Feature blog St Martin of Tours – Rosanna

Kim Yeomans of St Martin of Tours Primary School in Rosanna has allowed Bright Ideas to gain insights in to the development of her library blog.

Kim says:

I did the SLAV Web 2.0 course last year and decided this year to set up a blog for our LRC. The LRC already has an active presence on our school intranet but I felt the blog and Web 2.0 tools might let me do a little more. The Library already has a MyClasses page (intranet), but I was looking for other engaging ways to share what we do in the LRC and promote reading.  The Web 2.0 online course offered by SLAV last year introduced me to many new and exciting tools.  Attending the SLAV conference with Will Richardson earlier this year provided the impetus to actually begin our LRC Blog in mid February.


The main aims of our LRC Blog are to

  • Share the activities and learning we do in the LRC
  • Promote books and reading
  • Encourage students to participate in an online community
  • Introduce students to appropriate Web 2.0 tools
  • Develop student understanding of a global classroom

 It has been really encouraging seeing the students embrace the blog and add their comments.  Even our Principal who is on Enrichment Leave is contributing her learning on our blog and adding dots to our ClustrMap!  I have found Slideshare and Animoto are great Web 2.0 tools that enable us to share our work. This term I’ve added to our blog with the New LRC and Websites pages.  I am currently trialing SimplyBox for our website collections (even though it is blocked at school) because it is simple for me to set up and visually easy for the students to use at home. 

Ripper reads - student comments
Ripper reads – student comments

Our LRC Blog is evolving along with my own skills and knowledge and will continue to do so to meet the needs and interests of both the students and our Library program.  It is trial and error seeing what works on our blog, but I’m really enjoying the process!

Congratulations to Kim on inspiring both students and staff to become a part of the Web 2.0 world! Well done Kim.  (Don’t forget that Kim had previously shared some excellent photos of previous Book Week displays that might prove inspirational.)

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: http://projects.edtech.Sandi.net/lewis/annefrank/t-index.htm “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.

The future starts now:e-books and everything

Curriculum Corporation and the School Library Association of Victoria present a joint conference, The future starts now: e-books and everything, on Friday 14 August 2009 at ACMI, Federation Square, Melbourne.

What IS happening around the world in e-book publishing? How are these emerging technologies finding their place in school classrooms, libraries and IT systems? Will changes in information and book format delivery impact upon student engagement and achievement? Hear up-to-the-minute reflections on these matters by authoritative presenters and receive advice on your school’s copyright responsibilities. A $150-value ‘Desktop author software’ license is included free in your registration. Experiment for yourself.

Registration details available at: http://www.curriculumpress.edu.au/pd/index.php

Libraries become the hip place to be

Interesting article in Sunday’s Age (the print headline was “Just quietly, libraries have become the place to be”, happily the online version is not so hung up with the ‘shush’ stereotype) on the growing popularity of libraries, including school and public libraries:

Libraries become the hip place to be


As exams approach, students cram at the State Library in Melbourne, but attendance at libraries is increasing in general. Photo: Pat Scala

John Elder

June 14, 2009

BOOK sales might be on the slide around the world, but borrowing from the local library is surging – and that’s the story whether you live in New York, London or . . . Korumburra in West Gippsland.

Victorian municipalities are following the global trend, with some libraries becoming as crowded as clubs.

On average, West Gippsland regional libraries have a third more members than they did a year ago.

The City of Port Philip boasts an 11,000 jump in membership, from about 61,000 to 72,000.

But the most dramatic surge of library patronage has occurred in the central business district, with the State Library recording more than 400,000 extra visitors in the past recorded year – with 1,147,000 visitors in 2007 compared with 1,570,000 in 2008.

A spokesman for the State Library, Matthew van Hasselt, was “reluctant to give just one reason for the gain, but I think the increasing numbers of people now living in the CBD are a factor”.

Apparently, inner-city residents don’t account for the astonishing but low-profile success of the obscurely located City Library. Set up five years ago as a joint initiative between the City of Melbourne and the Centre of Adult Education in Flinders Lane, the City Library had a record 70,000 visitors last month – 15,000 more than in May last year.

Says Barry McGuren, library services co-ordinator, City of Melbourne: “Last year, about 60,000 a month was the maximum. Why the leap? I think people are only now starting to find we exist as a library … and 75 per cent of those people aren’t city residents. They’re mostly commuting workers, students or visitors from the country. We also have between 3000 and 5000 homeless people who regularly use our services.”

The City Library has become so popular – with up to 3000 visitors in an hour during lunchtime – that the State Government recently co-funded an extension of weekend opening hours. “We used to close on Saturday at 1pm, now we’re open until 5pm. We’ll be opening on Sundays from August.”

Since late last year, various media bodies including The New York Times, The Denver Post and Bangor Daily News, have been pondering if the leap in library use is linked to global economic woes. Indeed, where many businesses are under threat, libraries are a growth industry such that the City of Melbourne is planning to open three new libraries in the next 10 years – in Carlton, Docklands and Southbank.

