Jul 15 2010
I am just trying this out after seeing the wonderful Mindmap made by Buffy Hamilton. This is my version:
Jul 15 2010
I am just trying this out after seeing the wonderful Mindmap made by Buffy Hamilton. This is my version:
Jan 10 2010
Despite our “Big Freeze” here in the UK and the dark & gloomy short days of the Winter months, I have good reasons to be feeling very positive and optimistic about one tiny school library! Reading about wider issues with public libraries in particular, the blogosphere is all a-Twitter about this issue at the moment, you could be feeling that we are at the beginning of the end for libraries. But our library at Dixie is at the beginning of the beginning. We have created a lovely space and are improving the book collection by leaps and bounds. Now we have to get the Library used – for reading development work, for information literacy teaching, for encouraging the use of new and developing technologies.
So, from next week we are bringing in classes from Years 6 to 8 for one English lesson per week to support reading development. This is nothing new, of course. This kind of work is the meat and drink of school libraries. But it is new in my school. Yes, classes were occasionally brought into the old Library and I know that teachers did their best to enthuse about books and reading. Now they have a new element – not just an improving collection to choose from, but an experienced and knowledgeable…… Librarian! I passionately believe that we are the key element in developing reading for pleasure in schools and improving literacy. So let’s see what happens!
Other teachers are also starting to talk to me about using the Library and Librarian to help improve student’s learning. The key issues, as seem to be the case in most schools, are the:
Again, none of this is new or startling, but having a Librarian in post is new in our school. Teachers are beginning to talk to me about how I can help them and so I feel optimistic that I can make a difference….
….and that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?
Dec 15 2009
I found this amazing video – great use of Animoto – on Judy O’Connell’s blog and am embedding it here – partly because I want to share it but also as a way of reminding myself of it to use in school at an appropriate moment!
Nov 29 2009
Recently, I took part in the really brilliant online conference organised by Your School Library that I talked about in my previous posts. the theme was on school library design and also the wider issues of designing learning spaces. In some ways, the course was not timed very well for me – we had only just opened our new school library! But, it was interesting to see just how much the ideas shared on the course fitted in with what I had tried to achieve with the design of our new library.
Some of the libraries shared with us on the course were totally amazing to those of us who work in the UK. Here, we generally do not have spaces big enough to turn into “Learning Commons”, even if that idea were appropriate for our schools!
As I take part in the YSL courses I feel more and more that I am connecting with fantastic teacher-librarians from around the world who are working at a level far beyond most of us in the UK. This idea inspires me to try to achieve more – it feels like climbing up a steep mountain-side to reach the summit. On the way up, colleagues are reaching down to help us all get to the top together. As I learn more from these librarians, I realise just how much I don’t know. This is where my lack of teacher-training makes itself felt. Quite often, we are speaking different languages – and I don’t mean the fact that many of the participants come from a range of countries where English is not the first language. What I do mean is that my first language was Librarianship and theirs is Education. I have to travel towards the Education side and strive to understand a language that is sometimes not that comfortable – there are occasionally huge gaps in the translation! But I will keep trying as I feel that I somehow have to make up the deficiencies that my lack of teacher training gives me.
If that sounds negative, I don’t mean it to be. This striving for knowledge is an important part of any professional development – I have always said that when I stop learning or trying to learn, that will be the time for me to retire. Hopefully, this is a long time away!
So, what did I learn from the course this time? Well, that many of the things we had built into our tiny new library space were spot-on in terms of new ways of thinking about school libraries – particularly trying to make a flexible space, displaying books face-on as much as possible, using slatwall imaginatively, positioning of our desk, trying to build in good ICT facilities.
I also took away some more practical ideas that I immediately tried out. One library had the words “Ask, Think, Create” on the walls. This library also had a very large space which had been turned into a Learning Commons. Musical and other performances take place regularly and have been very well received. I thought about the words used on the walls and one night (when my creative thoughts tend to bounce around the most) I realised that I could extend the words to make a kind of logo for the library. The next day I played around on Publisher and made a logo with the words:
Think…Ask…Read…Imagine…Create… @ Your Library
I have used this on bookmarks, compliments slips, report covers, noticeboard frames – in fact on all library communications and stationery. The words could be put on the library walls and also fit an Information Literacy “framework”. I am going to play around with the idea some more and see where it leads.
As to the performance idea – I spoke to our Head of Music that week and suggested this to her – she was thrilled with the idea. So let’s see where that goes…
Jun 07 2009
I am really looking forward to the next Your School Library Course, which starts on June 13th. The focus this time is on Web2.0 and Information Literacy. This list of presenters looks fabulous and I can’t wait to get started.
Apr 11 2009
Have just seen the site for the Your School Library Part II : Information Literacy with Web2.0 Course starting in June. This is the next course after the Transforming School Libraries one that many of us took part in earlier this year.
I am sure that I will be blogging about this extensively later on, but I just wanted to point out here the really neat way they have used Netvibes to create a website. I have been able to copy elements of this over to my own Netvibes pages so that I keep track of the development of the course.
I am really looking forward to it as they have some great speakers again!
Why not visit the site and sign up for the course when they open registration?
