t do that, people do.
Sometimes it takes a monumental event such as an earthquake to shake us out of complacency and reflect on what really matters.
At the recent National Library’s ‘Sail into Summer Reading” seminars, we have engaged in lively conversations about how pithy quotes can encapsulate the essence of what we wish to convey and can linger long afterwards in the reader’s/listener’s mind.
For example, a gem about the importance of reading aloud is this quote from Mem Fox:
“I’m advocating people read aloud for 10 minutes a day. Because that’s one per cent of the day. If you can’t read aloud to your kid for 10 minutes, why have you got a child? Wouldn’t it have been better for you to have goldfish?”;
Ideas for sharing thought-provoking quotes include:
Another idea is to use a fun online tool such as Tagxedo, which creates a word cloud with a difference. You can create shapes thematically linked to the words.
At some stage, we have all come across quotable quotes that have resonated with ourselves, which we can use on applicable occasions. Mine include:
“A good book should leave you… slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading it.” William Styron, Interview, Writers at Work, 1958
“I can hear the library humming in the night,
a choir of authors murmuring inside their books
along the unlit, alphabetical shelves,
Giovanni Pontano next to Pope, Dumas next to his son,
each one stitched into his own private coat,
together forming a low, gigantic chord of language.”
Billy Collins, Extract from poem: Books in Sailing around the room. 2002
“There are books so alive that you’re always afraid that while you weren’t reading, the book has gone and changed, has shifted like a river; while you went on living, it went on living too, and like a river moved on and moved away. No one has stepped twice into the same river. But did anyone ever step twice into the same book?” Marina Tsvetaeva, Pushkin and Pugachev, 1937
“When students read for pleasure, when they get “hooked on books”, they acquire, involuntarily and without conscious effort, nearly all of the “language skills” many people are concerned about…” Stephen Krashen, The Power of Reading, 2d ed., 2004
And the list goes on…..
For other examples of quotable quotes on creating readers, join National Library’s Services to Schools Online Community: Inspiring Readers! and view the listed quotes. Do add your gems!
Next week, the OER Foundation will be running another course to support educators in understanding copyright and creative commons. You could be learning about the global issues of ownership and the sharing of resources with educators from around the world through this self-paced workshop.
The course starts on Monday the 3 of December and runs until the 14 and takes a total of about five hours.
cc image by enricod
Phew! After years of remodelling, relocation and renovation, the Wellington National Library building is finally re-opening.
For schools the wait is really worth it. Included in the extensive make-over is a new learning commons space, called Te Ahumairangi. This area offers visitors the opportunity to explore and create and includes a mix of free wi fi, PCs, Macs, printers, scanners, device charge stations, a cafe and flexible furnishings.
We also have a fascinating digital touch table, called Lifelines, which lets you interact with items from the National Library collections. And in the remodelled gallery a marvellous new exhibition called Big Data examines how we collect and present data, past, present and future, locally and globally.
In conjunction with the exhibition, we offer workshops, education programmes and seminar events. More information is available on our exhibition page. The first is Big Data.
Visiting Wellington or planning to? Schools group visits are welcome and our learning specialists can host or assist you with the things you want to do; we’re here to enable and add value to everyone’s experiences.
Request a tour of the National Library to see what’s new, what the library does, learn the basics of research, or spend time with a specialist.
Whatever you choose we have so much to offer for a memorable visit!
If you use the subscription-based copy cataloguing service provided by SCIS (Schools Catalogue Information Service) you may have noticed the additional Headings available in SCIS catalogue records. These are ScOT headings.
If you import your records directly using a Z39.50 connection you will see the ScOT Headings only if you have selected to receive a ScOT-enhanced record. This will import both the ScOT terms and the SCIS Subject Headings into your catalogue. You will then have two controlled vocabularies. This may cause conflict with the other headings and references your catalogue contains, however it will also add further subject keywords to assist your users with information retrieval. If you haven’t noticed them, a quick search in SCISWeb OPAC will list any number of records which include ScOT terms.
What are ScOT terms?
ScOT terms are derived from the Schools Online Thesaurus or ScOT .
To address the increase in online content available the Schools Online Thesaurus or ScOT was first created and released in 2001. It uses a controlled vocabulary of subject descriptors based on Australasian curriculum terms. These terms are used to describe or Tag learning objects and digital resources provided by The Learning Federation and Te Kete Ipurangi (TKI).
Why use SCoT when you have Subject Headings?
