SLAV Connects is a blog by the School Libraries Association of Victoria (SLAV), formerly named Bright Ideas when a collaboration between SLAV and the State Library of Victoria (SLV). Its aim is to share news from the Association and to encourage teacher librarians, librarians, school library staff, educators and all interested persons to actively engage with the school libraries, to share tools and experiences; to network on a global scale; and to embrace dynamic teaching and learning opportunities.
With the recent lockdowns and remote learning continuing on and off, many of our members have been sharing (through our discussion forums) tasks they are prioritising and assigning library staff during our time working from home. We thought it might be helpful to share a list of those here for you to reference and, if needed, to jog your memory for tasks that can be done remotely at this time.
These two articles from Knowledge Quest offer food for thought:
Other tasks you might like to consider and schedule are:
Revisit, revise or update policy statements on library operation
Update procedures manual
• Reconsider home page
• Revisit loan period dates
• Fix cataloguing errors
• Maintain authority file
• Update patron records
• Reassess genre lists
• Update cover images
• Update keywords and subject headings
• Reading – FYI and Synergy
• Access past event material in the members only area of the SLAV website
• Access webinars on your particular LMS, databases etc
Update the library website
Promote ebooks and databases to staff and students
• Create user guides
Promote your availability for one-on-one online support to staff and students
Promote online competition options for students
Consider opportunity to attend more faculty area meetings
Curate resources to support projects and tasks across remainder of 2021
Liaise with teachers to incorporate research skills into future units of work
Plan displays and library activities for remainder of 2021
Begin compiling statistics and data for annual report to school admin / council
What can you work on now to ease the load in 2022? If you have any ideas or suggestions, or you think of something we may have missed, please feel free to contribute in the comments.
As we all respond to the directives and guidelines in relation to COVID – 19 our association is working hard to ensure we are doing all we can to support our members.
With some schools needing to close for indefinite periods of time there may be a need for your school library staff to indicate ways they are exploring professional learning during a period of school closure or changed operations.
To assist, we have created this post, listing a range of professional learning opportunities made available to members.
A range of presentations from past Professional Learning Events can be accessed via the SLAV Member Login page HERE.
Over the past two years we have created podcasts of all of our Reading Forum events as well recording a selection of presentations given at our major conferences. These podcasts are available to anyone online and can be accessed HERE.
Synergy is our online, research based, journal. The most recent edition of the journal is closed to members only but all other editions of the journal are made freely available in light of the Associations interest in being collegiate and supportive of the wider professional community. We encourage you to explore the wealth of information from current and past editions HERE.
Digital issues of our publication – FYI – can be accessed HERE.
As a SLAV member, you also have access to resources from the International Association of School Librarianship through our partner membership status. There are some wonderful resources to be accessed on the IASL website and we encourage you to find time to explore them. Login details are available on our Member Login page.
Finally, a word on our 2020 Professional Learning Calendar. As we advised in our most recent newsletter we are doing all we can to ensure we are keeping our members and presenters safe, and are responding to guidelines and directives accordingly.
Events – cancellations and postponements
Our March 23 conference has been cancelled.
The IB workshop to be held in conjunction with DATTA Vic at Kardinia College on April 16 has been cancelled.
Our May Masterclass in conjunction with LMERC – Powering Learning: Supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives has been moved to September 4.
Our May 29 Conference – School Libraries: Powering Primary has been moved to September 14.
The National Education Summit on August 28 and 29 at MCEC, a strand of which we are a partner in providing, has been postponed to a later date yet to be announced.
All other Reading Forums, Workshops and Masterclasses
The remainder of our program are events that are to be held in school venues. At present we are continuing to plan and offer these events on the understanding that a decision will be made a month to two weeks out from each as to whether they are to go ahead. As it is very difficult to know exactly where we will be in two months’ time this approach is hopefully the best response in unknown times.
If you have any queries about this, please contact the SLAV office on 0477 439 593 or email email@example.com
We encourage all members to stay in touch with each other in these challenging times. Our branch structure is an excellent source of local support. We encourage you to reach out and offer collegiate advice wherever you can and to ask if you need help or assistance. Our social media platforms can also be a source of connection. Please do reach out, we are open to assisting you in any way we can.
Many of you are part of the community that has grown out of the VicPLN series of online courses. With your feedback in mind, we’ve created a new course for 2015 which integrates the best of two previous courses into one: Make the web work for you.
