Friday, December 20, 2013

Taking an idea and running with it...

Visiting Department meetings can be dangerous. I went to the English Department meeting a few weeks ago to share the news about our new lexile level search facility on our Library Management System Destiny. The news received some moderate response. The discussion then moved on to how to get our students to read and build a reading culture - I just sat back and listened. It was great to hear my colleagues really wanting our students to engage in recreation reading, for fun. Then came the idea - why can't we have an English Department Shelf in the library? Hmmm I was thinking - how would we catalogue that, how will people find books on a separate random shelf? All the while I was nodding and thinking. This was too good an opportunity to let go by. Okay - let's see what we can do. I found myself saying. So what we did do was create a virtual English Department Shelf on Destiny in the resource List area. Then we photographed the teachers and made little danglers for the books they recommended. The books are now on display throughout the fiction area of the library. The students are enjoying reading the books their teachers recommended and enjoyed. We have a Google Doc list of which book which teacher recommended so that when the book is returned we can return it to the display.  Below is a mosaic showing the work in progress...

Monday, November 11, 2013

Not Reading Habits but Reading Innovations

I am the guest speaker at the PTA coffee morning this Wednesday. I was asked to speak about Reading Habits.  I have been reflecting on my own reading habits, those of my family and friends. 

The picture to the left is of my children. Campbell reading to his younger brother, I believe from the cover and knowing Evan at that age it was a book about diggers. Evan's  interest was everything and anything about diggers, trucks and other large machinery. 

I don't think we can cultivate reading as a habit like we clean our teeth or take our coffee as certain way. I am struggling to find a better word. Reading has always been part of my daily life but I do not think it is a mindless habit. Nothing about our reading should be mindless or routine. Though I have to admit sometimes when the boys were young and they loved certain stories read to them time and time again. it did get rather repetitive. If I tried to skip a page or summarize I was called to account by my ever attentive child. The boys loved those stories for a reason and they certainly were mindful in their appreciation. 

Reading Innovation - there is the phrase I am seeking. I can remember not reading anything for pleasure the whole of my University Career. I was majoring in English Literature. I was delightfully re launched into fiction through Douglas Adam's Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and enjoyed reading the whole series with my husband, we actually read it side by side sharing the same copy. I remember reading The Book Thief and then feeling so unsatisfied with every other book I read for at least 6 months. That book ruined me for the ordinary. I set myself reading goals and enjoy reaching for them. I am inspired by my friends and what they read. I love talking about books with people and going straight to and downloading the free sample to my kindle to try the next day.

I think as parents and educators we should invite our children and students to develop a Reading Innovation and not a Reading Habit. We should enjoy each other's reading innovations as well. 

Friday, October 25, 2013

Google SLAM - like speed geeking but different

Since completing the GAFE course earlier this year I have wanted to participate in a way of sharing the great things we have at our disposal with Google. Our school is a Google School. We use many of the great apps Google provides - gmail, calendars, all the drive apps and of course youtube. Tomorrow the New Literacies team will be running a Google SLAM event at our Professional Development Day. We will be presenting on some of the Apps available to us through the Google suite.

I have chosen to present about SEARCH. After all - search is what Google is all about. I know as a librarian I should be really good at using all the search tricks Google provides but the truth of the matter is there are so many I feel somewhat overwhelmed by them all. Don't get me wrong I love Google and use it all the time. I am not convinced I use it efficiently and some times it takes me a while to find the results I want. So with a little bit of practice I hope to get better. I should try the Google-a-day to build my searching muscles. 

I love the website 2lingual it offers a google search in two languages simultaneously. My ELL students love this site too. They get great websites in their home language and then the English language sites help with the keywords and vocab. Awesome understanding and language building at the same time.

I was going to share Search Stories as well but in preparing for this presentation I discovered they are no longer supported by Google - too much went into maintaining this marvelous video creation tool. Barry Schwartz blogging for Search Engine Round Table shares the sad news.

Here are the slides for my presentation tomorrow - I hope you find them useful.

Monday, October 7, 2013

The value of Association  It is great to be a member of this Association.

In July, while on "Summer Vacation" in the winter of New Zealand I attended the SLANZA conference in Wellington. It was inspirational and will be the subject of many subsequent posts. For this post I want to focus on SLANZA itself. I have been a member of SLANZA since its beginning, before I had any library qualifications or responsibilities. I remain a member even though I am many miles from New Zealand.