Says Barry McGuren: “We do get a lot of unemployed people coming into use the computers to look for jobs or work on their CVs, but I wouldn’t think the GFC (global financial crisis) has played a great role yet. We’ve seen a steady increase at our East and North Melbourne libraries … and I’d say that’s more about the fact that the population of Melbourne is growing.”

Online resources are having an undeniable impact on library popularity, and also how libraries are organised. This shift is most apparent in our schools.

Mary Manning, executive officer of the School Library Association of Victoria, says that most non-fiction and reference materials are accessed online in the school system, while bookshelves are laden with more fiction books than encyclopedias.

“We’re more likely to subscribe to an online encyclopedia than have a set of volumes on the shelves. It’s made learning much more proactive . . . and students feel much more excited using online resources. It also means they can easily communicate and workshop their ideas with fellow students at school, but also with students on the other side of the world. They’re not longer writing for the teacher, but for themselves.”

Ms Manning says it is now routine for students to be taught about intellectual property and copyright to avoid plagiarism issues.

SLAV Elluminate training

For School Library Association of Victoria members who are interested in learning how to use this online conferencing system, there are a number of sessions planned in Melbourne and regional areas of Victoria. SLAV plans to deliver professional development online via Elluminate in terms 3 and 4.

  • Ballarat Branch training to be held on Wednesday 5 August
  • Central Metro Branch training to be held on Wednesday 29 July
  • Geelong branch training to be held on Tuesday 18 August
  • North East Branch training to be held on Thursday 3 September
  • Southern Metro Branch training link to be held on Thursday 30 July
  • You are welcome to attend meetings as well as participate in the revision session planned for Thursday 25th June. All links for sessions are above, however the training session links are only accessible on the day and time of the training. Please be aware that if you plan to attend a meeting and/or revision session you will need a set of headphones/microphone and depending on the school network, may need to bring your laptop with Elluminate already installed on it. Please contact your branch convenor for clarification. To install Elluminate on your laptop and/or desktop, click here and follow the prompts.

    Some more Elluminate resources are accessible below:

  • Elluminate home
  • Elluminate online support
  • Elluminate Participant Reference Guide
  • Free Elluminate Access
  • Moderators’ training and documentation
  • SLAV Elluminate branch training powerpoint presentation part 1
  • SLAV Elluminate branch training powerpoint presentation part 2 
  • Further sessions will be scheduled for areas not yet listed.

    Library and Information Industry Careers Evening

    An Information Evening regarding careers in the Library and Information Industry is to be held on Tuesday 26 May at Experimedia @ the State Library of Victoria from 5.30 – 7pm. Representatives from the industry and representatives from tertiary institutions will be on hand to assist secondary students with advice and information. If you have students who are interested in information management, website design or any library field – please let them know! Please circulate this information to the careers advisor at your school and display the posters in your library.

    Colour, black and white, A3 and A4 posters are available on the SLAV website.

    Angela Harridge – Plenty Valley Christian College’s angel in disguise

    Recently the Diamond Valley Leader newspaper featured the wonderful community work of one SLAV member. The aptly named Angela Harridge, teacher librarian at Plenty Valley Christian College has come up with a unique and thoughtful way to support her school’s fire affected families:

     Librarian’s quilts offer lots of hugs

     “There’s a real mixture; there will be an individual quilt for every child,” Ms Harridge said.

     Nothing beats a hug when you’re feeling down.

     That thought inspired Plenty Valley Christian College teacher librarian Angela Harridge to create ‘snuggle quilts’ for families who lost homes in the bushfires.

     A keen seamstress, Ms Harridge sent out an email asking people to donate any left-over quilt blocks so she could create some quilts for the school’s 12 fire-affected families.

     She said the response was overwhelming, with donations coming from as far away as Rhode Island in the United States.

     “A community of people have developed, and things have exploded around it,” she said.

     “Everyone wanted to help in some way.”

     Ms Harridge is now hoping to make more quilts for other bushfire victims.

     She said her “snuggle quilts” were a little smaller than regular quilts, and were aimed at younger children.

     “You can wrap yourself up in one,” she said.

     “They’re a size you can sit on the couch and snuggle under.”

     The quilts will all feature unique designs, with bright colours for girls and darker tones for boys.

    (Diamond Valley Leader 1/4/09)

    Angela’s has her own blog  detailing the progress of the snuggle quilts, as well as the kind donations from people all over the world.

    Snuggle quilts homepage
    Snuggle quilts homepage

    Angela’s blog profile reads: Mother, Teacher Librarian, reader, lifelong learner and lover of all things fabric and quilting! My mission in life is to hold my family close to my heart, never stop learning and to finish some of the quilts that are running around in my head!

