Thursday, September 18, 2014

Service and Action in the Library

The IB MYP programme requires that students participate in service and action to qualify for their MYP certificate. With this new year I am working on a service and action programme where students can work in the library and fulfill the requirements of the MYP programme.

The learning outcomes for the action and service component of the MYP are as follows ..

With appropriate guidance and support, MYP students should through their engagement with service as action
  • become more aware of their own strengths and areas for growth 
  • undertake challenges that develop new skills 
  • discuss, evaluate and plan student-initiated activities 
  • persevere in action 
  • work collaboratively with others 
  • develop international-mindedness through global engagement, multilingualism and intercultural understanding 
  • consider the ethical implications of their actions. 
  • Students in the final years of the programme should, with proper guidance, develop the scope and nature of service activities and have responsible roles in planning, organizing and implementing service activities to reflect their growing maturity and autonomy. 
MYP Principles in Practice. IB 

The students have a choice of doing a minor (2-3 hours of service) or a major (12 hours +)

Previously the students who undertook service in the library, just turned up and we gave them jobs to do. With these new outcomes there needs to be a new approach to how we manage the student helpers. 

I put out a request for those who would like to be helpers ... I spoke at assembly, and sent a link to a google form to  all year 10 and 11 students.

I had about 40 students sign up under the following areas :
  • Event organising (quiz's, lunch time activities, bookweek activities etc) 
  • Leading Book Clubs, Battle of the books teams, Golden Dragon awards 
  • Static Displays in the library 
  • Administrative support - collection development, cataloguing, etc.
  • Digital support - website design, book trailers, digital displays.
I have created google docs and folder for each of these areas with responsibility statements, time sheets, and links to tools they can use and inspirational pinterest pages for events and displays.

There have meetings with each of the groups, the volunteers have been divided into different teams and I have met individually where required. I am letting the students take the lead in what and how they want to do things, but offering advice and direction where required (and a bit of a push where necessary).

We have 2 display boards already completed with topical themes, the book clubs and Battle of Books groups are working on getting organised. The admin support group have been divided into PODs with a pod leader who will ensure all the group members are involved, turn up and do the required jobs. I have yet to meet with the digital display team and the event organisers, but we have meetings lined up and the google docs are ready to go.

This has taken up much of my time in these first few weeks as we get these groups up and running. Some of my objectives for this programme are
  • for the students to take more ownership of the library and its programmes through initiation, 
  • to entice more students into the facility and of course to meet the objectives of the Action and Service programme.
  • to help the students develop new skills in their chosen area, leadership, collaboration and communication.
My personal goals for my own behaviour include ensuring that I do not overwhelm the students with my ideas, keep in mind the student limitations and expertise and, just let go .... just let them work it the best they can. 

How do you manage your student helpers?

One of the students learning about design of a display and
putting it all together.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Reading persuasion

This week at school I have been focused on reading - promoting and persuading students to read, to make reading goals and I even had the opportunity to speak to parents on supporting their children's reading in secondary school.

In class time I have been asking students to revisit their Goodreads accounts and making reading goals for the 4 months to the end of 2014. I have helped them find something to read by offering suggestions and through searching the catalogue. I also encouraged them to suggest books for the library to purchase. I have also tried to help them make the connection between reading and writing, citing the research (both subjective and anecdotal) about how high academic achievers are also avid readers because of their ability to articulate their thoughts with a wider vocabulary, increased general knowledge, the ability to make connections in the world and having a wider perspective on topics. They will also probably be better at creative writing. As we move toward banned books week I will also be mentioning how if governments want control, they burn the books and free thinking and dispose of authors and academics. Books and reading create thinkers (and hence troublemakers).

Having lived in Hong Kong for over 20 years now I have heard many stories first hand from Chinese adults born in the 1960's who grew up with parents who viewed reading for pleasure as a waste of time as it was a hedonistic activity and it did not lead to any greater, utilitarian benefit. They needed to read uplifting and serious books, mainly Chinese classics with a clear message or learning about life, or school related material. Fiction was forbidden.  The young readers had to hide their books and sneak their reading. If they were caught, they would be in serious trouble.

This attitude in general does not seem to be the case today, with the Hong Kong book fair receiving 1 million visitors over 7 days, reading books is seen as a legitimate way to spend time, however, I am not sure the full benefits of reading as found through the research is widely known in our local Hong Kong community. The students at our school are quite surprised to make the connection that the students who achieve the highest grades are also the ones who read the most - in any language. They also asked - how can we fit reading AND homework into our lives? It is a well known and researched phenomena that the time spent reading drops as students move through the higher grades due to school work demands.  

At the beginning of each year our students need to set goals - academic and personal improvement goals. Am I being manipulative and scheming to suggest to them that the easiest and most enjoyable way to improve their grades is to increase their reading to at least 30 minutes a day and to plan to read at least one book a week?  

