28 November 2006

Getting Graphic

I started a new discussion at Read On today asking people to share student’s current favourite reads, with a view to starting some recommended lists for various age groups. Please join in when you get the chance – it will be interesting to compare notes.

When answering my own question first thoughts were about our comic collection, maybe because this was discussed on OZTL last night. Here is a bit of what I posted to that discussion, plus some local additions to the literature:

At Patrician Brothers our graphic novels are a big hit across the board. Like certain series books (Harry Potter, Deltora Quest, Alex Rider, Darren Shan) they have an appeal to reluctant and avid readers alike. In this sense they are a real boon in our efforts to develop a reading culture. Whilst many boys read books as well, some are having their first (and maybe only) positive reading experience with comics.

Earlier in the year I was travelling home on the train from our athletics carnival with the boys and was chatting with one of our very avid Year 8 readers. He was reading a graphic novel and said to me that it was actually taking him longer to read than a novel (and he is a very fast reader). We had an interesting conversation about why that might be. I don't think we should undervalue the visual.

Favourite links to resources on this topic:

Secret Origin of Good Readers
Free book download. Check down the page for the 2006 version. Plenty of quotes,links, annotated reviews, information for librarians and teaching activities.

The "Decline" of Reading in America, Poverty and Access to Books, and theuse of Comics in Encouraging Reading by Stephen Krashen, Teachers CollegeRecord, February, 2005 (More in Krashen's book The Power of Reading - search here for local publication details)

Di Laycock of Barker College has published an article and completed an action research project on graphic novels, adding a much needed Australian flavour to this field:

Developing a Graphic Novel Collection, Synergy, Vol.3, Num.2 (PDF)

Getting graphic with guys: Using graphic novels to engage boys in school reading From this page choose IBSC 2005/06 Action Research Project from the menu on the left.

Okay, I know you don't have time for all this reading. Maybe in the holidays?

Search the Biblioblogosphere and Beyond

It's worth taking a look at LibWorm to find the latest items of interest in librarianship - join LibWorm and create your own reading list, collect your favourite feeds, or just collect clippings. Choose from Feed Categories or Subjects. Nice one!

Of course, this also had to come along from Google! Go take a look!

24 November 2006

Web2.0 & Primary Students

I wish to share an ICT initiative from St Michael’s, Baulkham Hills, and I hope we receive some responses to guide our future planning!

A colleague and I attended an Introduction to Podcasting course and as a result our Year threes and a class of year 4s have been introduced to podcasting this term …by two novices! They have been our second ‘group’ of learners to embrace Web2.0.

Audacity [free download] is the program we are using for creating the audio file, then using Lame [free download] to convert the files to MP3. We are yet to load the files to the web. Our students have been highly motivated by the opportunity to publish their research and understandings using podcasting. This is the positive aspect of the tool, combined with the students demonstrating some prior knowledge and understanding of audio - In year 3 we were able to add some ‘zing’ to the important [dry!] topic of Recycling!

Evidence from this exercise has informed us of the possibilities of podcasting with younger students. We have the opportunity to combine this with evidence gathered from our St Michael’s AGQTP project. Both projects indicate high levels of student motivation when they engage in a social networking environment. We used www.think.com as the tool for social networking in our AGQTP project. In that project, we were able to gather data not only related to our research question, but on many other areas including the social and ethical use of computers. For example: we elected to use the online tool Think.com as a secure environment for our research project. Several discussions were held with the students regarding social and ethical behaviours in the Web2.0 environment. Despite this, we had evidence of inappropriate comments from [unexpected!] students towards others. Think.com was therefore a scaffold, a secure and controlled environment - valuable discussion ensured, thus scaffolding primary students into the Web2.0 environment.

Moving into 2007, I foresee a wider use of these two environments at St Michael’s.
Radio WillowWeb scaffolds students, and I believe this is a model worth replicating as we enhance student learning. Think.com has the facility to upload multimedia files [i.e. podcasts], thus providing a secure environment to develop our students’ ethical use of the Web2.0 environment.

Please comment and give us encouragement to keep developing ‘authentic’ Web2.0 educational pedagogy in our large primary school…with all its associated issues relating to access to hardware etc etc!

19 November 2006

Read On! - An update from Marita

At last Thursday’s Network/PD Day we neglected to give the group an update on our readers’ advisory initiative, launched at an after school meeting on 9th November. The “plan” (in its most flexible sense) is to start with course materials provided by the good people at NoveList (part of our EBSCO database suite) and develop our own local context support materials.

Readers’ advisory is that part of our role where we assist students to discover reading which matches their wants. Like the reference interview, it is a specialised interaction and a good opportunity to practice one of our great potential strengths: the human touch. Stephen Abram in Waiting for your cat to bark – Competing with Google and its Ilk, Part 3 suggests the following summary of where opportunity lies for libraries:
Librarians aren’t just about search; we’re about improving the quality of the question. End users are about “find and discover.” We need to be clear on that. If we focus on search, we are focusing on Google’s best game. If we focus on the question, the human touch, and overall customer experience, then we will not only survive, we’ll thrive.
And, of course, in schools readers’ advising skills have relevance for teacher librarians, library assistants and classroom teachers.

