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/

Deep thinking with Infopics

infopic

Using an image to convey a message can cement a lasting memory.  Combine this image with words and you have the makings of a memorable learning experience.  Tony Vincent of Learning in Hand has shared the idea of creating Infopics, a combination of image and words that combine as a thinking and analysis exercise suitable for both adult and student learning.

In his post Producing Infopics Tony provides a thorough overview of a range of mobile apps (for all systems) and standard PC applications that can be used to produce infopics.  Simpler than an Infographic which generally conveys a message with a combination of statistics, images and general information, an Infopic is one image onto which you add text.

Whilst a relatively simple task, it requires you to think deeply about your image/topic and to come up with appropriate words to match.  It could be a reflective Infopic as I have created in the header image using Phonto on the iPhone or you could ask students to select an image relevant to a book they have read and think of words or phrases in response to the text.

Many students will find this task challenging but with practice it has the potential for numerous applications.  Tools can be as simple as a Powerpoint, Keynote or Google slides, or one of the many apps that Tony describes in inspirational post – Producing Infopics.  Try producing your own, then take it into the classroom.  Thanks Tony.

Mindmap integration in Google Docs

thinking Many schools, including my own, use Google Apps for Education (GAFE).  As such, I was interested to discover the new partnership between one of my favourite mindmapping tools Mindmeister and GAFE.  With the new MindMeister add-on, (accessible via the add-on tab within a Google Doc) users can turn any bullet-point list into a MindMeister mindmap and automatically inserts it into their document. The mindmap adopts the exact hierarchical structure used in the list and adds a visually appealing graphic to the document.  It’s free and doesn’t require a MindMeister account.  The map created is not editable so students need to do the thinking and planning before they convert it to a mindmap.  Nothing lost however, as they can always delete and re-do if they need more details.  As we are basically visual learners, this is a useful, easily accessible learning support tool. There are many, many online, collaborative mindmapping tools available.  A couple of other favourites are:

  • Bubble .us – ‘Freemium’ model also with full access but limit of 3 maps.  Good collaborative interface.
  • Wisemapping – Free, open source, collaborative and able to be embedded into websites.
  • iThoughts – very popular IOS tool for iPad and iPhone

Comments and suggestions for other recommended options are welcome.

PLN Plus reflection – community in the making

In this guest post from Sue Osborne, Head of Library Service, Haileybury College, Brighton, she shares her experience of the recent PLN Plus course.

I was interested to do the PLN+ because I had participated in several PLN courses (two 23 things, PLN research tool kit) and I was interested in taking the things I had learned the next level. I was also interested in the idea of project work and finding other library professionals who were interested in developing similar ideas in their schools.

I found the course to be quite different from my past experience of the PLN. Firstly, it was a shorter course – only four weeks long, but it was filled with new ideas, so in terms of content it still delivered. There was also a less formal approach, with four stages rather than particular products or apps to focus on. It was more about the process of starting and growing networks, rather than specific, measurable outcomes. I found this approach disconcerting at first, but once we all started talking about our areas of interest, I took to it well.

I enjoyed the relaxed approach, self-driven learning, connecting with like-minded colleagues who wanted to be instruments of change within their organisations as well as a huge pool of ideas and tools to think about and try. I will be exploring the tools for at least the next month or so! I’ve listed my three favourite tools below.

1/ Mightybell – the platform the PLN was based in has been fantastic. It is easy to use, looks great and has greatly enhanced the learning and sharing for this course. Far superior to Edmodo, which was used in the last course. I love it. Not sure how I might use it in my work, except perhaps to set up a project group of my own down the track (not on the cards just yet)

2/ Shadow Puppet – this iPad app allowed me to take photographs and then record a narration track over a slide show. I decide when each photo comes up. It is intuitive and dead easy to use (as easy as Animoto, which I use almost constantly at work now). I am planning to use Shadow Puppet with my newly formed Middle School Library Committee. We are going to make short how-to presentations about the library catalogue, searching and so on for classes to view before they come to the Library to do research