Subject Headings from Library of Congress or SCIS use controlled vocabulary which is standardised to ensure that resources with the same subject content can be ‘tagged’ with the same subject terms ensuring effective retrieval through searching on the catalogue.
The difference with ScOT terms and Subject Heading terms is the way they work in information retrieval systems -like Web search engines.
As seen in the record shown below, Subject Headings like ‘Insects – Poetry’ appear in strings separated by hyphens. ScOT terms appear separately for example ‘Poetry’ or ‘Insects’. Separating the terms matches the way metadata is used on the web. This means each term is searchable across any system.
Integrated Library Systems or Library Management Systems are designed to integrate with other online systems including a school’s Student Management System (SMS) and Learning Management System (LMS) which is integral to the schools Managed Learning Environment .
With the ultra-fast broadband roll out and the development of the Ministry of Education’s Network for Learning there will be increased opportunities for schools to access online resources via a variety of networks or gateways.
The use of ScOT terms in library catalogue records is one way school libraries can improve the interoperability of their web-based catalogue.
User-generated content in Schools
Another way that ScOT terms can add value to the access of online resources is with user-generated content or UGC. The creation of online content and resources continues to grow as schools adopt an online learning environment. While UGC is still relatively small, it is a good idea to start thinking about how this information should or could be organised so that it is accessed.
Keeping library cataloguing practice in mind, the minimum information required to describe an online resource should include the ‘Name of Creator’, ‘Name of School’ and ‘Description Terms’ or Tags .
Without the use of a controlled vocabulary, Tag terms will vary from person to person and resource to resource. By including an accessible online tool like the Schools Online Thesaurus (ScOT) as part of the process, user-generated content can be effectively tagged with consistent, curriculum focused terms, helping to ensure the resource is accessible.
School libraries and school library staff supported by good ICT infrastructure play an important role to help students and staff access relevant, quality-controlled resources in a variety of formats both now and in the future.
Kneebone, Les 2010, ‘Schools Online Thesaurus (ScOT)’, Connections 72 (http://www2.curriculum.edu.au/scis/connections/schools_online_thesaurus_(scot).html)
National Library Services to Schools 2012, ‘Optimising your integrated library system’ (http://schools.natlib.govt.nz/developing-your-library/tools-and-guides/optimising-your-integrated-library-system-ils)
Salmond, Rachel 2006, ‘New subject terms in SCIS OPAC’, Connections 59, (http://www.curriculum.edu.au/scis/connections/cnetw06/59scisopac.htm)
Salmon, Rachel 2007, ‘SCIS | ScOT in SCIS - more of the same … or different?’, Connections 60 (http://www2.curriculum.edu.au/scis/connections/issue_60/scot_in_scis_-_more_of_the_same__or_different.html)
In yesterday’s post: Subject Headings and web searching – making the library count online, I wrote about Subject Heading terms and how they add value to searching online - in a library catalogue, in databases or on the Web.
In this post I want to highlight how Subject Headings are being adapted and used for specific audiences especially in relation to Australian and New Zealand Schools.
Copy cataloguing or importing catalogue records into your school library catalogue relies on having access to either:
SchoolsCat is a customised version of the cataloguing database used by New Zealand public and tertiary libraries and has been developed by the National Library of New Zealand to provide a free standards-based online cataloguing product for all New Zealand schools.
SCIS is a subscription-based service created to provide schools with access to consistent school-related catalogue records. It uses standards and terminology related to school students and the Australian and New Zealand school curriculum to provide a controlled vocabulary suitable for subject access to the primary and secondary school library catalogues.
Both SchoolsCat and SCIS provide ready-made catalogue records for you to import into your library catalogue. In both cases you are responsible as the cataloguer to adapt these records for your own library. SCIS was developed by consulting Library of Congress Subject Headings and Sears Subject Heading.
One of the major differences between the records you download is that SchoolsCat provides catalogue records using Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) and SCIS provides records with their own SCIS Subject Headings.
Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) as the name suggests is maintained by the United States Library of Congress and uses controlled vocabulary which is internationally standardised to ensure resources worldwide can be ‘tagged’ with the same subject terms and therefore located with a search using the terms.
The terms used are developed for public libraries use so may not fit with the needs of primary or secondary school students. Therefore it is worth also considering SCIS Subject Headings.
SCIS Subject headings are user friendly, include New Zealand specific headings and use natural language.
