30 March 2007

Guided Inquiry – Ross Todd in Sydney, March 2007

Syba Signs held its second very successful seminar day this month with Dr Ross Todd attracting a crowd of over 200 (a large number of whom he seemed to know by first name). A good representation was in attendance from Parramatta Diocese TLs and we had a very stimulating day with immediate practical value to our work. We were also stirred by his questioning some of our long practiced mantras. Ross is perhaps the only person who could challenge us this way and live to tell the tale.

For the fuller story go to CISSL – The Center For International Scholarship in School Libraries at Rutgers University, particularly: Guided Inquiry. For some of our impressions of the day see below:

The conference provided us with an opportunity to look, think and question what
we teach in the library. The teaching of information literacy through the information skills process still has a place but it should not be the only way we approach a learning task with our students. This linear approach is not how our students learn and the "getting stuff" fix that it tends to impose is not useful to what Ross would like to see our students take from a research task. He asserts thats deep knowledge and deep understanding can only come when students are fully immersed in the task not simply plagiarising from 'stuff' that they locate during a library lesson. We need to have a lot more than the skills process in our 'bag of teaching tricks' if we want to achieve this outcome. - Joan Denahy

I was really impressed with the way he asked us to embrace the outcomes and
guide our teaching towards them. It is something that I think most primary school teachers do especially when working co-operatively with classroom teachers. Being knowledgeable about the various KLA outcomes and indicators and addressing them while still teaching the information skills gives us credibility as educators and keeps us focused on the learning that the classroom teacher is concerned with while leading the children towards the development of information skills they will need forever especially to become critically literate in a society of multiple literacies. Ross as usual was well prepared and was very concerned with the student as learner and the best ways to enhance that learning. His worksheets provided great ideas for use in the classroom and his overall presentation stimulated me to get back to the library and try out some of his ideas. - Mary Anne Cartwright

I really liked the way Ross challenged us on some of our "holy grail" stuff - the relevance of the information process, for instance. We know that he knows what he is talking about here, so it really gave pause for thought. He also talked about immersing kids in a topic before asking them to find a question, and this was very relevant to some work I was in the middle of at the time: trying to liven up a regular junior research assignment which was looking stale. This links in to LaneClark's idea of taking kids on the fieldtrip first, rather than last. There is also some good stuff on the English Teachers' Association website about "frontloading". The example given is a study of Macbeth* which was preceded by investigating castles, amongst other things, to engage students in the world of the play. All immersion experiences. Another highlight for me was the handout using a spot the difference picture as stimulus for practicing categorising, notetaking and synthesis. - Marita Thomson
I've longed for us to move on and get to how do we get the kids using the info
or even reading the info to get the relevant bits. I've just taken year 12 to the Australian Museum in a sort of immersion process. The boys liked the parts that they knew something about and found the part that was really leading into stuff they are yet to do "Boring" i.e. too hard - not relevant - where's it all fit in etc. So just immersion needs background as well so they can connect later on in some areas, especially at senior level. However I'm now teaching backward which is a new experience and could be a really good way to go for them so I'm not too worried about the "boring" attitude as the lights will go on, I hope, as we use the experience. - Lyndal Dennis

*Gerardu, Viviane; Duggan, Fiona. "Frontloading Macbeth." Activate: the Journal of the ACT Association for the Teaching of English 18, no. 1 (2003): 40-46. – This is available in the members area of English Teachers’ Association , Frontloading Macbeth PDF

STOP PRESS! Syba Signs has invited Ross back in November, so don’t spend all your budget before Term 4.

27 March 2007

Ning - Create your own social network

Have a look at Steve Hargadon’s School 2.0 social network and see a social network in the making.
He’s using Ning, a social network builder, and then look at Bill Drew's very active Library 2.0 network (includes school libraries but not confined to education).

'Library 2.0' got the familiar look of the social networks that our students frequent, with the welcome of our own professional community. Almost all the 700 members are from the USA, but there are people from Sydney and China and almost every part of the globe amongst the membership. Once you join, you automatically have a personal space. Some are personalised, well developed and interactive spaces and others are very basic.

Consider it a sandbox to experience the social network world.

In a Diocese where there is a focus on Web 2.0 technologies, maybe there is a place for us to actually model it with a Library 2.0 community.

And its free!


21 March 2007

Digital (book) Listening! and more...

So you want to introduce or add to the audio-books in your school?
Wondering where to find digital books for use on electronic devices?

Here are locations where you can purchase podcasts and audio-book materials online.

Audible.com is the dominant audiobook and commercial-podcast-content vendor on the WWW. Audible's principal role is to supply audiobooks in MP3 format for users to listen to on their favourite MP3 players, iPods, or desktop media players.

Audio Book Club is an online book club that specializes in audiobooks of all kinds, including downloadable podcast-type books.

Audiobooks Online sells MP3 of classic books - but they are shipped on CD!

Blackstone Audiobooks is unique in that it is an actual producer of audiobook content. Fair amount of crossover with Audible.com. Available for immediate download to your digital media player.

iTunes Music Store - of course!

AudioBooksForFree.com is a place where you can grab audiobooks in MP3 format for absolutely no cost. All books that have expired copyright - but the quality is variable as it is a community operation - bit like Wikipedia.

LibriVox provides free audiobooks from the public domain. There are several options for listening. Another voluntary operation.

