Sunday, May 1, 2016

Broadening our horizons - the effects of attending a workshop at a conference

View of the Bosphorus from the CEESA 2016 conference venue. 

I am extremely fortunate to be a staff member at a school that values professional development in many forms. Our school encourages us to work in Professional Learning Communities (PLCs), to attend city wide Network meetings such as LTEN or the Istanbul Librarians' Network, to go to IB trainings and attend conferences. 

While at the CEESA conference in March here in Istanbul I attended a workshop about Collaboration. Collaboration, Cooperation and Collegiality: Strategies for school leaders to ensure planning for learning leads to increased student growth and achievement by Michael Palmer I almost didn't go - I am not a school administrator or leader. I am so glad that I did go. The workshop was described as an opportunity to explore the differences between collaboration, cooperation and collegiality and help participants develop an understanding of the ways in which their schools can increase collaborative capacity to support student learning. 

Actually what I learned was what can happen when someone attends a workshop at a conference. Michael Palmer had attended the last CEESA conference held in Istanbul - in 2008 I think it was. He gave a workshop on the PYP exhibition and only one person attended his session. This was mostly because the teachers at IICS were presenting about Exhibition at the same time and many people attended their workshop. Fortunately the workshop was run twice and Michael was able to attend the second run through himself. What he saw was a way to run the Exhibition and a way to plan Units of Inquiry in the PYP that really inspired him. He visited the school later that year and began to implement changes to the way Units were planned in his own school. Then he began to explore collaboration and ways to collaborate in a school setting - thus the new workshop and sharing his learning with us this year.

I have found that as I attend conference workshops I return to school willing to try out the ideas that were presented. We now have the Battle of the Books - after I attended a conference workshop about BOB at the ECIS librarians conference September 2014. Our school is working on developing a culture of independent reading using some of the ideas about reading journals shared at a CEESA conference workshop in Prague in 2013. Conference workshops can lead to marvellous actions within schools.

In a few weeks time our library team will be working with our guidance counsellor with all our classes over one week to try out some ideas presented at a workshop with the title Meeting the Social-Emotional Needs of Elementary School Students through Library and Counseling Collaboration by Rebecca Battistoni and Laura Giosh-Markov. This workshop was attended by two members of our library team and our Guidance Counsellor. While we won't be launching into the year long collaboration that Rebecca and Laura had we will be giving their ideas of adding a social-emotional component to our library lessons for that week.

So thank you to all my wonderful colleagues who present workshops and conferences. In doing so you lift our gaze to new horizons and enrich the teaching and learning in so many schools.

Another view of the Bosphorus. 


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Professional development through Teacher Inquiry




The first workshop I attended at CEESA 2016 was run by Aloha Lavina. What attracted me to this workshop was the idea of teachers engaged in inquiry learning. Aloha is the Upper School Principal at American International School of Zagreb. Her school had been using the tools from the Adaptive Schools workshop that she and others had attended.

The teachers at AISZ identified areas that they wanted to investigate within their school roles or areas of responsibility. Then they formed groups to meet regularly to investigate their self selected topic. While they were working on their inquiry the teachers kept professional portfolios. These were hard copy binders which had specific areas for the teachers to maintain. Throughout the inquiry the teachers investigated, designed specific interventions, observed outcomes, gave each other feedback and reflected on their learning.


One aspect I was intrigued by was the professional portfolio. I have been exploring the possible options for electronic portfolios since this session. There are a number of e-portfolio options available such as portfoliogen, pathbrite and exibi. As someone who has to maintain a professional portfolio for my LIANZA registration which is due every three years I would like to choose one of these options and try it out. At the moment I use Evernote as a way to keep track of the many aspects of the LIANZA registration process. While I know I can share these notes I can see that a portfolio may be a better way to go about reflecting on my learning. I can see the value of keeping records of my professional inquiries with my colleagues. Our school uses Professional Learning Communities to try to achieve something similar. I think the AISZ model that Aloha shared with us has this dimension of keeping a record of progress, questions, reflections which adds value to the teacher and to the school community that she works in.


I also decided to follow up on Adaptive Schools and find out more about it. Thanks so much to Aloha for an interactive and thought provoking workshop. I will be taking action - watch for future blog posts.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Greg Curtis - Personalisation, Start with the WHY

Continuing my CEESA conference reflections; I am going through the conference sessions and exploring the ideas presented.

Greg Curtis gave the only Key Note address of the conference on Friday morning, 18 March. He talked about the large transformational process that is required when a school undertakes to pursue the idea of personalisation of learning. So it is best to start with the WHY. Why is personalisation the answer? The most obvious thing is how quickly the world is changing and developing. We need adults who can think creatively, who can leverage the tools at their disposal to come up with solutions to major problems. Education for the future isn't about learning facts it is about developing and maximising potential.So all schools need to start with the question of WHY. In fact starting with the WHY leads to success and adaptivity. 
https://media.licdn.com/mpr/mpr/p/3/005/075/2ac/01c043a.jpg





Yong Zhao challenges us to move beyond education to make everyone the same to educating students to be the best versions of themselves. Learning should extend, amplify and elevate. In the TED talk below he asks teachers to teach to the child's strengths rather than trying to fix their deficiencies.





So once we have the WHY then we can explore the WHAT. The what things can we do to achieve this. Unfortunately there is no manual for how to create personalized learning in your school. There are continuums of personalization and many schools are working on how to develop ways in which students can indeed develop their strengths.

One school in New Zealand that was built and developed to do just this is Hobsonville Point Secondary School - a new secondary school that opened at the beginning of 2014. Deputy Principal Claire Amos has been blogging about their personalisation journey in "Learning Leading Change" Claire and her colleagues in leadership in this school spent one year before the school was built exploring personalised learning in schools around the world. They have developed their own model and have been working successfully with students for the past two years.


