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Developing One’s ICT Skills and Pedagogy

This week’s inquiry post associated with my teacher-librarianship diploma explores pedagogy, ICT, and professional development as an elementary school educator.  I’ll also discuss some of the strategies, tools, resources and networks I use to deepen my understanding and knowledge of my new as a teacher-librarian.

Power of Mentorship
I am lucky because teacher-librarians in my school district have a long-established culture of collaboration. As teacher librarians, we meet bi-monthly to discuss a variety of issues and share our successes. Each meeting is held in a different library in the district so it also presents a unique opportunity to check out someone else’s library for inspiration. In addition, my district also offers mentor/mentee opportunities for anyone who is looking for support. I have just taken advantage of this service and I look forward to spending time with my vastly experienced TL mentor. One of the first things I plan to do is invite him into my library to critically evaluate the collection and suggest where I should be focusing my energy, as I look to improve the collection.

Professional Development
I believe that professional development is a personal endeavour and can be a frustrating experience if you leave it up to someone else to plan, organize, and direct. It has never been easier to tailor professional development to suits one’s needs. I’m excited to attend my first British Columbia Teacher-Librarians’ Association (BCTLA) conference later this month. I am looking forward to the two sessions I signed up for, a discussion group on the topic of media and digital literacy, and a session in the afternoon title, Starting Strong – Strategies and Support for New Teacher-Librarians.

The Power of Social Networks
Social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram have been influential in my development as an educator, and as I am a bit of an introvert these platforms have enabled me to make connections with people I wouldn’t normally have connected with.

A recent example of the power of social networking that comes to mind occurred at the end of the last school year. In the closing months of the 2018-2019 school year, I secured my first teacher-librarian position. I knew that I would have to negotiate a very steep learning curve, so in preparation, I tried to anticipate some of the questions I would need answering and started to write them down. I then compiled them into a Google Form and shared it with the rest of my colleagues in my district. They were more than happy to offer insight, but I felt like I needed to hear from more people, so I shared the form on some of my preferred social networks using hashtags such as #teacherlibrarian #teacherlibrarianlife

I use social media as a tool to deepen my understanding of my role, strengthen my instructional practice, share my learning, and reach out for help. Primarily, I use Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. I am most comfortable with Twitter because I have been using it for quite some time and understand it more than the others mentioned, but I’ve shifted to Instagram lately, especially when checking out other people’s book reviews. I have bought plenty of books of my own based on Instagram book reviews and I’m sure I’ll use it just as much when I order books for my library. I follow many libraries and librarians, as well as those directly and loosely connected to education. Some of my favourites include:

https://www.instagram.com/kidsbookcentre

ICT

There are many digital tools I access that help me be more efficient in my job.  Both at work and at home I use cloud-based productivity tools like GSuite for Education and Office 365.  I prefer the Google product, as I find it simpler to use but at work, I have to use Office 365.  If and when I stumble across something online that I want to use at a later date I use the social bookmarking app, Pocket.  I like that I can save, categorizing and curate my links.  When I’m sharing links I like URL shorteners especially when I’m working with students as they are easier to remember.  I usually use bit.ly for shortening my URLs but there so many to choose from.     

One area of ICT I’d like to utilize more is that of Connections Based Learning and virtual field trips. 

We now have the digital tools to take advantage of these opportunities to connect students to their passions outside the walls of the school and beyond geographical boundaries.  My goal this year is to encourage my admin to invest in the hardware to make connections based learning a powerful tool.  

Summary

We live in a time when educators can take full control of their professional development.  Educators need no longer wait for their school districts to offer something that aligns their needs and pedagogy.  Instead, they can harness the power of ICT by using tools like Twitter, MOOCs, and Open learning platforms such as Coursera and OpenEdx. Ultimately, maintaining a practice of self-reflection is critical in order to determine one’s needs before thinking about professional development.

Fostering A Reading Culture In School: a quick peek around.

The next few posts on my blog are going to be dedicated to discussing a few broad topics that pertain to Librarianship, as well as uses of new media and technology to assist in developing programs, pedagogy and ICT in a school library context.

Before I share my learning this week, I wanted to take a moment to discuss one of the amazing ways my school and the school library foster a culture of reading.  One of the highlights of the year occurs in January when we launch our One-School-One-Book program. Before rolling out One-School-One-Book each year, we sit down as a staff to select an appropriate book that is suitable for the whole school to read.  We use the Read To Them website to help select books.  Each family in the school receives a free copy of the book to take home and complete assigned readings and weekly activities.  A movie adaptation is often shown in the gym as a culminating activity if one is available.

