Inspiration, Innovation & Information for school libraries and learning.
It claims to provide searchers with the most relevant results from a list of credible sources and to make it much easier for them to find primary sources. SweetSearch excludes spam sites, and Wikipedia almost never shows up in results.
SweetSearch has an integrated tool that highlights keywords, showing where the term is used and in what context, so that students can quickly scan a search results page and easily determine which results will be most helpful.
Results can be saved to a Google Doc (with the link included), EasyBib’s citation generator, or a social bookmarking service. So students not only can find what they are looking for very quickly, but they can be sharing it with other students within moments.
I tried a number of New Zealand key words and phrases with good results, and I found it helpful that I was able to filter by date to narrow my results.
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.
“Our digikids may have the ICT technical skills but they possess limited online information and critical evaluation skills and teachers don’t have strategies to teach these skills. “ These were the findings of a just published New Zealand study undertaken by Judine Ladbrook and Elizabeth Probert.
School librarians will find this research extremely relevant useful as the context of the research is the 2007 New Zealand Curriculum’s vision statement that young people will be, “confident, connected, actively involved and lifelong learners. Ludbrook and Probert describe the lifelong learner as “literate, critical thinkers who actively seek, use and create knowledge.” These are the attributes of an information literate person.
Their research involved three large Auckland secondary schools and began with 188 year 10 students and from those students 22 of the most active, experienced and skilled at using ICT and at seeking information on line were selected for the research.
The students undertook focus group discussions and surveys about how they used information from the internet and how the teachers helped them with the skills involved.
All 16 students used Google as their only search engine. The strategy for choosing a site was to enter the first listed site and they never went beyond the third listed site! Many students based their judgments of site trustworthiness on how the site looked. It was trustworthy if “it’s nicely presented, it’s not just white background, black writing” because that “shows a professionalism” and “it doesn’t have the adverts or pop ups.” Nearly all of the students felt that a internet site was accurate if it was well laid out and divided into chunks with sub-headings as this lent itself to accuracy and if it “sounded convincing it probably was true.”
The students’ strategy for using the information did not involve any synthesising but simple cutting and pasting. When they were asked to research using more than one source students 75% of the students used strategies such as putting in sites that they hadn’t used but which had come up on their initial Google search.
The students suggested that the prior knowledge work would enable them to judge information more accurately. The students did suggest that if teachers gave them several URLs, a couple of articles or chapters in books from which to choose information, and also built their prior knowledge, then they would be unable to plagiarise because teachers would know their information sources and also it would stop them from adding false references.
One of the key themes that emerged from the research was how little teachers helped students develop their research skills. Most of the students stated that little help had been given to them. There was often an assumption by their teachers that research skills had already been taught before students reached secondary school.
Some students got given a list of helpful sites but only a few were given some minimal help to research on the internet. None of them were given help to use books to research, apart from being taken to the library.
The authors suggest teachers conduct diagnostic work to see what students can do in the area of information literacy and in using online resources, and use this information to make pedagogical decisions for addressing the gaps.
With the advent of the new e-Learning Planning Framework in schools, enabling “students to be successful citizens in a digital world” the deliberate teaching of information literacy skills is even more crucial.
Ladbrook, J. & Probert, E. (2011), Information skills and critical literacy:
Where are our digikids at with online searching and are their teachers helping?
Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 27(1), 105-121.
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
While many schools in New Zealand still have a ban on mobile phones, some schools are beginning to realise their huge potential as a learning tool providing students with personalised access to information 24/7.
Studies have shown that not only can a “culture of responsible use” with mobile phones be developed in schools but students are also far too busy participating in their new learning environment to want to play “virtual hooky”.
Privacy and safety issues are paramount with any social network but tools are now available to provide group administrators with a number of controls.
In class, turn on your cell phones: it’s time to text students use a service called Celly to “take quick polls and quizzes, filter messages, get news updates, take notes, and organize group study — all in real time.” Messages can be moderated or an administrator might choose to only send messages or “alerts” to group members and no phone numbers are shared.
Learning tool for all
Mobile phones for educational purposes are not limited to secondary school students as primary school teachers can demonstrate their use to, for example, take photos and video, record audio for podcasts, access the Internet and transfer files.
In Txting to m-Learn Howick Social Science teacher Nathan Kerr found that geography students’ test results shot up as a result of allowing them to use mobile phones to integrate the learning process.
However, as MOE e-fellow Toni Twiss found in her research on using mobile phones to foster information literacy, “the ability to critique and use information that is such a crucial skill” was lacking.
This is an area where school libraries can play a big part in ensuring students acquire these skills. Read here to find out how.
The Waste Land app by Touch Press and Faber and Faber is absolutely amazing. It will push an iPad straight to the top of your wish list and make you fall in love with T.S. Eliot’s poem in a whole new way.
The app includes the entire text and with one click you can hear it read aloud by Eliot himself (at two different times in his life), Alec Guinness, Viggo Mortensen or Ted Hughes. The lines are highlighted as the masters read so you can easily follow along. Don’t understand a reference? No problem. Simply turn your iPad to the side and touch the lines you are not sure about. Detailed notes will pop up with an explanation.
Still curious about something? There are video interviews with over 35 experts discussing the poem as well as a stunning performance of the entire text by Fiona Shaw (it’s a whole new side to Aunt Petunia!). The original manuscript is also included, along with notes that Ezra Pound wrote for Eliot. A gallery of related images rounds out this stunning example of what a book app can be.