Make the web work for you introduces key concepts and skills in digital and information literacy, and models the use of simple and free web tools, enables people to join or create personal learning networks, and encourages everyone to play and explore online. But it’s also designed to give participants the chance to apply their learning to an authentic research task in a guided online learning experience.
The course is designed for people hoping to get more out of the web and build their confidence using technology in the workplace.
This six-unit, self-paced program covers:
advanced searching and information evaluation skills
social media for professional learning
web tools to help find, manage, store and share information
digital publishing including ebooks
online collaboration and networking.
We hope to keep challenging ourselves and our community to think differently about our work, how we learn and share ideas. As part of the work of a new team at the State Library Victoria focusing on learning design, we’ll be beginning to talk more about our professional learning model, Connected Inquiry.
So what is Connected Inquiry about? It’s in part a series of principles to help shape professional learning experiences that mirror the best of what we do as educators. Can an after school PD, online course or conference be built on the same principles we would an inquiry project for students – real life applications, personal relevance and curiosity? We think yes and we look forward to sharing our learning with you.
So if you’re interested in the course which begins April 20 or have any questions, you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Make the Web Work for You: an introduction to digital learning for school library teams and educators, 6 units over 8 weeks starting 20 April 2015.
And we’ll continue to be part of your personal learning networks: online, at SLAV conferences, and as part of the professional development program here at the State Library Victoria.
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.
Rhondda Powling was part of a group, including staff from the State Library of Victoria, who presented at SLAV ‘s ‘Be in control: participate in the new age of school libraries’ on the value of personal learning networks, workflows and online tools. This guest post reflects on her presentation exploring content curation. You can find Rhondda’s blog here.
I was asked to speak about ‘Content Curation’ at a recent SLAV conference. You could say a lot about curation but I was asked to do two short sessions about ten minutes long. What to include in this brief session and what to leave out was a conundrum. I wanted the topic of curation to make sense. I tried to focus my thoughts on what I believe curation means to me. Why is it important to my learning, how do I use it with colleagues and students and why should I? So this is my experience of curation.
The phrases ‘content curation’ and ‘digital curation’ are buzz words in the online world, especially in my library networks. Although curation tools are many and varied, the approach I take when running sessions for teachers at my school is that when used properly, these tools enhance professional learning.
The AITSL Professional Standards for Teachers includes a section on Professional Engagement. The first paragraph under this is ‘Teachers model effective learning’. They identify their own learning needs and analyse, evaluate and expand their professional learning, both with colleagues and individually. One of the ways to demonstrate this kind of learning is through professional reading. It is easy to keep a record of professional reading and evidence of learning and sharing if you become a good content curator. Content curation also covers the collegial aspect.
Content or digital curation is not simply collecting links. Many teacher librarians, myself included, have been collecting links (for example: school topics, research) for years. So:
it’s not really a creating process as such but rather a process of sorting, arranging and then further publishing about information that already exists in the online or digital world
it is a process of first finding digital content that might be useful then sorting the results into the best and most relevant links, value adding with annotations and then sharing them in meaningful (organized) ways.
Good curators identify and define their topics or subjects at the outset. They then select what to keep whilst providing some context and annotation. Good curators make sure they correctly credit the sources as they offer their networks appropriate and easy access to their curated sources.
How to begin curating
Focused filtering and selection is a very important aspect of effective curation. Try to be as clear as possible about what you want. There are many ways to locate good content especially if you use social media. There are also many tools for curating. See my Google doc for some suggestions These are tools I use or others that I have seen. Some I do not use myself but they are recommended by other colleagues. Another post about curation tools that is worth looking at is 55 Content Curation Tools To Discover & Share Digital Content, which includes an annotated list, from the TeachThought blog.
I have found that the best way to choose a curation tool is to be as clear as possible about what you want then spend some time looking for the tool/s that best suit your needs. That means, as you begin, have a ‘play’ with different tools and evaluate them critically. Some tools offer more advanced filtering search options than others. Some are more visual. Of course, as with everything in the digital world, things may change and what works for a while may alter its perspective and/or no longer continue to meet your needs.
I use around five main tools that allow me to find information and links. I actively search for information on specific topics and follow a number of people and groups using social media who have similar interests to me. These include my Diigo groups, Scoop.it and Paper.li authors via gmail notifications and summaries. I usually get daily, but sometimes weekly, summaries sent to me.
