I am becoming increasingly aware of myself as a visual learner. This blog post from the wonderful Sally Pewhairangi is a great reminder of this for me.
This had a dual effect on me.
Firstly, I immediately saw the potential for English teachers to use this as an analysis tool for their class novel studies. The students could create their own key as to how to analyse the text, maybe as a plot summary or maybe as a way of charting use of language, or possibly even plotting a character’s movement or development during the novel. I’m sure there are other ways to use it too.
Secondly, it reminded me of why it’s so important to share your ideas with others, and how exciting it is to have new ideas sparked by others sharing their experiences.
At the end of last term we settled on a very simple idea to fill space above our fiction shelves and the ceiling so it didn’t look so bare.
Christine, one of our part-time staff had been processing the new Bear Grylls’ book A Survival Guide for Life: how to achieve your goals, thrive in adversity and grow in character. She made an off-hand comment about how striking some of Bear’s sayings are that are scattered throughout the book. The ensuing conversation led to a brainstorming session which resulted in us deciding to create a series of posters with great sayings to inspire our boys.
I sent an email out to staff asking them to send me some of their favourite quotes they either use in the classroom or would like to use with students and was pleased with the response. I also trawled through ones I’d saved and others on some good websites and came up with 50.
After typing up the quotes we printed them on buff coloured A3 paper, laminated them and then stuck them up on the wall.
I was a happy librarian. But what has made me an ecstatic librarian was observing a Year 7 teacher using these with her class during the last five minutes of her library visits both last week and this week. She asked the boys to have a look and choose one that they liked or that they wanted to share with the rest of the class. She then gave them the opportunity to read out their chosen quote and invited them to share what it meant to them or what deeper meaning it might have.
Here are three they chose today:
My own personal favourite is:
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right” – Henry Ford
I want to make it a round 60 so I need another few yet. Have you got a special inspirational quote? I’d love you to share it here so I can find my final 10.
Yesterday was a big day for me! About a month ago I had been invited to speak to student teachers studying at Otago University in Dunedin about the process of scaffolding research and guided inquiry as part of their Literacy Across the Curriculum paper. I was a little nostalgic and it felt even more surreal walking into a lecture theatre I had sat in during my year at teachers college back in the early 1980′s, only this time I was the one standing at the front talking to students, some of whom had already completed degrees and were now training to go into classrooms as teachers.
The time allocated just wasn’t long enough! There was so much to tell them, share with them and discuss with them. I easily had enough content to spread across two sessions, but we were constrained to one and so I made the best of it. My hope is that our short 50 minutes has only just opened up potential discussions as they all contemplate graduation and beginning in their own classes next year. To that end I have invited them to join me in the new Scaffolding Research and Guided Inquiry Group on the Virtual Learning Network. I hope we can continue to discuss what guided research and inquiry can look like in classrooms, as these skills are relevant to all subject disciplines in all schools across every year level.
As part of my workshop at the SLANZA 2013 conference on engaging with your school community I talked about the importance of articulating your school vision. Here is a concept from Buffy Hamilton which will enable you to take that vision for your school library and puts meat on the bones of it so that everyone can see. I love not only the visual aspect to this idea of mapping the work you are doing in your library but also the connection to the work being done in collaboration with the rest of the school. It makes those links very clear and understandable for anyone who is involved or has an interest. I also think the idea of having this both physically in the library as well as online is important for the sharing of these ideas and projects as well as the promotion of further discussion and brainstorming. Mapping this work will also provide intersections for further collaboration and allows you to identify and follow through on areas for potential evidence based practice. Thanks so much to Buffy for sharing this. Great idea, and I look forward to seeing how this progresses.
Originally posted on The Unquiet Librarian:
While I was in Cleveland, Ohio as Learning Strategist for the Cleveland Public Library, I was fortunate to see the work of many different kinds of organizations outside of education who were interested in supporting learning for people of all ages in formal and informal spaces. One of the most interesting experiences was going with my friend and colleague Jennifer Schwelik of INFOhio to visit Patti Choby at the Cobalt Group. During my visit there, I had the opportunity to learn about their work with the Broadway P-16 initiative [learn more here] and how they were mapping and aligning their work with other community organizations and initiatives with a simple yet effective approach utilizing old-fashioned bulletin board material, giant Post-It notes, construction paper, notecards, and painter’s tape. The effect, though, was anything but stale—this living organic wall really invited me in to the work they were doing and to see in a very present sort of way the alignment of their work with other groups to address community needs and initiatives. These kinds of experiences and my work with Tim Diamond and Anastasia Diamond-Ortiz in the Knowledge Office at CPL very much continue to inform my work in the present since our regular and deep conversations about community engagement, the user experience, data visualization, and participatory learning translate across many kinds of libraries and learning spaces.
Jennifer Lund, my wonderful fellow librarian here at Norcross High School, and I are working on what we call our “grand vision” action plan to elevate our media center as an integral learning space for formal and informal learning experiences here in our NHS community. Each curriculum area is currently establishing literacy goals across content areas to support one of our school’s LSPI (Local School Plan for Improvement) targets of identifying best strategies for building literacy skills. After some meetings and conversations with departments and faculty, we were thinking about how we could connect our work as professionals and goals for the media program with the academic goals of each department. I suddenly remembered the wall, and Jennifer and I both feel that the Cobalt group model is one we’d like to replicate both in the library physical space (we have a wall picked out in our office) and in a virtual way.