What is it about this association that I value so highly? My colleagues. There is a Maori proverb that goes ..
He aha te mea nui te ao?
He tangata! He tangata! He tangata!
What is the most important thing in the world?
It is people! It is people! It is people!
It is in a librarian's nature to share. We are a professional that values access to resources, information and knowledge. I guess that makes us predisposed to sharing ideas, strategies and resources. It makes us stronger as a professional and as people.

It is through this Association that I have received meaningful professional development. My librarian colleagues meet once a term and each meeting has a professional development focus. I have participated in meetings with publishers and booksellers, educational researchers, professors and professionals. The topics ranged from why we should be buying and promoting graphic novels to how to encourage reluctant readers. 

It is through SLANZA that I have received valuable one to one professional mentoring and have been able to encourage others to enter into mentoring relationships. 

Now I am on the other side of the planet why do I consider this Association so valuable? The electronic Journal "Collected" is produced 3 - 4 times a year. My colleagues contribute articles and ideas - sharing their expertise and inspiring me in my work. SLANZA is on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads, I am connected in with my colleagues through social networking as well as professional networking. 

I will continue to be a member of SLANZA throughout my professional lifetime. It seems crazy to me to try work alone. Crazy and lonely. I truly value the work of the people involved in this Association and I thank them for contributing so generously to my life as a librarian.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Consultation - Collaboration HELP is what matters defines Consultation as a meeting for deliberation, discussion or decision and Collaboration as the act of working with another or others on a joint project.

When discussing collaboration with fellow Teacher Librarians I have heard that the aim is to make sure the Teacher Librarian is as involved with the student learning as much as possible. The ideal would be to plan with the teacher, deliver the content/skills to the student together with the teacher and then to evaluate the learning with the students and teachers together. Being involved with the whole process is collaboration nirvana. I wonder if this goal is totally unrealistic and unsustainable in the school environment? 

Often consultation is seen as the poor alternative to collaboration. I think the measure of this should be the person who is seeking your assistance.

Last week I had many experiences working with colleagues and students that would be described as consultation rather than collaboration. My input to their project came at their request and was only a small part in helping them achieve success in their goal. We looked at how to create resource lists in Destiny,  how to find books on Destiny and on the library shelves, how to access online databases and how to make notes using Google Docs. All important skills and all essential for the person's success.

I hope to develop better skills at both consultations and collaboration.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Delightful Duets - my focus for 2013 - 14

I saw this TED talk at the end of the academic year - Lisa Bu gives an amazing account of the impact of reading on her life, thoughts and character. Books changed her shattered dream into a different dream. The way she read books lifted her understanding of many cultures and gave her great joy, as you can see on her face. She ends her talk with the wish "May books be always with you".

I decided that my reading goal for 2013-14 academic year would be to do as she suggests read books in pairs, comparative reading for life. Where do I start? She seemed to make quite deliberate choices in her paired reads. 

My first pair of books were complimentary. I real Carol Dweck's book Mindset: The new psychology of success. Dweck's work has been the topic of many conversations amongst my colleagues at work last year. She writes about fixed and growth mindsets. People with growth mindsets are more resislient, often much more success than others. They see that their own efforts can make a difference to their learning and success. I found the many anecdotes she gave very interesting and made her research and findings very accessible. Already the leaders of our school are initiating further discussions about growth mindsets. This is an exciting prospect for our students.

The very next book I read was Gifted Hands Ben Carson's autobiography. This is a great story of a man who went from being a student who was always bottom of the class to being the one who was incredibly successful. Ben Carson is a leading neurological surgeon and has had many successes pioneering life saving surgery. What helped this boy change from being a challenged learner to a successful one? His mother always emphasized that his effort would bring rewards. She challenged him to read and as he did he found he remembered more, his reading ability improved and with it his ability to complete math problems, engage with science and finally discover his passion for the brain.

Both books with the brain as a focus. Both books showing how a growth mindset can help some one develop and fulfill their potential. A delightful duet to begin my reading challenge this year.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

A work in progress...