RA-101 Lite
The course materials provided are based on sound principles developed from research and practice. However, most examples are about adult users and the references used are not Australian. Thus the need for local content.

RA-101, full version, was a joint project of EBSCO’s NoveList and the St. Louis Public Library, Minnesota. It grew out of a manual called Talking With Readers: A Workbook for Readers’ Advisory, by Duncan Smith and Suzanne Mahmoodi, Ipswich, Mass.: Ebsco, 2000, which is available from NoveList as a PDF file for subscribers. (Readers’ Advisory tab.)

Talking With Readers was developed using action research, but that is another (very interesting) story!

Thanks to Frances Manning we have a wiki space and a good name for our context building exercise. When you go to Read-On! Click on “Manage Space” to see who has joined (about five so far). Contact a member and and ask them to send you an invitation to join. (Also done from Manage Space by a member). The space is evolving and contributions are eagerly awaited.

Finally another quote from Stephen Abrams' article:
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” Let’s be clear – that’s too long term – we need to do something now.

Introducing our next super contributor!

Welcome to our newest contributor, Marita Thomson, who has been 'blasting the cyberwaves' for what seems like 'forever'! Marita is busy exploring all sorts of digital and web tools in her work at Patrician Brothers.
There's Marita, bottom left, with some of the other attendees at the IWB 2006 conference. I'll leave it to her 'showcase' her initiatives. Let me just say - they are ALL worthwhile.

Smart Learning is just one of these...and there are more. Don't you just love how easy it is to learn from each other?

15 November 2006

Welcome to our Newest Contributor!

One way or another, there's been a lot going on in some of our school libraries that needs to be shared with with others. Collaboration and the social networking power of Web 2.0 means ....... you guessed it - time for this blog to develop and more in to a newer phase.

Patricia Lee from St Michael's has joined me as a co-contributor (read 'blog team member'), so that she can share directly some of the things that are happening at her school as well as explore the world of 'professional' blogging.

Watch this space for Patricia's contributions........................

Are you keen to explore the world of 'professional' blogging too? I would welcome a couple of other keen and regular bloggers to our Weekly Update.

Lets make this blog a great place to share discoveries as well as initiatives and achievements in our schools.

Virtual Bookshelf - the 'shelfari' possibilities.....

I spotted this, and thought that this new Web 2.0 tool provides a great virtual tool, to create a great virtual display, and provide the option for virtual sharing of books.

I can see a virtual display like this sitting quite nicely as part of a library web site, library wiki, CeNet, or just a classroom blog.

Imagine the possibilities for promoting reading - premier's reading challenge? or anything really.........

Seems like a cool tool. Can't wait to see who gives Shelfari first go!

08 November 2006

We're Wondering - questions from Year 3

Have you got computers and library books handy? Looking for an information hunt to help kids in another school. Then why not dive right into the questions being asked by the 'minilegends' from Glenelg school in SA.

Al Upton visited us at Parramatta recently, and met some of our teachers. Al works hard exploring learning opportunities using technology.

So visit "We're Wondering" podcasts, listen to the kids questions (divide them up for your own kids perhaps) and get the kids to write a comment back with an answer to one of the questions. Al explains how he did these podcasts (easy tools) and how he made them accessible using box.net, the free online storage solution, which we promoted recently.

We're Wondering Podcasts

It would be great if a couple of classes could reply to the children soon! Or perhaps you have some lunchtime library users who would enjoy this challenge.

07 November 2006

Book Plates - from My Home Library

Anne Fine welcomes readers to My Home Library with the following words:

Every day, we get messages from people who've just been told about us, or have stumbled upon The Home Library by accident. image by Polly Dunbar advertising the bookplates Schools, families and libraries all over the world: they're all delighted with our bookplates. Some of you are even making requests for different wordings that will suit you better. We're working on these as fast as we can, so keep checking.

For new visitors, let me assure you our bookplates can be used any way you like (except for commercial purposes). Some people print onto sticky labels; others print on paper, then use scissors and glue. (Don't forget you can always print out the black and white plates on coloured paper. Some look remarkably different against a fresh background.)

Everyone needs a Home Library. Make sure that yours keeps growing. Don't forget that books furnish the mind, and unfurnished minds are EMPTY and TIRESOME.

You will find black and white, as well as coloured book plates, in all shapes and sizes. There are lots of other good links too, including bookmarks, book reviews, tips & tricks, and more.

So dip in and enjoy!

06 November 2006

Squirl: A site for collectors

If you like organising your things, and maybe even cataloguing things....if you like Library Thing, and if you are a collector of things, then Squirl might be the place for you.

Just this weekend I have been musing over my vast CD music collection, and thinking that a Library Thing approach to my CDs and even my vintage collectibles wouldn't be such a bad idea!

So being alerted to Squirl seemed timely and 'kinda fun!' Now I just want to see how many of my Library Thing friends make the jump! You have the option of creating a public or private collection, and a number of templates are provided. Squirl also incorporates the option of organising your book collection too - good if you want to keep things that you organise within the same management space.

02 November 2006

For anyone who didn't notice - let me bring to your attention the small icon on this top right hand of this blog.

Box.net is a Web 2.0 'sanity' box! as it provides you with a free 1 gb of storage space online. There are many other great features. Click on the icon on the right, and get yourself free online storage!