Category Archives: Teacher librarians

Making learning personal and social – Presentation at SLAV conference

Last Friday I had the privilege of sharing some of what I’ve been doing with blogging at my schools at the SLAV conference, Celebrations! An eye for literacy. I believe SLAV hosts the most informative and inspiring conferences, deepening our understandings and broadening our horizons.

Unfortunately we were running late with this session, and at least half of my presentation had to be cut. I wasn’t able to fully develop my presentation of the topic:

Social networking: giving students an online voice. In this session you will explore the initiatives of threeschool libraries and the use of social networking to buildcommunities of readers. What worked – and why it’s worth having a go.

That’s why I’ve embedded my slideshow and accompanying text in case anyone is interested in the complete presentation.

[vodpod id=Video.4904357&w=425&h=350&fv=]

Here is the link to the accompanying text.

The educators in my session were inspiring in their presentations – Tricia Sweeney and Michael Jongen (Our Lady of Mercy College, Heidelberg) talked about Twitter and Facebook to engage students, and Rachel Fidock (Mooroopna Secondary College) talked about Google Lit Trips.

Thanks to SLAV for the opportunity to share some of my work with teachers and students. Like the others, I was incredibly nervous but ended up enjoying the experience. Sharing of ideas and experiences is very satisfying.

My slideshow is also embedded in my wiki.

As the world changes, how do we keep up with it?

 

Photo from Enokson on Flickr

Books have been a source of information for some time now. But in libraries, the people have been important too. Librarians have been the personal link to information for some time too.

As the world of information has changed from being bound in books to becoming available to all on the net, people have become even more important because of their expertise. In schools, just as we are seeing a movement towards reducing funding to libraries, teacher librarians are skilling up in step with a fast-changing, online world, and are not only supporting the management an overwhelming outpouring of information, but are also able to support new digital skills in a globalised society.

Libraries are no longer prized for their hard-copy content as much as for their intellectual property. Resource centres, stage for events that bring people to ideas, gathering places – libraries have evolved and continue to do so.

If our libraries are recognised in these ways, we will never be redundant – on the contrary, we will be essential.

How do you see the emerging role of libraries and school libraries?

See other retro library posters here.

Goodbye Fiction Focus blog – but why?

This morning I read a tweet that left me in shock:

New FF blog post So long and thanks for all the fish: This is the 798th post to the Fiction Focus blog sinc… http://bit.ly/9eNNmK #FFblog

Following the link I discovered the bad news – Judi Jagger would no longer be writing the Fiction Focus blog:

This is the 798th post to the Fiction Focus blog since it began in early 2008. We didn’t quite make the 800. Unfortunately funding is no longer available for me to continue in this role, so my involvement has ended.

Whether or not my colleagues will have the time to maintain the blog will decide its fate. It certainly cannot be at the rate of posts that there have been in the past as they have an enormous workload.

Thanks for all the positive comments that come this way over the past nearly-three years.  I have enjoyed every minute. No, make that lovedevery minute.

I know that I speak for many people, teacher librarians in particular, for whom the Fiction Focus blog has been the first port of call for best quality YA fiction reviews and current information about books and reading.

The blog has been a wonderful extension of the CMIS Fiction Focus journal published three times a year by CMIS, Department of Education and Training (WA).  Although we’ve relied on the hard copy journal for a long time, the blog has been a welcome development at a time when social media transforms static publications into writing which has a personal voice and invites commentary and discussion.

I’m completely baffled as to why such an initiative would be terminated.

If you’ve enjoyed the Fiction Focus blog, please join me in expressing your gratitude to Judi and the team, and leave a comment on this blog or, better still, on Fiction Focus’ last blog post here.

Interview with Judith Way, author of Bright Ideas

If you think about people who are a constant and inspirational support in your professional life, you know that you are indebted to these people on a daily basis.


I’ve decided to feature an interview with Judith Way, a Victorian teacher librarian who has made a significant difference in the professional lives of teacher librarians and others, and whose unassuming, friendly nature has endeared many, both in Victoria and globally.

Judith’s blog, Bright Ideas, which she writes for the School Library Association of Victoria, is one of the first things I check daily because I know that she is on top of what’s happening in the world of education. Although she may not need an introduction since so many are connected to her through the blog, Twitter and OZTL-NET, to mention only a few platforms, I’ve included a short biography as an introduction to a recent interview I conducted with Judith.

