Inspiration, Innovation & Information for school libraries and learning.
By Peter Murgatroyd
The annual Learning@School Conference run by CORE Education was held in Hamilton 26-27 January. With a focus on integrating new technologies to empower learning and transform leadership, the Conference, while targeting school leaders, principals, teachers, and ICT and technology advisers, is an excellent professional learning opportunity for school librarians and one that I would encourage colleagues to consider in 2013.
With more than 1500 delegates, inspiring and challenging keynote speakers from New Zealand, Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States, dozens of breakout sessions and workshops, a state-of-the-art conference venue with ultra-fast wireless access enabling a myriad of parallel conversations happening via social networks, Learning@School 2012 (#lats12) was both invigorating and exhausting.
Participation in the Conference was an invaluable opportunity to look at schools through the lens of teachers and school leaders to better understand their challenges in the face of what Mark Treadwell described as a perfect storm of change that is causing educators globally to rethink what education for today’s students should involve.
The themes of the Conference were:
There were a number of common threads that ran through all of the keynote addresses. Ideas and glimpses of new ways of thinking not just about the impacts of far reaching changes in technology but arguably more critically about changes in the way that students are learning and interacting with the world, deconstructing how we think about our learning environments, our relationships with our students and the notion of what it is to be a learner, a teacher, a librarian.
Common threads included:
It struck me how closely the conversations reflected the dominant ideas and values at the forefront of transformational thinking about twenty first century libraries. There is much to be gained in engaging in conversations with our teaching colleagues to explore new models of collaboration and new ways that the library can support new and emerging teaching paradigms. There is a great deal we can learn from one another.
Conferences such as these often pose more questions than answers. Indeed Christian Long challenged delegates to embrace the notion that there are no clear answers and that all that we can really do is to foster a culture that encourages divergent thinking and an ability to test ideas in messier and messier ways.
Participation at Learning@School was also an invaluable opportunity to engage with our teaching colleagues on new ways of thinking about libraries and literacy. Five separate workshops and presentations were facilitated by National Library Services to Schools staff and there was a vibrant presence in the Exhibitors hall promoting EPIC, Any Questions and Curriculum Services.
It continues to be vitally important that librarians are visible and engaged in the wider education debates that are shaping our schools, that we articulate our visions and ideas, and that we seek to understand the key trends in education that are likely to impact on the work of New Zealand teachers and schools in 2012 and beyond.
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
In your school library you may well be a team of one or you may be in a vibrant team that includes a mix of staff - teachers as well as the library team. Either way, how do you get your good ideas heard? Everyone seems so busy, and time is precious.
Here's a checklist of 20 discussion starters that really work. Using any of these you are focusing on your idea, not looking for a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer that would limit feedback – and you also aren’t asking whether they ‘like’ your idea.
In approaching someone you trust, you are looking for practical, useful feedback that can help you develop your idea further. You’re using a personal approach, and you value their time – but you’re avoiding emails and memos.
Take a look at The Heart of innovation site, and try out one or two of these techniques when you need to kick-start a great idea that you’d like to follow through in your school:
flickr image from ALA
Seen on Stephen Abram’s blog, Stephen’s Lighthouse.
The librarian at the Washington International School (WIS) was presented with a rare opportunity – to take an active role in helping plan a brand new media centre, as part of a five-year redesign of the school.
Alan November, in his website November Learning, describes how the development of their concepts proceeded. The librarian knew ‘how a properly designed space, one that thoughtfully integrated online learning, and collaboration and content creation among students, would serve the entire school community well into the future. So she invited me to meet with her, the school’s headmaster, IT director, and lead architect in what was an incredibly exciting opportunity for me to get in on building a true 21st Century school.’
Looking at the draft plans, Alan November found what he called a ‘new/old’ library design. Presenting the development team with a challenge, he invited them to look ahead 10 years and imagine what kind of space might be needed, given the changes in how students will access and use information to support new ways of learning – including self-directed, online learning.
You can read more here:
http://novemberlearning.com/resources/archive-of-articles/designing-libraries/ (Word doc)
or http://novemberlearning.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/designing-libraries-learning-for-a-lifetime.pdf (as a PDF)
In your school library you may well be a team of one – or you may be in a vibrant team that includes a mix of staff - teachers as well as the library team. Either way, how do you get your good ideas heard? Everyone seems so busy, and time is precious.
Here's a checklist of 20 discussion starters that really work. Using any of these you are focusing on your idea, not looking for a yes or no answer that would limit feedback and you also aren't asking whether they like your idea.
In approaching someone you trust, you are looking for practical, useful feedback that can help you develop your idea further. You're using a personal approach, and you value their time, but you're avoiding emails and memos.
Take a look at The Heart of Innovation site, and try out one or two of these techniques when you need to kick-start a great idea that you’d like to follow through in your school:
Seen on Stephen Abram’s blog, Stephen’s Lighthouse.
Flickr image by ALA American Library Association
L2 - Libraries and Learning is a new blog from Services To Schools. We will be writing about a range of topics that fall within the scope of libraries and learning. Expect to read about: Literacies in the 3rd millennium, technology trends for teaching and learning, research about libraries and student achievement, culture, heritage, and much more.
We are interested in the many ways that libraries impact on learning, through pedagogy, technology, collaboration and personal interactions with students. Subscribe to the RSS feed so you don’t miss any of the stimulating posts.
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