Saturday, November 22, 2014

School Librarian Connection - A Brief Reflection

Today I got to spend the day with a group of amazing librarians from Hong Kong and various other places around South East Asia as we all came together at School Librarian Connection. The organizers, Dianne McKenzie (Renaissance College, Hong Kong) and Katie Day (United World College, Singapore), two extremely knowledgeable and passionate librarians, did a fantastic job in organizing the event. I enjoyed the short presentations on a variety of topics under the main themes curriculum support, digital resource management, visual literacy and research skills and tools. As always after a conference or workshop, my head is buzzing. So much to ponder about, so many new thoughts and ideas! Here just a few, that will be at the forefront of my thinking, in no particular order:

Maker spaces – Both Nadine Bailey and Kurt Wittig spoke in their presentation about maker spaces in the library. Nadine brought up the idea within her presentation on digital storytelling, providing an example what this might look like. Kurt introduced the Collaboration, Innovation, Creativity Club (CIC) he started in his library, where students can choose from a selection of seven domains: electronics, engineering, fashion, gaming, robotics, materials, and virtual environments. Especially the materials domain got me thinking as students create origami on the entrance level and work up their way to creating pop-up books. I think, both ideas, a digital storytelling maker space as well as a materials maker space, might be an opportunity to move our first attempts with a maker space in our library (simply a table with origami books and origami paper) to the next level without requiring much additional materials or funds.

iPads in the library – While I have already made use of iPads in the library for various purposes, such as reading, information seeking, creating and video recording, Tabitha Johnson’s presentation gave me additional ideas. After her presentation I was thinking that iPads are a great tool to use also at the beginning of the school year, for example, as students explore the library and reacquaint themselves with the organization of materials and the overall set-up of the library. Younger students could simply take pictures of what they see around the library to gain understanding of the purpose of a library, the resources available and so on.

“Making the invisible visible” – Katie Day, Barbara Reid and Nadine Bailey shared some great ideas on how to make patrons aware of a library’s digital resources, my favorites being books on walls and wheels (posters of teachers’ book shelves on hangers for easy browsing), amplified shelves (through QR codes links are provided to author or series information), and placeholders (through QR codes patrons get linked to the catalog to see whether there might be additional copies elsewhere available).
I also loved the idea of attaching student book talks (or other digital content) to book posters with the help of Aurasma. Once we have iPads in our library, we will have the opportunity to make more and better use of QR codes around the library.

COETAIL (Certificate of Educational Technology and Information Literacy) – I had heard about this program already from others but checked it out for the first time today after Dianne introduced it. I had known that it was a program around educational technology but hadn’t been aware of the information literacy component – and these are the courses that I would be especially interested in: Information Literacy and Ourselves as Learners, 21st Century Literacy Ideas, Questions, and Issues, and Visual Literacy: Effective Communicators and Creators. Will have to check whether it is possible to take individual courses.

EasyBib & Diigo – While I was familiar with these resources, having used both already, I knew little about what these resources can do besides the basic citation and book marking features. Dianne McKenzie demonstrated how both can help students during the research process, in annotating and organizing their notes, creating citations and reference lists and even take advantage of them EasyBib as an add-on in Google Documents. I would love to get a subscription to EasyBib for our libraries, no doubt!

TRAILS – I had trialed using TRAILS in Ghana as a pre-assessment tool of G3-5 students’ information literacy skills at the beginning of the school year to guide me in which skill area the emphasis needed to be. I remember finding it extremely helpful and relatively easy to administer. Fiona Collins’ presentation was a good reminder to make use of this assessment tool again.

Visual literacy through powerful picture books – Megan Lindsay’s presentation gave me ideas on how to move our picture book explorations forward. And the timing couldn’t have been better as I just began looking at picture books with our fourth graders last week. Megan gives her students a visual literacy check list as they explore the books so that students become aware of all the features. I will definitely incorporate this in our picture book explorations.

Visual notetaking – I loved Shirley Chan’s presentation on visual note-taking for all ages, as she demonstrated how she uses it with her primary school students. Recently, I have heard and seen quite a bit on visual note-taking, especially from my friend Nicki Hambleton (check out her blog). Through images, students make their thinking visible while at the same time retaining key information more easily. I am keen on finding out and learning more about it, especially on how to use it with younger students. Therefore today’s presentation was just perfect, getting me even more excited about the idea of introducing it to our students. I have already downloaded one of the recommended titles: The Sketchnote Handbook, which was available in Kindle format. As Shirley recommended, learn it first yourself (there is a large number of online tutorials available), and then introduce it to your students, focusing on the three main elements: text, images and structure. Since she stressed several times that the focus here is on simple images, I feel I can give it a try even though I can’t draw.

(If you would like to explore the individual presentations, they are all available through the School Librarian Connection website.)

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