EBLIP, The Evidence Based Library and Information Practice Journal is a rich source of articles and research findings, the purpose of which is to contribute to the decision making of information professionals and their professional practice.
The latest edition has just been released and as explained by editor Alison Brettle in her editorial, while the journal is hosted by the University of Alberta in Canada, it has a global perspective and influence with contributors and editorial members in the US and the UK as well as Canada.
I have found it to be a important source of quality articles related to research in the field of librarianship, which I have tapped into regularly in the four years since I discovered it.
I have downloaded two articles from Vol. 8 No. 3 to read: Developing and Applying an Information Literacy Rubric to Student Annotated Bibliographies and What Five Minutes in the Classroom Can Do to Uncover the Basic Information Literacy Skills of Your College Students: A Multiyear Assessment Study.
The first one will be particularly useful as I have been focussing on using senior students’ bibliographies as a way of collecting evidence on range and depth of resources chosen for assignments and have been investigating the use of annotated bibliographies at either Year 12 or 13. The second one will be useful in the continuing work I’m doing in the field of transitioning students from secondary to tertiary study.
I also downloaded an evidence summary of the seven distinct roles children display when searching online at home and a brief commentary on the librarian as a practitioner/researcher.
As well as being a very useful source of relevant articles for your professional practice, some could also serve as entries for your revalidation journal if you are a RLIANZA, professionally registered librarian.
Why not consider using an article that you have found particularly pertinent or relevant as a way of promoting discussion with other library professionals. If you share it with colleagues in your local area, why not suggest either a coffee or dinner meeting where you can get together and discuss it or brainstorm ways of implementing ideas shared into our schools or our daily practice.
Dr Susan Sandretto from Otago University gave a stunning keynote address at the recent SLANZA Conference in Wellington on Planning for Critical Literacy. She is an engaging speaker and able to communicate well the need for us as teachers and librarians to create opportunities for teaching students about critical literacy and have them explore what it means to analyse text critically. I have been fortunate enough to hear Susan speak on two previous occasions and she has been pivotal in giving me the necessary skills to design these two lessons, which help students grasp this concept in a digital environment.
This is the poster I developed using information Susan gave in hand-out form at her workshop I attended about two years ago. I had several teaching colleagues also attend this workshop, and these posters were ultimately displayed in classrooms throughout the school. I even saw it on the wall of my friend’s home office when I was visited her recently – she also happens to a former teaching colleague!
Lesson 1: How to Evaluate a Website – Q.U.I.C.K
As part of developing an embedded programme towards achieving this aim, I designed this lesson to get Y8 students thinking about how to decide whether a website they are looking at is a good choice for their research needs.
I would typically teach this lesson after having already taught the class about keyword searching and selecting websites from their results.
The Quality Information Checklist is a great resource to engage students with how to evaluate websites and promote discussion in small groups about why it’s important to do this.
Lesson 2: Evaluating Websites
I have designed another lesson activity that I typically teach in either Year 9 or 10 where I remind them of the Q.U.I.C.K steps and get them to use as many as necessary to evaluate an assigned website. Here’s the lesson plan and a link to the Livebinder resource:
It really brings home the message to students that just because a website looks slick and has lots of bells and whistles, doesn’t make it appropriate, relevant, correct or even true.
How often do you observe your students, especially the younger ones, in the act of research? And how many of them choose to sit down at a computer, type in their question and then click on the first website in the list?
Getting them to understand there is a process they can follow for effective research results, and that there are some steps they need to take BEFORE plonking themselves in front of a computer screen is a bit of a mission, wouldn’t you agree?
So I have developed several strategies aimed at teaching the process of research in an attempt to make it as transparent as possible for students.
Strategy 1: Developing and embedding a school-wide research process
This is the visual to support this:
This works well as an A3 poster displayed in the library and in classrooms.
It can also be inserted into workbooks or assignment sheets to reinforce and remind where applicable.
Strategy 2: Identifying each step in the process
This supports your school research process and helps as a visual reminder for students which is the main step in the process they should be using at each stage. I have used this as a small symbol at the top of each page in my research booklets.
Strategy 3: Explaining the research process
This can be tricky as no matter how concise we are or how simple we try to make it, it can be difficult to explain research in terms our students can understand. Several years ago fellow librarian and good friend Donna Watt explained the way she went about introducing research to her junior students (11 and 12 year olds) to a group of librarians and teachers as part of a professional learning day. Several in the group had real “light bulb” moments as it became clearer to them and they began to think about research in a different way. Donna was kind enough to allow me to create the power-point I’ve shared above using her Pizza Process idea.
Last term I used this presentation with all of our Year 8 classes before embarking on a unit where I was teaching online research and note taking skills. It worked very well. I created cards with each research step visual on it and made up sets of them to use in small groups as an activity after running through the power-point.
Here is my lesson plan for this: