Coming back into the fold

I wanted some ideas this week about effective, valuable ways to use ipads in K-2 classes, because I am part of the team working on how we will be making good use of these devices when they arrive in classes later this year. For me it always boils down to the practicalities of how something will work in the classroom – I read a lot of philosophical and erudite discussion of enhancing pedagogy and moving through the stages of the SAMR model of technology adoption and integration etc, etc, etc, but when it comes down to helping teachers on the ground, I want to hear what is working for other people in similar situations.

Enter the PLN. I hopped on Twitter on Tuesday night (I am only a sporadic, purpose-driven user) and put the question out there, pinged a few people with direct tweets, and then spent the next little while marvelling at the wonderful suggestions I received.

Since then I’ve added 3 more apps, 2 more people, 2 more blogs, and several articles – oh and a very kind email list of schools to check out!

This is proving to me yet again that social media can connect us to people with the knowledge we need, if you build those networks purposefully. I found that my Twitter network grows most rapidly, and more richly, when I actively seek out people who tweet insights during conference streams. I want to connect with people who have lively, curious minds, who seek out new ideas and information and are so thrilled with what they find that they just want to share their excitement! I want to read about brave new projects, and about what goes wrong, and how they tried to fix it. Fortunately for me, I have just enough people in my PLN now that I can ask a few questions and get some helpful answers back in a reasonable timeframe, and with far less effort than trawling through endless search results in the-major-search-engine-of-your-choice. I guess it comes back to that sense of knowledge being curated information; a search engine can return data, but for a query about how to use ipads effectively in an early childhood setting, the personal responses from experienced educators are exponentially more valuable.

And speaking of gems found in the Twitter feed, just this evening I followed a tweet from @SJBetteridge to discover (on Free Tech 4 Teachers, a fabulous blog!) this lovely little homage to Libraries and Librarians in the Internet Age, by Common Craft:


And to get back to the point about PLNs and Twitter being awesome, this week a retweeted link led me to a post on Langwitches by Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano about Unpacking a Twitter Conference Feed – this is amazingly helpful for anyone who is new to the whole thing!

What’s new here?

Dear Bloggiverse,

Sorry I’ve been such a poor correspondent – I keep meaning to put fingers to keyboard but never quite get there.

What have I been doing of interest to the teacher-librarian community? Well, let me tell you…

Earlier this year we set up a Skype session to talk with a Kinder class in Wisconsin, with whom I had collaborated last year. This required a bit of time-zone juggling – we came in early and they stayed late! The Kinder children read stories to us that they had written in response to the book Throw Your Tooth on the Roof by S Beeler and G Karas. We read them an Australian classic, Possum Magic by Mem Fox.

In a separate Read Around the Planet activity, a Year 4 class connected with some Y4 students in an after-school program at a primary school in California. We ran a Reader’s Theatre activity, where the Californian students recited One Fish, Two Fish by Dr Seuss, and we replied with Oh the Places You’ll Go. This was a lot of fun, and our boys really enjoyed the activity. I have kept the contact details for their coordinator and we hope to do something collaborative again! Sadly a second session with a different school fell through, so I still owe my other Year 4 class a chance to do Skype Reader’s Theatre. I will have to find someone else to work with later this year.

I highly recommend participating in these kinds of projects – it is a great place to start collaborating with schools in faraway places, and around a theme of great relevance to our work with children and books. Later this year the Global Read Aloud project will be happening again, so I am going to add that to my plans for connecting my classes to a wider world through shared experience of a great story.

Making Connections

Long time no blog – which is all the more reason to pull some ideas together.

BRAIN HUE Collection by Emilio Garcia 2010; CC licence BY-NC 2.0

It is now Term 4 of 2013, and there is very little left of the Australian school year. This has been a busy year for me, settling back into my school in Hobart, getting up to speed with developments in the Australian National Curriculum, the Australian National Teacher Standards, catching up on developments within my school library: WorldCat, LibGuides, ebooks, and attending plenty of Professional Development.

