Kids Search: the posters

The prolific and sharing guru that is Joyce Valenza has created two posters to publicise tools that students can use to search the internet. A great idea as there’s much more than just the basic Google search available, although many students might not believe that!

This first poster is for Secondary students; alerting them to the different tools and options that Google provides.

Joyce's poster 1

The second poster is for Primary students and aims to highlight the incredible number of options available to them. Perhaps not all tools are available in your school, but the concept behind the poster is more than useful.

Joyce's poster 2

Thanks to Joyce for her valuable work and her willingness to share, as always.

Feature wiki – Our Lady of Mercy College Heidelberg – information wiki

Our Lady of Mercy College, Heidelberg, teacher librarian Michael Jongen was inspired to introduce social media tools into the school library after hearing Will Richardson at a School Library Association of Victoria professional development day in 2009. Michael explains:

I work at OLMC Library as a teacher librarian. As part of my Professional Learning Plan for 2009 I was asked by Tricia Sweeney, Head of Library, to look at Web 2.0 and its applications in teaching and learning.

In March 2009 I attended a SLAV conference entitled Perspectives on Learning featuring Will Richardsonfrom the United States.  Will is a leading educator in the understanding and implementation of Web 2.0 strategies in schools. He argues that

‘Learning in the 21st century is all about networks and the connections we can make to other learners and teachers both in our communities and around the globe. But being literate in this new learning environment requires more than knowing how to read and write, it requires us to edit, publish, collaborate, create and connect in the process of building our own personal learning spaces’

Inspired by Will I decided to blog and work with the teachers at my school and make them aware of Web 2.0 and its potential for learning.  I started a Library Web 2.0 Wiki page on the School Portal where I explored some of the issues, tools and personalities raised by him in his keynote address and in his featured workshop. I feel that my role has been to inform, collaborate and apply, and I looked at practical examples of how social media can be incorporated into assessment or used for communication.

OLMC wiki

Tricia and I had another discussion and we decided to set up an information wiki. With the new school year just starting we will promote the wiki through our Years 7 and 8 reading programmes.

The appraisal of my year’s self learning project was on using Web 2.0 in the classroom and it was agreed that my goal in 2010 is to work in the classroom with teachers and students more often by using practical web 2.0 applications in assessment and presentation.

It is wonderful to hear that the SLAV conference held less than a year ago has had such a positive and practical impact on Michael and Our Lady of Mercy College teachers and students. Congratulations and well done Michael. Thank you to Tricia for supporting his endeavours to introduce social media to the school.

The OLMC information wiki is the first of the resources that Michael has developed that Bright Ideas will feature. I’m sure we’ll all look forward to experiencing his other efforts.

The Wizard of Apps

If anyone doubted the absolute brilliance of US teacher librarian Dr Joyce Valenza (as if they could!), then this presentation and accompanying information will make them join us believers.

Dr Valenza has produced a creative and engaging presentation for the 2009 K12 Online Conference Getting Started Keynote. Entitled The Wizard of Apps, this video will influence my professional practice for years to come. Discussing how students can stay safe online, Dr Valenza also showcases many Web 2.0 tools that can be moulded into effective ‘information skills’; that is, how students can and should find and organise the best online information.

Running at just over 50 minutes, it is certainly an excellent investment of time. You may wish to share the video and links with teaching colleagues and/or your personal learning network. (Loved the way students and teachers collaborated on the production of the video.)

The Role of Reading in Guided Inquiry: Building Engagement and Understanding

Following on from a previous post about the excellent professional learning session delivered by Dr Ross J Todd from the Center for International Scholarship in School Libraries Rutgers University, The State University of New Jersey; his colleague Dr Carol A Gordon presented an interesting session last week to School Library Association of Victoria delegates.

The Role of Reading in Guided Inquiry: Building Engagement and Understanding was the second presentation  of the day. If you are interested in the link between effective reading and the resulting effective researching, please view and consider this engaging, relevant and thoughtful and presentation.