Feb 21 2008
Well it is while since I last posted – various pressures have prevented me. Anyway, thanks to those librarians who have been sending me links to have a look at and think about.
And there is so much to think about!
So, today’s top thing is:
What is the role of the Librarian in today’s school library and maybe tomorrow’s?
I read this post “So just what should librarians be teaching?” from Doug Johnson’s Blue Skunk Blog. It is interesting to see how he discusses the different roles of the school library:
He tries to work out the different balances that could be made between these areas. The diagrams clearly show his ideas.
In the UK, most school library staff do not have teaching qualifications, although most of us do teach. We may also think in different ways to the teacher-librarians in the US, Australia, etc. However, I have, over the years, tried to think more and more as an educator. I do try to balance out these differing roles – with varying degrees of success.
Some challenges are brought about by my own expertise/lack of expertise or my own skills and preferences – for example: I feel confident when helping students to choose books and have created a reading programme for our students, but would be less confident in actually teaching reading. I am happy to listen to students read and love “waving and raving”, but would not begin to know how to teach phonics. Is the teaching of reading the role of the school librarian? I am not sure.
I am looking more and more at how we can use the data held on the school systems such as SIMs in conjunction with our own Library Management Systems. How can we use our students’ reading levels to help them better? Do our schools even test students regularly so that we can measure our contribution to their reading development?
Similarly – I am happy to work with teachers on teaching research skills – particularly planning the search, thinking around the subject, developing keywords, using search engines and so on. I would not be so confident in teaching students how to write up their research, although I would like to get more involved and I would try! What is the role of the school librarian in the later stages of research? I have been sent a link on this and will return to this issue at another time. Also, I know many wonderful librarians who take Information Literacy Skills far beyond basic research – how many of us are confident that we can teach such things as “Critical Thinking” or group problem-solving and where do we go to learn how?
When I took up my present post nearly nine years ago, my ICT skills were definitely more advanced than most teachers and students. I still try to keep up with new developments and find this a very rewarding and exciting area of the job. Now, I think that more teachers are confident with their skills and many students are also. (Although many clearly are not or are over-confident!). Much of the teaching that I do in this area is on an informal ad-hoc level, rather than part of a formal teaching situation. I am learning about new technologies and am using them for my own personal and professional purposes. But, I would like more opportunities to use them with students. Where so we find the oportunities to try out new ideas?
A lot of questions here – do any of you have answers?
Jan 16 2008
How do I plan for the future?
I like to think that I have always had a strong vision for what I think a school library should look like. But we are reaching a period of such rapid change. I want to think this year about where I am heading as a school librarian and what I think our LRC will look like in five years time. Is this a tall order? It may be, but I think that it is necessary or I will lose my “golden compass”!
Many years ago, in my first school job – 1982! – I made a display called “Information Explosion”. I illustrated it with newspaper headlines cut out and radiating outwards. This seems so funny now when I think that I did not even have a computer in the library at the time!
So, what can we read to help us think ahead?
The papers over the last couple of days have been full of articles about the “Google Generation” and how academics are worried about students’ information-seeking behaviours.
This one in the Guardian Education section on the 15th January – Intellectual Literacy Hour - talks about a research report which is a must-read for any school librarian:
University College London (UCL) CIBER group.(2008) Information behaviour of the researcher of the future. London: University College London. CIBER Briefing paper; 9. http://www.jisc.ac.uk/media/documents/programmes/reppres/gg_final_keynote_11012008.pdf
This is the press release on the JISC website:
I have started to read the report and the following really struck a chord with me ( a precis of page 12):
“Themes for how children and young people use the internet:
Haven’t all of us who have been working in school libraries for some years been talking about this for ages? Students know how to play games and make lovely PowerPoints – but actually write something in their own words?
Speed is the key here, I think and a lack of understanding about authority. This is not much better for some of our staff colleagues – how many teachers recommend students to use Wikipedia, but do not teach them how to use it properly or the check with other sources?
How many school librarians get the opportunity to actually teach this? Many of us do, but maybe not often enough or not to an entire year group.
This is despite all of the ICT teaching that they are apparently getting in schools. Is this not the “meat and drink” of a school librarian’s job?
… However, the ubiquitous use of highly branded search engines raises other issues:
I recognise this easily – many students cite “Google” in bibliographies (if I can get them to make one).
This is also somehting that I am thinking hard about. I spend ages making lists of evaluated web resources either on our VLE, the LRC’s website or in Del.icio.us. But then I turn around and see students back on Google!
Anyway – this post has been very long and I had better do some more reading from the report before I post any more thoughts…
Nov 12 2007
I have spent days building Pathfinders on LRC Online for Art students in our college to help them with exams. The pages cover various art movements and have links to appropriate artists.
Some students used them as directed…
Others just “Googled” as normal. They wanted to find images and by-passed all of the informative sites that I had tried to find.
What is the best way to support students and make the best use of my time? I gather the links first on Del.icio.us, then build pages around the themes that the teachers have asked for. Does anyone have any better suggestions for the best way to use limited time – after all, this was “just” Art. What about all of the other curricular areas that we are trying to support?