Thursday, May 19, 2016

InSPIRing Conversations

Image from Pixabay

Prague : The City of 1000 spires will be the venue for the next School Librarian Connection conference themed "InSPIRing Conversations".  We will be replicating our format of having plenty of time for discussion and learning from each other during the presentations and adding a day to hold deep learning workshops with John Royce, Katie Day & Dianne McKenzie leading conversations on Academic Honesty & Information Literacy plus more to be revealed.

We will be hosted by The International School of Prague from 15 - 17 September, conversations will revolve around Maker Spaces, developing policies, involving students in leaderships roles, collection development and genrification, the Extended Essay processes, doing more with not much or nothing, reading initiatives, collaborative planning plus much more!

We are also planning to arrange a group visit and tour to the  Baroque Library Hall in Clementinum on the Friday evening.

Image from Pixabay

Are you interested? Please go to the survey to indicate your interest, and let us know if you would like to lead a conversation. You will be kept up to day on developments and when registration opens. We will be limiting registrations to 65 people.

The conference website can be found here  and just as a taster - the scenery of the City of Prague ...

Images from Pixabay

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Discussion starters

Some time ago I developed a board game for a full day of ethics education for years 9 and 10. This board game explored copyright and academic honesty issues through scenarios printed on cards using a South Park avatar generator, which had a license to create for non commercial purposes. I have used the cards in IB workshops to start discussions on Academic Honesty and Copyright issues. They were well received and I had many requests for the cards.

The cards took many hours to develop, however, I was not able to share them using the images I had originally used so they needed to be redeveloped with new images and professionally printed the size of Taro cards (70mm x 121mm, 2.75" x 4.75") and shrink wrapped

As part of the redevelopment, I have updated and included more scenarios and included two new categories - Digital Citizenship and General ethics.

There are 70 cards in total comprised of the following ...
Copyright : 13 cards
Digital Citizenship : 19 cards
General Ethics : 15 cards
Academic Honesty : 23 cards

They are colour coded and numbered for each of the different topics.

Ways they can be used :

  • Ask the students to identify what they think is the worst behaviour of the scenarios to stimulate conversation about values, the unspoken rules of society (which societal rules? where do they come from?) and doing the right thing even if no one is looking. 
  • Students are to place the Academic Honesty scenarios in order from the least breach to the worst breach of academic honesty.
  • Used with a board game like trivial pursuit (with 4 categories instead of 6) where they need to speak to the scenario and make a judgement with something like a moral compass, in the case of academic honesty or copyright with the actual 'rules'.
  • Used as a conversation starter in a short pastoral care programme like peer support, like a card-a-day.
  • Have the students create a game with the cards where the discussion is the important part of the game.
  • Be a starter activity for teacher professional development on any of these topics.
  • Any way that you think would be useful.

They would be ideal to be used for Theory of Knowledge, Pastoral care, Citizenship classes and teaching about Academic Honesty and Copyright from 10 year olds through to adults.

If you would like a set of these cards, they are $25USD (this works out to be 35 cents a card) and includes postage to anywhere in the world. You can purchase them online from this page where there are also free resources to download.  

Some examples of the cards can be found below (the actual cards do not have the watermark).


Saturday, April 30, 2016

Conferencing in Beijing

Last week Katie Day, Babs Albury and I had the opportunity to organise a 2 day conference of School Librarians at Keystone Academy, Beijing, China. We had 43 school librarians attend from Beijing, Shanghai, Nanjing, Dongguan, Guangdong, Changshu, Suzhou, Jiangsu, Zhuhai, Guangzhou, Yokohama (Japan), Hong Kong, Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam), with our furthest attendee coming all the way from Moka, Mauritius.

It was two days of sharing our contexts and conversations about best practise. 

We heard from people who had little or no budget to work with and the creative ways they make things happen in their library. 

We also learned how to :
  • be creative when the accounts department do not let you dispose of books from the school premises. 
  • organise an effective author visit, 
  • make a library centred school. 
  • create the role we play in creating a culture of academic honesty and fairness 
  • make meaningful connections between school and public librarians
  • create a family reading program
  • transform a library into a libratory
  • go through the process of action research
  • analyse our contexts and needs then create a strategic plan
  • make our virtual resources visible
  • support students with personalised learning plans
  • use concepts in our planning and teaching
  • evaluate and create reading programs
  • plan for change in the library environment
  • evaluate the perception of the school librarian in Asian society
Overall, it was a diverse programme that had something for everyone with opportunity for questions and conversation in each session. We are very thankful for the presenters for sharing their experiences and expertise and the time they took to prepare fabulous learning for the participants.

