Nuggets of brilliance

Search

Sometimes teaching can feel like an uphill struggle, but every now and then we are rewarded with a little nugget of brilliance. This came to me last week in the form of a Year 7 class.

Working as a TL, I am constantly trying to find new ways to promote the library and what we do.  In the age of Google, it can sometimes be rather frustrating when both staff and student alike say that they don’t our help because they can “Google it”. Usually when I hear that classes are researching I cringe, because it often means just googling it and using the first page that comes up Wikipedia.  Don’t get me wrong, there’s merit in both of these sites, but there is even more merit in learning how to research effectively.

Last Wednesday I had been asked to run a short session for a Year 7 debating class on researching, focussing mainly on where to find information.  I gave them a worksheet to help them create a list of search terms, and reminded them of the importance of a keyword search before moving on to talk about where we could find information. Here is a shortened version of the conversation/ nugget of brilliance that followed:

‘So,  you’re ready to begin searching what now?’

‘We see if there’s a LibGuide’ said one student

‘Fantastic!, I yelled, ‘ But, we haven’t set up a LibGuide’ I had barely finished when..

‘Well, we can go to the online resources and have a look at LinksPlus or Issues in Society’ said another student.

‘Yes!!’ At this stage, I was beside myself, because for the first time, since I started working at this school, I did not need to remind them of our fantastic resources.

I was so impressed with them, this is the first year group who have really grasped the importance of finding reliable information.

I should point out that I do teach my students to use Google, but because there can be a lot of white noise ( irrelevant, unreliable sources) I find that teaching them about our resources first is valuable and reinforces the need to critically evaluate the resources that they are using.

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Speed Dating

Speed dating, the perfect, non-committal way to be introduced to someone/ thing new.  In my case, science fiction.

robot-2256814_1920.jpg
 

Photo credit: kellepics from http://bit.ly/2qihF95

 

Our year nine students are about to embark on studying the science fiction genre in their English classes.  So we thought, what better way to introduce them to the genre than by showing them the LibGuide we have created on the genre and exposing them to a variety of novels via speed dating with a book.

I decided to join in the fun, not being a fan of Sci-Fi I thought this was the perfect opportunity to see how successful this activity can be in introducing students to new books.  Below is a copy of my notes, the students were asked to create the three columns and complete with the relevant information.

Screen Shot 2017-05-14 at 3.53.10 PM

At the start of the activity, the majority of students are inevitably reluctant, they are being asked to step outside their comfort zone instead of nestling up to a familiar novel, author or genre. But, once we were underway silence descended and the students were eager to talk about their first impressions when the timer went off.

As for me, I enjoyed the activity and it seems the students did too. This activity can be developed further by possibly having each student borrow something new and possibly even create a report on it to share with the class – something to the think about for next time. But for now, I have two new books to add to my list so I better hurry up and finish my book!

 

Looking back

It’s been a while. I’ve been keeping my head down whilst I complete my Masters of Education (Teacher Librarianship), I now have one more class to do and then I’m done!

This class asks me to reflect on what I’ve learnt throughout the course, this means going back through my course blog and using entries in my assignment. I thought I’d share some here, as I make the transition back to this blog and start to share what’s happening in the world of education and school libraries.

Beginning a New Chapter

(posted July 16, 2015 on Uni blog platform)

I have commenced a Masters of Education (Teacher Librarianship), a requirement of the course is that I create a blog and reflect on my reading, learning and teaching. This blog will not only focus on what I’m learning as part of the course, but also on what I’m learning at work- what I’m teaching my students and what my colleagues are teaching me.

Already a blogger, the setting up of the blog has been fun. I like the opportunities it presents to interact and reflect.  So, let the reading, learning, teaching and reflecting commence!

The Information Highway and the Teacher Librarian 

(posted July 22, 2015 on Uni blog platform)

As I work my way through module two of ETL401 I’ve started to think about the role of the Teacher Librarian and how we navigate our way through all the information, not just through this course but all the information that is out there on the information highway.

This video was shared by a colleague on the discussion board and I had to share it because it really reinforced what our world is. Our students are digital natives, their knowledge/skill is potentially more vast than ours when it comes to ICT. Therein lies our challenge- to keep them curious about technology and the world and the different ways we can use technology to assist in their learning. 

The video highlights just how quickly our world is changing, something that we tend to forget and technology is only moving faster.  In order for libraries to remain an integral part of student learning we must engage with new ideas and technologies, reinventing our role as needed.

This has been occurring as libraries have been thinking of ways of getting students and teachers through the doors, it becomes more challenging as schools go 1:1 with laptops. As my workplace starts preparing for the implementation of 1:1 we need to start thinking of other ways to not only getting students in to the library during recess and lunch but also getting the classes in to use not only the space but our knowledge.  It will be interesting to see how much this impacts our library if at all and I’m sure I’ll be commenting on the process as it gets underway next year. 

Many may think that with the ever-growing range of online tools, resources and instructional videos the role of the librarian is being meaningless. I would argue that because of the increasing range of resources and information available the teacher librarian is needed more than ever to guide and help navigate staff and students.

References

Scott, K. (2014). Did you know? Shift Happens 2014 Remix. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PcZg51Il9no

It’s interesting looking back over these first two blog entries from almost two years ago- I think I’m going to enjoy completing this refelctive portfolio.

Gendered Sentences- Do I Sound Like a Man?

Image from Disney/Pixar
Image from Disney/Pixar

I recently started writing a short story with a split narrative. I decided that I’d differentiate the characters voice by their sentence structures, this seems to be working. I’m still typing away and working on the story, but after reworking what I had already , I think the concept of gender by sentences is working.  But, I’m a girl, so how do I know if my male characters stream of consciousness is authentic?

