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.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Goodreads for Movies

If you are a regular reader, you will know that I love Goodreads to keep track of the books I read and to connect with others who are reading to find out what they are reading and thinking about what they are reading.

I am also a bit of a movie buff, and watch a number of movies a week. I was thinking how great it would be if there was something similar to Goodreads for movies. There is the IMDB, and Rotten Tomatoes, but they still didn't do it for me like what Goodreads does with books.

Someone was feeling the same way and they have created Seen That . It is still in Beta phase, but it is a bit of a combination of elements from Pinterest, Goodreads,  Instagram and IMDB all rolled into one to make for a very visual interactive movie review and discussion place.

If you like movies, and would like to keep track of those you have watched and find new ones to watch, have a look at Seen You will find me as dimac4. Now to start on the massive job of reviewing and rating the movies I have watched - where to start (or even finish)??

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Planning is over rated...

Schloss Dreckenfels 
I have been quiet on the blog front for a bit as I had end of term normal craziness to contend with and then I left right away to start an amazing adventure with my husband - cycling 700kms across The Netherlands and Germany, from Amsterdam to Frankfurt.

Part of embarking on such an adventure is planning and we didn't have much time for this - we got the basics sorted - fitness, required clothing, panniers, bikes sorted and a bit of a plan of what we wanted to do.

We travel airline staff standby, so we didn't have our flights booked, nor any accomodation nor did we know where we would actually end up - we just looked at possible dates and found one where there were a few spare seats and we left for the airport with our bikes and clothes. It wasn't our original destination of Frankfurt but, it was Amsterdam, so it was sort of part of the plan.

Our holiday was riding for 5-6 hours a day in the direction of Frankfurt, then to find accomodation at the end of the day within our budget. We had Google maps on the ipad mini, we both had Garmins on our bikes, and we just followed the signs of the riding routes. Not much was in English, we didn't have data plans to access the internet through the day, part of the accomodation requirement was to have wifi included so we could see where we needed to head the next day. In most cases, we never made to where we thought we would, so, we eventually stopped planning nd just rode.

We picked up maps along the way and used them a little bit, expecially around the towns and we explored whatever took our fancy. We had no plans for the day other than to ride about 50-60kms toward Frankfurt, look at castles, churches, amazing scenery and just enjoy the day.

We often have holidays like this where we have just turned up the airport and got on a plane that had spare seats - not knowing where we were confirmed until we were through the gates. I love holidays like this - no expectations leads to no disappointments.

This cycling holiday was one of the toughest I adventures I have done. It was great just going by how we felt on the day, with no bookings or deadlines to meet by a certain time. There was only one day we had trouble finding accomodation where we needed to ride an extra 20kms. Did we miss stuff along the way? Yes probably.  Does it matter - not at all. We did what we wanted at the time, and had a great adventure.

Does this have anything to do with libraries or learning? Maybe a lose connection in that we need flexibility in our lives and learning and teaching to take advantage of what comes our way at the time.

If you would like to see what we did, I created a blog : Rambling Cyclists with lots of photos and not much writing.