3/ Padlet – this product let’s you set up a wall, send the link to people you want to have participate in the project/discussion and you all post ideas (a bit like post-it notes) so you can collaborate and brainstorm together. I am already using this regularly with other staff to talk about planning information literacy sessions and trying to develop a reading culture within the school

I guess the number one thing I am taking from the course is a sense of community – that we are all part of something bigger, something that can help us achieve great (or small) things. The openness of the participants has been fantastic and I think many of us will stay in touch by following each other on Twitter, or continuing to build on our Padlets or other collaborative tools.

I will also take a renewed sense of purpose in what I do, and the knowledge that I have skills and experience that other people appreciate and value, just as I value their experience and skills. The rise in my professional (and as a result, personal) self-esteem was an unexpected bonus.

Finally I plan to implement some programs in my school and document them, with the objective of sharing them via Bright Ideas, or perhaps even FYI, so that others can see what I am doing, and perhaps be inspired to try something different. I have the confidence to push myself forward and try harder, which is probably the most valuable thing of all.

Image credit: Toban Black on flickr

You can follow Sue on Twitter at @LibraryMonitor and her reviewing blog Worth Reading, Worth Sharing.

 

Mind tools – What does it mean to be literate in the age of Google?

With the holidays here, we thought we could share a longer video with you, particularly given it’s one of the best videos I’ve watched about information literacy. It’s comprehensive, current, and logical in its flow. I thought I knew a lot about information literacy – now I know a lot more.

The presentation comes from Dr. Daniel Russell, research scientist at Google and took place in March this year at the School of Information and Library Science (SILS) at the University of North Carolina.

He begins by calling a library a mind tool that ‘amplifies your cognition’. Wonderful stuff.

We hope you have a happy, safe, chocolate filled holiday and we’ll see you next term.

 

 

Finding time to build influence

In the final post in her series on advocacy in libraries, Catherine Hainstock discusses the eternal question – how do we find time to build influence when we already feel time poor.

In my last post I explored some basic strategies teacher librarians can use to build influence; behaviours and practices that can open doors, rebuild and strengthen our place at the heart of the school. But building influence requires more than being likable, reliable, knowledgeable, and competent. We know that even wonderful TL’s and school libraries can be overlooked when it comes to school planning. Not only can we be overlooked – we often have to deal with people’s outdated perceptions of our role. But with so much to do, we feel we have no time to change perceptions or raise awareness. The harsh truth is that the worst thing we can do is wait for someone else to fight for us.  If we do nothing, there is an increasing risk of downsizing or closure. Let’s not kid ourselves, the change we want will only begin through our actions. We are, after all, leaders and owe it to our customers and profession to:

  • provide and maintain a vibrant, enchanting and relevant service and,
  • make sure everyone is aware of it and engaging with it and invested in it.

Building influence requires time, and our time is scarce.  The only way to make time is to re-examine what we already do and make some changes. In 2010, Lyn Hay and Ross Todd published  A School Libraries Futures Project: School Libraries 21C, a report on the status and future of school libraries in New South Wales. The report’s focus is evidence-based practice (EBP) as a tool for building influence (you can find out more about EBP here):

In my experience one of the things preventing library development …  is the difficulties that many school librarians have in thinking and acting strategically rather than operationally. (Discussion participant)

How much time do we spend on strategic thinking compared to operational activities? General management duties like shelving, covering, cataloguing, creating displays, purchasing, resourcing (need I go on) often fill up our days. While these jobs need to be done, arguably they are not a teacher librarian’s core work.

Time spent shelving or cataloguing doesn’t improve our influence or position us as leaders in the school but it keeps things running smoothly. (It’s like housework – it’s important but no one appreciates or notices the effort!)

As we start to look for time, we need to think laterally about other resources available to us. Perhaps the book club might enjoy creating displays or a group of parents or students could learn to shelve and cover books. People are often happy to help but we need to invite them into the library and give them the opportunity to participate.