Serife working on her new Welcome display
This week we welcomed our students back to school. It was not the smoothest start to the year for our library team. We were unable to lend books as our data upload to our LMS (Library Management System) was delayed due to technical difficulties with the Internet and SMS (Student Management System) access problems. Students still came to the library, read the books here, studied here and had classes here. The good news is next week we will be able to resume normal service. 

The great thing about life in a school is that each year there is an opportunity to start afresh. A magical time of reinvention. My colleague Serife creates a major welcome display just outside the library doors each year. You can see the beginnings of it on the right here. It is a major work of art and cannot be rushed. It stays with us for the entire year. At the moment it is still a work in progress. 

Our library team is a work in progress as well. We welcomed a new team ember this week. Ozlem was still smiling at the end of the week - always a good sign - despite the difficulties with issuing and Internet. 

Our Inquiry library is continuing to evolve. We have a new question for the wonderwall next week - "What is cool about school?" Also our wonderwall has evolved from black to green. 

With R. David Lankes' books "Expect more" and "The Atlas of New Librarianship" will also be helping us to work toward our school vision of being forward thinking and exceptional in every respect. As I said we are indeed a work in progress.

Serife, Amanda and Ozlem - Marmara Library Team 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Library Orientation

East Coast Bays Library, Auckland, New Zealand
Every time my colleagues go on vacation I ask them to do something special for me - take their photo outside a library. AS a result of their generosity of time and spirit I have many great photos of my wonderful colleagues outside libraries across the globe. What do I do with these pics? I use them as a resource for library orientation.

In New Zealand we gave all new students in year 9 (start of secondary school) an activity that involved finding out where in the world their library was using clues on the back of the photo. We called the Amazing Library Race - once they had the correct location they had to locate resources about their country at specific places around the library thus getting to know the layout of their new library and some of the online resources (database and library web page) as well. The students loved this activity - our library team loved it too though it was exhausting (so much so we only ever scheduled three in one day)
Celsus library, Ephesus, Turkey

Now I am in Istanbul I am using the same idea but adapted for a teacher orientation. I love our library catalogue "Destiny" and I really want to introduce our new teachers to some of its features. I think it is a great tool for encouraging reading and information literacy skills. We took the new staff through this orientation last Wednesday with some great feedback about how useful it was and how much they enjoyed the experience. 

My challenge this year is to add a great library orientation for our new students. I want to use the photos and the activities. My New Literacies Team colleague Caroline suggested I use a buddy approach so that someone in the class who has used Destiny before team up with the new student and they work through a checklist activity to ensure the student has some hands on introduction to the system. I love this idea. I will start to craft such a thing to try out as soon as possible. I guess it should be in grade level for relevance and appropriateness. My mind is a whirl with ideas. 

In the meantime - why the photos of libraries around the world? Relevance and context - I want my colleagues and students to be aware that libraries are contributing positively to communities all around the world. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Happy New Year?
I am a Southern Hemisphere girl. I have just been on Summer holiday to the winter in New Zealand. Now I am back and about to start the school year I want to greet my colleagues with "Happy New Year". I get mixed and mystified reactions to this salutation. To me it is the most natural thing in the world to say "Happy New Year" at the start of a school year simply because in New Zealand the school year starts in January, after the summer holidays. 

What I like most about new years is the chance to set goals. Once we get back to school and gather as a library team we will try to do that together. What shall we continue to improve on? What new things shall we try? What things shall we abandon all together? The key to all these questions is our desire to become an Inquiry Library that enables our school community to be the best that they can be. OK I know that is a little clumsy as a vision statement but it is a good starting point. 

So "Happy New Year" to all my Northern Hemisphere Colleagues as start the 2013- 2014 academic year.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Weeding and weaving

We try to have a planned approach to weeding. We take a different area each month to weed but as with some house keeping tasks other things take priority. I recently weeded the entire fiction collection - adult, young adult and PYP. My criteria - condition of the book, how old it is, how often is has been borrowed and whether it serves a greater purpose staying on the shelf (if we have no other fiction set in Kenya for example)  I also order many replacements as we go.

