Bec in the library

"I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library." — Jorge Luis Borges

Why kids suck at REALLY using the web (and what we can do about it). September 17, 2013

Topic 6: Improving students’ web use

“One of the tasks of the TL is to persuade both students and teachers that students need to be not just web users but web learners. Improving students’ web use is not a simple task, as it requires that students are taught how to improve their web searching AND this teaching is embedded into curriculum programs across the school.” Module 6

Helpful ways to improve students’ web use:

  • Planning for web use through:
    • Mindmapping, concept mapping, brainstorming before online searching

http://cooltoolsforschools.wikispaces.com/Organiser+Tools

    • Questioning  – what are they looking for, where might they find it, why that page/enginge, what criteria are they going to look for, what are their key words (based on their concept mapping)
  • Effective search strategies
    • concept mapping what constitutes good searching using http://www.wordle.net/
    • give groups of kids different search engines but same key words, compare top ten results
  • Reading for information

How do we teach students to be critical readers not just consumers of the information they find online?

    • Surely this will be taught in tandem with the website evaluation criteria – is the information reliable, current, educationally sound?
    • Teacher modeling of website deconstruction with pre-prepared website and notes!
    • Note taking, skim and scan, referring to list of pre-made questions
  • Reflecting on web use:

Students could ask themselves:

    • Were they effective in locating the information they needed?
    • Was the information useful for their purpose?
    • Did they plan the search well and did they use the correct search engine?
    • Were the keywords correct or did the student need to revise the search terms?

 

Important other notes gathered from the readings:

Kuiper, E., Volman, M. and Terwel, J. (2008) Students’ use of Web literacy skills and strategies: searching, reading and evaluating Web information. Information Research, 13(3).

Three major components of Web literacy skills:

  • Web searching skills (find the right information)
  • Web reading skills (understanding how text online differs from static text – hyperlinks, multi-modal information etc – and therefore being able to understand the content; most of the content on the web is aimed far too high for our elementary aged students therefore a high level of reading and comprehension is expected and needed; when students do not know how to use the Web in a critical way, knowledge cannot be obtained.
  • Web evaluating skills (able to critically assess the reliability and authority of the author/website)

Tendencies in student web use (why they often suck at it):

  • inflexibility – they stick to one search strategy and one search engine, regardless of how terrible the results
  • impulsiveness/impatience – hopping from one site to another, randomly clicking on “interesting” links, not checking spelling
  • focusing on finding the “one right” answer – making their focus too narrow, omiting good websites because of careless or too broad reading; forgetting that just because the “answer” is there, doesn’t mean the website is reliable or has authority.
  • lack of reflection – no point in having the 3 web literacy skills if you don’t reflect on your web experience

“It is not enough to look at the Web as merely a replacement of print information resources.”

“…when students do not know how to use the Web in a critical way, knowledge cannot be obtained.”

Regardless of being taught other strategies and directed to multiple search engines, students in the study STILL went to Google first and foremost. (As do most of us, c’mon, admit it!)

“the school needs to deal with Web use in earlier school years, when students have not yet fully developed their own Web using habits.”

“At home, students do not learn critical reading and reflective skills naturally. They need others to show them the need for such skills and to learn their specific use. At school, these skills are already part of the literacy curriculum but mostly with respect to conventional reading resources only. In fact, most students learn such skills from print-based methods and do not apply them when using the Web as a matter of course.”

 

Valenza, J. (2004). Thinking and behaving info-fluently. Learning & Leading With Technology, 32(3), 38-43.

This is a really useful article, giving many helpful “how to’s” and “why should’s” for teaching info-fluency. A great read for teachers too, if you wanted to give them the short version of why and how to get kids better at using the net.

Aimed at G5-12, which is too high for my audience but still useful for understanding the basics. Collaborating with grade level teams to translate this into elementary sized appropriate pieces would be great.