We also had the opportunity to tour the libraries at Keystone which was followed up with an information social.

Follett and Gale Cengage were our sponsors who also had the opportunity to share their current products and talk to participants.

We shared resources, presentations and a museum of spaces using Padlet (this works well in China).

Keystone Academy is a new custom built bilingual, boarding school that opened for students in August 2014, it offers the International Primary Curriculum, Middle Years Programme (IB) and Diploma Programme (IB) curriculums catering to Chinese and International students.

The three keystones of Keystone Academy are :
  • bilingual immersion in Chinese and English; 
  • building character and community in a residential setting; 
  • promoting Chinese culture and identity in a world context. 
It is a beautiful campus, catering for the arts and physical wellbeing as well as the traditional subjects. It has lovely on campus housing for the staff who wish to live on campus.

You can view photos of the conference, campus and libraries at this link, the full programme with links to the presentations can be found here.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Visible thinking for adults

One of the techniques I use in the workshops I facilitate is a visible thinking routine.

At the beginning of a workshop I pose three questions to which participants need to respond ...

What do you know about (topic)?
What are your concerns about (topic)?
What do you think are your biggest challenges regarding (topic)?

The questions are placed on paper to hang on the wall, participants write their responses on post it notes and place on the appropriate paper.

The papers at the beginning of the workshop

I use the responses as a diagnostic tool to see how the participants understandings are and how they are feeling about the topic. It identifies the issues that need to be addressed over the workshop to ensure I am meeting the needs of the participants.

At the end of each session, I request that the participants go back to their responses and see if the challenges and concerns have now become understandings. If this is the case, they move their post-it note to the understanding paper.  By the end of the workshop, most of the notes have been moved. Some challenges cannot be solved at a workshop level as it is at an individual school level and context.

The papers at the end of the conference

It is a simple reflection tool for the participants to see how their learning is developing over the workshop, and it is good for me to see how successful I am in addressing their concerns.

Although my workshops last from one to three days, this routine could be used through a unit of work at any age level maybe change the language of the questions to make them more age appropriate.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Moving out of the comfort zone

Katie Day & I are organising a small conference in Beijing to be held in April at Keystone Academy. We have done something similar in Hong Kong in 2014, however this location being China definitely has its challenges as many digital apps are not able to be accessed there without a VPN - VPN's are currently illegal to be used in China.

Some of the apps we tend to use and take for granted including the Google Suite - Google forms, sites, blogger, youtube, gmail are all closed off in China, as is Facebook, Slideshare, Trello and a few others. This has become a challenge as we needed to have a website, a booking platform and place to collaboratively host presentations along with survey software.

We worked around the Google site issues by using Weebly to create our website, for our surveys we used Typeform. Our booking platform is Eventbrite. The one place we had trouble finding was the collaborative sharing of files, Google drive does this so good we knew it was going to be a tough one.

After identifying someone with knowledge on the subject who is an Ed tech educator living in Nanjing. (@brianlockwood How, What, Why?)  I contacted him via twitter and we bounced off a quick conversation about apps that might be used for collaborative sharing. He suggested we used Microsoft's OneDrive as that will probably fit our needs. So I am now working on learning how to use this platform so I can help others.

So you see, just when you think you have it all figured out ... along comes another curveball to challenge and move you out of your comfort zone. The upside is that I have been able to learn about some new applications and platforms I may never have got to learn about.

If you are interested in the conference, visit the website School Librarian Connection. We will be tweeting and hopefully streaming some of the conversations through Meerkat or Periscope, (whichever works) follow @schlibcon on twitter for updates closer to April 22-23.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Searching Facebook

Facebook has been around for a little while, (about 10 years now) and it is still popular for keeping in touch with friends and family, and has now extended into a way for professionals to share and discuss topics through groups and professional pages. 

One of the criticisms of Facebook as a user for professional purposes is the inability to search and curate the content, I beg to differ. Facebook is quite powerful in the curation and search stakes if you know how to do it.

Firstly know about the "drop arrow in the top right hand corner of every post" tool. This can be found on Facebook on all mobile devices and desktop devices. 

Pull it down .... you can see at the top there is an option to save the video, or the post to retrieve later.

Note : You do not have to share, or comment on these posts to keep them in your feed and then to try and find them later.  (You will also see that you can turn off notifications, If you were the original poster you can also edit and turn off comments and translations).

Where are they saved to?
One the left side of your wall is a list of your favourites - "Saved" is one of these ...

And when you open this, you open a page of your saved links, videos and posts in one long chronological order - refined by the bar on the top. 

