October is International School Library Month!

Ocotber is not far away and now might be a good time to consider celebrating your school library, and school libraries around the world, anytime during October.

The International Association of School Librarianship (IASL), of which SLAV is a partner association, offers a range of activities and ideas to help you celebrate. A great way to welcome in term four.

The 2020 theme for ISLM is “Finding Your Way to Good Health and Well Being”. It is based on one of the UNSDG goals i.e. UN Sustainable Development Goal #3 “Good Health and Well Being”. This year participants are invited to think about and celebrate the link between books, reading, school libraries, good health and well being.

You can access IASL ISLM resources, and get more information HERE.

Share Your COVID-19 School Library Experience

From the team at Students Need School Libraries

COVID-19. It changed Term 1, 2020. It changed the way students and school staff approach Term 2, 2020. It changed the way we view education. It changed the world. What it didn’t change was the need for school libraries run by a qualified and passionate school library team.

We want to know and share what school libraries or school library teams have been focusing on during this COVID crisis. It might look a little different from the usual, but it’s even more important during this time of change and upheaval.

The Task: We want to know what you, as a library staff member or library team, have been focusing on during this COVID crisis.

The Goal: To continue sharing the word about the importance of school libraries and school library staff. Schools are blessed to have you. And the schools without you are probably wishing they did have you right about now.

What you would need to do: Take 5 minutes to respond to the questions below or write a short paragraph about how your school library is responding to the COVID crisis and email it to blog@studentsneedschoollibraries.org.au Anyone involved in school libraries in any way is welcome to respond, from school library staff to parents or students, authors running virtual visits or publishers providing access to resources.

We will feature responses on the Students Need School Libraries Website and social media pages and we hope to share the stories around the world in collaboration with our international colleagues. We hope we can rally around each together during this time to support each other, our students, school staff and the wider community. Please let us know if you have any other ideas you would like to share.

Snapshot of a School Library during COVID-19.

  1. What has been the focus for your school library/ role during the COVID-19 crisis?
  2. What major tasks have you achieved?
  3. What has been the result for staff and/or students?
  4. What other information would you like readers to know?
  • Do you give permission for this information to be shared beyond the Students Need School Libraries website and social media, for example in an articles for a school library journal? Yes/No/I’d need to be contacted first
  • Would you like this posted anonymously: Yes/No. If no, please answer the questions below.
    • Your role/s:
    • Your school:

You can find more information here. https://studentsneedschoollibraries.org.au/blog/share-your-covid-19-school-library-experience/

Terms of Service; Didn’t Read

The most time-consuming part of evaluating web tools for educational use has got to be looking at the Terms of Service (also know as Terms of Use or Terms and Conditions). They can go on for pages, and are so often wrapped up in so much legalese that even if you manage to read to the end, there is no guarantee you will be any wiser. And yet we can’t just ignore them; it is our duty as educators and as digital citizens to protect rights and understand responsibilities online.

Wouldn’t it be great if  Google Translate could do something to convert ToS into Plain English? Well, Terms of Service; Didn’t Read might be just the web project we’ve been waiting for. ToS:DR (for short) are a user rights group aiming to rate and label website terms & privacy policies from “very good Class A to very bad Class E.”  As well as rating them, they are also providing a “thumbs up/thumbs down” report card that helps users better understand individual aspects of a service agreement. The report card is written in bullet point fashion but it is possible to expand the points for more detailed explanations, access the full terms of the web tool and there are discussion pages available behind each of the points.

ToS;DR is still very new (started in mid-2012) so the number of sites that have report cards are limited, but it is an excellent example of the positive change that can occur through global connectivity and collaboration, and the project is actively growing.

This is a grassroots project, created by citizens and volunteers who take their responsibilities very seriously; they engage in a peer-reviewed process of rating and analysing to create each rating, and they are committed to Creative Commons and Free Software licensing.

While this site does not take the place of legal advice, it does help users make some sense of the pages and pages of fine print before we click, and ultimately that offers us the chance to make better online choices.

The future of learning in a networked society

Technology company Ericsson recently released a thought provoking video about the future of learning in a networked society. The video features interviews with educational thinkers including Stephen Heppell, Sugata Mitra and Seth Godin.

The video is a compelling exploration of the connective value of technology. The interviewees touch on the issues of standardised testing, the impact of online learning and the use of technology to facilitate collaboration.

