Inspiration, Innovation & Information for school libraries and learning.
Boards of Trustees elections are coming up at the end of May for all our New Zealand schools.
Have you thought about what key messages you would like to give new board members about your school library?
A good place to start thinking about this is to consider the roles and responsibilities of your BOT and shape your messages to complement your Board’s directions. As with all advocacy, it is most effective when you align your message to the audience’s goals.
Boards of Trustees are responsible for school planning and reporting, in an ongoing self review cycle of continuous improvement. Equity and excellence for all students is central, with the goal of raising student achievement across the school.
How does your school library contribute to student equity and excellence? How do you know? How does the Board know?
How does your school library contribute to raising achievement across the school? How do you know? Does the Board know?
Read more about Boards of Trustees and their roles and responsibilities at
Please share your good ideas with all of us through the comments section of this blog.
cc image by alan cleaver
Storybird is a fantastic site that gives your students the chance to “create, read, and share visual stories.” Students start with Storybird’s impressive library of beautiful artwork and use the images as inspiration. They can view and comment on classmates’ stories and share their finished products in a variety of ways.
There are many storytelling tools available, but what sets Storybird apart for me is the quality of the illustrations. A quick warning: don’t go have a look unless you have time to be dazzled, because you may well spend hours clicking on images and dreaming up stories yourself!
Signing up is free, though you can upgrade to a pro account if you decide you need it. There are some great tools for teachers: you can create a virtual class space and put up assignments, view class stories, and have discussions. Adding students seems easy to manage: you assign them a user name and Storybird gives them a temporary password, which they change when they log in for the first time.
There are five active age bands that go from Preschool (1-4) to Adult, so Storybird is being used across the board and is suitable for every level. Librarians are encouraged to set up teacher accounts and Storybird is hoping to launch a library version soon.
How could you use Storybird with your students?
By Peter Murgatroyd
School librarians shape lives. As cradles of curiosity and imagination, school libraries are a community taonga where our children are inspired to dream, to question, to reflect and to aspire to live extraordinary and unique lives.
Libraries are more than the nexus of books, technology and services. Great school libraries are a school’s heart. Pam Sendlian Smith, Director of Anythink Libraries describes libraries as learning spaces that influence lives and create communities. She says that libraries are about helping people to live their most abundant lives and describes librarians as architects of dreams.
In communicating her passion and vision for libraries, Pam focuses on the Why of libraries. We do not win hearts and minds by telling stories of the What and the How.
During the term 1 school holidays I had the opportunity to participate in Ignition 2013, an ‘unconference’ for emerging school leaders. The theme of Ignition is an “incubator for awesomeness”. Ideas were shared and innovations explored. Ignition 2013 is all about the Why. It is all about learner outcomes. It is all about passion.
I recently watched LIANZA President-elect Laurinda Thomas being interviewed on TV One’s Breakfast programme about the future of community libraries. It was important she communicated the Why; communicated the passion. And that she spoke to the values and beliefs that would resonate with those watching. She did: A deep commitment to social justice, equity and participation, and a heartfelt desire to make a difference in our communities.
Simon Senek, author and well known TED speaker, describes authentic leadership as more about passion and emotion than rationality. Martin Luther King, Senek notes, did not have a twelve point plan. He had a dream.
When you have the opportunity to reach people; to shift their perceptions of your library, its role and its value, focus on the Why. Share your passion. Share your dream.
Architects of Dreams: Anythink’s Pam Sandlian Smith on the Power of Children’s Librarians
Simon Sinek: How great leaders inspire action [Ted talk]
Laurinda Thomas. Libraries are important community hubs .
Andrew Churches: What is the role of the librarian Educational Origami blog
CC image by Texast
In the past, many homes would have contained a large print dictionary whose purpose was to assist with homework and settle the inevitable arguments that accompanied family games of Scrabble. Not so any longer!
Today dictionaries are ubiquitous, available to us 24/7, standard on our laptops, available when we send a text or email, embedded in our digital devices, a definition is now no more than a simple Google search away.
Digital dictionaries are responsive, they adapt more quickly to current usage as well as to changes in technology, science and culture. With fewer space constraints, entries contain more usage guidelines and examples. Entries now include sounds as well as meanings of words. Sites like Vocabulary.com include quizzes and language learning games. Issuing regular updates makes it easy to include new words and revisions of existing terminology.