I feel no guilt or shame, I am saying these things anyway. Let's see where it takes them.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

School Librarian Connection

School librarians generally work in isolation, trying to do many things for many people and, in many cases, have limited opportunities to look after their own learning needs. Katie Day (from The Librarian Edge) and I were chatting at many miles an hour about the limited opportunities there are in the South East Asian region to network with people in person doing the same job across many lands and learn from them. There are opportunities, just not too many of them, and they tend to be very localised. So we decided to create an opportunity that is regular, sustainable and possibly mobile.

We have developed the concept of the South East Asian School Librarian Connection. Starting with a small symposium of like minded people getting together to share their best practice we have developed a programme of alternate presentation opportunities where school librarians have the opportunity to share an idea or practice on a theme (hot topic) as a 3 minute, 10 minute or 20 minute snapshot. Time is made available at the end of the presentations to talk to the presenters individually and ask questions about the idea or practice, or just to talk to each other about what they just learned (see here for more details on the format).  This will allow everyone to be active in their own learning. Katie and I were disenchanted with the rush of big conferences along with the lack of time to make real connections. We wanted to create an experience that led to deeper learning and connections.

We are in the final stages of preparation and are quite excited about how it is all unfolding. We are open for expressions of interest for people willing to share and registration will be open soon. Have a look at the website School Librarian Connection. If you are in the South East Asian region, do consider sharing one element from your every day practice. It may not be a big deal to you, but it may just be what others are needing to know right now.

School Librarian Connection. Sharing for learning, come and be in the room.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Creating a culture of Academic Honesty

Created by Dianne McKenzie using Paper iPad app 2014

Last term we undertook a referencing audit and found there were inconsistencies across the board with regard to expectations of the students and to what was being taught, which led to a lower than required standard. This year academic honesty has become a focus with a whole school ethos being developed through the Academic Honesty Policy being revisited, staff being upskilled and expectations of the students being made consistent. The new IB documents on academic honesty have been released at the right time for our school.

Academic honesty is more than just not plagiarising. It is respect for creators and information, it is a matter of integrity and ethics and of time management. To use one of the IB learner profiles, it is a principled behaviour that promotes behaviour demonstrating "integrity and honesty, with a strong sense of fairness and justice, and with respect for the dignity and rights of people everywhere." This is an ethos that needs to be promoted in schools. Academic honesty is not just about not getting caught, it is about being honest and ethical because it is the right thing to do.

Something that I feel very strongly about is that students are very much influenced by teacher behaviour and teachers need to be modelling appropriate behaviour in all aspects of their lives that are exposed to students. Teachers need to hold themselves to the same or higher expectations they hold for the students (Reed 2011) . This also applies to being academically honest.

How many presentations,  posters, handouts, information packages are created without correct citation? How many unit plans borrow inspiration from other sources without accreditation? How many times do we create things without putting our name on them, to give others the opportunity to do the right thing? How many times do we just take and share without accreditation? Most people are happy to share what they do, accreditation is one way to show respect and appreciation for the creator. 

Many of the articles on academic honesty in the classroom focus on assignment setting, student learning and punishment rather than how teachers can be good role models.  Colin Purrington  wrote a couple of blog posts "Kids learn to plagiarise from their public school teachers" and "Preventing Plagiarism", both offering practical ways that teachers can be modelling academic honesty. He suggests teachers "Explicitly model good attribution behaviour ... Always". Setting the example that academic honesty is important and that it can be done (even when you are in a hurry) and how it should be done. 

Deborah K. Reed published an article for Learning Forward JSD entitled "Plagiarism isn't just an issue for students" (2011 p.48)  Where she outlines instances of academic dishonesty by teachers and examines possible consequences. She states "The notion that students should be allowed to plagiarise in their work has always stricken teachers as absurd" and, if it was not necessary for teachers and academics to be held to the same standard, then academic honest policies need to be abolished.

If students are exposed to examples of academic honesty often and it is integrated into normal teaching practise, they will get it and standards will improve. Think about your own practise, what do you do? How do you teach it? Is it modelled?

What about school official documentation? newsletters? policies? Are they setting an example for the whole school? Do the students see academic honesty being used in their every day lives or is it just an expectation we have for them as students set apart from real life?

The most effective way to improve academic honesty is through many conversations from kindergarten. If you get them older than this, start conversing anyway. As a class go through your schools Academic Honesty Policy (do you have one?) and the expectations for everyone - including the teacher.  Place the policy somewhere where it is visual and accessible and refer to it often. Use the policy as a tool for learning. The new IB guide "Academic Honesty in the IB educational context" has a checklist for what an effective Academic Honesty policy can look like along with suggestions on methods of teaching. The IB has also published a companion document "Effective citing and referencing" which is also very useful. There are many tools to help teachers and students be honest in their academic life. We promote the use of Easybib at our school, there are others that also do a good job.

Teachers and adminstrators have a responsibilty to be models of academic honesty, otherwise what they 'teach' is not authentic.  Use the schools Academic Honesty Policy and add the words "teacher & administrator" alongside the references to student. Bring the meaning home. In most cases teachers and administrator talk the talk without walking the walk.

