Tag Archives: curriculum

How do you view the library? (It’s a matter of perception) – presentation to Curriculum Committee

This week I did a 10 minute presentation to the Curriculum Committee. Our involvement with the faculties varies so it’s always a good idea to remind faculty heads about how teacher librarians can support them and work with them. I’ve summarised the gist of the message with each slide.

Slide 1: How do you view the library; it’s a matter of perception

Think about what the library means to you as faculty head.

Slide 2: The library is more than just books

We are physical, virtual, events, ubiquitous information, skills training

Slide 3: We do not live in Library Land

We are not a free-floating entity

We are part of mechanism that drives the teaching and learning in the school, and if not, we are of no real significance.

Slide 4: We are part of the whole production

We work with you to develop programs and projects, we resource and teach collaboratively.

Whatever works for you, we are flexible.

Slide 5: Ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

This has been a year of change.

There have been so many changes for us.

Slide 6: New culture: the quiet library

Changed culture in the library – respect for quiet study, time out.

First time this year, we hope that there will be an ongoing acceptance of the way things are.

It’s been good, we’ve been surprised to see how many students prefer to come to a disciplined space and study, even with the choice not to come.

Slide 7: We look forward to next year

New entrance and open space for chilling and reading.

New discussion rooms including development of collection for teachers’ reading, both recreational and professional.

More flexibility – 3 or even 4 discussion rooms

We would like to see classes come in and use the physical collection

and so that we can be involved in their research/writing processes.

We need to think about organising our spaces to cater for the whole school and not just VCE.

Slide 8: Changes to the way we work

Changes in TL roles: taking responsibility for certain faculties

 Getting to know you and your subject area and needs in a deeper way

Continuing our collaboration with you – talking about what you need, coming to your faculty meetings, supporting you with resources, teaching the skills your students need – critical evaluation of resources including the glut of information available to them, becoming lifelong learners, skills they will take with them into university and beyond.

Slide 9: What we’ve been doing

We’ve been working with faculties to support teachers and students

If you haven’t seen us, please come and see us about what we can do for you and with you.

Slide 10: If we don’t have what you need, we can create it

Have you seen the revised library website homepage – easier navigation

We can tailor-make guides – for example Art project and English Language or Vis Com.

Slide 11:

We help you embed skills, for example, this is what they might incorporate:

Digital Citizenship

eg copyright and plagiarism, web evaluation, citation and referencing,

research skills (tab from Library Home)

Slide 12: Our Facebook page

Like it!

Slide 13: Our blog

Follow it!

Slide 14: Pinterest – Playing with new ways of curating online resources

My Pinterest boards

Boards can be

subject related, for a specific project (eg This sporting life), subject-related extras to dip into (eg History – images, videos), technical tutorials (eg Google),

Pinterest links of interest:

book trailers

YA book reviews

Supporting and creating curriculum –

Text based resources eg Death of a Salesman

Thematic studies: Banned books

English – Issues

Art – Pattern: Islamic

Digital Citizenship – Digital literacies

Slide 15 – Make time to talk to us

Please make a time with us to talk about how we can support you in your teaching or support your students

to create digital resources on the platform of your choice.

 

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Educational resources in The New York Times

The New York Times has a ‘Teacher Connections’ section which is updated daily. Just browsing here today and saw some great stuff, so I thought I’d share.
There’s a Daily Lesson Plan and a Daily Lesson Plan archive, which has amongst its categories Civics, Global History, American History (of course), Fine Arts, Geography, Language Arts, Mathematics, Media Studies, and more.

I’ve copied one of the Fine Arts lessons into my art wiki: Art happens: investigating the modern art of Robert Rauschenberg. The overview states:

Students investigate the work of American Modernist Robert Rauschenberg by responding to his art and reading about his life and ideas. They then individually create a work of their own that pays homage to a Rauschenberg to demonstrate an understanding of his aesthetic sensibility.

The lesson is well planned, and includes objectives, resources/materials, background, activities/procedures, including homework, further questions for discussion, evaluation/assessment, vocabulary, extension activities, interdisciplinary connections, references and other information on the web. There is a feedback option at the end of the lesson.

The News Snapshot is an excellent idea for students to interact with the latest news:

Every Monday through Friday, News Snapshot features a newsworthy and provocative photo from The New York Times, along with the basic set of questions answered by journalists when relaying the news– who, what, where, when, why and how.

This section includes student handout, teacher’s page, suggested activities, and the questions.

