Posts Tagged learning

Tailored services – that’s how we roll

This fabulous cartoon came to me via Teacher Librarian Network on Facebook tonight.

Libraries of the future

What do you think?  Is this the future?  Swallow a pill and you’ve read a classic?  Have the characters in a book step out and become a projected holograph on the wall in front of you?  Robot library staff?  Will we reach a time when paper books are just a fond memory?

I personally think not – at least not for a while.  A quick pop quiz this week with a bunch of Year 10 classes as they passed through my booktalking clutches and quizzed them on their library usage – ours I know about, but I was interested in whether they used the public library.  Most did not, and it certainly depended on the kind of class they were.  Higher streams using it more than lower.  Students seem to have had a range of experiences when they’ve been mixing it up in the public libraries.  It seems staff there aren’t familiar with the kind of things they need, perhaps remembering from their school days what they required, or even more enthusiastically encouraging them to look at new things about which the particular librarian they approach is an expert.  I think there is some room for public librarians to get familiar with the kind of things our students study, to find out what topics are taught and to make contact with school librarians to talk curriculum matters.  What books work for subjects, what won’t work.  That at least is the feedback I got from my guys.  The quest for information to complete assignments often yields better results at school because we are working as a conduit between teaching staff and students, providing specific titles which match specific topics.  We know the level of the resources the students need, and we can tailor our advice to the right level.  (There is an exception to this though, one public library in our area is hugely popular with the students and has an ex school librarian manager, students report that they have loads of things that are useful and that they want to take home, that is awesome!)  However I know that often the experiences of students at public libraries when on a quest for information are often less successful than if they took their query to their school library.  The school library has purchased specifically for that curriculum area, we know the kind of information which will work for the student.

At school we are tailoring our stock specifically to our target audience, it is youth specific and responding to feedback from teachers and students.  No robots can do what we do!  In a school we are tailoring our services to our students, to the people we see in front of us every day.  Micro tailoring if you will.  This just isn’t possible when you are catering to a while town or city with a Public Library.  They have more buying power than we do, are able to stock more copies of popular items but are more general in their approach because they have to be but in terms of having a specific focus on youth and the curriculum then the school library is where it is at.  We should celebrate our specialness, and think about the students we have who are using the public library for homework and research and think about who is taking them there.  That would in most cases be a parent.  Do the parents think about the resources in the school library in the same way that they think about the public library?  I think that perhaps parents are assuming that information is information and that the public library has a youth section and therefore will be able to cater to the needs of their kids.  But that ain’t necessarily so bro!

Parents, your kids should use the school library as well as the public library, most times instead of the public library when it comes to resources for homework.  This is our specialty area.  Our whole library is a youth section!  This again makes me wonder.  How many parents ever set foot in a school library?  Not many I’m thinking.  There is scope for a parents information blitz here I think.  Something to mull further on.

 

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The Role of Science Fiction by Gareth Powell

Science Fiction author Gareth L Powell presented this marvellous speech three years ago, The Role of Science Fiction in our Understanding of the Future, yet it is just as relevant today.

Powell refutes the role of the science fiction writer as a predictor of the future, rather suggesting that their aim is to dream up plausible futures, to model a vast range of possible outlooks. By assessing the sociological and technological trends, they show us what may happen  if man continues on their current path.

Good science fiction looks at the world we know and asks, “What happens if?”
 
  • What happens if the ice caps melt and sea levels rise by fifty feet?
  • What happens if we discover a way to halt the ageing process and everyone lives for 1000 years?
  • What happens if the government puts a CCTV camera on every street corner?

“This is my job as a science fiction writer: to speculate and imagine, and tell stories. The future is truly an undiscovered country. Futurology and philosophy can give us a map of the terrain. But if we want to know what it’s going to feel like to live and work and love there, one of the best tools we have is science fiction.”

He says that futurologists and philosophers can tell us the possible outcomes but that the science fiction writers make the future human by creating characters that must adapt and survive in, generally, these dystopian worlds. The author must take the reader on a journey to really understand what living through such a scenario would be like, to experience such an event, and so the reader asks themselves, “What would I do?”

Gareth Powell’s speech is well worth reading – it puts a clear voice to what science fiction is all about.

