Friday, 27 February 2015

Twitter PD in Action

I am a huge Twitter fan.  I have blogged about it before but when I am put on the spot I always struggle to show just how often it helps me with my work.  So I thought I would look back through my tweets this month and choose the information I found that inspired conversations with teachers at my school or with other librarians.  I have had a busy month, so I haven't been on Twitter that much, but I still found the following gems:

This retweet from Annemarie, a DP in Rotorua, was very timely as only the day before I had been discussing how the library could support one of our Year 6 teachers trying out genius hour.  She was pleased when I flicked this plan through for her to have a look at.

Earlier this week Joyce Valenza, an American teacher-librarian, tweeted a link to the above article.  Given the National Library in New Zealand is making cuts to its curriculum loan service, seeking to replace it with online resources, I shared this link with the NZ librarians' listserv.  It provoked a lot of discussion about what librarians were noticing about their students' preferences for print.  Some decided to send the article on to their English departments and others decided to create their own surveys of their students.

This conversation illustrates the friendliness and helpfulness of the Twitter community.  I was having a flick through Twitter last night and there was an #edchatnz conversation going on about "developing students as actively involved members of our communities".  I noticed Bridget's tweet and because our Year 5/6 team leaders are starting their own leadership programme thought it would be worth asking if she had information she could share with me.  I was delighted with the information that has been shared on her class blog and I'm sure our team leaders will be too.  

I've followed Bridget on Twitter for a while but she is a teacher in Christchurch and I live in Hamilton.  The beauty of Twitter is that I can learn from the experiences of people like Bridget and Joyce and Annemarie, who aren't geographically close and who aren't doing exactly the same job as me.  It broadens my knowledge and exposes me to ideas that excite me.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Library Skills Sessions - Year 2's

One of my new projects for 2015 is running library skills sessions for our classes.  I started with five of the Year 2 classes this week.  I was a bit nervous about this foray into teaching but then my youngest son reminded me that "they're only Year 2's Mum", complete with eye roll.

The sessions were the first of two I will have with this age group.  I'd love to have more but we are such a big school I can't fit it into our library timetable.  My biggest concerns were how much material I could cover in 30 minutes and whether I would get the level right.

Here's what I did:
  • Introduced myself and talked about Esther, our library assistant
  • Mentioned the public library and how it is another great place to find good books to read
  • Asked the students to point out where certain books are, and then took them round to show them other parts of the library e.g. puzzle books, reading room
  • Talked  about what happens when you have an overdue book, and how to get an iPad at lunchtime
  • Went through some basic book terminology - cover, title, author and illustrator, spine, spine label
  • Asked students "If you wrote a book, what letter would be on the spine label?".
  • Showed the students how to put a book back on the shelf properly (right way up etc)
  • Had the students act as librarians and put a picture book away in the proper place
  • Described the difference between fiction and non-fiction
    • Gave the students laminated cards with "fiction" written on an orange background on one side and "non-fiction" in blue on the other*
    • Used some statements about their teacher as examples - Mrs ___ decided not to take her car to school and jumped on her pet dragon, Sparky instead.  Mrs ___ works at Te Totara Primary School.  Student held up their cards to show me whether they thought the statements were fiction or non-fiction.
    • Had students show me whether certain library books were fiction or non-fiction
  • Talked about what sort of things can damage books
  • Talked about what bookmarks are used for and gave one, with book care statements on it, to each of the students*

The sessions were well-received with several teachers telling me how much they appreciated me doing them.  It's hard  for them to find time for library skills when their normal class library times are only 30 minutes long.  