Key points

  • the info-fluent student
  • smart students are not always the best searchers
  • teachers aren’t very good searchers either
  • good searchers have common abilities and behaviours
    • prior knowledge, search choices, research holes, strategies, the process, advances searches, three types of searches, thinking about queries, quality, a sense of inquiry, a plan, mind tools, persistence and fussiness, consulting a professional
  • teachers can encourage better searching
    • create research challenges, evaluate students’ works-cited list, scaffold, create pathfinders with your librarian, create an appropriate search tool page for general student research, ask students to annotate their works-cited lists, use formative assessment to check student progress.

Other readings for Topic 6

Chung, J. and Neuman, D. (2007) High school students’ information seeking and use for class projects. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 58(10), 1503-1517. Available CSU Library.

Herring, J. (2010) School students, question formulation and issues of transfer: a constructivist grounded analysis. Libri, 60(3) 218-229. Available CSU Library.

 

 

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Assignment 2: evaluative and reflective statement February 2, 2012

A) An evaluative statement using three (3) experiences documented in your OLJ as evidence of meeting the learning objectives of the subject

The OLJ tasks that best represent my understanding of social networking (SN) technologies are the ones in which I discuss how teacher librarians (TLs) can assist teachers to use RSS feeds to better themselves both as educators and as well rounded people, and my exploration of the strengths and areas of improvement of delicious. Above and beyond that, however, is the ‘off topic’ work I participated in during January. The exploration of FriendFeed (incorporating my burgeoning use of Twitter) and delicious, along with the creation of a new Facebook page on educational technology showed that I could competently navigate SN for my own purposes. This personalisation of SN will serve me well in transfering my new skill set into the school environment. The whole concept of using SN for the creation of my professional learning network (PLN) is exciting me beyond expectation and I am proudly flying my computer geek flag!

The Library 2.0 concept is so stimulating and the meme map included in one of my module response posts really helped me understand the concept more clearly. To my mind, the whole point of Library 2.0 is to use emerging and existing technology to better meet the information needs of my school. Library 2.0 and participatory library service is NOT about having the latest tool that does the coolest  new thing, faster and with a better interface than ever before. If it’s not relevant, if it doesn’t get users excited and pushing for more, then no matter how ‘cool’ a SN tool is, it will be a waste of time and effort and my teachers will simply turn their nose up at it. Knowing what your teachers need and when, then differentiating content and training for them based on those needs, is absolutely the best way to immerse schools into the concepts, theories and practices of Library 2.0 without instilling fear of change. I believe that the underlying principles of Web 2.0 can, and should be, mirrored by effective Library 2.0 TLs: education can only be better if we engage in collaboration, conversation, community and content creation (or co-creation). These practices must be part of the exploration process.  If teachers are creators, users who collaborate and converse in virtual and real life communities, then they are far more likely to use SN tools critically and for authentic purposes, not just because they are interesting or ‘the latest thing’. These values are reflected in my questioning and ruminations on how teachers can be part of best practice dialogue and action using RSS, delicious and other SN tools like FriendFeed. Bernoff and Li’s (2010) ladder concept was hugely influential in my understanding of how SN is both perceived and used.

To effectively scaffold my interpretation of Library 2.0, I must evaluate and know the features and functionality of any social networking reliant information tool or software and how that tool can best be used to meet the needs of their staff and students. I demonstrated that knowledge through my critical examination of delicious. This was especially evident when I highlighted how different aspects of the social bookmarking tool can be a help or hindrance when collecting information for units of inquiry. Additionally, in my RSS OLJ task, I clearly pointed out there were issues that needed to be solved in how teachers could authentically gather information that was personally relevant to them in one place. I also made clear in my marketing strategy post that professional developing in the SN area must be differentiated if the tools and training itself is to be on any use. 

Participating in SN means being cognizant of the inherent social, cultural, educational, ethical, and technical management issues that exist in a socially networked world. In my experience and opinion, these include, but are not limited to, privacy, cyber bullying, access to technology in and out of school, funding for staff and hardware/software, bias (in programming and in content), confidence levels and attitude, gender and age stereotypes, censorship and intellectual property. There is no bigger arena for these issues than when students and teachers are creators within the SN world. Collaborating and  communicating within a community, perhaps using a SN tool itself, such as delicious to discuss, analyse, evaluate and overcome these issues is paramount.

