New!

 

A new year and some new projects for 2013 in the library!  We don’t start back to school for a couple of weeks yet, but that doesn’t mean teachers aren’t hard at work. I been running across excellent resources for my new projects and get them organised before I forget.

iPad Cafe

This year our school is launching their 1:1 iPad program, beginning with the Year 7 classes. Each student supplies their own iPad and while IT will get everyone set up on the devices in the first week, the school library will be offering an iPad Cafe every 3 weeks so students and staff can come and learn more about how to use them, find/share apps and just generally get comfortable with iPad technology for learning. 

I’ve got a small team of students (3 so far) who have ‘applied’ for the position of iPad Genius and will be available on the set day after school for an hour to pass on their knowledge  We can’t pay them as such but have arranged to present an honorarium to them and provide a letter of recommendation if they do well in the position

Photo shared by: hammerhead 27 via Flickr cc

Photo shared by: hammerhead 27 via Flickr cc

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For the short hiring interview, I asked them to come prepared to impress me with some tips or tricks. It was interesting that while they knew a few things,they all knew the same things and were not as ‘savvy’ as I’d hoped. So I’m now busy skilling myself up further and gathering ideas to up-skill my genius’s as well. I’ve been toying with the idea of starting a Tumblr site keep tips on and decided to go ahead with it. This could be great for the school community — they can go back, review, check it out on their own time and become familiar with a new Web tool (well that would be mostly for the adults). 

So here is the new Tumblr site, not much on it just yet, but will be wonderful soon. http://vscipad.tumblr.com/

Toolbox: e5 iPad Apps

Next year the Year 7s at our school will be bringing their iPads to school. This is part of the plan to answer the Big Question presented to our teachers at the end of 2011 —

How does Vermont Secondary College better prepare its student and teachers to meet the challenges of the 21st Century?

The Year 7 iPad Program is also meant to significantly reduce the number of text books purchased by families as well as offer additional organisational options and creative tools to staff and students.

As a teacher librarian it is my role to evaluate and recommend resources of any sort to support high quality teaching and learning.  So I began to read blogs about apps for education, I listened to individual recommendations, I  uploaded and trialled hundreds of apps over the year but only passed on a handful to specific teachers. I began to question the quality of educational apps available (most seemed like gimicks, games or had limited use). Were we expecting too much too soon? I decided I needed to use a different approach.

I’ve followed Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano of  Langwitches Blog fame for several years and found her charts:

to be exremely clear and easy to use. It got me thinking …

The Victorian DEECD (Dept of Education and Early Childhood Development) recently introduced its e5 Instructional Model into schools and VSC has been trialling it for the past 12 months. My question became: How could I support teachers to implement the e5 Instructional Model via the iPad Program? Was it possible to create a chart that would be  easy to use and  could provide apps suitable for each of the facets of e5? I decided to take the DEECD up on their invitation to:

…  engage with the e5 Instructional Model as a framework for defining what high quality instruction looks like in the Victorian government education system.

And here is what I’ve come up with —

 As I worked through the model applying it to the apps I trialled, I had several things in mind:

  • to look for apps that were not specific to Key Learning Areas (not always possible)
  • to choose apps that could support teachers, students or both (not just students)
  • cost should be minimal
  • check the terms and conditions (especially with regard to age restrictions and ownership of uploaded work)

I found that:

  • many apps suited more than one of the facets of the e5 Model
  • there were many suitable high quality apps not listed in the educational section of  the iTunes Store
  • the apps I trialled and found suitable for the Engage facet of e5 tended to be subject specific so I sampled from different learning areas and included them

To make this chart more accessible I’ve turned it into a pdf file, you can click here to download. Any comments or constructive feedback would be greatly appreciated. I’ll blog again when I get some feedback from the teachers at the high school.

Our 21st Century Destiny

Maybe you have to be a librarian to get excited about the Library management system but I hope not! Especially when it comes to the Destiny Quest feature of Follett’s LMS that we  launched a couple of weeks ago at school. It’s so slick and user-friendly that I’m hoping the whole school will be kicking into high gear over it.

What does Destiny Quest do?

Well it will took our catalogue from this:

Regular Destiny page at log-in

To this!

 Destiny Quest Homepage

Destiny Quest Homepage

This is a little pet project I had at the end of last year that was on a back burner until our IT team had time to upgrade the system (sadly we were behind about 5 versions).

So now searching looks more appealing and much easier to read. But wait there’s more! You can also:

  • customize the look of your page
  • write reviews
  • friend people and recommend books/websites
  • place holds on books
  • check your overdues
  • make wishlists
  • make resource lists
  • check your reading history
  • see what’s new to the library collection

And to really pull the library into the 21st Century ….