The saved items are sorted by the time period in which you saved them. There is also a shared button, where you can revisit the post and share it at a later time. The data also includes where you saved the post from so you can see the context or offer credit. 

Once you have saved the resource you want to save, you can then use Evernote or another tool to curate and organise it with more detail, or just leave it on Facebook to find later.

Searching Facebook
These search features are only available on the desktop version of Facebook - not on Mobile devices unless you view Facebook in the browser version, not the app version. (See here for details on how to achieve search function on a mobile device using the browser, or use an app for iOS Search for Posts)

If you are part of a Facebook group, you are able to search the group posts using the search function, which picks up all matches, so use it wisely. This is also useful to see if what you are about to post has already been discussed in the group.

Searching your own page : 
Go to your profile / wall - to the search bar along the top, type in the keyword you are looking for.

Your results will come up on your wall - first will be specific pages with that keyword included, then under that will be results from your own posts and friends of your posts.

If you want to just find things that have been posted to your wall place your name in the box with what you are searching for in quotation marks "weather" and only what you have searched for will come up. You can use this to find posts from your friends in your feed as well - just put their name and a key word.

Another option is to go to your personal Activity Log and type in the search box, this will bring up any post with the search term in it that you have posted to your wall, or that others have tagged you in.

Yes, Facebook uses these too and they are quite powerful.

If you include a hashtag in your posts, it becomes a live link, just like in twitter. 

If you click on this live hashtag it will take you to all the posts with the same hashtag in your feed, (or groups feed) as well as any other public post using the same hashtag. This could have possibilities to find opinions, articles etc on Facebook on trending topics, or just topics that students or you want to find more about.

So to make your posts even more searchable and to give more exposure, especially in groups, public posts, or business pages - use hashtags.

Facebook can be searched and curated, and you can then move the links and videos to other curation tools when you have the opportunity.  You just need to know how it all works to make it work!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Pestalozzi-Bibliothek Zürich - Oerlikon

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to visit Zurich for a short visit, and as part of this visit I popped into the Zurich Branch Library of Oerlikon that was across the road from the hotel, because that is what you do when you are a librarian visiting another country. Zurich has 14 branches of the Pestalozzi-Bibliothek Zürich (or PBZ) system.

The total floor space of the library is 1105 m2 over 3 floors. the premises are located in an historic former post office building dating from 1927. It is Located directly at the railway station of the district of Zürich-OERLIKON, one of the main hubs in Switzerland.

The first thing I noticed was that the entrance was an open space without any oppressive circulation desks. There were three standing desks, separated, near the entryway and facing in slightly different ways so that each desk could be approached from a different direction. There were many people in the library at the time I visited at about 4pm, it was also very warm when the outside temperature was close to zero.

The library is the showcase for the PBZ as it was completed in 2013 and incorporates many modern designs and functional furniture. Just beyond the entrance a Take-away wall has been fitted where new releases and best sellers are kept for customers with little time. A 'grab and run' section if you like. 

Further along the building, the fiction section in multiple languages is held, along with magazines, DVD's and CD's. The shelving incorporated a lot of front facing books.


The lower floor also has a number of self checkout machines, with a readers lounge that looks out onto the train line.


On the second floor I found the non fiction, then on the third floor was the children's library, which at the time was filled with children participating in after school activities, so I didn't take any photographs while the children were there.

On the way back down to the lower floors, I looked more carefully at the spine labels on the non fiction and I noticed there were no dewey numbers. I also don't read German so I approached the librarians to ask about the spine labels ...

The top line of the label is the branch of the PBZ (in this case OE for Oerlikon), the next line is the classification (or signature) of where it is placed on the shelf. The third line is the authors suffix.

The signature is the item that intrigued me the most - it means that the entire non fiction of Zurich libraries is organised by subject - without the Dewey or LOC system indicated on the spine or the OPAC. One of the librarians took the time out to show me the subjects they use throughout the system. Unfortunately you cannot access the list through the regular OPAC, but you can gain an inkling from the shelf markers as to how they created the subject headings and what would be generally included as part of this. After some searching I think I have found the full list here, but it may not be.

Something else that impressed me was the OPAC is available in multiple languages.

This library was also featured on a blog 1001 Libraries you need to see before you die.

Overall I was very impressed with the Zurich library system, and this branch of it.

EDIT : I wrote to the PBZ for more information and this is what they replied with : 

For our non fiction department we use a blend between the ASB (Allgemeine Systematik für Öffentliche Bibliotheken i.e. General system for public libraries) see:, and the so called Themenbereiche (subjects), mainly created by ourselves. 

They also send me 31 pages of information on the subjects they use. Thank you PBZ!