Things I am reading about online…

I do this a lot: check on my Twitter feed, click a few links, think “wow, so cool, how interesting”, or “I don’t agree with that” and then move on. Similarly with reading blog posts from educators I follow, or articles in various online or print media – I read, reflect, and tackle the next job.

Today is a Tuesday, which means I have only one class (I make up for this with heavy days on Monday, Thursday and Friday, and an extra dose of meeting on Wednesday). So Tuesdays are the day when I can tackle that flicking through tweets, reading professional articles, plan lessons, work on the Library displays, tidy my desk… well maybe that last one gets neglected. Perhaps I should also make Tuesdays my day for blogging?

Anyway, this morning I am thinking about an upcoming ASLA Tas mini-conference, where I am going to speak about the role of social media in professional learning, so I’ve been cruising through my Twitter stream and reading very interesting things!

Thing 1# The Art of Listening by Library Girl. She talks about her first day at her new school, finding out that she was supposed to be prepared for a staff activity and having to come up with something on the spot. This turned out to be a fantastic opportunity for Library Girl and her staff to really focus on the role of the school library and how they could work together. I am really inspired by this and would love to try something similar…

Thing 2# Online Building Offline Relationships by George Couros. This blog post reminds us that online vs offline is an artificial and unhelpful distinction. The video at the end of a young teacher using an online form to better connect with her students is great. George also links to two posts by Dean Shareski on the topic of “digital dualism” – here and here.

Thing 3# September is here! September is here! by Nikki D. Robertson. Nikki helps to run the TL Virtual Cafe – I think that I have been neglecting a great opportunity to learn from other TLs by leaving this in the ‘Different Time Zone- Too Hard’ Basket. The TL chat at 8pm Mondays is 10am here – halfway through my one and only lesson, but surely I can catch up after recess? Nikki has links to lots of other ways to connect with and learn from other TLs, so I am keen to look through these, especially the Global TL: Librarians Without Borders Google+ community.

Thing 4# The stream from the PETA conference today #petaaconf is interesting too.

Thing 5# The Book Chook always has something worth reading, and in this case something worth watching! Enjoy 🙂

Michael Rosen performs We’re Going on a Bear Hunt

Reading, at last!

Book Week approaches apace, which means it is the season to be reading shortlisted titles to my classes, and for my own amusement as well!

Today I read Windy Farm by Doug Macleod and Craig Smith to my Kinder classes; I loved the silliness of the illustrations bringing out the true quirkiness of Doug’s ideas! There are also many subtle jokes in Craig’s illustrations, and each time I read it (three different Kinder classes) I found something new to make me giggle. I am looking forward to reading it with Preps and Year 1, as children pick up different qualities from stories as they get older. The little Kinder boys were very concerned with absolutely literal ideas and personal connections (I’ve seen a chicken!), while some of the humour floated past them. I am looking forward to the other classes who may pick up on jokes without any explanation (eg making selfish, greedy uncle sleep with the pigs).

I read another funny book today, by Barry Jonsberg: My Life As An Alphabet. I picked it up to flick through and couldn’t put it down – the main character/narrator is hilarious in the most unintentional way! At one point (involving almost drowning, only to be saved in the most peculiar fashion), I laughed till I cried, prompting my Library Tech to come down and see what was going on at my desk. This is a very funny story, but also quite touching – Candice’s family is falling apart and she decides to do something about it, but both her methods and the results are quite unique and unexpected. I don’t know how I would share this with classes, other than picking out the seasickness page to grab their attention, but it is one I will promote quite heavily!

I am looking forward to reading many wonderful books with my classes this term, rediscovering the fun of exploring new titles with the older classes, Too often the joy of story can get buried under the weight of timetables and curriculum outcomes, but Book Week provides a welcome chance to bring books up front and centre!

Pulling the Moves with Google

We’ve had a big emphasis these past few weeks on learning how to search effectively, using advanced search options and Boolean search terms. First was a staff session, then working these skills into all of the lessons for years 3 to 6. While asking student to use these skills with their research I was trying to come up with a different way to present these techniques, and found myself doing air quotes whenever I talked about using “quote marks” to keep words together in a search string. From there it was a short step to the left, and then a step the ri-i-i-i-i-ight… (Actually I think my mental soundtrack is a little more Chicken Dance than Time Warp)

My sequence is:

  • Quote marks – the easiest one to do and remember
  • Minus the moustache – for using a minus sign to remove unwanted words
  • Talky talky – make a speaking motion with your hand in front of your mouth; this is for setting the language filter, which is useful when researching international current affairs issues
  • Reading glasses – means set the reading level filter
  • Watch the time – setting a date range

To begin with I ask the whole class to stand up, raise their hands, and copy my actions. I do not tell them what it is or why – much more fun to keep them guessing! We run through the actions until everyone can do the sequence easily, then they do it without me.

Once everyone is seated again I ask them to pull up Google advanced and work out which fields relate to which action. On some pages (depends on which country version and which browser you are using) there will be small font instructions on the right-hand side of the page, describing what each filter does and how to use punctuation to enter that filter into a search string. The students then go ahead and try out the filters to see how that changes their searches. Each year level has its own Inquiry topic, so at the moment we have:

  • Year 3 are researching Space, so we try “black hole” -song -movie
  • Year 4 are researching change, via erosion and life cycles, so we are filtering for place names, specific weather-related causes of erosion, readability and date ranges
  • Year 5 are researching Antarctica, so we have lots of “emperor penguins” -“Happy Feet”
  • Year 6 are researching Asian countries, so we are filtering by language and region

At the end of the lesson everyone has to stand up and perform the actions again, and I have promised a sticker to every person who can do the whole sequence at our next Library lesson, which is a week away.

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