Judith Way is a teacher-librarian with a Graduate Diploma of Children’s Literature and a Master of Arts. Recently she was recognised for her work with the Bright Ideas blog through the  2010 IASL/Softlink International Excellence Award .She has also been the recipient of the School Library Association of Victoria’s John Ward Award for outstanding contribution to teacher librarianship in 2007 and the SLAV Innovators Grant in 2009. She was awarded the Children’s Book Council of Australia Eleanor E. Robertson prize in 2003. She has presented at conferences locally and internationally. Judith writes the Bright Ideas blog for the School Library Association of Victoria.
How did you come to create and write the Bright Ideas blog?

Due to the success of the School Library Association of Victoria’s Web2.0 online program in 2008, there was a real momentum for more online resources for school libraries, and the idea that schools would showcase what they had developed to encourage others was a big part of that. I was honoured to be asked by SLAV to write the blog on their behalf. I had undertaken the ’23 things’ course through Yarra Plenty Regional Library in 2006.

What were your initial thoughts/feelings about the blog?

Excitement! What a fantastic opportunity to delve into the web 2.0 world and see what we could all make of it in school libraries.

Was it difficult to take the first steps in creating a blog identity and developing a readership?

The first thing was getting a body of work up on the blog. No-one is really going to read a blog with one or two posts on it, so building it up was vital. I then promoted it via the OZTL-NET listserv and down the track joined Twitter. That really developed the readership. Then I joined the ILearnTechnology blog alliance in January this year and that furthered readership again.

What were some of the difficulties you experienced along the way?

School library staff tend to be a modest bunch, so encouraging people that their web 2.0 efforts should be highlighted and shared with others was a challenge.

What were some of the highlights?

Getting lots of positive feedback from readers, especially in relation tothe school library examples that were shared.
Last year Bright Ideas also had the honour of being voted the “FirstRunner Up” in the Edublogs Awards for the ‘Best Library blog”. What a fantastic vote of confidence that was.
Notching up 200,000 hits earlier this year was also a terrific milestone and it was an unbelievable recognition to be awarded the 2010 IASL/Softlink International Excellence Award in September.

How is the role of the teacher librarian changing, if at all?

In one way it is changing dramatically. In another way, it isn’t changing at all. What do I mean by that? We are facing enormous changes in the way we present learning opportunities to students. Social media and eBooks have changed the landscape for many school libraries. But we still want to teach our students how to research well and to love reading- whatever the medium.

What would you say are the most important goals of the teacher librarian/ of educators in general in these times?

To remember the power you have to make a difference to the lives of your students. You have the ability to be a positive role model in terms of using information well, both content and morally. To teach students how to make a positive digital footprint and how to be cybersafe and cybersavvy. To pass on the love of reading. These are lessons they will carry throughout their lives.

Thanks, Judith, for your thoughts, and also for the untiring support you provide for teacher librarians and educators everywhere.

Where have I been and what have I been doing

That’s a rhetorical question, by the way. To make me feel a little appeased in my guilt for blog abandonment.

A few things have been happening, and these things would normally require a detailed and possibly time consuming write-up. Hence my blog absence. This is, sadly, not going to happen at a time when too many other things need to be done.

So…

Monday night I was one of the lucky ones to find a seat in BMW Edge for the free talk by Bill Henson (The light and dark and the shades of grey) to open the Melbourne Art Fair. Notice I didn’t say ‘the controversial Bill Henson’, the reason being that his talk was not, as some may have expected, a political or moral justification for the (fairly) recent censorship of his art (not photography, which is merely the medium). Surprisingly, his extremely esoteric talk used broad brushstrokes to paint a picture of civilisation shaped by centuries-old art, architecture, literature and music. I won’t attempt to summarise his talk but I think that one of his main themes was the need to expose young people to the history of our civilisation, to the breadth of artistic expression, in order to open up thinking, questions and discussion, and maintain a fuller context for the formation of understandings. Some may have expected a bitter, insecure man, lashing out at critics, as claimed in The Age article (written, surely, during Bill’s talk – or even before) which I read when I got home from the talk. These people were disappointed, then, because Bill’s composure and lack of defensiveness was noticeable.

We should be wary of governments and interest groupswho try to impose restrictions on the free exercise of theartistic imagination. Our zeal to protect innocence should not come at the cost of violating artistic experience.

If we believe that art is a high form of education, thatits basis is moral and its goal truth, then we should resistthe impulse that would deny the artist the right to deal with what may sometimes be ambiguous, complex anddisturbing.

Artists can seem like holy fools, they can seem likedevils. They may exhibit the cunning of the insane orthe illumination of the saint. But genuine art is the greatbridge between the inner world in each of us and theordinary world in which we live. Art shows us the truthand it should never be the quarry of the witch-hunter orthe social engineer. Any attempt to make the world betterby destroying or shackling art represents a repudiationof the truth.