The notes below are a record of the session:

Carol Gordon – The Role of Reading in Guided Inquiry: Building Engagement and Understanding

  • Reading with older students; learning phonics for 14 year olds in demeaning. Research came up with what did work. These are strategies that came from evidence-based research. Context is inquiry.
  • Can use information search process as a framework for these strategies.
  • “Children reading for Gilad Shalit” YouTube video shows real engagement even though students were previously struggling readers.
  • Need commitment, emotional attachment and engagement for the students to learn to research well.
  • We want the whole Blooms. Creating, evaluating, analysing, applying, understanding and remembering.
  • Authentic learning tasks such as this one based on Anne Frank: “A bit of outrage is a good thing that helps them engage with the task.” This is asking kids to be historians rather than journalists. Historians want to know the truth. Use primary documents and artifacts and interpret the evidence as they see it. Deep understanding of what history is, what historians do and the questions that they ask. Task to a high academic level. Problem solving, decision making, display and share their work. Choices about how they present; radio broadcast, write a news story, etc. Interdisciplinary applications. Methodology needs to encourage kids to use the new information in another way; relate to other situations; Blooms, variety in tasks. Keep a journal of blog to see how they are doing. Opportunities to work in groups and revise their work. Use rubrics to show students what good, average and poor looks like. We give them opportunities to reflect. Time is a pressure, but they need time to think. We must build that time in. Show them an exemplar of what a good news story looks like. Self assessment and peer review. Get kids to evaluate the task for you. How did it go for them? You will learn by asking them. You can then change this for the next time this is taught.
  • Formative assessments are based on journals, rubrics, portfolios, peer review, self-evaluations, Graphic organizers, Mapping, Checklists, Statements of intent, Rough drafts.
  • Reading skills are thinking skills. Our role in reading is much more expansive.
  • Free choice is the most important thing in terms of reading engagement.
  • Book; “Strategies that work” by Anne Goudvis and Stephanie Harvey is worth looking at.
  • How is reading digital text different from reading print text? “Are we losing the deep culture of reading?” is a more pertinent question rather than “is the book dead?” Better for kids to print out rather than read from the screen as an intermediate step. Graphic organisers and concept mapping and Wordle are not enough. Use printouts to analyse notes so that you know what they really mean and you can work out what is important and what you should use. Hard copy is really important. Passive kinds of approach to reading is not getting kids where they need to be. Encourage them to annotate and gather, sort.
  • Never give a child something to read that is at instructional or frustration level if you expect them to read it independently. Need help with this at school.
  • When comprehension breaks down, many students skip sections or words that are confusing and pick the text up again where they can understand it. The problem is, they have lost valuable information and opportunity to improve their own reading. 
  • Activating Prior Knowledge (GNR) Emotional attachment needed. Prior knowledge is who you are; your experiences, your emotions. Tap into this to help kids read well.
  • o Establishing prior knowledge, or what the learner already knows, is critical to helping them read better. Research shows that there is no difference between the recall of good and poor readers when their prior knowledge is the same. Therefore, prior knowledge can be instrumental in improving reading comprehension.
  • § Here is an example. Mrs. Clark announces to the class that they are going on a nature walk. They go outside and walk across the street to a county nature park. They walk about a half-mile and stop. They sit down and Mrs. Clark asks the class to imagine that they are lost. She asks the students to help her come up with some ideas about how they can figure out where they are, and how they will get back to school. One student suggests backtracking until they recognize where they are. Another student suggests walking until someone recognizes a familiar tree or flower as a landmark. Another student suggests that Mrs. Clark use her cell phone to call the park supervisor to come and find them.
  • § Mrs. Clark relates each of the answers the students give to clarifying what you are reading.