Here is a small section of the story so far, please read it and if you have any suggestions please let know. Feedback is welcome.

Extract:

You didn’t see me when I walked in to the bar. You had your back to me, your hair falling down it. That’s what I remember, your hair.  I walked in with Blake; we wanted a few quiet drinks to celebrate making it through another week.  I couldn’t take my eyes off you.

****

You told me that you noticed me the minute you walked in; apparently it was my hair that caught your eye. I didn’t notice you until you walked past me because I had my back to the bar and I couldn’t see everyone coming in. That was unusual for me, I usually liked to people watch and play, ‘guess the nationality’; as soon as I saw you I had you picked as American. It was the plaid. Fiona and I had an in-depth discussion about the word plaid, we even googled it and then got caught up in yet another discussion about cultural differences and stereotypes.

****

The bar area was crowded; Blake suggested that we move away. I had spied a table right across from you and your friend. It was the only free space left so it wasn’t difficult to get Blake to follow me. I tried to act all cool, I even walked past you to try to catch your eye. Blake thought I was seeing if there were any free spaces further on. There weren’t.

****

Fiona needed to go to the bathroom so I stayed to guard the table, I usually hate it when I’m left but this time I wasn’t too fussed because I had my back to the main area of the bar. I hate feeling like I’m some kind of target; the minute I’m left alone I seem to become a magnet for the ultra slick and greased up.  Fiona leaving, gave me the chance to check you out. You seemed so sure of yourself.  When you caught me looking at you I didn’t know what to do, but it didn’t matter because you smiled. “Hey, looks like we’ve both been abandoned by our friends” you said as you moved over to my table, “May I keep you company?”

 

 

 

Gender by Sentences

I recently started writing a split narrative, something I’ve only ever done once before. It’s challenging, but I’m enjoying writing from two perspectives. The thing I’m finding the most difficult is making sure that the voices sound different, I’m writing from a female and male perspective. I want to try to avoid any clichés, I’m trying to make this piece as honest and real as I can.

I gave my (incomplete) draft to a friend to read because I wasn’t sure I was separating the voices enough- it needs to sound like my characters, not me. Once she’d read it, she started asking me lots of questions- what’s going to happen? how will the female voice react? what happens to the friend? how will the male voice respond? I couldn’t answer any of her questions- I don’t know, all I do know is that boy meets girl….where it goes from there, I guess I’ll find out.

Once we had established that I didn’t know where this story would end we spoke about the differences between men and women and how to convey it through prose. We decided it would come down to sentence structure. He would talk in short, direct sentences. She would talk in complex sentences weaving a couple of threads together. I’m currently revising my (incomplete) draft to include these ideas, and I like it so far.

I realise that you actually can’t confine a gender to a sentence type, there is a tapestry of differences, but when it comes to prose…gender by sentences may by the way to go.

Bouquet of Pencils
A bouquet for any gender ?

Found them! Where all the books have been and where they’re going

This is the last installment of my thoughts on books, ebooks and the impact it may have on society.

It all started after a trip to my favourite bookshop, discovering that it was now more of a café than a bookshop and that the bookshop aspect was a tablet fixed to the wall for all your browsing needs.  It got me thinking about the book and how we use technology. As a result I ended up buying what I’m calling, A Book About Books. The real title being:

A book about books
A book about books

It turns out to be an interesting read, taking a look at the historical impact the book has had throughout the ages.  It looks at the religious aspect, the need to record our daily lives, the controversy surrounding the printed word and the first printing press and the virtual book. To be honest, I don’t think the book is going anywhere…

Book About Books 1

Book about books 2

Book about books 3

Book about books 4

If the book has managed to survive burnings and bans I’m hopeful the book will be able to survive technology. There is, in my opinion, room for both the e-book and the print book. But, only time will tell…

@allbooklovers where have all the #books gone?

I’ll be honest, I’d never really given much active thought to the history of the book. Books are something that I’m constantly surrounded by, maybe I’ve been taking advantage of the privilege. We all know that man has recorded facts and stories for thousands of years from cave paintings to chiseled markings on stone to long diaries and bestsellers. It’s nothing new that we like to record what we do and how we do it.

Cave painting (http://www.faculty.umb.edu)
Cave painting (http://www.faculty.umb.edu)
Twittering and tweeting
Twittering and tweeting

We just have to take a look at all the social networking sites to see our need for recording our every day lives. We all need to share everything from the mundane to the life changing experiences. I recently wrote about the impact ebooks are having on our bookstores, and I do think it’s a tragedy that this is occurring. But, it’s essential to consider why it’s happening.  Not everyone gets to have a book published, granted, not everyone wants to have a book published and when we spend time looking at the content of specific social network we can see that it’s not exactly works of genius being posted, but we all have this innate need to record/ share what we’re doing.

I should point out that I’m becoming a social media junkie a little more every day. I have account in many sites and actively participate in recording my everyday history and rambles. It does have it’s merits. We’re a society built on instant gratification, and social networking checks all the boxes.  It’s also a reason why ebooks are doing so well. We click ‘buy’ from  our armchair and the book miraculously appears. Instant gratification.

Since writing my post about my disappointing visit to what used to be my favourite bookshop I have thought a lot about books. As a child, I was extremely lucky, I had so many books. We had bookcases and bookcases filled with various stories, facts etc. And, I wonder what it will look like now but maybe more so in a few years for children. Will they have the privilege of seeing and having access to huge bookcases or shelves overflowing with journeys, tales and experiences? Or will they have a small tablet within easy reach? Will the mystery and magic of the story be lost?