Things I noted:
  • It was good to have the teacher present because:
    • some said they learned things themselves (about what books we had)
    • they were able to identify which students would need help with the activities
    • they could see what I was teaching and follow it up in their classes.
  • There were students in each class who didn't know who I was, so it was a good chance to introduce myself.  On a later trip through the school at lunchtime I had several Year 2 students say hello.
  • I saw almost 100 children and not one knew that the letter on the spine label of a picture book is the first letter of the author's surname.  A lot knew that the letter helped you know where to shelve the book, but not why that particular letter was on the spine.
  • The students jumped at the chance to put books away.  Future librarians in the making!
  • Having the coloured cards to show fiction or non-fiction made it very quick for me to see what students thought
  • There is already a problem with some students thinking non-fiction means not true.  Perhaps a legacy from parents who have got it wrong?
  • Having the care of books part at the end of the session worked out well because it meant that when we were pushed for time I was the only one who talked about how books can get damaged; when I had a bit more time I asked the students for their suggestions (a lot of throwing and stepping on books, but one scenario involved a shark!).

* Based on activities taken from "Stretchy Library Lessons: Library Skills" by Pat Miller.  A great book if you can find it.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Ten Library/ICT Projects for 2015

I have some really exciting projects lined up for this year; the key will be finding time for all of them!  Around about this time last year I posted about what was on the agenda for 2014.  Each of the four things I discussed then will need more work this year, so let's start with those:
  1. Genre-fication.  This went really well but I still have lots of posters I want to make as a result of it: lists of what genres our Quick Picks readers could move on to, based on what Quick Picks series they are reading; lists of what new genres would be good to try based on what students already like; top 10 lists for each of the genres to help with selection; signs linking genres to non-fiction...that sort of thing.  But I have also been inspired to reinvent our non-fiction area and make the signage there much more bold and attractive.  
  2. Ninja Readers Book Club.  While a big improvement over 2013 I still think I can make this better.  So I'll be trying new ideas, some based on a fantastic session on Book Clubs by Carrie Bouffard at the SLANZA Otago Weekend School last year.
  3. e-Books.  I just squeaked in getting this up and running at the end of last year so I will need to work on promoting this with teachers, parents and students.
  4. Library Expansion.  Well, this is a bit of an ongoing saga.  First we had issues with the courtyard area we were going to expand into.  Apparently the concrete there is pavement concrete and cannot be built on without the great expense of digging it up and starting again.  Now the funding is up-in-the-air because of unexpected changes to other parts of the school budget.  So I have to be patient, although I am still getting our builder in to quote for expanding into our resource room :)
As it happens I had three more big projects that came along last year that I'll also be working on in 2015:
  1. Te Totara Times.  I started this blog last year in order to have student-created content for our school website.  I worked in conjunction with one of our teachers and it went well, but this year I need to find a new teacher to help me and I also have more ideas about what we can do.
  2. Storytelling Club.  Building on from my Moustache Potatoes Comic Club and our foray into stop motion animation, I'm keen to combine the two, plus some other forms of digital storytelling, and make a storytelling club.  But with a cooler name.
  3. BYOD.  We decided to centrally manage our school iPads (for reasons I set out here).  Wiping 140 iPads and adding them to Meraki was a big job for me at the end of last year.  Now we're hoping to have BYOD iPads in place by the end of Term 1, with each child being able to purchase a discounted set of apps from the school.  This is uncharted territory so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it goes smoothly.
And now, because I just don't know when to stop, here are my new projects for 2015:
  1. Library Skills Sessions.  We finally have enough hours allocated to our library staff that I can run some library skills sessions for our classes.  I'm sure this will be an item on my list for 2016 as I have much to learn about what I should cover and how quickly.
  2. Pinterest Boards.  I do already have a few Pinterest boards but I am keen to build these up, especially around picture books that have themes that would be useful for teachers, like confidence, sharing, bullying, being creative etc.
  3. Book Fridge.  At the end of last year I noticed that the school was throwing out a fridge that no longer worked.  So I snapped it up and a teacher aide did some wonderful artwork on it (with permission from Scholastic).  Now I need to launch the idea and explain how a Book Fridge works (basically it's a place for students to swap their own books among themselves).

So, a busy, exciting year ahead for me.  I'm also looking forward to attending the SLANZA conference in Christchurch in September.