What to do with all the old books? This year our secondary school had a field day in the last week. Each Community and Service group had to come up with a game. Our student librarians came up with this game - balancing a book on your head while navigating a trail. It was surprising popular and a welcome change of pace from the other more rowdy and race type of games.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

An inquiry key

We are working on making very clear links between our ideas and practice, especial;ly for the lower grades. When it comes to searching for information we all use KEY words. For our grades 1 and 2 we made colourful keys and laminated them. The students can use whiteboard markers to write their key words on the keys. They write the main search word on the large line and then alternative words on the lines along side the main word. Then if their main word is not found in our catalogue, Destiny,  or search engine or index then they have alternative words to search. 

Here a student is searching for "hummingbirds" and he alternative word is "birds". There were no books on "hummingbirds" in our library but many books about birds. Once she had found a book about birds she used her KEY once more to search the index for "hummingbirds. Using the KEY brought success in her search and helped to teach her the importance of using synonyms when using key words. 

A simple idea which seems to be working well for our students. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Tipping Point 302 GLA

This book is all about libraries and librarians. We are agents of change in  our communities and we need to be aware and leverage the three agents of change to create tipping points: the Law of the Few, the Stickiness Factor and the Power of Context.

Librarians must embody the three persona Gladwell speaks of in the Law of the Few we have to be Connectors, Mavens and Persuaders. Today at my work I was a Maven, bringing information to colleagues and students alike. I connected people with ideas, tools, resources and one another. I persuaded a student to read a novel version of a graphic novel he had read and enjoyed.

This is a great read for all and especially affirming for librarians....

Malcolm Gladwell's website

Saturday, April 13, 2013

A little mystery is just what we need... and like.

All wrapped up with a message clue..
 Last week we created our version of "Blind date with a book". We saw other libraries around the world doing this for their patrons - images are on pinterest and in blog posts like this one from Rockville Library

Sharing the surprises
We were amazed at the response from our students. We chose YA fiction with International settings and issues to encourage not only the risk taking element but also international mindedness. We limited the books to students in grades 5 - 12 because they are Young Adult books. We set up the display on Thursday morning and by Friday morning the entire display was decimated. 

The sign of a successful display - many gaps to fill.
Unwrapping the surprise
Word got out and students came in specially to choose one of the mystery books. The challenge we gave to the students was to choose a book based on the message and then commit to read it. What impressed me was the willingness on the part of the student to participate. Boys were opening books that had covers that were a little 'feminine' but they were not put off, in fact they were more willing to take a risk to read something very different to what they would usually choose. Girls were unwrapping books about war and instead of saying they weren't interested they were checking more details by reading the blurb and then starting the book. 

Most of the books came from my "Round the World in 80 books" adventure last year - reading 80 YA fiction books meant I knew what to choose. It was so much fun to watch the students unwrap their books and then excitedly share them with their friends.

We have now had a delegation from the lower grades to make blind dates for them too. Next week...

Lost boy, lost girl 962.404 DAU

Grade 5 are enjoying listening to Pavarna's Journey by Deborah Ellis - their teacher is reading it to them. I am delighted, not only because they are enjoying the book but also because their teacher has downloaded this eBook to her i-pad and that is the version she is reading. More on eBooks in a later post. She has however, had to ban the students from accessing the other books in this series until they have finished Parvana's Journey

Fortunately I had just finished reading Lost boy, lost girl  by John Bul Dau and Martha Arual Akech and was able to enlist one of the avid readers in this class to help me make an important decision. At the moment we have the book in the MYP/DP nonfiction section but I am wondering if it could be a good fit in the PYP nonfiction area. I asked her to read this book, on a similar topic to Parvana's Journey but nonfiction and help me make the decision.

The account is written in first person by both John and Martha and alternates chapter by chapter between the two of them. They were both fairly young when the war broke out and for a short time their lives were untouched by it. I like the way they described 'normal' life before the war. Their lives were simple and while John's was a village life and very different from the experiences of our students, Martha's life was in the city and much the same as many of our students.

When the war over took them the suddenness and violence was shocking. It is well written. Simply told from the perspectives of the children that they were at the time. Both John aged around 12 - 13 and Martha aged around 8 - 9  took responsibility for others younger than themselves. The adults that were in their lives had either been killed or had run away in a different direction and so were separated from them. They walked miles, they foraged for food, they hid, they ran for their lives - they survived.

The book is divided into sections - Peace - War - Refugees and so on. The daunting thing is how often the section war appears. There are photos of John and Martha and their lives. John Bul Dau is the man in the documentary "The lost Boys". Martha's story brings to light that there were lost girls as well. The whole account is a powerful and memorable account of the terrible realities faced by so many children in the Sudan.

