Bec in the library

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

Study visit: British school in China September 20, 2014

Filed under: Study Visits — becinthelibrary @ 3:36 pm
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Students in Grade 2 – 5 are the predominate users of this library however children aged 3 to 6 are also catered for with weekly lessons given by a visiting TL who is based on a separate campus.

Now that the library is staffed with a qualified TL who promotes the space as a learning hub, students are slowly becoming more frequent users of the library for services other than pleasure reading. Explicit information literacy teaching and hosting literature based events are new and developing facets of this library’s services. 

A more developed AV and database collection would be beneficial for this school.

It is a sad indictment on the previous librarian and the philosophy of the school that this library utilises almost no technology.

The library faces substantial challenges in internet access due to the Board’s refusal to pay to circumvent the government firewall.

Locally sourced resources are the responsibility of the already time-strapped TL and library aide which means piles of books litter the staff work area.

Literature based events are held weekly and library displays are now stretching into the corridors of the school, sending a clear inclusion message.

 

This small space started out as the TL's first teaching space but she has since migrated to where the large screen TV is situation so she can utilise the document camera into her lessons.

This small space started out as the TL’s first teaching space but she has since migrated to where the large screen TV is situation so she can utilise the document camera into her lessons.

 

The shelves are too tall for the young kids but they have a good collection of fiction resources. As the school uses a British curriculum, there is a heavy emphasis on British writers.

The shelves are too tall for the young kids but they have a good collection of fiction resources. As the school uses a British curriculum, there is a heavy emphasis on British writers.

The TL is working diligently training a core group of upper primary students as Junior Librarians. Learning to reshelve correctly is their number one job!

The TL is working diligently training a core group of upper primary students as Junior Librarians. Learning to reshelve correctly is their number one job!

One of the (many) things that drives the TL crazy is the complete and utter lack of storage space. This circulation desk area is a mess because there just isn't anywhere to put anything out of view!

One of the (many) things that drives the TL crazy is the complete and utter lack of storage space. This circulation desk area is a mess because there just isn’t anywhere to put anything out of view!

I squeezed my body into one of these and chilled out with a book. They don't really match the rest of the library decor but they are pretty cool.

I squeezed my body into one of these and chilled out with a book. They don’t really match the rest of the library decor but they are pretty cool.

As with most international schools in Beijing, there is a large Korean population whose information needs have to be met.

As with most international schools in Beijing, there is a large Korean population whose information needs have to be met.

The NF is in a mess! The only way the TL can cope with the disorder is to tackle a shelf at a time, knowing that soon, SOON, it will be right!

The NF is in a mess! The only way the TL can cope with the disorder is to tackle a shelf at a time, knowing that soon, SOON, it will be right!

Getting kids to be interested in the library is of top priority. Competitions seem to be working in this regard.

Getting kids to be interested in the library is of top priority. Competitions seem to be working in this regard.

The collection speaks volumes (!) about what clientele is served in the library.

The collection speaks volumes (!) about what clientele is served in the library.

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Professional placement report: Meeting the needs of users May 20, 2014

Part B

How effectively do you feel the library meets the needs of its users?

The extremely high circulation rate of the ES library – over 100,000 – each school year clearly shows how well this library is functioning. There is barely a moment in any given school day when the library is not filled with classes, groups of parents, students bearing library passes or various volunteers reshelving or repairing books. At every break time the library is swarming with children devouring literature or exploring one of the many databases available on the catalogue.

However, this thriving hub of the school was not always this way. The two current TLs, with direction and input from the wider school community, have taken great strides in creating a positive, welcoming atmosphere where the collection is easy to access and patrons are ‘met where they are’ in their library services use. I believe this has been achieved through ongoing, dynamic and flexible collection development and management, the rearrangement of the physical areas of the library and the frequent employment of the co-teaching model of library instruction.

Collection development and management

As this library acts as a public library as well – English language texts are not very easily accessible or affordable in Beijing – it is essential that parents have open access to the collection. Families are now entitled to borrow up to 10 titles at a time, additional to their children’s borrowing limits.

Materials are selected via patron input. Additional to curriculum based ordering, the TLs always have a running Follett cart, where titles are immediately added at the point of inquiry by a library patron, whether it is an adult or student. The continually growing mother tongue collection reflects the value the school places on literacy learning (for academics and pleasure) in multiple languages.

Physical spaces

Over the past two years, additional instructional and recreational spaces have been incorporated into the library in order to make the atmosphere more conducive to teaching, learning and leisure for all members of the school community. One major, positive change has been the introduction of an Early Years teaching space with low shelving, dramatic play materials, and smart board and data projector. It is likely that the regular use of this space by classroom teachers and the TL has helped raise the circulation rates of the Early Years targeted resources. The incorporation of more non-fiction resources into the EY teaching space could help raise awareness of this facet of the wider collection.

Co-teaching

In the recent past, teacher surveys on library usage and the role of the TL were conducted. The main take away from the results was the emphasis teachers wanted placed on increasing student research skills. The TLs felt that teachers also needed instruction in this area so both women have worked diligently on adopting the co-teaching model with the classroom teachers in the area of research skills. Uptake on this initiative is growing as individual teachers see the immense benefit that can come from learning from experts in the research process!

Due in large part to the constant ‘sell’ of library services from both TLs  – weekly scheduled library lessons, attendance at Grade level planning meetings, proactive communication about services and new resources, total flexibility in re-scheduling or adding library times, and library based Teacher Teaching Teacher professional development sessions – teachers are increasingly using the library as a scheduled and impromptu teaching and learning space.

 

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.

 

 

 

iOPAC, one system can do it all. Maybe.