B) Reflective statement on your development as a social networker as a result of studying INF506, and the implications for your development as an information professional.

Funnily enough, the spark that ignited the flame of interest in social networking (SN) came right at the beginning of the subject but not necessarily as part of the subject! I was researching blogging in late November with the view that I would use it as the basis of my first assignment both in this subject and in EER500. I stumbled across a Sydney Morning  Herald article by Haesler (2011) which referenced the notion of personal learning networks (PLNs).The concept came at exactly the right time for me and drove my learning from then on.

Admittedly, my learning through this subject has come in fits and spurts, depending on the information need I had at any given time. Of course, I learnt a great deal through the modules, with regular a’ha moments steering me off on tangents of excitement. However, the real learning came when I could use the new SN tools I was exploring for real world purposes, in situations where my blood was really pumping and I pushed myself to go further, test the technologies more so that I could get the result I wanted. This was especially obvious in my delicious Stacks on positive parenting. Whilst, admittedly, this was not 100% work related, as a primary teacher, we are also surrogate parents so I guess it could come under the banner of parent education! I’m part of many parenting communities online, mostly consisting of members who are constantly in need of more information to inform and affirm their parenting. I loved having a tangible community service purpose for my own reading. Knowing my use of social bookmarking could potentially help another parent overcome hurdles is exhilarating and very gratifying. I am now looking ahead and planning how I can harness this energy and apply it to my professional life. The most obvious is helping teachers and grade levels organise their online resources into curriculum areas.

Blogging has always been my favourite use of social networking technologies, even before starting this course. When my husband and I started our lives as international vagabonds, we began a travel blog that allowed our families and friends to share our travels. This blogging experience helped me feel enthused about using an OLJ to record my learning in my M.Ed (TL) across many subjects, including this one.  My interest in blogging now goes beyond the personal. As witnessed in my first assignment for this subject, the benefits of educational blogging for primary aged students are huge. I am so excited to share my study with the school involved and be an active participant in seeing my recommendations a reality.

Facebook is another SN tool that has been enhanced through my involvement in this subject. I’ve been an avid facebooker for many years on a personal level, using it as another way to connect with distant loved ones. However, the innovative and, for me, game-changing use of facebook for educational purposes demonstrated in this course has helped me see how I can harness it’s power. I love the idea of teachers using the page I created – virtually schools – as a lead in to their own learning; a place where they can discuss and share ideas. I am planning on offering my services as ‘PLN facilitator’ to the teachers involved in my blogging case study and will use my facebook page as its beginning platform because I know all the teachers on the team are already comfortable with the tool.

One frustration I have experienced over the course of this subject has been the difficulty in relating much of what we are learning about to the primary school student. I’ve started a post collating relevant articles, information and ideas expressly for this purpose. I will add these to my Virtually School FB page for others to benefit from.

My own intense engagement with SN in both personal and professional contexts over the past six or seven weeks has made very clear to me, over and over again, how essential personal relevance is to the implementation of SN in schools. Teachers simply will not use a tool for a tool’s sake; they must see how it can be used to better their teaching and to make them a more efficient educator with the little time they have. My mission and catch cry going forward: personally relevant, educationally effective.

References

Bernoff, J., & Li, C. (2010, January 19). Empowered. Forrester Blogs | Making Leaders Successful Every Day. Retrieved February 1, 2012, from http://blogs.forrester.com/groundswell/2010/01/conversationalists-get-onto-the-ladder.html

Haesler, D. (2011, November 14). For today’s learners, it just clicks. The Sydney Morning Herald. pastedGraphic.pdfhttp://www.smh.com.au/technology/technology-news/for-todays-learners-it-just-clicks-20111113-1ndwi.html

 

Surely we don’t need books anymore! March 8, 2011

Consider if the print format is of diminishing significance and value in school libraries?

