Monthly Archives: September 2011

Trends, transformations, and change in libraries – David Lee King and Hamish Curry at the City Library

Thanks to my colleague Denise at my new school third term ended nicely with an excuse to revisit the City Library and come together with a largish group of people for an injection of ideas mixed with wine and a very impressive spread. This is what we attended –

David Lee King – Digital Branch & Services Manager at the Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library
Freak Out, Geek Out, or Seek Out: Trends, Transformations, and Change in Libraries

Hamish Curry – Education and Onsite Learning Manager at the State Library of Victoria
Putting IT back in Reality

When: 2.00pm to 5.00pm on 23 September 2011.

Where: The Majorca Room, City Library, 253 Flinders Lane, Melbourne Victoria 3000

Between them David Lee King and Hamish Curry gave us enough food for thought to last for a long time but for some reason two things pushed their way into my mind and disabled all the rest – risk and fun. This is something which has been on my mind for a while. Thinking about the library as a space, a service, a hub, a resource, and everything else that it encompasses, I agree with Hamish that people coming into libraries should be surprised. And once they get over the shock of finding the unexpected in a library, they will look around and discover things they never noticed before. Smart thinking, Hamish. By the end of the day, when Denise and I took our conversation into The Journal Cafe, we were scheming like school girls, imagining a night-time event in a large, mysterious library to rival the night game conducted in the New York Public Library earlier this year, imagining our library elevator door decked out like Dr Who’s time-travelling police box, and an installation taking shape from the Lego blocks we planned to drop on the reference shelves at the disposal of creative students.

For those who would rather know about what David and Hamish actually talked about yesterday, here are some links.

Firstly, a Twitter steam (mine are missing – don’t know how to search a hashtag which includes my own tweets) –

Here is Hamish’s multi-dimensional slideshow – he just kept coming out with more and more ideas and things to blow up anything old and tired as far as libraries and librarians go:

Putting IT back in reality

I couldn’t find David’s slideshow but here is his Slideshare page with previous presentations.
Actually, I have been mulling over more than fun and risk in libraries, in fact, David’s examples of the potential of libraries’ digital presence resounded in me, and I agree that we should be providing services within the types of online spaces and networks our customers usually frequent.
Altogether, a great afternoon and excellent finish to the term. Thanks!
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YouTube.com/Teachers is launched – let’s flip the classroom

Breaking news:

YouTube.com/Teachers has just been launched.

This morning I read Will Houghteling’s announcement in the  Google Certified Teacher Group –

This morning we launched YouTube.com/Teachers as a resource for educators everywhere to learn how to use YouTube as an educational tool. There are lesson plan suggestions, highlights of great educational content on YouTube, and training on how teachers can film their own educational videos. This site was designed/written by teachers for teachers and we hope it’s the first step in really kick-starting a community of YouTube-using educators (sign up for the new YouTube Teachers email list on the right hand side here)

Read the launch blog post here, co-authored by James Sanders and the launch tweet is here if you want to RT it.

There are many reasons why we should make more use of videos in our teaching: to increase student engagement; to cater for the visual learner (most learners will appreciate a visual means of learning); to introduce a new topic to students before the class; to provide a visual tutorial which students can revisit as many times as they wish and at their own pace; to provide an alternative style of instruction – to mention just a few. Flipping the classroom is something I think should happen more often – provide the video as homework to precede the class, and that way students are already familiar with the content and classroom time can be used effectively for discussion, collaboration and creation.

You can join the YouTube Teachers’ Community on this page if you want to receive emails about the ways in which you can incorporate YouTube videos in your teaching.

I think it would be a good idea to create a YouTube channel for your classes and you can read about that here.

Have a look  at 10 ways to use YouTube in the classroom and also at different types of tools to create your own videos or for students to create them. There’s a lot more on the site including tips for video production.

You can search and browse educational categories of YouTube videos here. The Khan Academy alone has 2.676 videos to choose from.

It really is just sensible to be aware of best quality resources available instead of reinventing the wheel. Unless, of course, you are creating an original alternative to the wheel!

Browsing through the different curricular areas of various tertiary institutions, I am aware that there is a wealth of resources for students requiring more sophistocated content and thought, and that applies to all students at my school, Melbourne High School. For me, as teacher librarian, this wealth of resources is begging for curation. I’m thinking about YouTube.com/Teachers  from my role – it’s there, it’s fantastic, how do I promote it to the whole school, and how do I embed it into a space where teachers will find and use it.