I do not regard Twitter as a curation tool but I find it very useful (via groups and hashtags) to locate possibly useful content. If I don’t have time to read it fully, I use Diigo’s “read later” option to help me filter out what I want to annotate and keep. Twitter is also one of the ways I inform others in my networks about possible sources that may also be of interest to them. Pinterest and Scoop.it are both curation tools that I use often and they make it easy to share to other social media platforms.
When I first began I looked at what others were doing. Here are a selection of people I follow:
I think it is important that the task of curating becomes a regular one, part of the daily routine. Beth’s suggestion about timing is a good one. I try to go through my lists most days. If, after a week I haven’t got to suggested sites, I usually delete the suggested lists, as new ones keep coming in.
My time was up. This was as far I got with my coverage of the topic. There is more I could discuss especially how it might be used to assist student learning.
I left the group with a second graphic that offers a good visual about the process of curating.
And these videos about why it’s important to curate.
Students and educators are embracing all the advantages of digital technology; they are writing blog posts, sharing annotated diagrams and photos, creating video clips and much, much more. Many of these digital items are being uploaded/shared in the hope of attracting an audience and engaging in real world conversations for authentic learning. So, why do some items receive a lot of attention, while others are ignored? Often it is because of the way an item has been tagged, which makes the item much more ‘findable’.
Tags are words or short phrases attached to items posted online. You might see them on blogs, wikis, and social bookmarking sites; you’ll definitely find them on social media sites such as YouTube, Flickr, Tumblr, and Facebook. (It’s even possible to add tags to your own Word documents and all the photos saved on your hard drive.) New media explorer and consultant, Robin Good explains them simply as:
… short keywords that define what your online digital content is all about.
Social Media Word Cloud by Rubber Dragon (Flickr CC)
Tagging is the primary way of labelling items on Web 2.0 sites so they can be easily found when searching/ browsing, but it can also be used for:
While tags look like keywords, they work a little differently. Tagging is an informal system and often a personal one; tags are chosen and assigned by the creators (and sometimes the viewers). This can make a search more meaningful or less so, depending on the creator’s and user’s understandings of the tag words attached. By including tags that go beyond browser-assigned keywords, the content becomes even more accessible. On many sites, tagging is a collaborative activity, so the more people tag on an item/site, the more accessible items become and the more useful the site becomes. Tags also increase searchability because they are normally visible on pages so can actively link users to related items with the same tags.
If you have never tagged in item before (or even if you have), here are a few tips:
choose tags that are descriptive
choose tags that are specific
be comprehensive (most sites allow you to tag generously)
think like your potential audience, choose tags effective for their searches
tag with singular and plural forms of a word, if relevant
use suggested tags, if relevant (many sites have tools that offer suggestions)
do a little scouting on the site you are using (eg. Flickr) to see what tags others are using to describe items similar to yours
do the same on Google to see what comes up (Tip: watch Google’s auto-suggestions as you type in search terms)
Understanding and using tags is a digital literacy skill that any teacher can discuss and encourage with students, and one that could generate positive results for your students’ online efforts.
With so much educational content now online for free, many educators are turning to DIY or free-range learning to support their professional development. It’s a great idea, but having limitless information at your fingertips does not equal learning. And simply consuming content does not mean that skills or knowledge will develop.
In this illuminating TED Talk, “Recipe for Free Range Learning”, Maria Anderson takes the audience through conditions and elements vital for successful self-directed learning. Participating in online programs such as the Personal Learning Network can help learners meet many of the conditions Maria speaks about in her TED Talk. You can check out details of the next PLN course here.
A Peter Drucker article read for uni many years ago ended up influencing me immensely as I started my first job running a primary school library. I was on my own, in a part-time position and was very passionate about effecting change to the service.
In the article written for Harvard Business Review, Drucker revealed that the best/most effective directors in business differed in personality, values, attitudes and styles of management but all of them were found to follow eight practices. They:
asked, “What needs to be done?”
asked, “What is right for the enterprise?”
took responsibility for decisions.
developed action plans.
took responsibility for communicating.
focussed on opportunities rather than problems.
thought and said, “we” rather than “I”.
ran productive meetings.
If you translate these practices to the school library then the first two practices apply to the school library’s vision and its place within the whole school’s strategic plan. You can read more about these here.
The last three are to do with influence (which I’ll blog about later).
The middle three points are about turning those visions and goals into effective plans.
A Word about Decisions and Communication
Most people have heard of the SMART guide for planning. They are important elements, but Drucker’s article highlights another aspect that is critical to effective plans; responsibility in the decision process.
