Taking information literacy lessons into Google Classroom

Valerie Dewhurst, Librarian at QEGS Blackburn recently made her first step in to moving her information literacy lessons online.  Her school has moved to Google Classroom, and she emailed me about her first online lesson.

Firstly my main priority was to make sure students know just exactly what Information Literacy actually means/covers ….. So students are being well-informed as I go on to explain that IL is a set of abilities requiring individuals to recognise when information is needed, and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information. This initial breakdown has worked well, and is getting us off to a really good start.
It’s been a while coming but finally I have managed to upload my IL resources to Google Classroom, and start to deliver these to my Yr 7, 8 and 9 during library lessons. My main concern for speeding up with this move was because I could see our students drowning in information, and misinformation.  Information Literacy skills to my knowledge are not tested in schools – so teaching IL has never been more important. However, as all librarians are fully aware teaching IL is just not that straight forward; lack of library contact time with students or lack of our own confidence in teaching these skills.  I was prepared to upload my existing resources to Google Classroom because I wanted to continue teaching IL skills but in a more up-to-date way, in-keeping with how many subjects now teach in my school.  I also at the same time wanted to deliver these critical, all-important information skills in ways that would capture and hold our student’s interest. We all know how quickly some students can switch off – so being prepared for this is much needed.
I purposely waited until students were familiar with the system – it was introduced here in 2015. I was indeed apprehensive to start with – but now feel there is no going back. I have attended twilight training in school – and very much wish to keep this training up.
Pupils work through the uploaded tasks at their own pace – I am aiming for two tasks to be completed per lesson as Accelerated Reader takes priority. Pupils can access from home and work through more tasks if they so wish – many Year 9 students have requested to do this. What I have recently found is that when students are logging into  Google Classroom to complete homework for subjects some are actually logging into the IL section too – completing a few tasks.  So I need to speed up uploading my resources as students are working at a pace far greater than I imagined.
Some topics planned to be covered are:
Planning, research or posing a question – e.g. “Is global warming real.”
Organising a way to search for the answer
Finding resources – such as databases, documentary films, Web sites, print sources etc.
Evaluating the resources and thinking about them – Who made the message and why? What is left out of the message? How might others view the message differently?
Expressing the information learned in meaningful ways – e.g. student produced podcasts, wikis etc.
 
Following on from Information Literacy I also intend to upload many Library & Research Skills – with much work featured on Dewey.  I am amazed at the excitement, engagement, and collaborative working students have show using these resources.  I have asked if students would like to see anything in particular uploaded – requests are already coming in, more Dewey is a popular request.
There are still some hands on tasks – even using Google Classroom you can still maintain this.  Tasks are easy to modify and upload.  Students comment/answer on your set tasks – as a librarian delivering these tasks you can see the results. You can give feedback – you can instantly reply.  You can differentiate your groups – you can start small and aim high.  You can upload short YouTube videos, Dewey game links, it’s your choice – you are the creator. You can add tasks or full on assignments. I am slowly adding over 11 years of Information Literacy/Library Skills etc – while adding I am also updating them, which can only be a good thing.  There are a multitude of skills I want to teach – this is giving me the opportunity to do so while not taking up too much time – plus just think how much I am saving on paper and ink!
Now that I have received some comments back/work completed I have started to look over students answers and I am amazed, delighted – proud.  I couldn’t have expected anything more.  There is no excuse for students to be bored – there is always something for students to move onto – this is your area, these are your tasks, your teaching.  Google Classroom is also convenient if you ever need your group to be covered – cover work set would be to work through IL tasks on GC – just remember to have lots uploaded, and tell your students that you have high expectations of their answers.
I must thank the SLA website for their very detailed schemes of work – which have helped me in my own work. Don’t forget you as a librarian can take the IL course with the SLA – just to get yourself up to scratch, and feeling a little more confident when delivering your sessions.
Hoping others start to make the switch too, and enjoy the freedom of teaching online.
V B Dewhurst, Head of Library, QEGS Blackburn

How School Librarians engage with parents

A little while ago, before Christmas 2016, I was asked by MicroLibrarian systems to give a short talk on how Librarians engage with parents in their schools.  I delivered this talk at the BETT show in January 2017.  I had put the enquiry out on my Twitter, Facebook and mailing list networks, so that the topic was crowdsourced and covered lots of exciting ways to engage with parents, for both senior and junior schools.  There are lots of good ideas there which I intend to adopt in my school – hope you find something of interest as well.

Harry Potter in many languages!

Jennifer Lees from Wolverhampton Girls’ High School tells us about her school’s obsession with Harry Potter – and how she became obsessed too!

‘The students at our school are OBSESSED with Harry Potter. When I first started 2 years ago (having never worked in a school library before) they were incredulous to hear that I had never read any of the books and from that day forth made it their mission to ‘encourage’ (or browbeat) me to get on board. I eventually did, and obviously fell in love with the whole series. A few weeks ago I ended up taking part in a Harry Potter quiz at a local arts centre. It turned out that a team of Sixth Form library ‘regulars’ from school were also taking part. I immediately knew my team was scuppered  – the girls won, of course! I thought you might be interested to see how our prefect has used the series to highlight different aspects of our library collection, even though we don’t have much space.”

 

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UKEd nomination for best Educational blog!