You can watch the 20 minute video below and find out more about the project at the Ericsson website.

How connected are you?

Connected: the film

Hamish Curry, Education Manager at the State Library of Victoria, explores his feelings about the film Connected:

It was back in early September at a Gathering ‘11 event organised by David Hood that I first watched ‘Connected’, a film about “love, death and technology” by Tiffany Shlain. The film stimulated a whole bunch of complex thoughts and ideas I’d been having around the ways in which we relate to one another, and the tools of technology we’re using to help improve these relations. A tweet response from Tiffany afterwards, along with some email networking led me to organise the State Library’s own screening of the film on November 23. I’ve seen Connected four times since September, and each time something new resonates. I love the shock value of Albert Einstein who said that “if honeybees were to disappear, humankind would be gone in four years.”

Connected weaves a myriad of personal, historical, and global issues and challenges together, showing us that patterns are emerging amongst these random pieces. From the evolution of language, to our reliance on machines and the demands we’re placing on the hemispheres of the brain, humans are making more and more rapid decisions, connections, and discoveries. The film’s premise is that while technology is changing the way we communicate, relate, work and consume, it is having unintended impacts on our well-being and that of the planet around us.

I think all of us familiar with technology sense this, and no doubt all those who have been involved with the VicPLN program experienced various levels of anxiety and excitement around the tools of the web as well. Yet the film also highlights how technology is enabling us to make better and faster connections to issues confronting us and to the people who share our passions. Technology has helped us visualise data, trends, thoughts, and images in new ways. As such, the film promotes deeper thinking and reflection. There have been some great posts from people like Judith Way and Jenny Luca. Some see Tiffany’s story being quite self-indulgent, others see her experiences as being symptomatic of our struggle to connect.

For me it has stirred up a passion around a radical rethink of how we approach education. The traditional system broke learning down into disconnected but measurable chunks and pieces, which mirrored our thinking around literacy, numeracy, and sciences. Now more and more educators are realising that we’ve reached a point where we need to put these back together, creating an integrated, blended, and connected education system, where the school is simply a node in a much bigger community, both locally and internationally.

Another big node is libraries. They are at cross-roads too. Their ability to be hubs of information and community connections is beginning to be leveraged in new and exciting ways. It’s a nice time to be part of libraries and education; change is an expectation. So in closing, I’ll leave you with a Connected thought for 2012 from John Muir, who said “when you tug at a single thing in the universe, you find it’s attached to everything else.”

FUSE learning resource: 1000Poppies

1000Poppies has been created by History Teachers’ Association of Victoria, Shrine of Remembrance, Melbourne, and DEECD. It is a place where students from around the world can share their feelings, experiences, and stories about war. Students are able to use historical research and interviews with key stakeholders of Remembrance Day. The site aims to increase student appreciation of war and their participation in acts of commemoration.


You can register as an individual on the site, or register a class (suitable for Levels 3-6 VELS and VCE history). Teachers, there is a teacher’s blog where you can get information on how to use 1000Poppies with your students. You are also able to share images and videos, and contribute to the discussion of groups around the world.

Visit the Poppy Field, where people plant their poppy and leave a message when registering to the site.

Guest post: An international 3-way webchat for Gippsland youth

On 21st May 2011, an innovative group took part in an international 3-way co-author webchat via Skype.  The chat was set up by Phong Truong, Branch Support Librarian of the Civic Centre, Port of Sale, Wellington Shire. The webchat allowed rural youth to connect with authors. Particpant and author Hazel Edwards explains the process, the strengths of the webchat, and the challenges:

This morning we had a chat about writing which overcame geographical and a few other barriers.


This webinar was an innovation set up by Branch Support Librarian Phong Truong after attending a talk I’d given at the SLV on our YA novel ‘f2m:the boy within’. She wanted to use technology to attract youth & provide access to counselling resources on issues such as gender.


f2m: the boy withinAcross the Tasman and across Skype, it was a 3 way Webinar between Wellington Shire Gippsland Youth Council members, co-author Ryan Kennedy in Wellington New Zealand and myself  in Melbourne.


Ironically, at first, we didn’t realise both places were both called Wellington. 