Professional Development is one of those tricky things, reminds me of a New Year’s Resolution  – you dive in, go hard for two weeks, but then life happens and the Big Plan dribbles away to a faintly guilty stain on your To Do list.



At the end of last month Hobart played host to the ASLA XXIII Biennial National Conference, 3 days of school library-focused ideas and discussions and presentations. I love going to events like this where I can be immersed in information that is so completely relevant to what I do, and meet people who work in the same field and have wonderful experiences to share. I always feel energised and excited and motivated – but then it is all over, and real life returns… My question is how do I make sure that the end of the conference is not the end of my learning? Lately I find myself dropping into social media (like blogs, Twitter, Google+ or Facebook) once or twice a week and just cruising through the links and ideas, seeing what is out there.

Following links has led me to the Global Read Aloud, which has given me a way to connect my two Prep classes with classes on the other side of the world to talk about books by Eric Carle.

Following links this morning led me to a report on how new library spaces were designed, built and are being used in seven Queensland schools – food for thought as I look at how my limited library space is used, and what else I could do to support our library uses.

Following links led me to a blog post about explaining Twitter to others, which had this fabulous video at the end:

This video really prompted me to stop thinking about blogging and get on with it! I have some more ideas to share in the near future…

And then I read a blog post by George Couros about connecting to others, and I really like the way he reframes the basic premise: the goal is not so much to be ‘connected’, (which I think sounds a bit like being permanently plugged into an electrical socket) but to be someone who connects – and as George pointed out, this is a verb, a conscious action on our part. It doesn’t really matter whether we are using a particular social media tool (ahem – this is a blog, is it not?) or going to conferences or speaking up in whole school staff meetings to talk about something happening in our classroom. It is the educational objective that matters, not the tool we use to get there.

By reaching out to connect with others we stretch ourselves.



Rate of [Cyber] Change

Today I attended an ACMA Cybersafety training day, with another Teacher Librarian from my school, and two other teachers from local schools. I had been to one of these days a few years ago, and we use the Cybersmart
Shame on the Internet -Magic City Fake Screenshot- by =thayCVB on deviantART

I should have known better – the technology evolves so quickly, and with it user behaviours, so naturally there has been a great deal of change in online activities since the last time I really spent any time considering it deeply.

Key points:

  • The ages at which children have access to the Internet gets younger and younger
  • Internet-enabled devices are being given to children at a much younger age – partly the hand-me-down effect
  • Stand-alone lessons do not stick
  • Need to embed safe attitudes and behaviours in all relevant lessons – just-in-time and explicit commentary. Example: when posting to a class blog, remind students no photos and first names only; bringing up current headlines and discussing what students could have/should have done; reminding students not to click on flashing ads or accept emails from people they don’t know.
  • Cookies tracking your search habits and geolocation services – be aware of what they mean for you
  • Social media – evolution of sites and apps – young people migration to more instant, more photo oriented tools
  • Targeting bystander behaviour is key to combating cyber bullying
  • Preventative measures – building resilience and self-managing behaviours
  • Involve students in developing their own resources around Cybersafety
  • Follow-up
    I will be looking at what I am doing to teach safe behaviours to years 3&4, and review the use of stand-alone lessons. I think that with these younger kids, it is still important to spend time establishing a good understanding of key concepts such as privacy of information, so that thereafter we can refer back to those understandings in relation to other activities.

    I think that my colleague and I should also look for some time to talk to staff about what we learned – if we were startled by some of the statistics, it is likely that they will be too!

    Lastly I want to ensure that we run a technology use survey once again, as we have done in the past, to get up-to-date data on what our students are doing with technology. This would be really valuable to complete before we hold some Cybersafety sessions for students, staff and parents later this year.

    So, to sum up – Cybersafety is an attitude and awareness, not a static list of facts about bad websites. The only way to help children and ourselves is to develop the necessary skills and mindset to be critical, sceptical and ethical users of technology

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