Below is a Book Trailer for the book. A great review from Helen's Book Blog.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

A good day

Not that every day isn't a good day BUT today was really good because today our Library Team for Community and Service (the student librarians) chose the books and sent them to the Shree Mangal Dvip School for Himalayan Children. This school has an Amazon wishlist and we chose the books from their list together. The students chose books they had enjoyed themselves or ones they thought the students in Nepal would enjoy.

That was really good and then the r-e-a-l-l-y good thing happened - as we asked our students to write messages to attach to the children receiving the books our students started to ask so many questions. How old are these children? Why are they at boarding school? How often do they see their parents? Why do you (Ms Zaza) go there every summer to teach art? Question after question about this country Nepal and these children, who like them are learning in English language but that is not their first language.

So today our students sent 10 brand new books to a school in Nepal which has a small library run by students.

Today our students spent 30 minutes asking about and thinking about children on the other side of the world who have a very different set of life circumstances to them.

Today was a really good day in our Inquiry library. Thanks Ms Zaza. Thanks student librarians.
Shopping on Amazon with Ms Zaza

Sunday, March 24, 2013

CEESA conference presentation

I find that nothing hones my skills or makes me more nervous than presenting to my colleagues so when Ayse and I decided to submit a  presentation for consideration at the CEESA conference in Prague this March we really were stepping out and being risk takers. CEESA is the Central and Eastern European Schools Association and is describes itself in its mission statement: CEESA is a collaborative community of international schools which enhances school effectiveness and inspires student learning and development.  

So in the spirit of collaboration Ayse and I offered a workshop on how we teach her class to make Digital Book Trailers. Our goal was to inspire, offer some ideas that work and show some tools that are available to teachers and students who want to try this way to recommend a great a book.

On the day we found our our workshop proposal had been accepted we both were elated and then terrified. Together we taught this unit and together we presented the workshop about it. 

We showed ways to enable the students to understand that images relayed  ideas and emotion. Our presentation included film trailers, advertisements, activities involving images and of course the final student products. I have uploaded it to slide share just for glimpse of what we did. It doesn't inlcude the images workshop we did with the students or with the workshop participants but it does give you an idea of what we did. Enjoy.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Wondering at work - mystery

When creating a book display showing "Mystery" books we created a tagxedo word cloud using synonyms for mystery. I like how so many of the words also apply to wondering

This week I was paid a huge compliment by a colleague when he was discussing some course readings on a forum. The reading was an article by Barbara Fister entitled "Playing for Keeps: Rethinking How Research Is Taught to Today's College Students" My colleague shared about how we use the Wonder of the Week and invite our school community to answer the question we post on the library door. This week's question "How do hibernating animals know when to wake up?" 

Anyway here are some responses to my colleague's post:   The example of the post it note allowed students to engage without the pressures of the right answer or proper procedure which brings learning back to one of its essential properties, inquisitiveness. Setting a challenge but not prescribing the path to success enables students to find their own way, in their own time, allowing for ownership of the process."

"I also really appreciate the examples you gave of incorporating play into the library. The post-it example facilitates intrinsic motivation by piquing students’ curiosity through an interesting question. It also creates a version of the collaborative research environment Kuhlthau describes by allowing students to see other approaches and responses to the question."

Simmons, Michelle. "LIBR:287: Information Literacy." Lesson #5 Discussion. San Jose State University, 2013. Web. 3 March 2013.

I was so delighted by these responses. I had never thought of the wonder door as achieving these things but it really does. Inquiry at play. My kind of inquiry learning. Barbara's article is worth the read as well.

So we continue to encourage wondering, mystery and play in our library. It is a learning process for us and the students at the same time.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Drive 153.1

Autonomy, Purpose and Mastery according to Daniel Pink these are the key components to motivation. Continuing my quest to read more non-fiction this year I chose this book as so many people are talking about it. I can see why. I found the ideas Daniel Pink explored very interesting. 

It seems that the things we thought motivated people actually make them less motivated. Carrots of more pay, more rewards and sticks of negative performance reviews are not key to motivating people of any age in most situations. The experiments and research Pink quotes are compelling. This has applications for all schools. I will take some key ideas and try to apply them in our library. Perhaps our team needs one afternoon a week to simply be creative with the library, our systems, our look or our Inquiry focus. I wonder how that will go? 