Every imported SCIS Catalogue record contains SCIS Subject Headings. you can also subscribe seperately to the Subject headings. SCIS Subject Headings are useful for library staff who are cataloguing from scratch or who wish to add extra subject heading terms to records. SCIS Subject Headings offer up-to-date headings, replacing the now out of date Te Patakataka (2003).
Te Patakataka: Dewey Decimal Classification and Subject Headings for New Zealand Primary Schools (2003). (Rev. Ed.) Janet McFadden and Sarah Knox (Eds.). National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mätauranga o Aotearoa.
Part 1. Subject Headings and web searching – making the library count online (20 November 2012)
Part 3. The Schools Online Thesaurus (ScOT) – not your ordinary Subject Headings (22 November 2012)
Subject Headings and web searching – making the library count
Providing access to information and knowledge is a primary function of library practice and in a series of three blogs I will focus on the importance of Subject Headings.
Part 1 Subject Headings and web searching – making the library count
Part 2 Library of Congress and SCIS Subject Headings
Part 3 The Schools Online Thesaurus (ScOT) – not your ordinary Subject Headings
Getting the mechanics of library provision right is the first step to future-proofing your school library and the information access of your users.
‘The National Library Guidelines for New Zealand Schools’ of 2002, ( p. 32) state the first critical success factor for library access is that: ”The library contributes to effective information management within the school and plays an integral role in the school’s ICT infrastructure”.
Increasingly this infrastructure is moving beyond the school into the global environment, making the selection and access to appropriate quality information more important than ever.
As well as managing access, the school library’s systems should also support the development of student’s information seeking skills. With the popularity of the Web, I can see why librarians may despair trying to instill good information literacy skills into their students when ‘Googling’ offers such a quick fix option.
One of the many benefits of teaching students effective search skills using the Library Catalogue is that these skills are transferable to the Web and other online search databases. By beginning with the Library Catalogue, students can more easily define their search in a quality controlled database. Searching using Subject Heading terms, along with keywords and phrases, produces better Web results, and quality results in online databases like EPIC .
If you are searching for “Teen reads” using subject heading terms such as “Teen fiction” or better still “Young adult fiction” , produce better library related results in the Library Catalogue and doing a Web search.
The best way to experience this is to do a comparison search on the Web and compare the results. Your students can also benefit from this knowledge and it is a way of understanding the value of using the library catalogue as a quality control for further online searching.
I won’t spend time discussing the use of Subject Headings versus web tags or tag terms, but as a starting point it is good to understand the difference between the Subject Headings used in the Library Catalogue and the tag terms used to organise information on the Web.
Most of you with online accounts will be aware of tagging or may have been tagged. It might be the embarrassing photo on Facebook linked to your name tag or the latest hashtag discussion on Twitter. Or you may have been busy flexing your library skills organising your blog entries with appropriate key terms. Tag words are everywhere and can be used and created by anyone and like the keywords and Subject Headings used in Library Catalogue records, tag terms help to organise content and make it accessible to others.
Unlike Subject Headings, tag words on the Web have no governing rules. It’s mostly a first in, first served approach and to be useful they rely on a match (often random) to be made between the content and terms used to search. With the amount of content on the Web, even a very poor search will produce results, but not necessarily quality results.
Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) use controlled vocabulary, which is internationally standardised to ensure that resources worldwide can be ‘tagged’ with the same subject terms and therefore located with a search using the same terms. You import records with these Subject Headings as part of your cataloguing. Being international, authoritative material online will also be tagged with the same Subject Headings which means using the information found in the catalogue record can help your students find authoritative material online.
Don’t think this is just for older students. The next time a student is after a book on ‘Bugs’ and you want to encourage their information seeking and vocabulary, show them the Subject Heading ‘Insects’ and related terms and produce a list of subject-based results for all the resources on that subject.
In this example - A keyword search for ‘Bugs’ produced this record with the Subject Heading for all resources on the same topic ‘Insects’ and better still also shows related terms like Spiders and Arachnida.
Armed with the correct Subject Heading search terms, information seekers will find all catalogued or indexed resources related to their subject or topic, be it in the Library Catalogue, databases like EPIC or the Web.
So when you have students interested in a certain topic, take the time to familiarise them with the Subject Heading terms related to that topic. Sure, they might still go ‘Googling’, but by doing this you are helping to create confident, connected users of information no matter where they search online.
National Library of New Zealand 2002, The School Library and Learning in the Information Landscape: Guidelines for New Zealand Schools.
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