Goal clarity is essential. I wonder what personalization in our library would look like? I really want to create opportunities for student choice and voice in the library. All things to explore in the new academic year. I want to set some goals for our learning before the end of this year.


I took notes about this session on Evernote

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Libraries - the first place of personalisation

The day before the 2016 CEESA conference in Istanbul there was a job-a-like for librarians. Guest speaker for our group was Katie Day, teacher librarian at United World College, Singapore and author of the blog The Librarian Edge. Her presentation is available below - recorded using photo booth and then published to YouTube.

The theme for the conference was personalised learning. It seems to me that libraries have traditionally been the place for that. Throughout the ages people have been able to go to  libraries and pursue their interests in reading and research.

School libraries can offer their communities so much as they seek to develop personalised learning for their students. Our collections have moved beyond the traditional print resource to electronic books, databases and online portals. There are web tools to enable us to curate resources for student learning - libguides, livebinders and Diigo to name only a few tools. As teacher librarians we can teach our colleagues and students how to curate their own resources. 

Katie's presentation went further than these observations by looking at library as place and the need to offer a variety of learning spaces. Students need rooms to meet and collaborate as well as spaces to totally tune out and concentrate on their own. One school principal, Penny Sturtevant, when redesigning the library had a vision that was a bit different from the makerspaces she was seeing. She wanted her library to be a place that was a little less open-ended, a place where students did hands-on work, but as an extension of what was happening their classrooms. Instead of taking her inspiration from the maker movement, Sturtevant was interested in trends she was seeing toward more personalised learning. So the space within the library has to be utilised with personalisation in mind. 

I will be following up on this presentation by reading Deep Work by Cal Newport - how to focus in a distracted world. Also Change by Design  by Tim Brown looking at using the design process to guide change.

Katie challenged us to be people who bring treasure to our students, like a travel guide who brings the traveller to the best parts of the city. 

Thanks for the inspiration Katie. Much fuel for further learning.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Post Master's degree - a new lease of life





This blog lapsed into a period of hibernation while I studied and blogged my way to my Master's Degree in Education specialising in Teacher Librarianship with Charles Sturt University in Australia. I really enjoyed my studies but trying to maintain the library blog for school and my blog for my course this blog fell by the way side.


I have decided to bring it back and to use it for professional reflections once again. Businessman Peter Drucker tells us Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action.


This describes what I hope to achieve very well. I have had a very productive time with my studies. They have created a depth and effectiveness in my professional practice that has been transformative. I don't want to stop and be content with that, I want to continue to grow and develop as a Teacher Librarian. I hope this blog will enable me to do so.


What does a new lease of life mean? Cambridge dictionaries online define it as an occasion when you become more energetic and active than before. ​I hope that will be my experience these next few months and years - post Master's degree.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

School Librarians as readers

Last November we started our Istanbul School Librarians' Book Chat. We met in a cafe near one of our colleague's schools and we all brought three books to chat about. Three books from our collections that we had read. 

The disturbing reality about many teachers is that while they may be readers for their own enjoyment they do not read children's literature (Cremin, 2010, p.12). As a result of this research into teacher's reading habit the "Teachers as Readers' project was set up in the UK (Cremin, 2010, p.13). I know my colleagues and I do read children's literature but we wanted to create our own reader's advisory so we can hear about the books being read by the group and expand our knowledge through discussion. 

So far we have had three meetings. After each meeting the people involved post their books to the group's Good Reads bookshelf. That way we keep a record of the books discussed so all members of our Network can see what we are reading and recommending. 

Last week we had several snow days as the Governor of Istanbul closed schools during a snow storm. Our book chat went onto Google Hangouts. Instead of going to a cafe we went to the Internet and recorded our book chat. The chat is shown below. 

So far we are all seeing the value of this addition to our reading of children's literature. 


Cremin, T. (2010). Motivating children to read through literature. In J. Fletcher, F. Parkhill & G. T. Gillon (Eds.), Motivating literacy learners in today's world, (pp. 11-21). Wellington, N.Z.: NZCER Press.


Friday, September 26, 2014

The voices of information literacy. ECIS librarian conference

This is my second experience of an ECIS librarian conference and it is just as transformational as the first. Every session has been relevant to my work. I have been inspired by my conversations with my colleagues. I bought a great book. I presented a workshop. It has been exhausting and stimulating.

I have been taking notes in every session on Evernote and then tweeting the link to the notes on the conference hashtag #ecislib2014 

While so much of the conference has had practical applications I have enjoyed the thought provoking sessions. This afternoon Veronica Cunningham of St John's school here in Waterloo gave her session - 7 voices of information literacy. She us completing her PHD thesis exploring how an international school community defines and understands information literacy? The 7 voices were students, teachers, parents, librarians, IT, leadership and administrative staff. 

Veronica's research invited these groups to meet and discuss their views of information context and information literacy. The first conversation was in homogeneous groups. All discussions were recorded. The second conversation was in mixed groups. This was the first time these people had been gathered together to talk together. It was in the listening that new appreciations and understandings were formed. These groups did not get together usually and it was the first time they had been able to hear each other's views, fears, frustrations and ideas.

The transcripts revealed similarities among the 7  voices. The emphasis on technology was a strong similarity. Other factors shared across many groups was a feeling of being overwhelmed by the number of technical tools, platforms and the flood of information. 

I find this research inspirational. I wonder how I can achieve this in our school with our New Literacy curriculum review and feedback? I am waiting with anticipation for this research to be published.

One keynote address, five workshops, exhibitor booths and buying a book - it has been a great day.