(Not all reviews of Henson’s talk were unreasonable; this one wasn’t.)

So, that was that. And since then, I’ve enjoyed many conversations with various people about censorship, art and the education of young people.

The recent School Library Association of Victoria PD is another potential essay in the making. But I’m tired, so suffice it to say, I was immensely satisfied with the line-up of speakers, particularly the guest speaker, Joyce Valenza, and our own Adrian Camm.

The Bright Ideas blog has covered the main information and links from this day. I would just like to say that Joyce  is a passionate educator who surely never sleeps because how else would she have managed to create such amazing resources. It wasn’t hard work at all listening to Joyce – she’s blessed with a vibrancy and creativity which makes everything look deceptively easy. Take a look at her wikis and look up the rest of her stuff too.

Adrian, I’m not a games person, but after your talk, I might consider conversion…

What else?

Well I’ve taken up the challenge at Kew High School of running a couple of PD sessions introducing Web 2.0 tools for authentic and connected learning and teaching. Since I’m new to Kew, it’s an entirely different experience presenting to people I don’t know, feeling uneasy about the fact that I can’t read their faces to ascertain their reaction to my assault on them. My Whitefriars experiences, on the other hand, were based on relationships and the gradual introduction and integration of Web 2.0 technology, often in context of a class which I taught collaboratively over a period of time. I much prefer ‘preaching’ to people I know, so that the conversation comes from a knowledge of how these people think and with respect for their individual styles as teachers.

Well, that’s enough for this post. Apologies for the rave.

Rest, recharge, and ready for another term!

National Gallery of Victoria (Städel exhibition)

I don’t know how non-teachers survive with so few holidays.  I’m not feeling guilty about teaching holidays though because that’s what I do, and I work hard, so if you’re not a teacher and feeling resentful, why don’t you do a teaching degree?

Seriously.

Teaching is one of the most satisfying careers. Yes, it can be frustrating, infuriating, depressing, tiring, all-consuming – but it’s definitely a privilege to have a hand in shaping young minds, the shapers of our future.

For me, working with people who love shaping those young minds is more than satisfying. Some of these educators are at my school, and many are elsewhere, and I’m grateful to them wherever they are.

Photo courtesy of Jane Hewitt on Flickr (Great quotes about learning and change)

I’ve really enjoyed these two weeks of holiday, and  balanced a nice mix of everything I need to recharge – enjoying the company of good friends, catching up with news and exchanging stories and ideas; going out into various parts of Melbourne in the winter (Melbourne has its own Winter style which I really like); appointments(!); domestic chores (not fun, but inevitable); reading and thinking, reflection and re-evaluating, shifting perspective, gathering strength and resolve, making plans for the new term ….

Amazing that I managed to pack in so much in the two weeks, including (possibly too many) musical concerts, for example, the Goodbye Hamer Hall concert in which my younger son played in the Melbourne Youth Music orchestra, the Tim Burton exhibition at ACMI, and I also went to see the European Masters from the Städel Museum in Frankfurt. AND I still had a lot of me-alone-time.

I finished reading Will Grayson, Will Grayson – a young adult novel written by John Green and David Levithan about two separate Will Graysons whose chance meeting changes their lives – and I’ve also started Seth Godin’s Linchpin (incidentally, Seth has just shared a free e-book) and Ali Shaw’s The girl with glass feet. I hope the reading doesn’t stop but somehow school projects always spill into the evenings and reading only begins just before my eyelids glue themselves shut.

The Tim Burton exhibition made me want to drag all the students out so they could be inspired by Tim’s prolific and imaginative illustrations. I could see so much potential for students writing, drawing, animation, sculpture, photostory, film-making – so many possibilities. I think the exhibition inspires because it shows early work back as far as school, and makes you want to have a go at all that zany creativity yourself.

So, what is my direction for third term? Well, apart from existing partnerships with classes, I want to trial more of my Writing Prompts. I want to give Howard Rheingold’s expert crap detection program a go, as well as teach some serious critical thinking.

Apart from stuffing my literature blog with new reviews by different members of my community, I’d like to take some of the ideas from Joyce Valenza’s Reading Wiki and run with them. There’s so much in this reading wiki too, and this one is bursting at the seams with resources for teacher librarians.

Plenty to do, and I’m even starting to get a little excited. I hope that you all have a great term, and for those of you in the middle of things, be inspired and re-inspired!

