"It is a good divine that follows his own instructions; I can easier teach twenty what were good to be done than to be one of the twenty to follow mine own teaching."
Portia, The Merchant of Venice, Act I, Scene II.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

School Libraries Supporting Learning

I'm back at National Library Palmerston North with Sue, our college librarian, for the final day of our library professional development course, School Libraries Supporting Learning, which is being facilitated by Jan Watts. For everything you ever needed to know about school libraries, go to this website here: http://schools.natlib.govt.nz

School-based Initiatives

The day started with reports back from participants on how their in-school library initiatives had progressed since our last meeting. We reported back on the work Sue has done creating a library manual, and the visits Sue and I did to other colleges looking for ideas for our library development for when we move the library next year. In addition to what we reported Sue has also trained up student librarians and set up a roster for them to cover intervals and lunchtimes, and has done a huge weed out of the collection - the book stall at the college gala is benefitting from this! We heard from schools preparing summer reading programmes, culling out of date stock, developing collections and spaces, preparing school reading profiles, schools with either the librarian or students presenting book reviews at assemblies, and a school which had purchased a significant number of new books and had been working on processing these and weeding the old collection to make room for the new acquisitions. It was great hearing from the other schools about the changes they are making.

The Library Supporting Inquiry Learning

Jenny Wilson and Lesley Wing-Jan:

  • Student-centred learning
  • students lead the process and identify their needs
  • Teachers and librarians guide and support
  • Rich and relevant learning, rather than reciting information
  • Students then present and act on that information

Key stages:

  1. Tuning in: identifying prior knowledge, immersion, preparing to find out - focus of the inquiry, questions related to the inquiry, (if group task) who to work with and roles of group members.
  2. Finding out and sorting out: shared experiences, direct experiences, taking students beyond what they already know - sources of information to use, how to organize and record information, how to present information found.
  3. Action and reflection: applying and reflecting - what to do with the information, making something new, how to make connections between ideas, experiences and learning

Points which came up in discussion:
Accessing prior learning. Using oral sources eg. phoning/skyping an expert. Identifying the dilemmas - where sources disagree - this can identify a genuine area for investigation - real contexts.
Teaching triangular validation - three different sources which say the same thing, to be sure it's correct.
Resulting in some sort of social action at the end, eg. letter to editor, design new rubbish bin.
The importance of teaching the skills - especially the research, quoting, referencing, validating and identifying sources etc.

There are a range of inquiry learning resources available on the National Library website here:
http://schools.natlib.govt.nz/search/node/inquiry This is the most fabulous resource for both teachers and librarians, with a huge range of excellent links and resources, give yourself 5 or 10 minutes and go and look at them!

Playing in the Sandpit...

This was time for us to work with an adviser to explore a resource with which we were not familiar. Sue investigated the kids-friendly search engines while I learned more about EPIC, which I had heard of but was not familiar with - the old story, if it requires a school-wide password, I won't know it so I won't use it! 15 minutes later... I am a total EPIC convert and have decided yes it has relevance to English teaching, it is not just something for the history teacher!! To find out about EPIC, go here:

School Library Reporting

What and how do we report to the Board of Trustees on the activities of the school library? Make sure reporting highlights evidence-based practice, include case studies; what can we show rather than tell? Acknowledge the contributions of others (Board, parents, student helpers, etc).
Target audience: BOT, Principal and Management, but also school community.
Timing: annually - maybe towards the end of the year. Some library managers give a brief report of activities to TLR once a term.
Format: paper, prezi, youtube, powerpoint etc
Content: examples of collaborative practice with teachers, team teaching, targeted initiatives/strategies, evidence, student/teacher feedback. Special library events or promotions, statistics - usage, collection, patterns of use, services etc. Developments undertaken, recommendations for future developments which could require additional funding and which relate to the direction and goals of the school.
Tips: be brief, clear, avoid library jargon, use data, photographs, charts, video.

Where to from here?

Open Libraries - physically, virtually; welcoming, dynamic, lively, open-minded, ubiquitous - online 24/7, BYOD, connected. Building a connected learning culture, students who are literate in a range of media, digital citizens, readers, with a culture of success. A library which is learner-centred.

Our next steps at Otaki

  • Staff survey
  • Completing our manual - day to day procedures documented; student user profiles
  • Reporting to Board of Trustees on this year's activities
  • Next year a focus on expanding our graphic novel collection further
  • Library Development Group: continuing preparation for our library relocation
  • Looking at curriculum cooperative ventures for next year e.g. a Science research unit

Professional Learning Networks

We spent some time discussing various ways, tools and media for growing our own PLNs. This made me feel good because I was already doing most of the suggested things, such as: Twitter, GoodReads, LibraryThing, blogging and following blogs, list serves, formal PD opportunities (such as this course), online communities and professional organizations, and using Evernote.  I don't use Delicious (anyone want to comment on why I should if I already use Evernote??). As a result of this session I signed up to Scoop.It using my twitter profile (@shakespearenut). I tend not to use Google Reader as someone said it was going to be phased out - not sure if this is still true. The blogs I follow I tend to have an email notification for a new post.  Comments, anyone??

This has been a GREAT course!! Thanks so much to Jan Watt and the National Library team! :-)