All posts by Tania Sheko

My name is Tania Sheko, and I am a teacher librarian at Melbourne High School, a selective secondary boys’ school 9-12 in Melbourne, Australia. ‘Teacher librarian’ usually requires a bit of an explanation. I think it’s a ‘School Librarian’ or ‘Library Media Specialist’ in the US and Canada. Often people are not sure what my role is, and it’s not easy to define. I like to think of it as the focus on ‘skills’ and ‘passion’ which exists in the spaces between the teaching of curriculum which is the domain of subject teachers. Some of my areas of focus include all sorts of literacies (information, digital, critical, network, etc.), collaboration with teachers as a kind of third hand (curating resources, differentiating learning, experimenting with blogs), and connecting people to ideas and an understanding of self and others through reading, discussion and debate. Most of our students go on to university, and we are always thinking about how we can best prepare them for the world of university and work. I’m interested in the educational environment, behaviours and directions of tertiary institutions, particularly as they move from traditional to innovative practices with connective courses. Connected learning makes sense to me, and I’m concerned that schools are often still envisioning learning as a passive consumption of content delivered by individual classroom teachers. With so much research-based evidence about student-centred, interest-driven and collaborative learning, and with the findings from the NMC Horizon Project, identifying and describing emerging technologies likely to have an impact on learning, teaching, and creative inquiry in education, I really think it’s time we woke up to ourselves about the anachronistic nature of our educational practices and took action. I learn from my colleagues, but also from my online network, reading their blogs, interacting with them on Twitter, exploring the wealth of their shared expertise online. This is what excites me about learning – connecting with people globally for a shared purpose.

#7 Librarything


My Book – Bound Edge

Originally uploaded by kate e. did

I’ve been ‘cataloguing’ my books on Librarything for a while now. It appeals to my sense of order and love of storing data neatly. If I’m looking for book information for a talk, instead of looking through masses of separate word documents in folders saved all over the place, there it all is in one spot. Each book is instantly recognisable by the book cover – you can choose the exact cover you have in your library – and at a glance you can peruse for genre or keyword by looking at the tags. Bibliographic information is there. Two things I particularly like is that you can find out what others think about the book (social data – click on the icon of two peope under ‘shared’ on the right) and put in your own synopsis or review. Usually I choose one or more reviews from journals or blogs or whatever, and copy them in. Not sure if that’s a problem with copyright, but it’s just so that I’ve got everything at hand when I need to talk about a book. The comments by others is a good alternative to the more formal reviews of journals. Down to earth. It’s a place where you’re allowed to say you couldn’t stand the book.

#6 Image generator: still playing…


MaximBubbles on TV Guide

Originally uploaded by tania.sheko

Looking through ‘Image generator’ in the Generator blog, I couldn’t help wondering about the inane aspect of all these fun applications. Browsing through the different things ‘image generator’ could create, I found ‘nightingale song generator’, ‘hair mixer generator’, ‘design your own donut’ (lol), ‘lederhosen dance generator’ (Ach du lieber!), and many others. What about ‘hair particle generator’ where a picture is made from what appears to be lots of hairs – a nightmare for those who freak at the sight of a hair where it shouldn’t be. I imagine boys would love the ‘insult generator’ or the ‘drug name generator’. What do you do with virtual soap? (bar soap generator)
Yes, they’re fun, but it does make me think that these things can waste a lot of time. And we thought TV was bad for kids! I suppose it’s all about balance and self-discipline, and seeing the educational potential of these things as teachers and teacher-librarians. When I was young, I wasn’t allowed to study while watching TV. Now kids study while listening to music and simultaneously checking their Facebook and MySpace, as well as chatting on MSN. How does focus work here? Great topic for a thesis.

I decided to put my poor younger son on the front cover of the TV Guide (haven’t told him yet).

Russian children’s books


esta es bella

Originally uploaded by sindicato de la imagen

I wanted to reply to a colleague’s blog on the subject of children’s books and childhood memories, but while I was searching flickr for a book cover that was under the Creative Commons category, someone else emailed me, wondering how to add a flickr image to the blog. Yes, I know I’ve done it, but that doesn’t mean I can remember how. In fact, the first picture I inserted was a simple matter of copying and pasting, and that was so easy, I’m wondering whether it was the wrong way to do it. This time I’m repeating the other way I did it, which was to click on the flickr image so that the picture had its own page, then click on the ‘blog this’ icon. I’ll see if this works. I love the way this is demonstrating learning – we don’t necessarily learn from the first time we do something. Doing it a few times, and especially trying to teach someone else, makes it stick. Having said that, I hope I remember it next time I get frustrated with a student who ‘has been told’ and who’s forgotten.

By the way, the picture is from one of the children’s books I remember from my childhood. Since I didn’t speak any English until I went to kindergarten, all of the books read to me by my mother and grandmother were in Russian. Looking back, I realise that I owe to these children’s books my love of bright colours (often strangely juxtaposed) and of the bizarre. Strange characters come to mind from the recesses of my mind – crocodiles in suits smoking cigars, a muddle-headed man who reminds me of Mr Bean, a giant, menacing sink (more  like the whole vanity) with human features who bullied the boy who wouldn’t wash (Soviet moralism).

#5 Flickr and photo sharing

CIMG4144

Originally uploaded by tania.sheko

Since I’m deliberately absent from family photos due to extreme photo phobia (ie. somehow the photo makes me look uncharacteristically awful), and since the only other photos I have are of sunsets (done by others) or mundane things of little interest to people (eg. random tree in my backyard), – yes, there’s an end to this rambling sentence – I’m including a photo of my younger son, Maxim.

The visual aspect brings so much to any record or presentation of information or events. It personalises, adds colour, expression, recognition, interest. The organisation of photos and images on Flickr, using tags and groups, the search option, is a fantastic thing in education. Students can bring their presentations to life. Teachers can maintain collections for ‘just in time’ situations. Again, as always with Web 2.0 application, the social dimensions are valuable.

I’ve become a real sticky beak since getting on Facebook. I’ve been zooming into people’s photos – no, I’m not a voyeur, although there is definitely an aspect of voyeurism in places like Facebook and MySpace. It’s just that I’ve found people I haven’t seen for years/decades, and I’m curious to see what they look like. I’m amazed to see how their kids have grown and changed or not changed.

Now I realise that I have to start taking photos. All those wasted years! What was I thinking? All these people smiling, hugging, kissing, looking sexy, and where have I been all these years?!

Collaboration and company

One of the most inspiring and enjoyable aspects of being a teacher librarian, something I discovered when I joined the online student cohort during my M.Ed. with Charles Sturt University, is the collaborative culture. Sharing ideas, experiences, difficulties, resources – it’s wonderful. That’s why I’m looking forward to the Web 2.0 (collaborative) learning journey – because there are so many possibilities for students and teachers, so many more connections.

Sharing Some Honey Water - Day 71/365

Brave new world

The title of Huxley’s Brave new world derives from Shakespeare’s The tempest.

I’m starting off esoteric to create an initial aura of mystique, but I suspect I’ll tire of this and drop the charade.

I’m using the ‘brave new world’ theme loosely – since I am not implying that our cohort is a hedonistic society, deriving pleasure from promiscuous sex and drug use (Huxley), nor that we are exploring the theme of art and illusion (Shakespeare) – but in the sense of blogging and Web 2.0 applications being new, and in the sense of me (us?) being brave by embarking on the journey.