While thinking about fostering a reading culture in my school, I found several interesting resources.  One of them is called Storyline Online.  Storyline Online is a website that uses SAG-AFTRA Foundation members and well-known actors, voiceover artists, broadcasters, and dancers to read books aloud in a video format.  These videos are available on their website or on YouTube. Many of the primary teachers in my school would love this resource. More suited to the older grades in elementary school, Here Comes The Garbage Barge by written by Jonah Winter, illustrated by Red Nose Studio and read by Justin Theroux is one of my favourites.  I think it would be good hook when discussion waste reduction.

“Here Comes the Garbage Barge read by Justin Theroux” by Storyline Online is licensed under Standard YouTube license

I also came across an article from the Australian Journal of Education titled, Building a school reading culture: Teacher librarians’ perceptions of enabling and constraining factors.  I was initially attracted to it because it was published this year, but as I processed it I found it quite interesting.  The article, which tries to determine whether Australian schools actively foster reading cultures that are supportive of reading for pleasure was determined by interviewing 30 teacher-librarians from Western Australian schools.  As I read the introduction the following statements made me wonder about my own practice and development as a new teacher-librarian:

  • “professionally trained librarians and information experts can provide children and young people with the transferable skills required to achieve throughout life and develop a lifelong love of reading” (The Scottish Government, 2018, p. 7)
  • At a classroom level, recent research suggests that children in upper primary school may not view their teachers as avid readers (Merga, 2016)
  • Regular reading may also be associated with mental wellbeing (Clark & Teravainen-Goff, 2018)

The conclusion that researchers came to after interviewing the librarians was that:

  1. School administrations play a vital role in developing and maintaining a school’s reading culture
  2. Adequately funded and resourced school libraries support a reading culture
  3. If the administration at the school are readers themselves, then the library is likely to be better funded and resourced
  4. Staff who are active and engaged readers act as role models for students.
  5. There is a need for increased parental support in fostering powerful reading habits.  A reading culture is stronger when there are reading partnerships between the school and home.

References:

StorylineOnline. (2017, November 6). Retrieved September 28, 2019, from      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xb3bXKAkeek

Merga, M. K., & Mason, S. (2019). Building a school reading culture: Teacher librarians’ perceptions of enabling and constraining factors. Australian Journal of Education, 63(2), 173–189. https://doi.org/10.1177/0004944119844544

LIBE 477 Reading Review Part B – Keyword Identification

As a new teacher-librarian, I would like to strengthen my understanding of information literacy and all is subsequent parts. Below is a list of resources that I have found useful.

Some of the keywords I used included:

  • Information literacy
  • Media literacy
  • Digital literacy 
  • 21st-century literacy
  • School library

Before searching for relevant information on the topic, I first need to be able to better define the term information literacy.  The Austrialian School Library Association has a very clear definition of this term, which I found helpful: 

“The ability to locate, manage and use information to create information products using a variety of inquiry methods is an essential component of any information Literacy program.”   

Link – https://www.asla.org.au/information-literacy

After some additional research, I found that the term information literacy is the overarching word used to describe important skills such as media and digital literacy.  MediaSmarts has some useful content that helps to define information literacy and also produces teaching materials for educators seeking to deepen their students’ understanding of media and digital literacy.

Link – http://mediasmarts.ca/digital-media-literacy/general-information/digital-media-literacy-fundamentals

A brief YouTube search for ‘information literacy’ returned an extensive playlist from US media awareness organization, Common Sense Media. There are lots of useful short videos that can be used as hooks to lessons on topics such as media and digital literacy.

Link – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mbbuLFUSd0A&list=PL8TjVyuBdsCm06G_g1wA1oCsZaPgYMz2U

The Virtual Learning Commons offers a broader definition of information literacy by breaking the term up into categories such as visual literacy, library instruction, cultural literacy, and computer literacy.  It acts as a repository for all things information literacy related. 

Link – https://vlc.ucdsb.ca/c.php?g=101195&p=656334

Lastly, a UBC library search covering the last 5 years returned two interesting hits.  The first was an article written about how different schools around the world utilize their libraries to improve literacy, and the second was a book written by Denise E. Agosto titled, Information Literacy and Libraries in the Age of Fake News.  In Agosto’s book, she covers topics ranging from fake news and information literacy in society to combating cultural misinformation on the internet.

