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.

Laptops: Friend or Foe [Revisited]

I recently attended a PD called Making Thinking Visible, it was fantastic. So often, we go to PD sessions and whilst they may be interesting, we leave feeling like we didn’t really gain anything new. This was different.  I left feeling inspired and excited about what I could do in my classroom (standby for a post on this soon). But, it also got me thinking about our use of technology in the classroom and I was reminded about a post I wrote for my Uni blog last year. It was in response to a news article I’d read and as we were in our first year of BYOD I found it thought provoking:

(Original blog posted on my Uni blog May 19, 2016.)

Recently, in the media there has been a lot of talk about the use of laptops within schools, this has promoted a healthy debate about the implementation of laptops in to the classroom and how this can impact both negatively and positively on the teaching and learning process.

The article that sparked the debate was published in The Australian on March 26, 2016- Computers in class ‘a scandalous waste’: Sydney Grammar head.   This article offers a different view on technology, and whilst there are some valid points made I do think that it is still essential to consider the needs of the 21st C learner.  Dr. Vallance goes on to say that “one of the most powerful tools in education is conversation” and I couldn’t agree more. reflecting back on my years as an English teacher, some of the most educationally valuable lessons were those fuelled by conversation, debate and questioning we didn’t use a laptop for this.

As the world changes, so does the way we teach and the way we learn. Surely there is a need, like anything for balance, we just need to be aware of our digital diet.

We are now our second year of being a BYOD school, and many staff have made the transition from paper to online, myself included. Whilst there are a multitude of pros and cons in the argument for paper vs digital,  I think having laptops in the classroom does create a wealth of opportunity and is ultimately a good thing.

Recently, however, I’ve noticed that students are becoming increasingly distracted by their device and they always want to Google the answer instead of thinking about it  first. Now, there is nothing wrong with Google. Google is great. Google can help us find answers to our questions, but Google (at times) is stopping my students from thinking for themselves.

In one of my lessons last week I introduced the See, Think Wonder routine, which I was introduced to at the PD.  Students were asked to look at a specific photo from history and do the following:

  1. See: List everything they could see in the photo
  2. Think: Make statements about what they think could be going on in the photo
  3. Wonder: Make a list of questions they have about the photo

To stop the students from using Google, the image was projected on to the screen I didn’t want them doing a reverse image search and finishing out information about the photo before they had a chance to think about it yet, still they wanted to look it up. They have become used to this so-called safety net that Google provides.  What was interesting, was watching the students adapt to the expectations of the activity, and whilst they were unsure to start with,  they were able to pose interesting and thoughtful questions about the photo.

It ended up being a refreshing lesson, for myself and for the students, who were engaged and contributing to the class discussion more than usual, and it just goes to show that whilst there is merit in using technology in the classroom, there is sometimes greater benefits in going back to pen and paper and being aware of our digital diet.

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.

Studying the Online Way

Hello

[Image taken from http://www.oyegraphics.com%5D ]

I said, ‘Hello’ to a new start as a uni student in my new city, Perth, a few weeks ago  and I didn’t think it had been that long since I was last at uni but a lot seems to have changed.

I’m doing some classes online this semester, which is a first, and I’m really enjoying it. I miss the face to face interaction but it’s kind of neat knowing that you are learning with a group of people scattered about the place.  I also like the freedom of when I study and where, tending to spend the days outside studying and listening to lectures.

Another thing I’m loving is the access to e-resources and the fact that so many textbooks are available online. I know that I’ve blogged about the this concept before, and my views were much keep the book and turn the page. I’m still very much a believer in the book, and will still choose a printed book over an e-book, but for textbooks it does make my life easier. I like the flexibility it brings, just like being able to choose where and when I study I get to choose the format of the text.

The only thing I really wonder about is if I’ve sat next to someone in my one and only internal, traditional, face to face lecture that I’ve conversed with at length on twitter or discussion boards. I wonder if switching from social media to real-life situations gets lost in translation.

 

An App for an App?

Xcode

Xcode (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So, I recently blabbed on and on about creating an app. I downloaded an app to help me, knew that it would not be an easy task but, I’m always keen to give something new a go.

However, at the moment, I’m feeling like I may have to quit before I even begin. I’ve tried a couple of times to start creating, but I can’t. This is not due to lack of ideas, I know exactly what I want, I just can’t seem to use the app!

A bit of light reading to do

A bit of light reading to do

I now have my hands on the manual, which I intend to tackle and hopefully it will unlock the gate and lead me into my new world of creating an app. Either that, or I’ll end up getting extremely frustrated, have a tantrum and then make myself a cup of tea.

If you’ve used Xcode before, do you have any advice?

As always, I have the idea; it’s the execution I’m worried about.

So things have started to wind down at work, summer is fast approaching and I’ll admit, my head is not so much in the classroom as it is up in the clouds!

Cartoon Clouds

This is a cloud, if you squint, you can almost see me. Almost. (Photo credit: calebunseth)

I’ve begun to think about all my wonderful summer projects and what I hope to do in the long break. I say this often, and rarely make a dent in the plans I have, but I’m going to keep the list small and hopefully manageable.

First in line is to finish the draft copy of my second manuscript. It’s almost there. Then I intend to make a serious list of all the ideas in my head, think Dumbledore and his pensive.

Albus Dumbledore

Albus Dumbledore (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I hope in doing this, that I’ll be able to become more focussed on each task instead of acting like a kid in Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory (look what happened to them!)

Despite all of this, I’m rolling full steam ahead with my latest idea. I’m considering creating an app. Everyone is creating apps. Maybe there are too many apps….

I started researching how to go about achieving this. Many people have said it’s easy, although, no one I know has actually created one. In my research all the ‘experts’ are talking about marketability, interfaces, android vs apple, scalability…ARGH!

I have what I think is a good idea and I love trying new things, so…I’m currently downloading an app (funnily enough) that will help me create mine. I have no idea what to expect. I’ve done the reading on it, and I’m wondering if I’ve bitten off more than I can chew with this latest idea, but I’m keen to give it a go.

I’m not a web developer, and I’m certainly not doing it to earn big bucks, but as a teacher I see the value in technology and the impact it can have on kids.  So I’m going to give it a go…when the app I’m downloading to help me create my app is fully installed…

There’s always an app…