    A fabulous example of Angela's work
    A fabulous example of Angela’s work made in conjunction with the Clifton Quilters in England

    After reading this article, Bright Ideas contacted Angela, who although flat out with the quilting, has provided readers with some more information about her project. She begins with the initial post on her blog:

    Monday, March 2, 2009

    The initial request

    On Saturday, February 7th, 2009 Victoria was stunned. A firestorm unlike anything we had ever experienced ripped through the Kinglake Ranges, taking lives, homes and our beloved forest with it.

    The wider Kinglake area is the main ‘feeder’ area for my school – Plenty Valley Christian College. Many of our families lost everything. Most of us know someone/many who lost their homes, and lives. Needles to say, the College community went into shock, but banded together to support each other, and those in the wider community. As a staff, our main purpose was (and still is) to provide our children with the stable environment they need – for some, school is the ONLY thing in their life that hasn’t changed.

    Like many, I felt a great heaviness, as I wanted to do more, but wasn’t sure just how I could help. Until I thought of quilts. A quilt is a gift of love – and love is a powerful healer. With this in mind, I decided to make a ‘snuggle’ quilt for each of the children from school who lost everything. But to achieve this I needed help.

    My idea was to make quilt blocks – 9 of these would be put together into quilts large enough to ‘snuggle’ into. The task was a little daunting, but I knew it could be done – so I set about ‘spreading the word’. I emailed the College staff, an online Teacher Librarian quilters list I belong to, and my quilting gals. I let the College community know via our weekly newsletter, and the wider world via Twitter.

    The brief:

    • 12″ quilt blocks (+ 1/4″ seam allowances).
    • Pure cotton fabric.
    • Any colour – there are boys and girls from Prep to Year 12.
    • Donations of $ or fabric or batting to complete the quilts.
    • Quilters willing to put the quilt tops together.
    • Quilters willing to do the quilting.

    It doesn’t matter how many blocks are made – as well as our children there are many more who need a ‘snuggle’.

    The response has blown me away. It appears there are MANY more who feel like I do. Emails have been coming in from around Melbourne, interstate and overseas. Individuals and small groups from within the College community to as far afield as Bristol and Rhode Island are stitching. How amazing is that???

    This blog is the story of the journey.

    A xo

     Angela explains how she has managed the project:

    When I began the ‘journey’ I let my Twitter followers know, and sent the email to our staff, the girls I quilt with and quilting friends, put it in the College newsletter, and sent it to my ‘oztl_quilts’ cohort.  A few years ago ACT-based Barb Braxton twigged that there were a few oztl_netters who were also quilters, and she started up our oztl_quilts list.  We share ideas, offer ‘pearls of wisdom’ and even discuss things like Book Week in relation to quilts (we could make for our libraries).  We’re a small bunch, but we’re … well … quilting TLs – and disseminating information is our job! 

    I guess I should have expected what would happened after sharing the email with those gals … they disseminated it … widely!  Those who had the time quilted, and those who weren’t able to, spread the news or sent fabric.  Quilts and fabric have come in from around Australia. When Jan Radford was in England she met Heather Southall (Librarian at the Red Maids’ School in Bristol) who is a member of the Clifton Quilters … and it’s this group that has sent so MANY quilts and quilt tops over.  Quilts have also arrived from Rhode Island, but I haven’t been able to work out exactly how they found out about it … they’re both teachers, so I ‘assume’ that’s the network through which the information travelled.

    The whole thing has really reinforced, for me, the ‘power’ of social networking, the strength of the TL network … and how much people care.

    As well as quilts, Barb has been, yet again, involved in her Teddy Bear drive for the children affected.  It seems like every time there is a child in need, Barb is there with teddies.

    What a dedicated and wonderful person Angela is to make such a difference to the students and families at Plenty Valley Christian College. Thanks also to Barb Braxton for her Teddy Drive. What comforts you ladies have brought to those in need! And what wonderful ways to use the networks you are members of to help others less fortunate than ourselves.

    Will Richardson podcasts

    The podcasts from Will Richarsdon’s presentations at the  SLAV Perspectives on learning v2 – March 23, 2009 are now available:

    – “Network literacy: leveraging the potential of a hyper-connected world” – Conference keynote

    (Link to weblog
    Link to .mp3 audio file Part 1 – 14Mb approx.
    Link to .mp3 audio file Part 2 – 16Mb approx.
    Link to .mp3 audio file Part 3 – 16Mb approx. )

    Prepared by Will Richardson (Connective Learning)

    – “Podcasts, vodcasts, screencasts, livestream nation ” – Featured address

    (Link to weblog
    Link to .mp3 audio file Part 1 – 14Mb approx.
    Link to .mp3 audio file Part 2 – 11Mb approx.
    Link to .mp3 audio file Part 3 – 13Mb approx. )

    Prepared by Will Richardson (Connective Learning)

    – “Weblogs in schools ” – Plenary session

    Link to .mp3 audio file Part 1 – 15Mb approx.
    Link to .mp3 audio file Part 2 – 16Mb approx.
    Link to .mp3 audio file Part 3 – 17Mb approx. )

    Prepared by Will Richardson (Connective Learning)