Take responsibility for your own learning about how to be academically honest, upskill so you know how to do it, embrace it and make it a part of what you do. Always. Not just when you have time or when you could be bothered or remember.


IB learner profiles [PDF]. (2013). International Baccalaureate organisation.

Purrington, C. B. (n.d.). Preventing plagiarism [Web log post]. Retrieved August 21, 2014, from

Purrington, C. B. (2014, March 3). Kids learn to plagiarize from their public school teachers [Web log post]. Retrieved from

Reed, D. K. (2011). Plagiarism isn't just an issue for students. JDS, 32(1), 47-49. Retrieved August 11, 2014, from

Using this page
Anyone may link to this Library Grits without asking prior permission, I’d be honored and happy that you have found it useful. However, I would appreciate if you cited it correctly if you use any part of it wholly or seperately.

This page can be cited as follows :
McKenzie, D. (2014, 23 August)  Creating a culture of Academic Honesty. Retrieved from

Thursday, August 21, 2014


Through a twitter post by @schoolscatinfo I was recently reminded of a piece  I wrote about avoiding original cataloguing back in 2002 (before blogging) and then updated in 2011 on my blog.

It is funny how things are discovered and rediscovered on the internet, even I was a little bit surprised to see this post re-emerge. So if you want some tips on where to get marc records from have a look at the blog post Short Cut cataloguing and accompanying google site.

Back to normal programming on the weekend.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Another useful tool

I am back at school this week, and already I can feel the change in my brain function.

One of the tasks I have this year is to revisit the school Academic Honesty policy - this is a lead on from the audit we did last academic year. I could not find the digital version of the policy due to staff changes and I really did not want to re type it all out. So I turned to a tool I have used previously.

Online OCR  (OCR -> Optical Character Recognition) is a web based tool where I can upload a PDF document full of text, and it will transform the text into a useable and manipulative word document (as well as Adobe PDF, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Rtf, Html and Txt formats). This has allowed me to have the text of the policy in a form which allows for editing without retyping it. It does require checking and modification of formatting, but for the difference in time, this is not an issue.

I have demonstrated this previously to some other teachers when they were retyping passages from a book or newspaper to use in class to place on workable document for taking notes etc. They were most appreciative. I have also used it to revive older printed documents that were no longer, or ever available in digital form. Scan them as PDF, upload into Online OCR and within minutes you can manipulate the text.

There is other software that will do this, most of which you need to download, but what I like about Online OCR is that it is available anytime for anyone. It also gives options for use with 45 languages other than english!!

So stick this tool into your toolbox for future use.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Living verbs

Two more days to go until I am back in the thick of work and these verbs come to mind as those actions which I will be doing the most ...

meeting, teaching, duty, conferencing, collaborating, connecting, counselling, thinking, developing, persuading, reading, ruminating, problem solving, inspiring, coaching, mentoring, reading, thinking, listening....

Prominant holiday verbs include ..

resting, reading, watching, waiting, cycling, swimming, travelling, sleeping, listening, eating, talking, connecting, playing, pondering, enjoying....

The holiday verbs number less and take up more time in the day. Over the past 7 weeks I have found myself pondering how I manage to fit so much into my day when at work when I find the holiday hours go so fast and wonder where the day has gone with 'so little' achieved. The reason is that on holidays I have had the luxury of spending more time doing much less, and I get to prioritise what will get the most time. At work, my time is prioritised for me through deadlines, urgency and need.

There are three verbs that overlap: - listening, reading, connection - but the intention and requirements change when at work and play. At work I am listening to students, teacher and leaders expressing what they need from me and what I need to do. At play I am listening to my friends and family telling me about themselves and their lives. No action is usually required, but could be taken if necessary because I have the time to do so.  I listen to music, and the radio. I listen to topical affairs being discussed, I listen to the birds and the ocean. My senses are re-tuned to the world around me.

Reading during term time consists of professional reading and curation. Twitter is visited and contributed to,  the blog roll is revisisted often and my brain is switched on to learning mode. Reading to learn, transforming what I am reading into meaningful actions and thinking. Holiday reading consists of fiction and pleasure reading. Reading is just for fun.

Connecting at work has purpose - if I don't connect effectively I cannot do my job effectively. I need to make sure I connect with people I may not normally connect with. I need to step out of my comfort zone often. Connecting on holidays is connecting with people with no purpose other than I like to spend time with them.

I had a list of things on my to do list for these holidays which I have successfully avoided. My brain did not want to switch on, it was 'relaxing' and as far I was concerned it needed to be left alone to do this for full recovery. Those things on the to do list can wait, and if they cannot be done becasue there is no time left, then so be it.

I appreciate having this long holiday space during my life to recentre and to reevaluate what I really want to be doing in my life and how I want to be spending my time. I am a little bit nervous about going back to work and having all those work verbs to contend with,  I need to make sure I remember the holiday verbs and try to keep a balance. We also need to be mindful the students are probably feeling the same way.