It might not be as simple as that, but it’s a good place to start. By prioritising some duties over others we can begin to ‘create’ time. Steven Covey’s  Time Management Matrix from  The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People  is a wonderfully simple and effective tool. You can use the matrix to quickly identify low priority tasks and feel better about giving them less time. It also reinforces the idea that it’s essential to focus on planning and relationship-building if we want to be leaders. Lifehacker’s article Why You Shouldn’t Check Your Email First Thing in the Morning might provide another simple yet powerful solution to time management.

And what do we do with this hard won time? The NSW School Libraries Futures Project reports that:

Operational actions without the visioning, strategic thinking and long term planning were not seen as particularly effective. Strategic actions start with teacher librarians thinking through key actions which contribute to raising their profile in the school, being proactive within the school, and showing leadership, and being proactive in their leadership role, in order to facilitate change, library improvement and capacity building.

Simply put, use any time you can find to lay plans and build influence. Time can be a barrier, but there are ways to improve our situation if we’re willing to look for opportunities and change the way we operate. No matter what the obstacles, we must try to stay positive and be active in our advocacy efforts. We need to maintain our respected role at the heart of the school and work to build relationships with others as we chip away at the things that are holding us back.

Other posts in this series:

Image Credit: (ca. 1930), Arnold De Biere’s crystal clock and crystal bell act , State Library of Victoria Pictures Collection.

Opportunities for Building Influence

In the second post in our series on advocacy in school libraries, regular Bright Ideas contributor Catherine Hainstock shares strategies for building influence with colleagues.

The degree of influence a Teacher Librarian feels they have will depend on individual circumstances, but I believe we all have more than we think.

Take a minute to make a list of all the people you have affected today through your actions and words and how you interacted. It could be as simple as the smile you gave someone in the corridor, the great link you found and sent to a teacher, or the students who are now looking forward to attending the Book Club meeting you just promoted in the newsletter (oh, and you need to include any negative influences you may have had on people too). Now make a list of the people who have influenced you today and how they did it. These lists are not just to make you feel good or bad about your day but to demonstrate the capacity and the opportunities available to influence others in the school community. Every time we come into contact with someone, we can influence them. The trick is to harness those opportunities and make them work for us and for the good of our service.

John Kotter suggests that within any organisation, it’s helpful to understand which people are important to you. These are the people we want to influence. Try drawing an Influence Map as suggested by Gary Hartzell in Building Influence for the School Librarian. It can be very enlightening!

Here’s how:

  • Draw a central circle and label it with your title (Teacher Librarian)
  • Place people/positions around your service and indicate how important their support is to you and your service’s success. You might want to think of them as Important, Very important, and Critical eg. the Principal would rank as Critical to Teacher Librarians – our success and existence as a service depends on their support. Think about Heads of Departments, admin staff, parents etc. and people who may not hold formal positions of power but are influential in other ways. (I’ve colour coded the diagram below)
  • Now review the strength of the connection you have with each person on the map and indicate whether there is a close connection, medium, or loose connection. (I’ve used the thickness of the line to indicate the strength of connection in the diagram below).

Partially completed Influence Map
Red = Critical, Green = Very Important, Blue = Important

 

This mapping exercise gives some sense of where to work on relationships. It’s important to focus on those people identified as critical or very important to your success but with only a weak connection.