Have you ever been in a meeting where a decision was made/a plan was approved but never got off the ground because no one was in charge or no one was accountable for certain steps? How often have we heard of something that affects us at work in a by-the-by fashion, after the decision has been made or on the grapevine instead of being included?
Responsible decision-making means you will improve your plan’s ability to succeed by:
making sure all of the relevant people are involved in the decision process,
responsibility is taken for each aspect of the plan,
someone is responsible for effectively communicating about what’s going on throughout the process to all the relevant people (they may be different from the ones involved in the decisions).
Plans: Effort and Returns
Once you have your goals set and some plans in the works the next decision is, what to do first, what to do next? Prioritizing when your library is a busy place or if you are the lone Librarian is crucial. An Action Priority matrix is a simple tool that can help you to spend your time and energy on the right things. It allows you to map your plans on the quadrant according to the amount of effort involved in relation to impact/return you’ll make (perhaps especially important when you are first trying to make an impact with your service). I like the matrix on this website; the labels and explanations are clear and relevant to any profession. There are also some excellent tips on how to score your plans and activities.
Every year brings new challenges to school libraries; whether it is budget cuts or 1:1 technology roll-outs or something else. In the current education climate it is vital we all continue to demonstrate how our services benefit the school community and improve teaching and learning. This article is the first in a series that will focus on supporting Teacher Librarians in their leadership and advocacy roles.
Resolution: noun. 1. A firm decision to do or not to do something. (Google definition)
I’ve been on school holidays, but like every other Teacher Librarian I’ve been making plans for the next year. I’m looking for ways to encourage students to read more and learn how to put information into their own words. I’m planning a Tumblr site for students and staff as we launch the iPad program plus a whole lot more. And now here it is – the start of a brand new term.
We all know that keeping New Year’s resolutions is hard. Staying committed to new plans in the library can be just as hard. They get lost in the day-to-day scramble to meet the needs of students or staff, or they get side-tracked by other ideas that crop up. It’s easy to slip into a reactive mode of operation rather than a proactive one, and that’s not good for a school library’s image. So how do we maintain our resolution and realize our wonderful plans? First, we need to lay some foundations.
Image Credit: Compass by Walt Stoneburner on Flickr
Build a Vision, State your Mission
Have you got a vision for your school library? Visioning may sound like day-dreaming, but it is a vitally important proactive step for school libraries. The vision is how you see the library in the future, it is your inspiration. It is also how you aim to meet the future with your service.
Without a vision, things can be confusing (or worse). You may find members of the school community have out-dated perceptions of the purpose of the library, the role of the Teacher Librarian and even the relevancy of the service. Share your vision and refine it with principals, staff, students, community members; it will improve your library’s position and help it to become important to the school’s overall vision and strategic planning. Now commit to the vision with a Mission statement. (No, they are not the same thing; you’re going to need both!)
Mission statements spell out how you intend to turn the vision into reality. The statements you make in it are your approaches or strategies so think broad rather than specific for this. Once you have good mission statements, you can use them to help you prioritise and decide on goals and the actions/programs to achieve your goals.
If you’ve never written a vision or a mission statement before, there is plenty of help at hand.
Gooru is a search engine you won’t want to miss if you are a Science, Math or Social Sciences teacher. It is free to use and allows teachers to create customised ‘play-lists’ of resources for their students. Gooru’s library of resources is extensive, vetted by learning professionals and includes videos, games, interactive items, texts and quizzes.
Once registered, creating your own ‘play-list’ or ‘Collection’ is an easy search, drag and drop process. Teachers will also appreciate professional touches such as the ability to include key vocabulary and learning objectives in the collection overview, and being able to add voice narration to direct students or highlight points within the collection.
The collaborative nature of the site allows teachers to use and adapt collections that other professionals have created and shared. Initially, any collections you create will default to a private setting, but once the quality of the content has been checked by the site’s experts (they are stringent about inappropriate content), Gooru encourages users to share; it is part of the growing OER (Open Education Resources) movement.
Students need to register to access collections and resources too, but are not able to create content or edit unless collaborator status is shared with them.
Perhaps the most appealing feature of all is Gooru’s ‘smart quizzes’. Students can test their understanding as they learn via enriched quizzes that can offer hints and explanations during the process. Once a quiz is taken, students receive feedback, including suggestions for further resources to enhance their understanding if needed.
Gooru is currently in beta so feedback and suggestions are welcome as they further improve the site. The website promises:
Our machine learning experts are working hard to develop and improve our algorithms and performance and deliver a truly personalized and adaptive learning experience.