At $14USD this app is expensive, but it is well worth the price for any library or English department focussing on Eliot’s work. Even students who are not studying The Waste Land would benefit from the dynamic performances that show how poetry can be brought to life. Head over to the app store for more information or check out this video interview with the Faber poetry editor and head of Faber digital.
image by Poughkeepsie Day School
When you stand at the door of your library and look inside, what is your library's WOW! factor? What does your library look like, sound like, and feel like - to you and to your students and teachers? What makes your library zing? What are its magical moments, like the Sonny Bill Williams rugby pass that results in an All Blacks' winning try and the crowd leaping to its feet; or the Silver Ferns goal scored from the outer circle and the ball passing through the netball hoop without touching the sides - those moments when team work, skills and knowledge come together to produce positive outcomes?
Seeing a scrum of boys in the corner of the library looking at the recently purchased sporting magazines. To attract more boys into reading, the librarian had purchased a range of magazines, which she shared with the teachers for them to also promote to their students. A zing moment! (Mokoia Intermediate, Rotorua)
Overhearing students who were exploring their new library during its official opening: one student, on seeing a display feature, exclaimed excitedly to another, "That was my idea!" Students had been surveyed on what they would like to see in their library - activities, environment, furniture, collections etc. (Arataki School, Mt Maunganui)
A group of students inside the library's reading pit, sitting in a semi-circle either side of their teacher who was barely distinguishable from them. The boys were totally engrossed in the story being read aloud. (Southwell School, Hamilton)
Being in the library at lunch-time which was abuzz with 'wall-to wall' students browsing in the shelves, exploring the computers, and reading books and magazines – individually and in small groups – boys and girls.
Imagine taking a photograph and including it with your annual report to the Board of Trustees as evidence-based data on how well your library is being used! (Aquinas College, Tauranga)
A group of teachers huddled on the library floor with pieces of paper strewn beside them and small piles of books in the middle – it was 3.30pm and they were planning their next classroom unit and checking what resources the library had for their students to access. (Tauranga Intermediate)
Students working in small teams in the library researching a topic and using inquiry learning skills facilitated by their science teacher – yes, a science class in the library and engaged in inquiry learning – a double zing moment! (Mt. Maunganui College)
My list could go on.
What are your X-factor moments?
Do You Know NaNoWriMo?
November is National Novel Writing Month!
What do you think of when you consider November? Stocktaking? Men sprouting moustaches? Your last chance to hit the mall before the holiday madness?
For thousands of people around the world November is all about one thing: writing a novel in a month. November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo to those in the know) and it offers some fabulous opportunities for your students who love to write.
Adults who participate are trying to complete a rough draft of a novel at least 50,000 words long. It sounds crazy, but bestsellers like Water for Elephants and current buzz book The Night Circus began as NaNoWriMo projects. (You don’t have to write about a circus, but apparently it helps.)
Young writers are free to set their own word count, so don’t let the idea of doing 50,000 words paralyse your little Year 7 student who is working on her pony club mystery. In fact, there is an entire Young Writers Program designed to get kids writing with resources for students of all ages, teachers and librarians.
Students sign up and put in their word count goals. Throughout the month they will have access to Pep Talks by authors like Ally Condie, Gayle Forman and Christopher Paolini (who wrote the first draft of Eragon when he was 15).
They can also download writing workbooks aimed at Elementary School, Middle School or High School. I highly recommend that you educators take a look at these! They have some wonderful exercises and ideas for teaching writing, whether you choose to do NaNoWriMo or not. Teachers and librarians should also check out the Lesson Plans and Classroom Kits.
One of the most interesting features for educators is the Virtual Classroom. You create a classroom and add your students’ names, then use the space to post announcements and links, send emails, lead discussions and track progress.
This is a wonderful opportunity to extend writers of all ages in your school. The virtual classroom makes it easy to include students from many different classes without having to find times that all of them can meet face to face. The deadline, ability to connect with other young writers and spirit of fun that the Young Writers Program bring all come together to build up a fantastic buzz around writing (and reading) that will carry on long after November is over.
Have you ever participated in National Novel Writing Month? Do you have any students who might enjoy it?
Image: Web Badges can be found here: http://ywp.nanowrimo.org/badges
Amazon have just launched an improved Kindle.
No longer just an eReader, the Kindle Fire’s colour touchscreen connects to the web, streams movies and TV and supports apps. Although commentators compare the Kindle Fire to iPad, the functionality is more similar to the Nook Colour.
What does this mean for school libraries? Kindle Fire’s lower price may be the start of a trend of cheaper eReaders which could lead to more students owning eReaders. Students may prefer to download eBooks onto their own eReader from the school library rather than buying them.
Another option for school libraries could be to buy a set of eReaders for students to read eBooks such as reference materials including EPIC while working in the library.
Have a look at our eBooks and the Issues page to consider where to next for your school library. Or join the eBooks community. E-content (including eBooks) is here, and will be part of literacy, learning and libraries from now on.
School libraries will help to shape the future in this space.
by Linda F
This is a fascinating new Ebook.Published last week and edited by Kristin Fontichiaro and Buffy Hamilton the crowd-sourced collection of essays is a response to these questions about school libraries.
This ten chapter publication begins with a focus on the learner and explores key themes including:
Contributors include Joyce Valenza, Howard Rheingold, Donna Watt, Senga White and our own Robert Baigent and with title headings such as Lighting the Fuse of Inquisitiveness and Reading Interrupted: In Pursuit of Passion this publication is full of inspiration for the new term.
The Ebook can be read in a variety of formats and accessed at: School Libraries: What's Now, What's Next, What's Yet to Come
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