Issues in depth is subtitled ‘Teaching with the times’ and includes curricular materials, news specials, and issues in depth. Each page provides a wealth of resources: lesson plans, Times articles, multimedia, archival materials, quizzes, crosswords, related Web sites and more. This section is designed to help students make connections between course material and issues and events in the news. There’s are wide variety of topics here, including the election, Iraq; and also material on literature, including specific books, poetry, Shakespeare, journalism, and more.

‘Science and Health’ includes topics, such as teen health, global warming, hurricanes, and more.

There’s more here – eg. crossword puzzles for the different curricular areas, ‘on this day in history’,etc., and I won’t go into detail for all of it; you’ll just have to look for yourselves. Actually, I do want to mention ‘Campus weblines’ where you can learn about how to produce a quality online newspaper from the student editors themselves. This is informative and detailed.

I recommend you give this section of The New York Times a squiz, and then dart over to Student Connections which ‘Science questions and answers’ and letters to the editor amongst other things.

But wait, there’s more! Parent Connections includes things like ‘coversation starters’ (they have thought of everything!) and a family movie guide.

I don’t know about you, but I’ll be keeping an eye on the educational section of The New York Times from now on.

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Filed under Education, media, Teacher librarians, Web 2.0

Hating school, loving learning

 

Nevertheless, the point about disengagement of students is one with which most educators would not argue. Wesch entertains the idea of ‘play’ as opposed to dull routine and meaningless tasks.

Perhaps the word “play” is imperfect. I could say that in school, they should be invigorated or engaged or even inspired. But whatever the word, the idea is to create a stimulating environment were the learning comes natural and not forced, where the desire to learn is created first. Then, the labor of learning is a labor of love.

Technology is what students of today play with. As many advocators of 21st century learning suggest, technology plays a large part in the new vision of education. But technology is also the thorn in the side of a large number of teachers. Although we use the language – ‘integration of technology into learning’ – not many of us have actually taken this seriously.  Managing technology in the classroom is often seen as asking for more problems. Wesch is clear about the role of technology in his classroom:

Texting, web-surfing, and iPods are just new versions of passing notes in class, reading novels under the desk, and surreptitiously listening to Walkmans. They are not the problem. They are just the new forms in which we see it. Fortunately, they allow us to see the problem in a new way, and more clearly than ever, if we are willing to pay attention to what they are really saying.

What are they saying? I think they’re saying that they’re bored, that their tasks are not relevant, that their projects are not engaging, that they’re sick of being passive recipients of content over which they have no control. When they turn to texting or web-surfing, they’re getting out of the classroom, they’re reaching out into the world.

Wesch explains this problem: 

And that’s what has been wrong all along. Some time ago we started taking our walls too seriously – not just the walls of our classrooms, but also the metaphorical walls that we have constructed around our “subjects,” “disciplines,” and “courses.”

When I was in primary school,  I had a strong sense of where I belonged. I belonged only with kids who were born within 12 months of my birthday.  I was afraid of those a year ahead of me who belonged to an entirely differentand superior group, one that I wasn’t to have anything to do with.  If I had known what learning took place in the older years, I would have wanted to be there, but I learned to sit and wait during reading classes, as students took turns to labour over stories in our reader, stories I had already read early in the year. There was no wider reading, there was no skipping ahead, we all had to be open to the same page, doing nothing but daydreaming. The reader was all we had for the entire year. And so would the next class the following year. Of course, now things have changed a great deal. Now we have many more reading choices, and in some cases primary students can choose to read library books instead of readers from the box. 

But I’m not sure that things have changed as much as we think. We still teach from textbooks. We’re not all consistently planning scaffolded inquiry-based projects which ask rich questions. We’re not experimenting enough ourselves with technological applications and seeing educational possibilities. We’re still proud of research assignments that supposedly encourage independent learning, assignments which leave our students to google incompetently, to copy and paste, to present superficial findings, to lose interest, to just get the thing done, hand it in and sigh with relief.

Wesch is clear about the solution:

Fortunately, the solution is simple. We don’t have to tear the walls down. We just have to stop pretending that the walls separate us from the world, and begin working with students in the pursuit of answers to real and relevant questions.

He says we need to acknowledge the shift in learning based on information being everywhere. What we should do is let go of ‘the sage on the stage’.