Building connections involves connecting and communicating with those people you would like to influence. It doesn’t hurt to have a plan but even small efforts can begin to strengthen relationships:

  • use a different entrance to school so you can run into those people
  • pass through the staff room on the way to the library
  • bump into people in car park
  • go for a short walk, stop in on a class (you heard they were presenting projects!)
  • attend different meetings (even if you are not invited) – tell them you’d like to know more about their department/subject/group of students. You are looking for ways to support them with resources etc.
  • plan to feature different classes’ work in library or promote subjects in the library (eg. Numeracy Week, Geography Week)
  • invite different departments or cohorts for morning tea in the library. Our Head of Library does this and we enjoy connecting with teachers who don’t normally get time in the library and helping us to support them better.
  • keep a book to write down any resource wishes you may overhear and provide them where possible

These informal strategies are all about building connections but they also invoke the Reciprocity Principle; the belief that people should be paid back for their kind actions. Hartzell thinks reciprocity is one of our strongest tools and recommends we actively cultivate it.  He offers suggestions to immediately get it working for TLs:

  • offer what people need before they think to ask (eg. resources for a new assignment, PD or demonstration about some resource/tool/concept with which you are familiar, library orientation sessions for new staff)
  • involve yourself in tasks critical to the success of others (and make your contributions clearly visible)
  • search for problems to fix (carry out user surveys, identify emerging trends in education, become knowledgeable about them and promote)
  • do the unexpected (create new traditions, draw on your individualism, be a role innovator)
  • work to increase the amount of resources over which you have control so you have more to offer (eBooks, authors, volunteer readers, pathfinders)

Ultimately the more we can build our influence as Teacher Librarians, the more we embed our services into school culture and planning.

Other posts in this series:

Mapping your PLN

In 2010, I read David Warlick’s Gardener’s Approach to Learning: Cultivating Your Personal Learning Network and was inspired to map out my PLN (personal learning network). I’m glad I did because it gave me a different perspective of my learning landscape. I saw how I was connecting with colleagues and professionals, what places were most productive for me, and I was able to identify gaps worth exploring for future growth and weed out connections no longer meeting my needs. Growing my PLN became more purposeful.

Remapping my PLN a couple of years later, gave me further insight; I became aware of how the tools were shaping me, how they were shaping my online relationships and that I was growing from being a consumer towards being a collaborative, creative producer in my network. The activity was inspiring, rewarding and produced concrete evidence of professional growth. The map is a highly visual artefact that can be used in professional development plans and performance review conversations.

If you have never mapped your PLN before you may want to start simply with:

  • Face-to-face associations – eg. Teaching faculties, school/organisation learning teams, professional organisations you meet with in person.
  • Online associations – eg. nings, online organisations, Twitter hashtags you follow like #vicpln, groups on social media sites like Facebook
  • Access/aggregation – places you go to for learning and things you subscribe to eg. blogs, newsletters, curation tools like Diigo

Concentrate on your cohorts and the types of connections you have developed, don’t worry about naming individuals.

Once you are confident mapping your own PLN, why not take it a step further and have your students try mapping theirs? Most young people already have informal networks for learning, especially those involved in online gaming. Mapping then discussing as a group places they go to obtain information could help them to see connections between informal and academic learning. It might also be a great way of introducing them to a broader range of resources and ways that cultivating their PLN can help them achieve at school.

Social media and new online behaviours

Seth Godin’s written a short blog entry about social media’s ability to spout and scout. By that he means:
Spout: to talk about what we’re up to and what we care about.
Scout: to see what others are spouting about.

Godin also points out that up until now this information was pretty much private, and our activities were not commercial. Now we are seeing a flourishing of sharing activity – access to information about our interests and passions has never been easier.

For example, it has enabled like minded people to pursue their interests together, collaborating with strangers, or learning more about our friends; and has enabled new ways of doing business – such as self promotion via blogs, and businesses gathering information about ourselves to better customise their products to name a few…

You can read more of his thoughts here.

Back for 2012

Welcome back to a new year of Bright Ideas. Hopefully you’ve had a relaxing and restorative break and a chance to sort through your email!

At the start of the year when everything is beginning, it’s often worth taking time to be inspired by the great ideas that transform how we work, live and see the world.

RSAnimate is a wonderful source of videos to get you thinking. Some stand out talks include:

The RSA channel on You Tube also includes other RSAnimate videos, talks and presentations.

We look forward to another year of sharing, inspiration and bright ideas.