  • a smart phone app that connects to your library (go to iTunes store or Android Marketplace)
  • an iPad app that connects to your library.

Our school is beginning a one-to-one iPad program next year (incoming Year 7s); this wonderful Library Management System will mean that we remain front and centre – students will be required to install the library app as part of their suite of apps and we’ll be showing them how to use it as part of their Library orientation.

What more can I say except …
SQUEEEE!

 

Professionally Engaged

Photo courtesy: ganesha.isis on Flickr cc

I love being part of the TL professional community; knowing there are hundreds of TLs out there sharing, watching each others backs, advising and growing better together – it is such a buzz! I also enjoy writing so am pleased when I can combine the two. Writing opportunities have been coming in at a comfortably steady pace this year.

This term I’ve had three writing tasks on the bubble.

1/ Finding out and experimenting with digital fiction has been a focus for me this entire year. I’ve been blogging about it as I go (more to come in next post) and Pat Pledger of Pledger Consulting contacted me about the possibility of contributing to an upcoming publication. The book is a collection of practical ideas for TLs – things they can apply now to their services and programs. I’ve contributed a chapter explaining about Digital and Online Fiction, how to use it, why try it and many links to examples suitable for high school classes.

2/ FYI is a magazine published by SLAV (School Library Association of Victoria). They approached me about contributing to the next issue (Term 1, 2012). The theme for the upcoming issue is: Learning Communities so I wrote an article about the PLEs (Personal Learning Environments) I’ve been developing for the Year 9’s at the high school. We are about to launch this with them in a couple of weeks. Very exciting, more to come in a post and of course the article.

3/ I am also a freelance writer of teaching notes for HarperCollins Publishing. My latest assignment – writing teaching notes for an upcoming picture book entitled “Fearless in Love” — a story about one very lovable dog. Writing for picture books allow me to revel in all the fun I used to have with my students in a past primary school library job. Fun! You can find some of the other Teaching Notes I’ve written by clicking on the Teaching Notes tab at the top of this blog.

Diving into Digital Fiction: Book Camp pt. 2

Is there such a word as ‘backblog’? If there is I have a serious case of it. If there isn’t such a word, I claim it as my own.

This photo courtesy: kodomut via Flickr cc licence

Last post I started to unpack the many discussions that took place at BookCamp during the Melbourne Writers Festival. I was eager to attend BookCamp to hear Kate Pullinger talk about her journey as an author with digital (in particular, transmedia) fiction. I was not disappointed!

The topic under discussion for the session she led was:

Why do we read? What do the new technologies offer to stories?

We first tackled the question of why we read fiction.

  • to escape, to relax, for enjoyment
  • to discover (empathy, other ways of thinking)
  • to inform

Included in this was discussion on what we want as a reader from the experience.

  • good writing
  • a good story
  • experience of being taken away – a connection to the writing

We then turned to the big question. What does that mean in terms of digital transformation? We identified books as a form of content management/delivery. Their advantage is one of minimal technology – no computer, no electricity, no downloading etc.. One still has to learn how to use them.

What happens when you take the content beyond the book? How do you retain that ideal reading experience?

Kate gave us a walk-through of a chapter of her transmedia fiction, “Inanimate Alice“. She spoke of how the work took on a life of its own (unanticipated) in terms of pedagogy/education. Schools were using it as a gateway into digital literacy and multimedia. Fanfiction popped up then started flooding in. We watched an example of some authored by year 5’s at a local school.  Kate spoke of some of the decisions she made while writing IA that addressed the ‘why we read’ issues.

  • the story is told in first person narrative – for engagement purposes
  • no representation of faces in the illustration side of the work – they trialled that and the reader response was not as good. Readers wanted to imagine Alice for themselves.

We moved to discussing the evolution of story-telling. Stories in the 19th Century depended heavily on detail. Kate had a quote (must find out whose!) about literature from that time containing “a continual rain of detail’. With the advent of cinema there was a move toward economy of detail and a stronger emphasis on action/plot. Digital fiction removes the detail further by supplying the visual in a fashion not disimilar to picture books. Text and visual still need to work together. Visual literacy is necessary to understand the story.

We went on to explore the relationship between interactive/digital fiction and gaming. What gaming can bring to story-telling is the notion of play. Kate’s research found there is a divide between those who want to be told/given a story and those who want to have control and make choices over the story. Kate spoke of how they(creative team) worked hard on the design of Inanimate Alice so movem nt into more interactivity occurred pleasantly and inobrusively. They were aware of the importance of enhancement but not at the expense of the story.

The dicussion turned to the question of whether some genres or types of stories leant themselves to digitial/interactive story-telling better than others. The biggest barrier at this point it was agreed was the screen experience. As screen technology improves more people will be willing to experience stories from them.