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I am proud to announce that Heart of the School has been nominated as one of the best Educational Blogs in 2016!  This is in UKEd Magazine, and the blog is featured alongside teacher’s blogs.  Thank you to everyone who has contributed stories to Heart – all your hard work has been acknowledged!  Please do keep your contributions coming in – everything from lessons you teach on information literacy to displays you put up.  It is really important to show the breadth of things that school librarians do – we don’t just stamp books, we have a vital role to play in educating children.  If you wish to read the UKEd magazine with the nomination in, then you can download it from here.  Thank you everyone – and keep it coming!  We passionately want to show that school librarians make a difference to every school!

Advent Calendar 2016

This great advent calendar was created by Sarah Masters from the Thomas Deacon Academy.  She is using it to send to tutors to advertise books in the library.  As you click each star for each day, a different page opens with a book and a link to a book trailer.  Sarah has been generous in allowing people to adapt the powerpoint to their own needs, therefore this will download in powerpoint and not pdf as usual. You can download it from the Box Files to the right of the posts.  Thanks Sarah!

 

Library lessons – designing a Library

 

School Librarian Kim Davis from Fort Pitt School in Chatham recently shared her excellent lesson plan for getting pupils to think about libraries and their purpose.  This is what Kim said about her innovative activity:

‘I thought that possibly some of [the students] would have only experienced one type of library and that might have formed their impression of all libraries. We did a little library history, looking a bit at the great Library in Alexandria and why it was so important, the concept of chained books and then Carnegie libraries- how books were made accessible.

We also looked at cool libraries around the world- a pop up library on Bondi beach, Biblo Toyen in Oslo and Stuttgart’s crisp white cube library. Finally we looked at an infographic of weird things some libraries loan and also a meme about what librarians do.

The students sourced their own materials, although I kept some boxes aside in case. They were allowed to present it in any way they wanted so some just drew a picture, others presented me a floor plan and one even used design software to create the library. … one of the libraries[was] made of post-its as that was all they had at home! One created an eco-friendly library using their recycling. They didn’t have any lesson time but they had a month after the presentation to complete.’

The libraries are lovely, and what a great way to get pupils really thinking about the function of a library!

NaNoWriMo Young Writers Programme

This year, nanowrimoin my school, we plan to take part in NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month.  There is a Young Writer’s Programme for the under-18’s.  So I have created my Virtual Classroom, added in the participating students and their teacher, and await November 1st to see how it all pans out.  Has anyone else taken part in this with their students?  How did it go for you?  Leave a comment!

Here’s the website if you want to join in too: http://ywp.nanowrimo.org/

Pupil Library Assistant of the Year Award

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The Pupil Library Assistant of the Year Award is a joint venture between the School Library Association and the CILIP School Libraries Group. As well as promoting the work and achievements of pupils within their school libraries, work which involves dedication and commitment but which often goes unnoticed and unrewarded, it also highlights the benefits and values of the school librarian.

Do you have a pupil librarian who could become the Pupil Librarian of the Year 2017?

Someone who is reliable, volunteers regularly and who has made a difference to the library, being a role model for others?

Someone who is an example of the synergy between a school library and the pupils?

Why not nominate them?

Watch out for more details when the award opens on September 19th

The award is supported by a number of leading children’s books publishers and the company, Authors Aloud UK, and judged by a panel of leading figures from the children’s book world and school library community.

For further information including nomination forms, contact details and sponsorship: http://libpupilaward.wixsite.com/home

About the CILIP School Libraries Group

The School Libraries Group (SLG) of CILIP affirms that school libraries and school library services are fundamental to the development of a literate population able to participate fully in a thriving democracy, culture, civilization and economy. www.cilip.org.uk/slg

About the School Library Association

The School Library Association is an independent charity that believes that every pupil is entitled to effective school library provision. The SLA is committed to supporting everyone involved with school libraries, promoting high quality reading and learning opportunities for all.  Website: www.sla.org.uk

Murder by the Book!

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On Monday 4th July, KS3 students at Abraham Darby Academy, Telford, were presented with an unusual library-based activity: solving the mysterious murder of a librarian’s assistant!
Run as a competition to help students develop both group and individual oracy skills, ‘Murder by the Book’ challenged student teams to visit a crime scene set up in the library, investigate 44 different clues within a set time limit and work together to uncover the truth. After completing their warm-up detective exams, teams spread out across the library to discover, deduce and determine.
With three suspects in the frame (including the librarian herself) and a number of red herrings to lead teams astray,
all themurder-by-the-book-2 clues had to be carefully examined, recorded and cross-referenced. After visiting the crime scene, teams were then given time to pool their ideas and formulate theories as to who did it, why, how and also how the remaining two suspects could be proven innocent.
 
The activity culminated with each team presenting their findings before a ‘judge’. Individual team members were tasked with explaining certain sections of their case and marks were awarded for the clarity of their murder-by-the-book-3presentations, along with the number of clues accurately explained. After the winning team was selected and awarded their certificates, the murderess revealed herself and the whole solution was presented. All students involved were fully engaged with the activity and the complexity of the case generated some lively discussions and resulting presentations.
Produced by Box Clever Education, ‘Murder by the Book’  is a unique murder mystery kit designed to help KS3/4 students develop literacy and employability skills. If you think a murder mystery would appeal to your students and would like to find out more, please visit http://www.boxclevereducation.com.
For a unique opportunity to see the game in action on a training day in a school in SE London, then book on to this CILIPSLG Training day which takes place on 24th October 2016.