Dan's website includes a test you can take to see whether you are intrinsically or extrinsically motivated. I have signed up for his newsletter.Here is Dan Pink's TED talk

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Wondering at work

Last Thursday some colleagues and I were treated to a day with the Apple Educators team at Ciragan Palace Hotel. The hotel is number 14 in the 15 most expensive hotels in the world. Luxury and History rolled into one. I admit - I was a little sceptical about the day - I was expecting to have Apple products promoted all day long. We were all given ipads to play with but apart from that there was little mention of Apple products. We were there to look at teaching and learning and that we did. 

My favourite part of the day was with Ewan MacIntosh. He was talking about creativity and problem solving and how we can use some of the models for creative thinking on how to help our students become great inquirers. He has been working with schools to help them develop classrooms which create inquiry. One of the things he had them doing was to generate as many questions as they could right at the start of the Inquiry. They write them on post-it notes. Then they classify them as Googleable and nonGoogleable. The Googleable questions they then go and find out about directly from the Internet. They gather as much information as they can to become experts in their particular interests. Then they try to find experts in the fields to directly ask the questions. The students become problem finders and then problem solvers. 

Ewan MacIntosh speaking about problems and problem solving on TEDx

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Love Reading Week - Author visit

Author visits are fantastic. Ree Gillett and her puppets were a big hit with our students. She spent two days with us and shared not only her story and songs but also provided some great thinking routines for teachers to use with their students. Thanks Ree.

Ree and Freddy visit our school on PhotoPeach

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Love Reading Week starts tomorrow...
I have written 15 quizzes - one for each day of the week at the three levels; lower primary, upper primary and secondary. The idea is for classes to take the quiz each day. The questions are of course about books, our library, our library management system, Destiny, and searching. Last year these were really popular - I hope they will be again.

In the secondary quiz the final question each day is the answer to a google a day Google post a new question daily and people have to use their search skills to answer it. I am hoping this will lead to some homerooms deciding to take the Google a day quiz each morning. 

Why a daily quiz? It is part of our desire to become an Inquiry Library. 

Other events and activities this week - Ree Gillett is visiting both campuses. It is exciting to have an author visit during Love Reading Week. Every lunchtime we will have story readings for both primary and secondary students. On Friday we have a school spirit day - dressing up as a book character. Our PYA is running a Book Swap at both campuses. 

It will be busy. It will be fun. I hope it will be a great celebration of our love for reading.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Making thinking visible 370.152

This afternoon our Professional Learning Group (PLG) began our discussion of Making Thinking Visible by Ron Ritchhart, Mark Church and Karin Morrison. Our PLG has been going for two years and with staff leaving and  new staff coming in each year the number remains about 8 - 10 people. Up until now we have read articles and reports to discuss. Terie (my colleague, teaching coach and HOD Math) and I try to provide treats to eat - today Terie made an amazing carrot cake for us - good food and friendly chat with colleagues makes for a great PLG meeting. This is our first book. We started with the first two chapters. 

We started by viewing one of the clips from the DVD that came with the book. This is a new variation on our PLG. It did slant our discussion towards critiquing the thinking routine we saw being used rather than the chapters we had read. I have been trying to use thinking routines more in my lessons these days as I want the students much more involved and engaged with their own learning. The focus of the first chapter was to show how thinking and learning share the goal of creating understanding. The thinking routines, explaining thinking through Blooms taxonomies or other models all need to enable the students to come to an understanding of the subject they are learning.

We will be reading the entire book and discussing it over the next few weeks. More cake and friendly chat to come.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Getting ready for Love Reading week

 The week after next will be our annual "Love Reading Week" . Well when I say 'annual' we started last year and we are doing it again this year and will be continuing again next year - that makes it annual doesn't it?

Last year all the primary classes wrote poems which began "I read because..." inspired by the poem by Richard Peck 

I read because one
 life isn’t enough, and 
in the pages of a book I can be anybody;
I read because the 
words that build 
the story become mine, 
to build my life;

I read not for happy
 endings but for new
 beginnings; I’m just
 beginning myself, and 
I wouldn’t mind a map;

I read because I have
 friends who don’t, and
 young though they are,
 they’re beginning to
 run out of material;

I read because every
 journey begins at 
the library, and it’s
 time for me to start 

I read because one
 of these days I’m going
 to get out of this
 town, and I’m going to
 go everywhere and meet
 everyone, and I want
 to be ready.”

