Inspiration, Innovation & Information for school libraries and learning.
Best wishes to all our readers in New Zealand and elsewhere. We hope that you’ve enjoyed and been inspired by our blog throughout the year.We’ll be back in the new year with plenty of posts about Libraries and Learning.
We’ll be focussing on School libraries, Digital tools, Advocacy, Teaching and learning and will provide lots of professional reading for you. Let us know through the comments section if there are topics you’d particularly like us to cover, suggestions and general feedback.
New posts will start again toward the end of January just before the start of Term one 2013.
Very best wishes
For something different this tool allows you to enter your own text, which it then turns into a newspaper clipping you can download.
The simplicity of this tool makes it an easy one to use. No need for registrations or logins simply go to The Newspaper Clipping Generator site and create your own newspaper title, article heading and text, click on the ‘Generate’ button and you will see your completed article (remember that the completed article only holds a short amount of text, about three short paragraphs).
You can then download the image and embed it into your blog or wiki. This is a tool students can use to create their own headlines and news stories relating to the library, authors, books and much more.
In addition this tool is great for giving students a new way to present information from their inquiry learning. Take a look at this example from a Bushranger Bounties inquiry unit.
How would you use the newspaper clipping generator in your school?
Helen Robinson, Chair of The Network for Learning recently launched the N4L website. The Network for Learning will be an online network for schools, which will run over the ultra-fast broadband infrastructure currently being rolled out across New Zealand. Available progressively from 2013, the N4L will provide schools with affordable, safe, ultra-fast internet access and a range of online content and centrally-procured services. It will also provide a source of professional development for teachers - either through the development of their own Personal Learning Networks, or through participation in online courses and events.
The new website sets out N4L‘s immediate focus - delivering what schools need in terms of connectivity and on-line services and eliminating the hassles schools might experience around ICT service procurement and administration. It also lays out the future, where N4L will facilitate and enable effectiveness around the continuing integration of ICT into teaching and learning. This will make it easier for teachers to put technology tools into the hands of students, allowing them to more easily take charge of their own learning.
Although in its formative stages, the Network for Learning’s overall objective is to make a significant contribution to improving educational outcomes with a vision of “unleashing learner potential”, and plans services that will be collaborative, interactive and transformative.
Helen Robinson encourages people to visit the website (your school could win an IPad2) and welcomes your feedback on what services the company could provide and what content would be useful. “We’re excited to begin the two way conversation, and then move to provide services to help engage learners” she said.
The N4L will impact on school libraries. What library related content and services would you like to see there? Library people need to participate in the conversations about the Network for Learning to make sure that our students can access all the potential benefits this network will enable.
“I heard about it on Facebook” How often do we hear that phrase?
Facebook has become pervasive as a social networking site. Its predominance in our homes, workplaces and daily life has become increasingly obvious. Facebook restricts membership to those 13 years and older. It is well known of course that many children lie about their age in order to access Facebook pages. In fact underage membership of Facebook has been demonstrated to be one in five ten year olds and 55 percent of twelve year olds.
Children want to be involved in social networking. How can we involve them while at the same time teach them the principles of staying safe on line?
There are obvious benefits for participation in social media channels, whether or not under parental supervision. But there are some obvious drawbacks as well. Cyber safety is increasingly important in educational.
A safer choice for under 13 year olds is Skoodle. Skoodle is a safe social network where children can experience first-hand how to keep themselves safe online. It gives young children the guided experience, the confidence, the skills and the knowledge to better protect themselves online.
For teachers it can be used to meet learning outcomes in Cybersafety, Literacy, Citizenship and more. There are lots of activities, events, competitions and awards including ICT Star Awards, CyberSMART badges, Author Hot Seats, Reading Review badge and Homework Help to name but a few.
Teachers can also use the site to publish their own students’ work, notify homework tasks, create classroom projects and develop a range of ICT skills.
It is a fully moderated site, supervised 24/7. It was launched in New Zealand two years ago and already has 40,000+ New Zealand children signed up across 500 schools. It is reported that up to 15,000 children log in to skoodle every day.
It can be signed up for free until the end of the year at www.skoodle.com .
So maybe the next generation’s catch phrase will be “ I heard it on skoodle” .
By Rob F
Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate is a mainly Pasifika Year 1-13 school in Otara. Their book club is run by public librarian Pritcilla Meikle along with Pamela Lilley the school library manager.
Rob: Describe the arrangement you have with Pamela and the SEHC library.
Pritcilla: I come to the school library every Thursday at lunchtime to run Book Club. It begins in Term 2 and goes to the end of Term 3, to coincide with ‘inside weather’ and to avoid school’s busiest times.
Rob: What benefit is there for the Public Library?
Pritcilla: It’s about developing relationships and ‘demystifying’ the public library by being visible ‘out there’. Students at SEHC are really comfortable with their school library, and encouraging them to become active members of the Otara library creates a lifelong link with libraries and books.
Rob: Who comes to Book Club, and how do you attract students?
Pritcilla: The Book Club is aimed at Middle and Secondary students. All are welcome– regardless of language ability or reading interest. Friendship, support and fun combined with a love of books makes it work. Pamela advertises, and firmly expects school librarians to be members. But the main publicity, which has driven growth each year, has been ‘word of mouth’ from the students themselves. In Term 1 both Pamela and I are bombarded with: “When is Book Club starting again?”
Rob: What happens at Book Club?
Pritcilla: There is trial and error, and constant evaluation to ensure Book Club remains relevant, interesting and fun. I keep an attendance register (for awards at the end of our year) and the kids maintain their own folders for work and activities. They love challenges and ‘hands on’ activities, which we use to stimulate conversation about books, book characters and recommendations. In 2011 we ran our own ‘Reading Competition’: Pamela was able to get donated prizes (big thanks - Whitcoulls Botany!) and the kids were thrilled. They were really focussed and determined to achieve. We get students’ reviews published on the school’s intranet page, which they are really proud of. This year the Book Club students were excited about participating in the Auckland Library’s FUSE teen reading programme.
Rob: Are there issues encouraging students to read?
Pritcilla: No, they love to read: one ‘treat’ is being first to see the new books purchased by Pamela for the school library. They bring their own books, at their own level, and are really supportive of each other. There are no ‘restrictions’ on what is suitable for Book Club, and often kids who start out reading only Manga will drift into ‘chapter books’ by seeing- and hearing about- what others are reading.
Rob: How would you define success?
Pritcilla: Success is:
Rob: What sort of books do the students respond to?
Pritcilla: It all depends on the reader’s preferences and reading level! The more confident girls love books by Simone Elkeles, Jodi Picoult. The boys like Manga, Rick Riordan books and fantasy novels. And of course, right now, everyone is reading Hunger Games.
Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate Book Club in action image used by permission
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!
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