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Reasons to Read Fiction by Colleen Dilenschneider

Books - bookcase top shelf by ~ Phil Moore

a photo by ~ Phil Moore on Flickr

Colleen Dilenschneider has written an interesting post entitled How to Lead with Empathy: Read Fiction where she suggests that reading fiction has positively impacted on all the great change-makers and business leaders, saying

readers make better leaders

Here are her five reasons to read fiction and improve your leadership skills:

  1. fiction helps you understand other people’s emotions – readers of fiction score highly on tests of empathy and social reasoning, abilities which enable connections and engagement between people on an emotional level
  2. fiction increases social ability in that readers of fiction gain an ability to relate to people and groups in differing social situations by providing information on how and why people react, and it challenges the readers’ own perspectives
  3. fiction enriches brain functioning – we need to keep the brain nourished and stimulated as it a life-long learning organ, and reading is an active brain-enricher, rather than, for example, watching tv or a movie
  4. fiction makes you more creative in that the unexpected stimuli we encounter when reading fiction teaches our minds to think and act creatively, enhancing our problem-solving skills
  5. fiction makes you smarter – reading increases vocabulary and exposes the reader to different cultures and time periods

Source: Know Your Own Bone

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Ten trends in education 2012

Every year Core Education puts out it’s list of the Ten Trends it sees emerging in education  and it is fresh out now for this year.  Head on over to their website for full details and to see the list expanded and explained but the list is as follows.

  1. Open-ness by Derek Wenmoth, Director (Feb)
  2. Ubiquitious Learning
  3. Personalisation
  4. Smart Web
  5. Citizenship
  6. Virtual Learning
  7. Data Engagement
  8. Thinking 3D
  9. Social Learning
  10. User + Control

Some of these are the same trends as last year but there are a couple of new ones.

 

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The State of Wikipedia by JESS3 – Celebrating 10 Years of Wikipedia

“The State of Wikipedia not only explores the rich history and inner-workings of the web-based encyclopedia, but it’s also a celebration of its 10th anniversary. With more than 17 million articles in over 270 languages, Wikipedia has undoubtedly become one of the most visited and relied upon sites on the web today.”

The video features the co-founder, Jimmy Wales as the the narrator.

Very clever, interesting and relevant, and very well done.

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Wise words to take into 2012

It is great when you read something early in the year which you can carry with you in your toolbox of  ‘useful stuff’ as you begin the year.  As you begin the process of indoctrinating your new students to the ways of a new library, helping them to see the value of the library, the services you offer to the school and the students, and getting new staff up to speed with what you do.  Judy O’Connell has posted on Hey Jude a wise and thoughtful writing which made me feel inspired and enthusiastic for the coming year.  I heartily recommend to all school library staff that you head over and have a read.  It is called The Time For Libraries Is Now.  The slideshare is fantastic!

There is a video embedded in the post, which I can’t get to  embed here which is a Core Video in which Lisa Oldham from the National Library Services To Schools, whom many of us have met and it is a great promotional video of the sorts of things that many school libraries in New Zealand are offering, could be offering, best get on and offer!

 

 

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The Coach in the Library

This article is doing the rounds on the Australian School Library Listsev at the moment.  It makes good reading and would certainly provide a nice meaty musing for someone who was wanting to prove their worth in the school library.  The article is mainly talking about primary (elementary) level school libraries but works equally well at secondary level.

“Although the classroom teacher is generally the expert on the content standards, the school librarian is the expert on the process of finding, evaluating, using, creating, and sharing information. Bringing the two together engenders powerful learning opportunities for students and provides professional development to teachers.

After all, part of ensuring that students and teachers have access to the resources of the library is making sure teachers know how to use these resources to enhance instruction. I have been a school librarian/media specialist for 14 years. Throughout my career, I’ve seen many librarians—including myself—guide teachers by modeling how to use cutting-edge resources, leading small-group presentations, and providing one-on-one instruction.”

The final paragraph of the article should give those who think they can do more to engage with their staff a little to mull over

In these hard economic times, schools must use each staff member to the fullest. School librarians have great knowledge about 21st century skills, technology, literacy, and much more. Schools should take advantage of the opportunities this knowledge store can create and run with them—for the benefit of our students.

This is the key.  Are you doing all you can?  Have you upskilled yourself?  Have you really engaged with the school ICT PD?  Are you out there selling your new and well developed skills?  Do you know what topics are being taught in every subject, and do you have the print resources, and the online resources to cater for your staff and student needs in these areas? Do you REALLY talk to your staff, not just in the staff room over a cuppa, but a meaningful discussion on how you can help support the curriculum?

If you have rested on your laurels and waited for technology to come and find you instead of making it your business to get out there and get into it yourself you are going to get left behind, and if you are not relevant to what your students and staff need, you should be seriously worried about your job.

What do you think?  How easy is it to engage with your teaching staff about what you can do for them?  Do you have some good examples of what has worked for you?  Teachers, can you offer suggestions?

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