Links: 

  1. http://web.a.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.library.ubc.ca/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=1&sid=f5176dce-0c1f-48ee-b483-f30a80306ece%40sdc-v-sessmgr02
  2. https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/ubc/detail.action?docID=5518324

LIBE 477 Reading Review Part A – Topic Identification

During the next several weeks, I will be posting about my learning from my LIBE 477 course as part of my teacher-librarianship diploma.

In this particular post, I’d like to share some of the areas of education and learning I’m most passionate about. When I think about professional development concerning my new position as a teacher-librarian in a k-5 school I get excited about the endless possibilities. There are so many exciting and interesting areas of education that fit well within the parameters of a library learning commons.

I am interested in deepening my understanding of information literacy and all its intricate components. We are surrounded, often bombard, with a constant flow of information in our digital lives. Being able to make sense of that information, evaluate it, and extract meaning is an important skill and one we should be sharing with students in schools from an early age. We have to acquire the skills to question the mass of information we are exposed to more than ever to ensure we don’t contribute to the spread of misinformation.

In addition to information literacy, I am fascinated by the idea of connections-based learning. I would like to continue to explore the power of the latest digital technologies to reach outside of the walls of our schools and make meaningful connections with our local and global communities. Projects such as Exploring By The Seat Of Your Pants and Microsoft’s virtual field trips can help students experience events that would otherwise not be feasible.

Student-led learning is also important to me. I’ve witnessed the incredible achievements of students who have been allowed to direct their learning. I am always looking for better ways to scaffold this process for students by helping them narrow down a topic of interest, collect appropriate resources, and capture their learning more efficiently and effectively. Over the years, I have developed my own framework for this that I call C.H.O.I.C.E – Children Have Ownership In Choice Education. It’s a work in progress that needs developing and refining.

Lastly, as a new teacher-librarian, I have a desire to transform my school library into a library learning commons that represents a place of inclusion, innovation, compassion, and creativity. A library learning commons has no specific standard that defines it but I would like to take the time to see what others are doing in their libraries. Ideas that are at the back of mind including moving away from Dewey into the bookstore model, researching the necessary hardware and software to enable quality virtual field trip experiences, creating a makerspace, and finding creative ways to engage our most at-risk readers in the joy of reading.

Taking A Break

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Roaming Educator will be away from the blog for a month. I’m cycling touring down the west coast of the northern USA.

You can follow my trip at http://cyclestories.wordpress.com

When I return I’ll be taking about Edcampfv (edcamp Fraser Valley.) You can follow tweets at @edcampfv

Tech Integration Post #8 of 10: Live Streaming

This post was inspired by @gcouros and Forest Green School in Alberta.

Broadcasting live feeds to the Internet, or live streaming as it’s known, and allowing other students and professionals to watch events is guaranteed to increase engagement levels in your classroom, tenfold. There are many Internet broadcasting options available completely free of charge. Here’s a short list:

1. USTREAM
2. Livestream
3. Veetle
4. Freedocast

I like to use Livestream because it allows broadcasts to be streamed with increased quality when using the Procaster rather than the online webcast option. Livestream like many of the above has its downfalls.  Perhaps the most frustrating of these downfalls are the advertisements which pop up at the most inopportune times.  If you streams are fairly short you may gat away with it but if you stream live for any length of time you have to deal with the advertisements.  The free version of Livstream doesn’t allow you to transmit HD quality images even if you have a HD webcam which is somewhat disappointing, but I’ve learned to live with it.  I’m sure you will too.

This term, I’ve used Livestream in the following ways:

1. Present a weekly student news broadcast once a week: CETV News

    • You can follow the broadcasts live at 1pm PST on Friday’s here
    • I have a small broadcast-journalism news team of 5:
      • 1 technician, 2 newsreader’s, 1 script writing, and 1 researcher
    • On Monday morning I allow the researcher to research 5 segments including international, national, community, school, and sports news stories
    • Once the news stories have been identified, the researcher fills out a Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How table
    • On Tuesday and Wednesday the script writer uses the above table and adds his/her own unique touch to the stories.  It’s important to use a script writer who is comfortable using powerful language.  The script writer hands the final script to both newsreader’s by Thursday at recess.
    • This enables the newsreader’s to practice pronunciation and fluency in preparation for the broadcast the following day
    • During the broadcast we use hand signals which encourage the newsreader’s to slow down, speed up, smile, and speak louder. The cycle repeats itself again on Monday
    • Student engagement is high with this activity, and the fact that the broadcast may be viewed by anyone with the link means there is an increased level of professionalism from all involved.