I welcome feedback and thoughts about this excellent resource. As always, I will be sharing this resource and my thoughts on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

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More about LibGuides for the teacher librarian

LibGuides Intro from Springshare on Vimeo.

Since Joyce Valenza’s recent visit to Australia and her inspirational demonstration of her school library’s online resources using LibGuides, our team at Melbourne High School have been determined to revamp the tired library pages. Creating attractive and user-friendly web pages and integrating online resources is so easy with LibGuides. So easy, in fact, that I haven’t been able to wait for the curriculum areas to be set up, and have jumped into creating pages for a few of the curricular subject areas. The LibGuides page is created with the addition of boxes which are named and can be organised and reorganised to suit. Images and multimedia can be easily added too. I haven’t been as ambitious as Joyce who has used Glogster to organise visual hyperlinks to her resources, but hey, one step at a time. I think the pages look great, the more visual organisation the better as far as I’m concerned.

LibGuides provides excellent support as my Head of Library discovered when she contacted them for help and received an immediate reply. I’m not a fan of ploughing through text-heavy manuals so I found a visual alternative which you can have a look at here. I had a look at how Illawara Grammar School and Trinity Grammar School (NSW) presented their school library’s ‘face’ and organised their pathfinders and online resources. LibGuides also offers examples and reviews of their product here. Seneca Libraries also have a great manual for the creation of subject guides in LibGuides.

This morning I’ll scan the Twitter hashtag #libguides for more opinions and links. I notice that @crgalvin (Carmel from Trinity Grammar) has tweeted about signing up for LibCal to enable library room bookings. I have a feeling we’ll be discovering more and more possibilities as we build our version of LibGuides. Every example will demonstrate a different way of organising resources for example, we like how Trinity Grammar School uses the top tabs and drop-down boxes to organise thematic and curricular areas differently to Joyce Valenza’s tab use which could become too overcrowded for us.

Although we haven’t created our ‘front page’ yet, I’ve been impatient to start and have been resourcing LibGuides pages for Visual Arts, WritingLOTE (Languages Other Than English) and French. You’re welcome to have a look and more than welcome to leave any suggestions or constructive criticism. Of course I haven’t had the patience to read through any of the guides so I imagine I have created more work for myself in terms of things to repair later on.

Of course there are some fantastic resources for teacher librarians on LibGuides, for example, Springfield Township High School’s Spartan Guides for teacher librarians. Buffy Hamilton has some great stuff; I’m just looking at her school’s LibGuides page for Kindles which looks comprehensive. We’d be more than happy to hear from other school libraries who are using or thinking about using LibGuides for their online resources. Please come in and share your experiences in the comment section after this post.

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Scooping means curating

                                                           Photo courtesy of CanadianAEh on Flickr

Time is one of our most precious commodities in a fast paced world. This is particularly true for educators, don’t you think? For teacher librarians, curating information and resources and doing it well is more important than ever. Our information management strategies enable us to control the flood of online information, and to connect with others in order to receive and share information.

Scoop.it (beta), a new way of curating online resources for a topic of choice, has sprung up out of nowhere (somewhere, obviously), and it seems that most of the people in my Twitter, Facebook and other networks are giving it a go. At first I thought – what!? yet another thing to keep up with; do I really need to tie myself down to managing more than my existing blogs and bits? But honestly, Scoop.it is probably one of the most effortless ways not only of curating a topic online. You just create a topic, get the button, then ‘scoop’ websites as you see them. The layout is great, magazine-style page, much easier to skim and select than looking through Diigo or Delicious accounts. Personally, I’m looking forward to the day when all information is enhanced by a visual layout; much more user friendly.

The networking part of Scoop.it works really well. I get email alerts when one of my people creates another topic, and then it’s just a matter of having a look to see if I want to follow it. Looking through someone’s list of followed Scoop.its opens up even more topics, so every day I’m discovering new resources. Since people choose areas of interest, they are often experts in resourcing this topic. Developing a personal learning network has never been so important. Networking is a powerful way of having the best and most relevant resources come to you. You can even suggest resources for somebody else’s Scoop.it topic, and then the creator has the choice of accepting or ignoring this.

There is an option of sharing on Facebook and Twitter, and that is often how I am alerted to new topics and links. Of course, tagging makes locating resources easy.