TLs, expand your field of vision

Everything has changed since information became available to all on the internet. Not so much changed as exploded. When something explodes, it shatters into countless pieces which means the whole we used to know needs to be re-examined.  Why are we still looking at the old ways of teaching, the old focus of our instruction, fellow teacher librarians? Yes, more than ever, our job is to help students learn how to manage this information explosion. Hence, information literacy is still a major focus for our instruction. But let’s expand our vision, let’s analyse that newly reconstructed whole to see what other literacies we need to teach – we need to learn in order to be able to teach. Digital literacy, network literacy.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e0I13tKrxcA]

I found this video on the Fair use and info ethics page on the NECC Library Learning Tools BYOL Smackdown wiki set up by Joyce ValenzaCathy Jo NelsonKaren KliegmanWendy Stephens, and Keisa Williams at the National Educational Computer Conference in Washington, D.C. 2009.

There is a wide range of skills covered in this wiki for teacher librarians, including the traditional information literacy/fluency as well as Digital Citizenship. In a way, digital citizenship is an extension of information literacy. If information literacy is about learning to navigate the whole information package online, then digital citizenship is learning how to behave online, how to responsibly work with and create from what is available online. All educators are responsible for teaching digital citizenship but teacher librarians are certainly well placed since they are already experts in the management of information.

Why stop at research skills when you can equip students to behave responsibly and ethically as they use digital content to view, create and remix?

I recommend you browse the many and varied aspects of this wiki. Fellow teacher librarians, isn’t it exciting to have such a broad and challenging role!

Oops I did it again – I created another blog

Photo by lutykuh on Flickr

Readers may have noticed that my posts are becoming more scarce. Or you may not – you may have given up and dropped checking this blog. Sure, I’ve been reposting from my other blogs – in particular, currently from Through global lenses. But I’m struggling to write regular, disciplined posts about current educational issues.

You know what it’s like when you juggle so many balls that you end up dropping some. That’s what it feels like for me now. Once this blog was the only online writing I was responsible for. Then it was followed by others, some of which I update regularly, for example, my reading blog Fiction is like a box of chocolates, my global Flickr project blog, and my personal photo blog.

Add to this several school-based projects (including nings and wikis) – all good! – and the blog I’m about to start for Kew High School, and you begin to realise the sad truth about my lack of single focus.

Can this be a good thing? How do you manage multiple voices? How do you manage an RSS feed that’s groaning and threatening to burst at the seams? How often do you tweet? Often enough to attract a response? Do you ever get the chance to read a book?

Life is never boring….

Top 100 best of everything

Photo courtesy of Beverly_&_Pack on Flickr

A while ago I was surprised to discover that my blog was included in a list of 100 most inspiring and innovative blogs for education published by Online University Reviews.

At the time I just skimmed the extensive lists, but this evening I have been poring over lists in different categories, and I must say, they’re definitely worth looking at.

Not one for business or gossip, here are some of the lists which caught my eye:

50 best blogs for grammar geeks

10 important writers who went to jail for their work

100 best scholarly art blogs divided into the categories of best art news, best art critic, best art communities, best artists’ blogs, best artist inspirational blogs, best children’s art, best art photography and best art resources

(also including Art forum Australia)

50 free games for teaching literacy online

100 useful tutorials for the twittering librarian including for the beginner, best blogs for Twitter, best way to find other twittering librarians, best timesavers for Twitter, best ways to promote your library using Twitter, best tools for Twitter, best games for Twitter, best add-ons for Twitter, best image tools for Twitter, best video tools for Twitter, best books for Twitter and best librarians to follow on Twitter.

50 best websites for modern Shakespearean scholars

50 incredible books every educator should read

100 famous writers you can follow on Twitter

100 most inspiring and innovative blogs for educators – these are divided into the categories: general teaching blogs, specialty subject blogs, best podcasts for teachers, best video blogs for teachers.

top 100 poetry blogs

100 open courses to take your writing to the next level

top 100 liberal arts professor blogs – these are divided into art, economics, education, english, history, maths, media/technology, music, philosophy, psychology, political science, science, sociology and theology

50 best blogs for literacy teachers including ESL/EFL, grammar, literary criticism and reading promotion

I hope you have an enormous amount of time on you hands because you’ll need a small lifetime to investigate all these links. I’ve been madly saving some of these to my Diigo library. Although I doubt that these lists even cover most of the best of the best – obviously other bests exist elsewhere – it’s definitely a list where you can find something for everyone.

Creating a community of readers

We all read, don’t we? If not books, then newspapers, if not hardcopy then online, if not novels, then graphic novels – does it really matter?

Having started my reading blog for school, I soon realised that it had to move from being limited to my own reading to including that of all the members of my school community. Of course, this is still an unrealised dream, but I was happy that so many teachers (and some students) offered their diverse reading reviews.