The digital environment not only puts a wealth of information in the hands of dictionary users, it delivers information back to the dictionary makers as well – our dictionaries are reading us! In the past lexicographers would have relied on field research to collect examples of words and usages – we would now call this crowd sourcing. This practice of gathering information can be continued and expanded online. For example most online dictionaries invite readers to nominate new words. Dictionaries now respond to patterns of usage that are triggered by current events. For example in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 people looked up words associated with the nature of the event: “rubble” and “triage”. Subsequently, as people tried to make sense of what had happened more abstract terms such as “surreal” were searched. Dictionary makers also monitor unsuccessful “look-ups” to identify searches that don’t produce satisfactory results, and identify words that haven’t made it into the dictionary yet or whose definition needs to be up-dated.
From the user’s point of view differences between dictionaries are harder to see when you are searching for a definition online. The definition that is most easily found may not be the most robust or up-to-date, and it can be difficult to tell how reliable a source is. Who has developed the definition that turns up after a quick Google search, or is embedded in your digital device? As educators it is therefore vital we equip students with the skills to distinguish a reliable source from a poor one.
Do you want to promote use of digital dictionaries amongst your students? Remember that Oxford English Dictionary Online is available through EPIC . If you are thinking about the criteria that could be used to assess online dictionaries refer to the Reference resources guide.
While it’s still difficult to recreate the pleasure of browsing through a print dictionary and finding something you didn’t know you were looking for, and your digital dictionary will never be able to prop open the door, this format is here to stay and we need to embrace and understand the gains that are available to all users.
By Gail C
cc image by joe Shlabotnik
Our local café is a bustling place at lunchtimes with shoppers having coffee, a bite to eat and lingering on to read the latest magazines or the daily newspaper – leisure reading on the trot.
Imagine taking a selection of school library resources outdoors for a spin on your book trolley to the lunchtime playground, to encourage leisure reading on-the-spot picnic-style! Plop yourself down in a shady area with a picture book or humorous poetry and read aloud to students while they have their lunch. Have your principal / teachers / students / community members join you with guest spots during the week, eg ‘Fridays with Fred’. Students can then select lunchtime reading from the trolley, which could be staffed by your student librarians.
Check out these success stories:
Literacy Lunch Club: Parents join their children at school once a month to enjoy lunch outdoors and to read together. The librarian wheels out a trolley of literature, including bilingual titles, which can be read in a short space of time. Parents are also given a ‘tip card’, which has a new reading strategy for that month.
Power lunches is a school-community reading partnership programme, which pairs students with volunteers from nearby businesses once a week for read-aloud sessions during lunch time.
More ideas on strategies for creating readers, including developing home-school- community partnerships, reading aloud ideas and sharing poetry, can be found at:
By Lisa A
Developed by Marcus Asplund and Carl Wedefelt of Gothenburg, Sweden, Newspaper Map is an online mash-up using Google maps and displaying the locations of over 10,000 online newspapers from around the world. It was voted one of the best free reference websites in 2012 by the American Library Association.
Whether you want to find out what is happening in Gujarat or Gisborne, links are provided to online newspapers, and give readers a unique local perspective on the news of the day, both internationally and closer to home. You can limit your search by language, location or newspaper title.
This resource can broaden your language and reference collection by providing mother tongue materials for your students who are not native English speakers, allowing them to see themselves in their new environment. It is also a great resource for those studying another language. Newspapers appear in their original scripts.
One of other plusses to this website is that is also provides translations of the newspapers at the click of a button. While the translations are a bit less than perfect, they do allow us a look into the news and perspectives of other countries and cultures. Newspaper Maps translates into over 40 languages including English, French, German, Russian, Arabic, and Korean.
Consider adding this site to your online reference collection and bring the world to your students’ fingertips.
As Asplund and Wedefelt say “All news is local news”
Search Institute is a nonprofit organisation with a mission to: “provide catalytic leadership, breakthrough knowledge, and innovative resources to advance the health of children, youth, families and communities”
To achieve this, they work with educators, parents, librarians, youth-serving organisations, and librarians using the construct of Developmental Assets. Search Institute has identified through research in child and adolescent development, sets of building blocks for healthy development – the 40 Developmental Assets.
The Framework of assets “represent a common wisdom about the kinds of positive experiences and characteristics that young people need and deserve….that are powerful influences on adolescent behaviour….that both promote positive behaviours and help protect young people from problem behaviours” Their research has shown that adolescents with more of these assets are more likely to value diversity and exhibit leadership while being less likely to engage in violence or to use illicit drugs.
There is a wealth of information relating to both children and adolescents on the Search Institute’s website including a table of Developmental Assets and library connections for both school and public librarians. These library connections focus on support, empowerment, expectations, commitment to learning, positive identity and more.
Along with with information on their website, Search Institute regularly launches new programmes, products and services including a recent programme on teaching financial literacy.
By Wendy Macaskill
Recently 50 educators from 25 schools enjoyed a valuable day of learning at the Digital Discovery Day at Te Ahumairangi, the ground floor of the National Library’s Wellington building.