In all honesty, I cannot answer this question succintly or with much sense at all as my thoughts just go around and around. After having a vigourous discussion with my husband (Grade 5 teacher of 21 digital natives) about this topic, I still am no clearer. My opinion (“Of course print is not diminishing in significance and value!! Who doesn’t love and need to sit down with a good book/poster/kit/piece of realia?) is emotional and based on my personal history of loving and sharing print with family, friends, peers, colleagues and students. To see, or even contemplate, the decline of print feels like the end of my world as I know it, even as I sit on the bus each day reading the latest novel on my Kindle.

Do we need to focus more on adding digital resources to the collection, and on digital collections, to meet the needs of users?

All learners need multiple access points to information. Whether this means finding information via a picture book, looking though a hard copy encyclopedia, watching a DVD, hearing an audio book, browsing BrainPOP! or reflecting and sharing via a blog – it doesn’t matter – we need a balance of all types of resources in a collection if we are to meet the needs of all users.

 

Libraries for a post literate society March 4, 2011

Do you agree with Johnson that students, and indeed younger teachers, are increasingly ‘post-literate’ in the manner that he defines and uses this term?

 

My passionate and indignant thoughts after reading the first couple of paragraphs: What a load of bollocks! “People don’t read anymore” (Jobs); “the ability to read written words, is no longer necessary”. The initial example was totally incorrect – people on spreadsheets, on laptops, on gaming consoles – they are all reading WORDS! Just because people  aren’t reading a hard copy book, magazine or paper, doesn’t mean they aren’t reading/accessing the written word.

I soon calmed down and was immediately intrigued with the concept of linking back to natural forms of multi-sensory communication (storytelling, speaking, debate); much like our pre-reading learners in the lower end of our schools.

I believe that students and younger teacher are as post-literate as we (fellow educators, parents, administrators of schools) allow them to be. In their personal lives, students ARE showing strong post-literate (as per Johnson’s description) tendencies and this is only worrisome if the way in which they ASSESS and THINK ABOUT the information they access this way is shallow. The possible strengths of acquiring information in this post-literate may benefit all learners, especially ESOL and SN students for whom large chunks of text is actually a barrier to learning.

There is no need to stop resourcing the curriculum as it stands, the written word on actual paper is still intensely and intrinsically valuable to all learners. We use need to ADD IN these new ways and means of accessing meaning.

 

Are school libraries and their collections already adopting the critical attributes that Johnson is proposing?

Wow, Johnson’s list of attributes reads like a teacher-dinosaur panic attack. As a youngish teacher who is hovering somewhere between a “digital native” and a “digital immigrant“, I admit I found the list a little daunting – it really does require a total mindshift when it comes to cracking open those ordering catalogues!

In my role as a LT, I am charged with the responsibilty of gathering resources for upcoming units of inquiry across the primary school. As a teacher, I look at these resources lists through a slighty different lens – I can make sense of a unit planner and see how the resources can be used in multiple ways in order to differentiate for all learners in the classroom. I try to add relevant websites and links to databases we have subscriptions to, as well as the more usual additions of DVDs, audio books, kits and print resources of all kinds including graphic novels. The idea of accessing concepts and content through gaming, and helping teachers find such resources, was an interesting and a little confronting point. Is this just because I am thinking Nintendo rather than Woodlands Maths? What other options are there? Please share!

 

Other thoughts after reading this article

“Culture determines library programmes; libraries transmit culture” – what does this mean for us as TLs, as humans? Whose culture? As an educator in an international school, does this mean the home culture of China, or does it mean celebrating and resourcing ALL cultures within the community? Or on a slightly different angle, does it mean the culture of LEARNING within the school – the curriculum itself or the framework the curriculum is within (the PYP for example)?

“Our greatest fears can become our greatest blessings”: Another key point for me was Johnson’s take on attitude – it’s up to us as TLs to lead from the front when it comes to becoming PL – show creativity, be a risk-taker, become knowledgeable -hey! It’s the learner profile!!

 

 

 

 
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