Today on Facebook Karen Bonanno shared the Library Research Services’ Vimeo Channel featuring videos such as School library characteristics that affect student achievement – an excellent series of videos, quite digestible in video form, and I wanted to share these with my library team so I added a post in my school library blog.

Chapter 4: School Library Characteristics that Affect Student Achievement from LRS on Vimeo.

Currently I’ve only created 2 topics:

Apps for learning and What is a teacher librarian – can’t say I’ve put much effort into these. I think you have to get into the mindset of thinking ‘Scoop.it’ as you read and discover things online. However, I have been looking through others’ resources, and I’m happy to say that Scoop.it has turned out to be more than a new gimmick. I suppose you have to give new things a go in order to decide whether they warrant your time and focus.

The Explore tab at the top of Scoop.it takes you to the latest scoops within the topics you follow. Currently I follow 75, and yes, you can’t keep up with everything all the time. Like the fast flowing Twitter stream, you just dip in when you have time or when you’re looking for specific resources.

If you’re using Scoop.it please leave your Scoop.it identity in the comment box. I would love to see what you’ve been curating. It would also be good to discover your favourite topics. Don’t be shy!

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New start – second week at Melbourne High School

Photo courtesy of Jose Cuervo Elorza on Flickr

As far as new starts go, this one feels good. Not one to go with the flow of things usually, change for me is often like a dentist’s visit I want to avoid. I admit the first few days weighed a little heavily with new procedures, finding my way around, new names and the loss of friends and familiarity of my old school, but one day into the second week and I’m really enjoying the experience.

Today we had 2 interesting visits in the library. At lunchtime Adele Walsh, Program Coordinator for the Centre for Youth Literature, came to talk to our Reading Group about The Inkys’ shortlist. (Sorry, I have forgotten the name of the lovely person who accompanied Adele and also shared her experiences of the listed books). Some people talk about books in a way that makes you want to drop everything and read all of them simultaneously, and this was one of those times. When you can talk about books without sounding like an academic, and without relating plot or analysing characters (without mentioning teenage angst!!), then you have the students listening with interest.

After school my head of library had arranged for Simon Shaw from Apple to come and talk to teachers about iPads as tools for learning and teaching. I’ve been to sessions about iPads before, and Simon’s session was probably the best one I’ve been to. There was no hard sell, just a focus on how teachers could do what they already do only better on the iPad, and a range of impressive apps, plus a hands-on session using iMovie. It was good to see a decent turnout too.

Wednesday I will be running an after-school session on Google apps. I have a serious problem when faced with ‘presentations’ and hope to improve with more practice. The research and preparation I do is excessive. Basically, I find it difficult to select a realistic portion of what’s possible. I’m sure the ridiculous amount of research is a procrastination technique. Finally, yesterday, I decided on what I might talk about and what I would exclude. At the moment this is all sitting on a page in my wiki – and looks awful. When I have time I should put this into a slideshow. If you’re brave, here it is. It’s not exhaustive but I wanted to showcase a range of tools. It’s difficult to prepare things like this when you have no idea of what your audience knows or expects, but hey, whatever.

Tomorrow lunchtime I will be meeting with the group of boys I’ll be working with as part of the Creative Writing group. I have inherited this group from my predecessor, and I’ve heard people refer to this group as the Competition Writing group which is an obvious clue in terms of what they do. I had a quick chat to the school captain who is a leader of this group today – lovely boy. I assured him that I didn’t want to change anything they were already happy with, but what did he think about also creating a blog so they could have an audience for their writing. Happily, he thought this would be a good idea. I’m really looking forward to working with these boys; I’m sure there is much passion and talent amongst them. In terms of the blog, I thought it might also be a space for any of us to share anything and everything about writing. Just now I received a Facebook update from the Facebook group, ‘The Wheeler Centre for books, writing and ideas’. I want to include this in a post to encourage the boys to join the group, and to show them what Facebook can provide besides chat.

The Wheeler Centre Facebook group also put me onto Australian Poetry, a Wheeler Centre resident organisation which is celebrating National Poetry Week with a different theme every day this week. There really are so many wonderful programs happening locally, and it will good to share these.

Well, that’s it from me. Just checking in after week 1 in the new job. My blogging has been slow lately, and this has a lot to do with the unsettling leadup to leaving one school and venturing into another. At this point I feel that I will have the opportunity to get involved in some interesting projects, and look forward to telling you about it all.

Have good days!

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