2. Streamed live presentations of political candidates in the electoral riding of Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon

    • To coincide with the Canadian General Election which took place on May 2nd, 2011 my teaching partner and I invited all 6 electoral candidates for our riding into school to present to our grade 5/6 classes
    • The plan was to have candidates deliver a kid-friendly synopsis of their party platform to our students, and our students would then vote at the end of the week.
    • After further consideration we decided to invite other schools in our district to join us in the voting process.
    • Livestream enabled us to stream the presentations live to eight elementary schools in our district.  The live presentations offered an additional sense of authenticity for students, and resulted in a higher voter turn out.
    • Presentations can be view here: Central Election
I experienced several challenges along the way, but I persevered and was pleased by the end results.  It is critical to hardwire to the network rather than use a wireless connection when streaming.  We found that it is best to stream in a room as small as possible to get the best audio results.  I also found it was better to use the microphone built into the webcam rather the microphone built into my computer.  Finally, it extremely helpful to conduct several tests before going live to ensure audio levels and video quality were optimum.
If you plan to try this please feel free to contact me for help if needed.

My New Home

After working as a collaboration teacher last year, traveling from school to school without a home school, I’m relieved to have found a permanent classroom for the year.  This year I’m working at Central Elementary Community School in Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada.  I’m teaching grade 5/6.  I worked at Central two years ago but the school looked very different then.  Sadly, I don’t have any comparison pictures to share with you but imagine 250 students jammed into several poorly designed and irregularly heated porta cabins for the year.  Today the school is the flagship school in the district.  The building has been fully renovated but retains its old 3 storey school-house feel.  The grounds of the school are both vast and well-groomed.  Within the grounds of the school we have a full-size field suitable for hosting soccer games and field events, a 250m running track, a fully enclosed ball-hockey rink, basketball nets and tether ball stands.  In addition we have various climbing structures for both primary and intermediate playgrounds, and several sets of swings.  I’m really excited to be back at Central, and to be working with the diverse learners in this inner-city school.


Summer Break

Hi All,

Just wanted to let everyone know that Roaming Educator will be taking a break this summer, so you won’t see any updates until late August.

I’m cycling to Alaska with 4 teacher friends.  If you’d like to follow our cycling blog please visit:

cycletoalaska.wordpress.com – group blog

legsinmotion.wordpress.com – my recreational blog

Have a wonderful summer PLN!

Efficient Google Search Techniques

Are your students getting the most out of Google search?  Probably not!  Here are some simple and efficient search techniques you could teach your students when searching/researching information on Google:

  • Phrase Search – by surrounding your search string with quotation marks (”Terry Fox Birthday”) you inform Google to search for the exact phrase in the exact order it appears between the quotation marks.
  • Wildcard (*) Search – using the wildcard (*) symbol in a search string allows Google to fill-in-blanks where it sees the wildcard symbol.  For example, the search, (Google *) will return results about many of Google’s products.
  • Exclude Search (-) – when searching, students may become inundated with results that are similar to the desired search result but are actually not useful.  For example, when searching for information on the big cat, jaguar, it is not useful for students to see search result relating to Jaguar motor-vehicles.  Use (-) directly before unwanted search string, (jaguar -cars)  Note: Multiple omissions can be made in the same string by using multiple minus signs, (bears -football -baseball -sports)
  • Search Specific Websites (site:) – Allows your students to search a specific website or group of websites for a phrase or string. For example, to search British Columbia’s government webpages on the environment use the following search string, (environment :.gov.bc.ca)
  • Definition (define:) – Uses Google to find the definition of unknown vocabulary words (define: unknown word)
  • The OR operator (OR) – Google’s default setting is to search for all words in a string. For example, the search string (Queen Elizabeth I II) will return results for both Queen Elizabeth I and Queen Elizabeth II on the same page.  The search string, (Queen Elizabeth I OR II) will return results on one or the other.
  • Calculator – Google may be used as a calculator by typing in a number sentence such as, (2*8).  Google will return the result 16
  • Unit conversion – Google search is also able to compute unit conversion.  For example the search string, (10cl to l) returns the result 0.1 litres

Here’s a link to a selection of useful Google poster’s you could print out and display in your room/computer lab, all about solid search practices: Google Posters

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