Soundbooks : Audiobooks Australia - an Australian resource!

Gutenberg: The Audio Books Project has audio eBooks available for some of the same great literature available in plain text. Listings are divided into two categories: Human-read and computer-generated audio books.

Free Classic Audiobooks in either mp3 format or m4b audio book format for iTunes and the iPod. Some of our audio books are human narrated Librivox recordings and others are narrated using the latest high quality text to speech voices.

There are many more - perhaps you can share your favourite resource!

Wondering about e-Books? Grab this excellent document in pdf format from Educause:
"7 things you should know about E-Books".

19 March 2007

Build Your Own (Google) Search Engine

I’ve had fun putting together 40 teen and children’s book sites to search at once for reviews and author information. My search engine is called Book Review Finder and I have also embedded it on Book Bites. It is open to volunteer contributors if you have sites you think could be added.

The possibilities for using search engine building in "guided research interventions" (to borrow some terminology from Ross Todd – more on that for another post) with students are many. What about having the kids select the sites and then questioning search results to understand how a search engine works?

To experiment click on "Create your own custom search engine" at the bottom of Book Review Finder.

Widgets, blidgets and gadgets

"Where are you going and what do you wish” asked the old moon of Winken Blinken and Nod.

I've been experimenting with Pageflakes, my personalized start page, and came across some fun little widgets. Widgets are mini web applications you can plug into any webpage. One was a little calorie counter from a site called Labpixies. You input your weight, height and age and then the widget will give you your daily calorie allowance. You can then use the widget to track your diet for the day. Labpixies also have a clock with faces that can be customised with a wide range of images such as scenery, soccer balls etc. With Pageflakes I could quite easily insert these widgets. However I was wondering how I could use these widgets in my blog. A conversation with Judy put me on the right track. In blogger templates, add page element, you can copy the HTML script from the widget into the HTML page element and it will be inserted into your blog.

This made me wonder what other useful widgets were out there in wide wonderful web. A quick search found a site called Widgetbox. Widgetbox has hundreds of widgets that you can use searchable by type and subject. Like blogger you need to sign up to widgetbox and it gives you step by step instructions of how to chose and then insert you widgets into your blog or website. Some of the widgets have been thoroughly tested and rated while others have not, so some may work better than others. For example there was a widget for an information request form. I though this would be a useful addition to the library’s Edlib blog. However, while I could insert it succesfuly in my blog the submit button of the request form doesn’t appear to work. So, I'll be continuing my exploration.

Google has a site also called Google gadgets where you can again find a myriad of gadgets that you can plug into your webpage or blog.

So what is the difference between a widget and a gadget? Widgets and gadgets do the same thing but Google has called theirs gadgets. But you ask - "what is a blidget". A blidget is short for "blog widgets" - a quick way to turn your blog's RSS feed into a widget. But blidgets don't just convert RSS to widgets: they also allow you to add photos, post links, images and audio clips. What's more, you can customize the look of the widget to better suit your blog.

Like Winken Blinken and Nod enjoy your sail through the sea of Widgets, Blidgets and Gadgets

17 March 2007

PowerPoint Extreme Makeover

Take a look at this YouTube video Extreme Makeover: PowerPoint Edition by Dean Shareski. It's a great video that makes some excellent points about how to use (and how NOT to use) PowerPoint effectively.

11 March 2007

Using 'librarything' for book talks

This was posted on LM_NET today. I have been using Librarything to display sets of books for the students, but I really think this is a good one because we can both tag and store book talks, but we can also share with each other.

'I'm excited to share that LibraryThing
http://www.librarything.com/ has become a useful tool for me to catalog my book talks. I type the book talk in the comments field. I'm also able to tag a book according to the grade levels I would talk to about it. So, for example, if a teacher asks me to do book talks for her 6th grade classes, I can click on the tag cloud for 6th grade and see only those books. LibraryThing, which is free, provides many ways to customize and organize your collection (or book talks). If you'd like to get an idea of how this works, here is the link to the booktalks I have cataloged so far. I'm still in the process of entering them. http://www.librarything.com/catalog.php?view=Davinna (Click on Display Style 'D' if you aren't seeing the Comments/book talks)'

(Davinna Artibey is TL at Denver Center for International StudiesDenver Public Schools, CO)

Enjoy. Jan

08 March 2007

Blogging and RSS

Many of us are already using Blogging and RSS to gather and disseminate information in a more efficent way. For those who have yet to explore Blogging or RSS the following resources are a good place to start.

Blogging and RSS: a librarian's guide
Michael P. Sauers; Medford, Information Today, 2006
Available from the Catholic Education Library Parramatta
Phone 9840 5737 or email Lisa Nash

Stephen M. Cohen, Lw Library Resource Exchange, 2002

07 March 2007

03 March 2007

It's World Book Day!

Well, it was.....on March 01!

Even though we missed noting it, perhaps it's still worth celebrating World Book Day by exploring the list of top 10 books, and top 100 books. It's the 10th anniversary of this listing.

Here are the top 10 books:
  1. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
  2. The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
  3. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
  4. Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
  5. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
  6. The Bible
  7. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
  8. Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
  9. His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
  10. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens

The full Top 100 list is shown in the UK Telegraph

And for more information about World Book Day, visit http://www.worldbookday.com/