–Richard Peck, author
, Zihuatanejo, Mexico, 

So each student wrote their own line to add to the poem and then I created a tagxedo cloud picture. I blogged about the whole week last February.

Now getting ready for this year we have added to the mix - an author visit, reading in the library at lunchtimes and a final dress sup day (what was I thinking?)

I have yet to write the quizzes which were such a big hit last year. I am thinking of adding a Google a day to the secondary school one just to see how they go.

More on this later - obviously...

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Google is all about search

This week I started the GAFE course, Google Apps for Educators run through Buffalo State University New York this course if facilitated by Jeff Utecht.

What attracted me to this course was a colleague's recommendation. He included the link to the website and after  reading what it was about - I was sold. This course is all about using Google Apps and Cloud based technologies in the classroom. The first learning outcome listed was "Search more effectively" Just what a busy school librarian needs to know - especially when every student and staff member has a default setting of searching on Google. My own default setting is to search on Google.

Today I did the first lesson on searching (there are 4 lessons on this all together including one called "Becoming a search master" - just what I need to know. All the resources are for teachers in schools.

The scary part is that I will be assessed for comments in forums, tests and a final 10 minute presentation showing work I am doing in my school using the things I have learnt on this course. YIKES. If you want to take the course - the next one begins April 1st.

I will keep you posted as to how I am going....

Friday, January 25, 2013

Blogging in two places

Our school has developed class and subject blogs this year and of course our library has it's own blog.

We are using Wordpress and have a generic banner for all classes which could use some beautification in my humble opinion. BUT we are there and it is our goal to blog at least once a week. My colleague Pla is very good at creating photo galleries. There are some lovely galleries about lunchtime in our library, seminars and the like. I add the content pages and have started a libguide style section for our staff and students in the tab 'Learning Support for classes'.

Here is this week's offering about the Destiny Quest mobile app. This post will also be added to the IICS Facebook page to let parents know as well.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Miracle on the Hudson 363.12

Do you remember the news footage of this plane crash? I think the photo on the cover of the book is the most memorable image for me. I watched the news as the world celebrated with the passengers and crew of this flight - they had survived, they were safe. Then a few weeks later I saw the passengers and their families meet the pilot and crew of this plane. They were so thankful for his actions. They were so thankful to have their loved ones. They were so thankful.

This book takes us on the flight through the accounts of the passengers on the plane. The writers, William Prochnau and Laura Parker, introduce us to these people as they start their morning on the day of the flight. They introduce us to many of the passengers and throughout the book we read their accounts of each stage of this very short flight. I had expected to read more about the hero of the story the pilot but this was the story of the passengers and it is very well told. A book review from Huntington News gives more details.

Interspersed between the passengers' stories the writers include some amazing facts and information about everything from the bird strikes, other crashes, the rescuers. I was a passenger on 8 flights during the winter holiday, four domestic and four International. I had this book to read before those flights but for some strange reason put off reading it. I am pleased I have read it and time will tell whether any of it stays in my mind for my next flight.

The trouble with reading non-fiction is - it is so real.

Here is the pilot, Captain Sullenberger - telling his side of the story and below that the passengers meet with Captain Sully and his crew.


Friday, January 18, 2013

Distance no probelm

Today while in my library at school I was able to meet with a writer who was in Valencia, Spain and visit a school in Sofia, Bulgaria. Both experiences were made possible by Skype and supplemented through Twitter

Our school is going to hosting a new writer - Ree Gillett - in February for our Love Reading Week. We were chatting about the things she needed me to set up and I was showing her our library and the space she would be working in. It was great to 'meet' Ree after a few weeks of emails trying to make her visit to Istanbul work. She will be bringing her book, Freddy Frog and the lost kite her puppets, some creative thinking strategies to share with our students and teachers and her singing voice. We are so looking forward to her visit. 