Our Storify provides a record of the day for participants and others; It pushes out links to the resources explored on the day and also records some useful feedback and reflection.
Storify is a curation tool, which lets users create stories by searching sites such as Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. The story creator then drags and drops the elements into an order to make a story. Users can easily change the order of the elements and provide headings and linking text. Stories can be embedded on blogs and web pages.
I can think of a number of ways Storify could be used in the library or classroom. A Storify of a current event, or a current topic of interest could be embedded in a class or library blog or in your Learning Management System.
You could take pictures of a school event or of art work created by your class and students could add narrative to link the elements.
Do you use Twitter to record your class’s responses to a text or video clip? You could save the responses as a story on Storify, share it on your blog or website.
Have you used Storify in your classroom or library? Did your students find it easy to use? Please share a link with us in your comments.
By Dylan O
In February 1899 under the heading A Terrible Death, the Press Association reported a gum digger skeleton had been found high up in a kauri tree, entombed in kauri gum!
So what connects this macabre newspaper report to the Treaty of Waitangi, to your last email or the photograph you just took? Well, they’re all primarysources.
Primary sources are clues people leave about their lives and they come in many forms.They exist because when people experience events, they often record first hand what they saw, heard and felt. Examples include letters, photographs, posters and yes in this digital era emails and tweets.
In fact, the digitisation of primary sources over the last two decades has seen institutions like the National Library of New Zealand place thousands of its primary sources freely online.
One excellent and well-used example is the Service to Schools Primary Source section here.
This not only provides a growing treasure of topic-based New Zealand primary sources galleries.
but it also includes resource activity guides and provides information on how to use and find them.
The site offers a unique opportunity for students to discover New Zealand primary sources and develop their analytical skills while exploring past lives and events in very real and personal way.
One pertinent example (with ANZAC day coming up) is this student posted question on Many Answers
Our ANZAC gallery provides a perfect resource for this. The fourth item is digitised Gallipoli war diary, by Alfred Cameron.
What better way and poignant way to explore writing a war diary than reading the real thing?
By Peter M
cc image by DanCallahan
Adolescents as a group are both the highest users of new media and the group most vulnerable to some of the harms associated with its misuse. Online watchdog Netsafe has claimed that one in five New Zealand secondary school students report being cyber bullied online, or via text message or photographs
Updating laws written prior to the development of social media, the proposed digital communications law reform will support the work of parents and schools combating cyber bullying.
Education to support digital citizenship is at the heart of proposals to combat cyber bullying. Digital literacy or the ability to understand and fully participate in the digital world is fundamental to digital citizenship. It is the combination of technical and social skills that enable a person to be successful and safe in the information age.
The Law Commission in its briefing to the government emphasised, the need for the recommendations to be treated as a package: “law change without education and without mechanisms for effective enforcement will not succeed”
Moreover, it highlighted the need for collaboration between parents, schools, law enforcement agencies, policy makers and the corporate sector.
I was recently at a NEAL breakfast where Andrew Cowie shared how he works with students to embed strong digital citizenship. He focussed on fun ways of engaging with students, exploring their issues and concerns and harnessing their creativity to inform one another in authentic ways using digital media. Students created short, lively, funny video ‘ads’ of the perils and pitfalls of the digital environment that can be shown in class, at assemblies and streamed from the school intranet. Digital citizenship education promotes and supports confidence and a range of digital competencies while exploring the values associated with citizenship in an online environment.
Andrew highlighted platforms such as Edmodo where students can explore the online world in a safe and supported environment. He also recommended night classes for parents to help them understand the tools their children are using inside - and outside – the classroom.
The school library is a safe environment where expertise and access to technology and information of many kinds connects learners to global communities and ideas and the librarian is ideally placed to provide consistent support and guidance. The school librarian must be part of the school wide conversation around cyber bullying and promote their role as a supportive and empathetic information coach.
Libraries should prominently display posters and guidelines clarifying for students how to engage in an online environment in a safe and responsible way.
The library can also play its part as a welcoming family friendly place where whanau can be introduced to both the range of online social media their children are using and the concept of digital citizenship and how they can support their children at home.
Students, teachers and parents are all on a learning curve and it is inevitable there will be missteps and mistakes. It is critical that there is open and supportive communications between students, the school and families and a culture of mutual respect and honesty is promoted.
Reaching out to whanau. Embedding a home school partnership to not just keep our kids safe but to develop their confidence and competence to discover, connect, create and share.
Ministerial Briefing Paper. Harmful digital communications: the adequacy of the current sanctions and remedies
Netsafe Kit for schools
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