ETL505 Module 2: Tools and systems

Tools used in libraries for organising information include:

  • Library catalogues
  • Periodical databases
  • Citation databases
  • Image and other special kinds of database
  • Bibliographies and subject guides
  • Online subject gateways and directories
  • Search engines

The library catalogue

Our OPAC, Destiny, is a treasure trove of awesome once people know how to use it. Sadly, most do not. Students and teachers can do basic searches for materials in Destiny Quest – the “kid” interface – but any further than that and they are stumped.

During my time as a Lib Tech, I was often astounded at how much amazing information lay dormat in Destiny just waiting to be used effectively. Teachers had no idea they could search through the “back door” and use the same system we (LT and the librarian) did, thereby getting such better results.

I continue to be frustrated by staff who don’t see why it’s so important to catalogue physical technology resources such cameras, laptops etc through the library catalogue. Why don’t they understand how much easier and more efficient it is to keep track of everything in one place? Accountability becomes  easier, budgeting more transparent and workflow much smoother!

When all resources in a school are catalogued through the library… “audit reports can be generated easily for senior administration and stock takes for all resources in the school can be carried out on a regular basis, an essential process for resource-poor schools which need to get maximum value and longevity for everything they purchase.” (Coombes, 2012)

 

An overview of the roles a school library catalogue can potentially play in a schools educational programs.

Coombes, B. (2012). SCIS | Practical curriculum opportunities and the library catalogue. SCIS | Schools Catalogue Information Service. Retrieved August 22, 2013, from http://www2.curriculum.edu.au/scis/connections/issue_82_2012/articles/practical_curriculum_opportunities.html

 

The interweb said what?! August 18, 2013

ETL501 Module 3: Critical evaluation of print and e-resources

‘…TLs will be evaluating websites which, as far as possible, match the learning needs of their students – and obviously, these needs will be different for students in Year 7 or Year 12. Website evaluation, therefore, starts with student needs, and not with websites.”

Barbara Coombes, (2013) module 3

 

Surely this area is one of the most important jobs we have as TLs – getting the right info to the right kids at the right time.

How best to ensure the quality of the e-resources we guide them towards? Run all e-resources through criteria based on three key areas:

  • educational quality/relevancy,
  • reliability
  • technical aspects

The following questions can help crystalize the criteria:

  • Does the site meet the TL’s or teacher’s purpose?
  • What is the range of reading levels of the student group for whom the website is being considered?
  • Does the site contain activities for students?
  • Does the site allow for differentiation?
  • Will the site extend the learning of the student group?

Useful links

http://www.cyberbee.com/content.pdf – provides very comprehensive criteria to evaluate websites. Not kid friendly but good for TL/teacher use in planning stages.

http://kathyschrock.net/eval/pubs/weval_02.pdf – very comprehensive “think abouts” for website evaluation for teachers/TLs, not helpful for kids.

 

Readings for website evaluation

Barcalow, T. (2003). CARS: Evaluating websites.

Ferguson, J. (2005). Why evaluate information found on the Web?

Harris, R. (2010). Evaluating Internet research resources.

Johnson, D. and Lamb, A. (2007). Evaluating internet resources

McGraw-Hill. (2001). How to judge the reliability of Internet information.

Porter, J. (2003). Testing the three click rule

Rogers, T. (2013). Eight ways to tell if a website is reliable. 

Schrock, K. (1996 – 2009). Critical evaluation surveys

Schrock, K. (2009). The 5 Ws of website evaluation: For students

 

OLJ task: RSS December 23, 2011

Filed under: INF506 — becinthelibrary @ 9:47 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

My personal RSS feeds

Find two (2) additional examples of ‘RSS in action’, and develop a 350 word post to your OLJ on how RSS can enhance a library or information service’s ability to meet the information needs of its users.

This topic gets me so excited! The ease of how information comes to you via RSS feeds without any need for searching, downloading or filtering (once you done the initial set up) feels revolutionary to me. On my own PLN journey, I have found so many blogs by articulate, interesting, knowledgeable information professionals but the thought of keeping them organised and up to date was quite overwhelming. I asked my ever-knowledgeable tech-savvy husband and he told me about the RSS widget that allows other people’s RSS’ to appear on my blog. Score!

School libraries are meant to be the hub of learning for all facets of the school community – parents, teachers and students alike. As a primary librarian, finding relevant RSS feeds to meet the needs of my students is not a high priority. However, assisting teachers to organise their RSS feeds into one place is a vital service I can provide for them. This could be done through the library blog as a widget where I would subscribe to a variety of feeds that I know different teachers are interested in or, alternatively, I can show teachers how to set up personally relevant feeds straight to their mailbox (we’re a Mac school so we use Mac mail – so easy to get your RSS’s straight to mail). Teachers are notoriously time poor. This differentiation and personalisation would certainly make a teacher’s life easier, giving them access to the right type of information, ‘just in time’. It would also allow for teachers to follow their own interests, at their own pace.

*EDIT 2nd Feb – thought I’d just show you my latest RSS feeds, some professional, some personal*

Additional to using RSS feeds for professional development, there are several sites that offer up feeds for basic things like lesson plans and assessment tasks. As I’m not entirely sure how I can keep track of these for teachers using a common space such as the library blog, this is an area of exploration for me. The easiest way to start will be to facilitate individual teachers finding RSS feeds to match their current curriculum.

An example of my own RSS feed for lesson plans and assessment tasks.

*EDIT – 2nd Feb: after finally getting around to Module 4 two days before our final asssignment is due, I found FriendFeed. THIS is a great way to store all those RSS and Twitter feeds in one place. Whoo hoo!*

 

 

 
loving the learning

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