Did it work? Yes. But we had a few technical hitches. Despite the trial on Thursday afternoon, where audio problems were solved with a closer microphone relaying questions, getting the visuals working three ways on the Saturday ‘real’ event was a challenge.


Was it worthwhile?  YES!


Strengths of Webinar:

  • Role modelling by Ryan as young novelist, writing first book from own gender experience.
  • Demonstration of how ‘outside’ authors could be accessed, where-ever they or potential readers live.
  • Practical sharing  of how co-authors had utilised electronic ways of collaborating (and how to cope when things go wrong).
  • Good questions and candid answers.
  • Encourageded rural youth to utilise Internet resources when seeking answers to problems: relationships, gender or literary.
  • This area has a Youth Council with a Youth Mayor, and Pauline the Deputy Youth Mayor participated.
  • Audio was clear.

What have we learnt from the experience:

  • Network connection recommended over Wifi.
  • Need to have a test session, especially for sound. Re-position seating.
  • Prepared questions
  • Suggest audience identify themselves when asking questions.
  • Wear a bright coloured jacket to stand out from dark chairs.
  • Intimate group enabled questions to be answered fully. ‘Casual feel’ atmosphere conducive to  a real exchange.
  • Since our YA novel subject matter of gender was controversial, helpful to have co-authors viewpoints from varied backgrounds & generations & access to their website resources such as YA guests blogs.
  • Needs a co-ordinator to arrange books available for reading beforehand & this is where e-books are more easily accessible.


  • Several youth who were expected didn’t make it, but there were eight in the room, including the deputy Youth Mayor.
  • Technical issues with getting the visuals to work three ways on Skype. After a 10 minute delay, we decided to go with visuals between the Wellington Youth and Ryan in NZ, and utilise Hazel’s audio although they could ‘see’ Hazel. At the end, we had a concentrated visual session between Hazel and the group in Gippsland.
  • Co-ordinating: Phong prepared books, handouts etc and invited reps from youth groupings, but 10 am Saturday a bad time for techie support and those who play football.
  • Questions covered writing issues such as how to co-write on Skype and e-mail, how did the book get published and benefits in e-book format. Gender questions included issues such as how do you get support in a rural area, Ryan’s personal experiences transitioning and media and librarian reactions to ‘f2m:the boy within’.

Hazel Edwards and Ryan Kennedy

PS Only afterwards, I realised the room in which participants chatted was called the Wellington Room! I was still in my Melbourne study, but my husband had cleared up his desk, visible behind my head on the web cam. That’s another plus for participating in web chats! Desks get tidied or are caught forever on web cam. 

Phong outlines the Wellington Shire Gippsland Youth Council and lists those involved in the Skype chat:

The Wellington Shire Youth Council is made up of 18 youth between the ages of 12-25, who eagerly represent young people within Wellington Shire.  It provides an avenue for youth issues, feedback and communications to liaise with Wellington Shire Council, forming a bridge between youth and local government.  Youth Councillors are instigators of positive change and act as role models and leaders with the community.

Youth Councillors who were in attendance:

Krystal Davison, Youth Mayor, 19 yro, Sale

Pauline Rathnow, Deputy Youth Mayor, 23 yro, Wurruk

Mallory Ginkel, Youth Councillor, 15 yro, Sale

Dean Hardisty, Youth Councilllor, 19 yro, Paradise Beach

Mel Giles, Youth Councillor, 22 yro, Sale


Phong Truong, Branch Support Librarian

Katy Cummins, Communications Officer  – Media publicity and photo

Damian Norkus, Information Technology Support Officer – Set up of Skype link

Before participating in the webchat, the youth were expected to read f2m. The trailer for the novel is below:


Thankyou to Hazel and Phong for sharing their webchat experience. What I love about this webchat is that regional youth were provided with role-modeling from the authors, experienced amazing technology, and discovered how there are really no barriers anymore to what can be achieved (co-authors Hazel and Ryan explained how they co-wrote on Skype). If you are thinking of organising your own author/youth chat via Skype and would like to contact Hazel, Ryan, or Phong, please leave a comment or contact them via their websites (linked to above). To see reviews of the fabulous book f2m, visit Google Reads.