When we do that we can stop denying the fact that we are enveloped in a cloud of ubiquitous digital information where the nature and dynamics of knowledge have shifted. In the process, we allow students to develop much-needed skills in navigating and harnessing this new media environment, including the wisdom to know when to turn it off. When students are engaged in projects that are meaningful and important to them, and that make them feel meaningful and important, they will enthusiastically turn off their cellphones and laptops to grapple with the most difficult texts and take on the most rigorous tasks.

Something is not right in the state of education. Wesch, to finish off:

And there’s the rub. We love learning. We hate school. What’s worse is that many of us hate school because we love learning.

It doesn’t have to be this way… 

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Filed under Education, play, Web 2.0

Is school bad for kids?

Further to my recent post about open assessment tasks and true learning, you may want to have a look at Clay Burell’s posts on his blog Beyond School. I suppose I’m late to discover Clay but I figure others will be able to share my new discovery. Here’s what he says in his post entitled ‘Beyond school’ : on the death of genius for the sake of college’ (he’s talking about young people’s time being taken over by ‘education’:
‘I mean the ones who are so over-scheduled with schoolwork, homework, SAT test-prep cram schools, and all the other madness that keeps them focused on memorizing the data and pounding out the grunt-work, one assignment and one GPA-increment at a time, year in and year out – from what, grade 9? Or is that too late to begin worrying these days? – that they rarely have time to pull back and reflect on anything at all’.

I can’t help thinking back to my primary school years; for some reason memories of those days keep coming back as a kind of lost paradise, and what stands out is the time spent in idleness. And during that idleness, whether it be walking home from school in the slowest way possible, or sitting in a tree, creating a cubby house – a long-lost sense of freedom full of possibilities, ideas and dreams is evoked. So much time to reflect, time that is taken up now as an adult with adult responsibilities, and sadly, for many young children, this is also the case. By the time they’re in secondary school, the freedom is gone, the dreams taken over by instruction, the self-initiated learning through curiosity replaced by delivery of prescribed content during the school day, and fulfilment of prescribed homework tasks at home.

We would do well to remember that our students were awake to the wonders of the world as very young children – not knowledgeable wondering, but eager to experience, keen to ask questions. But do we, as teachers, ask young people what they’re interested in, or do we make their learning relevant to their world? Do we give them time to reflect? Is reflection valued?

Clay Burell, some time ago (not sure when), set up Students 2.0 to give young people a voice. In the ‘About’ section of the blog, he talks about the past paradigm of schools being effective for the times, but not so any more:

‘For decades, students have been stuck in classrooms, behind desks, being told how and what to learn… However, we have now entered a new age: an age where thinking is more important than knowing, where thoughts out-do the facts. Borders are melting away; project teams collaborate across the globe and intelligence is being continually redefined. The world’s information is at our fingertips and anybody can publish their thoughts for virtually no cost… Everywhere, we see changes: with how business operates, how people interact and how success is accomplished. There is unfortunately one place that remains unchanged, the place that could benefit most from the changes we see today… the classroom.’ He then explains the purpose of the blog: ‘This blog is an attempt to give students a voice in where the future of education is headed.’

I looked up some of the individual blogs of the students involved; it’s great to read what they have to say, their ideas, etc. Here are some of them:
Two penguins and a typewriter
Love and logic
The bass player’s blog
Betaphor

Newly ancient
(archived)

Another thing I’d like to get off my chest:
if we as educators are working towards integrating Web 2.0 tools in order to engage students and create authentic learning, then we drop all that at year 11 because we have to focus on preparing students to regurgitate prescribed curriculum content so that they can get the highest scores and get into university, etc. then it’s crazy. Surely we need a bigger change. Surely this is a mindset change. Otherwise, we’re doing a little Web 2.0 here and there, then we say, hang on, we just have to go back for a bit; this is really important. Just doesn’t make sense.
Does anybody see a bigger change to the whole system in the near future? Is this really going to happen unless we change our assessment criteria?

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Filed under Education, Teacher librarians, Web 2.0

Bravo Hawkesdale

isn\'t he cute

I realise that many people would have discovered ages ago what Hawkesdale College has been doing with blogging, but since I’ve only just looked through properly, I have to do my little rave because otherwise I’ll burst. It’s so fantastic!

The Hawkesdale K-12 blog : Techno7 (Our first year 7-12)
is about students and teachers blogging through the 7-12 school journey.
What’s on the blog?
• There’s a page for each subject, plus extras, eg. study skills, etc.
• Each student has a blog for each subject
• Each teacher has a blog following their Web 2.0 journey, posting stuff for students, or just ideas, findings, etc. Continue reading

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