This year I’d like to expand the scope a little more to include anything and everything related to books, reading, film and whatever catches my eye and leads to a love of literature and ideas, as well as interaction and possibly a good laugh or at least a chuckle.

The variety of topics will hopefully mean that something will appeal at least some of the time. Ideally, interaction and collaboration with others is the goal.

Here are some examples of my recent posts:

The Age Resource Centre not only contains great resources you’d expect, but also a Reading and Writing page which includes extracts from great books (as described in this post):

Currently, Andy Griffiths has contributed a hilarious short story, Just commenting,  as part of a special series on the Summer Kids pages of The Sunday Age.

Here’s the first half of Andy’s story (you’ll love it):

WHEN I grow up I’m going to be a commentator. I’m getting really good at it, too, because I practise every chance I get. In fact, I’m practising right now.

I’m sitting at the dinner table using the pepper grinder as a microphone.

“It looks like we’re in for an exciting night’s eating,” I say in a hushed voice. “Anything can – and probably will – happen. The father is chewing on a chicken bone. The mother is pouring gravy over her potatoes. And the sister . . . well, the sister is looking directly at the commentator.”

“Can you pass the salt please, Andy?” says Jen.

“And the sister has opened play by making a direct request to the commentator to pass the salt,” I say. “The question is, will he give her the salt or is he too busy commentating?”

“Mum,” sighs Jen, “Andy’s commentating again.”

“Oh dear,” I exclaim. “The sister seems to have forgotten about the salt and has decided to tell on her little brother for commentating instead.”

“Just ignore him,” says Mum.

“I can’t,” says Jen. “I want him to pass the salt.”

“She’s getting impatient now,” I say. “She’s thrown away all pretence of politeness and good manners. Looks like she still really wants that salt. But her little brother is just shaking his head. Looks like we have a stand-off on our hands.”

Jen rolls her eyes. “Can you pass me the salt, please, Dad?”

“A brilliant change of tactics on the sister’s part,” I say. “Let’s see how it works out for her.”

Dad nods, picks up the salt and leans in front of me to pass it to Jen.

“What a pass!” I say into the pepper grinder.

“Straight from his hand to hers, no fumbling – and Jen is wasting no time in transferring the contents of the salt shaker to her dinner. Just look at her shaking that thing – she’s giving that shaker everything she’s got. Ladies and gentlemen, this is the salt-shakingest salt-shaker action we’ve seen around this dinner table in a long time.”

“Jen,” says Mum, “that’s quite enough salt.”

“Looks like the mother has stepped in to shut down the sister’s salt offensive.”

“Shut up, Andy,” says Jen.

“Jen!” says Mum. “Please don’t talk like that at the dinner table.”

“But, Mum . . .”

“I know your brother can be very annoying, but there’s no excuse for language like that.”

“Oh dear,” I say.

“Looks like Jen’s dinner has definitely taken a turn for the worse. Not only has she been cautioned for excessive salt use but now she’s getting into trouble for being rude at the dinner table.”

“All right, that will do now, Andy,” says Dad. “Just eat your dinner.”

“But who will do the commentating?”

“NOBODY will do the commentating!” says Mum. “We’ll all just eat our dinner in peace and quiet.”

“But that’s boring.

“And unfair.

“How can I be a professional commentator when I grow up if you don’t let me practise?”

“Just eat your dinner,” says Dad, “or else you’ll have to leave the table.”

When I found Nancie Atwell’s quote about reading and how it makes you smart, I knew I had to put that in.

There’s nothing better for you – not broccoli, not an apple a day, not aerobic exercise. In terms of the whole rest of your life, in terms of making you smart in all ways, there’s nothing better. Top-ranking scientists and mathematicians are people who read. Top-ranking historians and researchers are people who read. Reading is like money in the bank in terms of the rest of your life, but it also helps you escape from the rest of your life and live experiences you can only dream of. Most important, along with writing, reading is the best way I know to find out who you are, what you care about, and what kind of person you want to become.

When I found the homonymic (is that a word?) poem, Sum thyme’s I’m ache Thai pose (Sometimes I make typos), I thought I had to put that into a post. I love quirky stuff, and I think many students do too. Anything that has value but isn’t what they expect to be ‘academic’, classroomy (another made-up word).

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_RLCdPwvjeI&feature=player_embedded]

Then I found out about an exhibition which included the biggest book in the world, and thought this would be perfect for the blog too.

I’m hoping that the diversity and quirkiness of the post content will work well with the reviews and trailers, so that members of the school community and readers outside the school will turn to the blog for enjoyment. It would give me deep satisfaction.

Your contribution is very welcome, wherever you are.