Guest post: Junior M’s blogging and global collaboration, by Michelle Scott

Michelle Scott is a teacher at St. Luke the Evangelist School, Blackburn South, Victoria. Michelle has developed a bright, engaging blog with her junior class called Junior M’s Learning Journey that showcases their learning using web 2.0 technology. The class is also involved in a wonderful exchange activity that is connecting them globally. Michelle explains below:

In 2010 I completed the SLAV Web 2.0 course along with several other teachers at St Luke’s. At this time a blog was started for our two grade 1/2 classes – Junior’s Jig. My level partner Verona maintained the blog with my class chipping in posts every now and then. This year my class Junior M have the very own blog (we signed with blogger after much unsuccessful wrangling with wordpress), Junior M’s Learning Journey. My aim for the blog is to provide the St Luke’s community (parents, families and friends) and a gradually developing group of global friends (through twitter), an insight into the learning Junior M is engaged with most weeks.

Junior M's Learning Journey

Recently, my students made a significant connection with a school in Ontario, Canada with whom we are twitter-friends. After we posted questions on twitter to the Gill_Villeans they asked us if we’d like to host their class mascot, Gill the goldfish, and to add photos etc., of his adventures at St Lukes on their wiki. Their teacher is using this as a platform to further engage her students in writing.

Gill the goldfish goes global

Over the term holidays we will send our class mascot, Ella the echidna, to Canada. Students in Junior are fascinated with the process of receiving a package from overseas and have many ideas for how to host our visitor, which they actively implement.

I feel this process of blogging and commenting on blog posts extends the children, from enriching their thinking both laterally and critically, to exposing them to a world beyond their classroom. This in turn shows them how much in common we have with people around the world.

The understanding of differences and similarities that comes from global collaboration is priceless. Thankyou, Michelle, for sharing your teaching and learning with us. All the best to Ella on her big trip.

Worth reading: Comments on the future of libraries and librarians

Worth readingThe Houston Chronicle Editorial recently published the article ‘Elegy for librarians: After all the budget cutting’s done, who’ll be around to help us ask the sharper questions’ (March 30th, 2011). While this article is a solid look at some of the roles of libraries and librarians in today’s society, what is powerful are the comments being left. Have a look and see what you think.

Houston Chronicle   

Guest post: Class blog ‘Learning Together’ by Marie Kennedy

Marie Kennedy is a prep teacher at St. Luke the Evangelist School, Blackburn South, Victoria. Marie and her prep students’s class blog, Learning Together, is a wonderful example of how web 2.0 tools can be used to support and extend teaching and learning, and as a way to make connections:

Learning Together

I started my class blog following the SLAV Personal Learning Network PD I was a part of early in 2010, where I had learnt so much about Web 2.0 tools and the many benefits of blogging for Learning and Teaching. I was excited about the potential for local and global collaboration and creating strong links between home and school. I had always used ‘myclasses’ as a way to communicate with parents about what was happening in the classroom however I could see the enormous potential of creating a class blog.

As a Prep teacher I spend a lot of time modelling how to use a blog. Through this modelling the students are learning important protocols and safe behaviours when navigating the online world.  I am responsible for posting photos, writing most of the posts and moderating comments. My students take part by sharing reflections on their learning using tools such as voicethread, wallwisher and videos. I share their writing, reading, maths and art through slideshows. My students also become involved in commenting. I model the process and at this early stage of the year I type their thoughts and ideas. My students are articulating to a global community what they have discovered helping them to consolidate and deepen their understandings. Many visitors to our blog ask interesting questions that extends the students thinking and challenges them to consider new perspectives. These are some of the powerful advantages of blogging.

Learning Together -Science

While we have had success reaching out to the global community one of the challenges of blogging is involving our parent community. My major aim for developing a class blog was to connect with parents and families. To provide a springboard for conversation at home about what is happening at school and how the students are thinking and learning. While some parents do visit and comment I have had limited success with this. As a school we are hoping to provide a parent night on blogging to address this issue.

Learning Together - Better Buddies

Blogging allows for authentic and rich conversation both within and beyond our school community.

Thankyou, Marie, for sharing your fantastic work, and the work of your students. I particularly like how visually appealing Learning Together is, with the images of your students and their work. Your adopted pet Freddie, the spider, is a cute extra on the blog and a good way to create interest in any blog (e.g. name the virtual pet or avatar). Learning Together provides uses of web 2.0 tools that will offer inspiration to many.