Today the third meeting of  LTEN took place at the Anglo-American School of Sofia. LTEN was created by one of my colleagues, Tom Johnson and it stands for  Learning and Technology Exchange Network. This Network is for teachers in schools in and near Istanbul, Turkey. We organise the agenda of the meeting through the wikispace. We try and meet three times a year for a whole day and share ideas, tools and learning strategies. Although I could not be at the meeting in Sofia I did attend for 40 minutes through Skype. A teacher in Sofia hosted me via Skype and an ipad as they were having speedgeek sessions run by the students in the school. I was able to see grade 2 students present about voicethread and grade 5 students about using Google apps in their classroom. Wonderful. When I wasn't able to be on Skype I stayed in touch through the twitter hash tag #LTEN. 

Two different meetings , two different parts of the world and all through Skype. Recently a principal I was speaking to commented that Skype was probably the most under utilised tool in schools today. I agree. Think of who our students could connect to using this free technology. Sometimes it is simply not knowing who to connect with that prevents this technology being utilised effectively. Perhaps we librarians can start to create a wiki or database with possible Skype contacts for student and teachers. Something to ponder....

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Everything bad is good for you 360

The title alone made me want to read this book. The full title is Everything bad is good for you: How today's popular culture is actually making us smarter. Steven Johnson is a well known social commentator with other books like The Ghost Map about the cholera epidemic in London and his latest Future Perfect about how people were using decentralized peer networks to solve problems. 

In Everything bad is good for you Steven Johnson is looking at popular culture like computer and video games and television. His findings are fascinating. As time has gone on all of these popular media have become more sophisticated, demanding greater levels of intellectual involvement from their consumers and audiences. So what has been popularly described as creating a dumber society is in fact - and Johnson provides compelling evidence to prove his case, doing the opposite.

I really liked his references to the importance of reading as part of popular culture. "We should all encourage our kids to read more, to develop a comfort with and an appetite for reading. What are the rewards of reading, exactly? Broadly speaking they fall into two categories: the information conveyed by the book, and the mental work you have to do to process and store that information. When we encourage kids to read for pleasure, we're generally doing so because of the mental exercise involved." (pg 21-22)

He also acknowledges the negative influences of gaming and television watching but on the whole his message is very positive and optimistic. We are all getting smarter not dumber from enjoying these forms of media.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Wondering at work - the inside of the wonder door

So each week we have a new 'wonder' on the wonder door of our library. We put the new question on the outside of the library door - it is also right beside the print/photocopier and often there are people waiting for their printing. When we see a group and we have a moment spare ourselves we grab the post it notes and markers and ask the students to add their answers.

What happens to the answers when the week is over and there is a new question? They all go to the inside of the wonder door, inside the library. We show the question from last week, the answers AND some books from our collection that would help people find the correct answer. Here displayed is the question "What makes the earth go round?' - a question one of our grade 10 students suggested. There are many answers - some very serious involving gravity, the sun and so on and others a little more light hearted - love, money and certain people. Below are a few books which would contribute to the answers. So our wonder door is current for two weeks. On the outside with the new question of the week and on the inside with all the answers contributed and some sources of information for the answers.

Loving being an Inquiry Librarian working in our Inquiry Library....

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Wondering at work - language

In our library we have many columns to support the building in case of an earthquake. Here is the column beside our work area. We have started to create our "Wondering at Work" area. It is thoroughly appropriate that we use this supporting column as we are adding questions and words which support our quest at becoming an Inquiry Library.

One question we asked ourselves was what does an Inquiry Library sound like? It was inspired by this blog post 'Inquiry is an approach, not a subject' by Kath Murdoch. She asks these great questions in her post How might I re-think my language to better reflect the reality of a day in the life of an inquiry classroom? Our learning involves us inquiring as readers, as writers, as mathematicians, as scientists, as historians, as musicians – as team members and as self-managers.  How to I let my students know that they are inquirers more often than when they are simply “doing” a unit? So we decided one way we could add to the language of Inquiry in our library was to have a word of the week. We would try to use it as we speak, as we blog, as we think and we would encourage one another and our students and colleagues to adopt the word as well. 

So far we have had the words; peruse, browse and now bibliophile. Each week one of our library teams selects a new word and in our Monday morning team meeting she let's us know what the word of the week will be. This is a small step in the process of ensuring that we sound like an Inquiry library. We want to encourage questions, reflection, thoughtfulness and we are trying to ensure our language assists this process.