  • § Backtracking is similar to rereading material when you realize that you have lost your way in the story and do not know what is happening. Looking for familiar landmarks is similar to readers activating prior knowledge of vocabulary, grammar, and syntax (Hackey, et al, 2003). Calling the park supervisor on a cell phone relates to referring to outside resources, such as dictionaries or atlases. The students begin to understand that pretending they are not lost is not going to get them out of the woods, and pretending to understand what they are reading when they really did not will not enable them to fully understand the reading assignment.
  • § When the class arrives safely to their classroom, Mrs. Clark gives the students a reading assignment and a pad of sticky notes. She models reading a short passage and marking words or concepts she is not quite sure of with the sticky notes. Students then practice reading independently and highlight any words or concepts that they do not understand in the text.
  • § The next day, they write the words they marked on the board. Mrs. Clark models ways to determine the meaning of the words, such as using a dictionary, using keywords surrounding the unfamiliar word, using picture clues, and rereading. The students are comforted to realize that many students wrote the same words on the board. This helps them to build a community of learners and helps Mrs. Clark to identify vocabulary words that need further explanation.
  • Kids pretend that they don’t have the breakdown in comprehension and they get more and more lost and disengaged. Kids need to be taught to ask questions.                                                                                             
  • o Brainstorming. Developing a purpose for reading.
  • o K-W-L chart.
  • o Using Visuals to assess prior knowledge. Why pictures? They inspire questions and interest. They provide a tangible element when focus blurs and clarity is elusive. Offer a starting point. Offer support of a group working with similar themes, situations. Record in a reflection sheet (done as a group).
  • o Use Wordle to create a reading/writing summary. Words that evoke images? Good self-analysis tool for peer assessment.
  • o Wordsift analyses text. More sophisticated. Concept map and mind maps are different. Asking kids to explain why topics/words are connected. These helps kids that are on information overload.
  • o Voicethread uses voice. They can create their own book talks. Naugatuck HS on VoiceThread. Authentic learning.
  • o Determining importance, All information is not equal. Get rid of what is not important. Illustrations are important; they can represent data in a table, graph, etc. Use these tools to elaborate on an idea. A quotation is an illustration. They need to elaborate on it and link it to one of their ideas.
  • o Statement of Intent with research question. TL must sign off on it. Passport to continue.
  • o Information circles. Idea of Literature circles and adapted to informational text. Group kids by topics they are interested in. Break up tasks. Students have roles (leader, illustrator, vocab guru).
  • o Different types of questions. Some info is literal, some is inferred. Give them ‘what if’ questions.
  • o Sticky notes or Diigo.
  • o Graphic organisers are very good for analysis. We don’t give kids the tools to process the information that they find. Graphic organisers give kids the ability to process and analyse notes.
  • o Kidspiration/Inspiration
  • o Inferring and predicting are just as important for informational text. Read with higher interest.
  • o Blogs effective with helping with reading, They read each other’s work. Get kids prepared for class. Framework for thinking about pre-reading. Many kids will read a blog rather than a book. Their absence is visible from a blog.
  • o Best books for visualizations: Visualize This: Books about the Arts, Notes on a Page: Books about Music, Into the Past: Books about History,
  • o Theories and Revelations: Books about Math and Science, Challenges and Change: Stories of Politics, Identity, and Understanding, Seriously Surreal: Tales of (Im)possibility, Over-the-Top: Sly and Sophisticated Humor, All Cracked Up: Fractured Fairy Tales and Fables
  • o Double entry journal. Quotes/My thoughts about quotes. Forces kids to interpret. Do I understand what I have read?
  • o Kids have to make connections with their reading text, eguse graphic novels for visual alternatives for stories
  • o 16 Steps to Monitoring and Regaining Comprehension
  • § 1. Reread.
  • § 2. Read ahead.
  • § 3. Stop to think
  • § 4. Try to visualize.
  • § 5. Ask a new question.
  • § 6. Make a prediction.
  • § 7. Study the illustration or other text feature.
  • § 8. Ask someone for help.
  • § 9 figure out unknown words.
  • § 10. Look at the text structure.
  • § 11. Make an inference.
  • § 12. Connect to background knowledge.
  • § 13. Read the author’s or illustrator’s note.
  • § 14. Write about the confusing parts.
  • § 15. Make an effort to think about the message.
  • § 16. Define/Redefine the purpose for reading the text.

 The School Library Association of Victoria should be congratulated for providing such transformational and important professional learning sessions. Thanks to Rhonda Powling for supplying Bright Ideas with some photos from the session.