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 Th.at. 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.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Our reading trends

Reading together, Istanbul - Photo by Dianne McKenzie

Last post I reported about the reading trends survey we conducted in our international secondary school. You can find the results below or at this link on on Issuu.

What we have done with these results is to send the report to the school executive, and shared with the teaching staff, particularly with the English department. We then published the link in our school newsletter and on the our library facebook page for the wider community to review the results.

There were some slight problems with the survey- one question had a technical glitch and I think we could have have asked a few more specific questions to truly be able to be comparative to the other reading trends surveys. I outlined these problems in the report and will work on creating a better measure next time.

The report has given us some interesting data to work with - including what ebook devices are being used, who has the most influence on what is read, where they obtain their reading material and how much time they are spending reading, which may not necessarily be reading for pleasure, but, it is still reading. A phenonema we are seeing more of is the reading of fan fiction and reading and writing on Wattpad by our secondary students. 

I would appreciate any comments or feedback you might have about this project.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Reading trends

Who is reading what and when?

Over the past weeks I have been the reading the Commonsense media report "Children, teens and reading" and it got me to thinking about our own clientele who are a little bit different to those used in the original research reports that comprise the summary. The summaries in the report were from an American perspective and I was interested to see how the students in our asian international school compared with regard to their reading habits and trends.

Although I did not have access to the original questions of the original surveys, I devised some questions based on the information we wanted to know such as how much time would our community dedicate to reading for pleasure, what types of things they read, where they got their reading material from, how many were reading eBooks, and who or what influenced them in their reading choices.

The google form was created with the following 12 questions and shared with our secondary students.

The survey link with a brief explanation was placed on the daily student bulletin, with an email to staff to encourage their advisory group to complete the short survey. The link to the survey was also placed on the library facebook page, inviting all of the school community to participate. This will continue for the next 5 days to garner as many responses as possible.

The survey has been live now for 4 days and we have over 150 responses (there are 1050 students in our secondary school). Already there are trends becoming apparent through all the age groups. The survey will close this Friday, so we will be able to really see what is happening with regards to reading at our school and maybe we can see where the strengths and barriers are and work toward building an even more robust reading community.

Is this action research? I checked against some literature on the subject and I have nearly completed Steps 1-4, Steps 5-7 will be acted on in the next few weeks. 

Guiding School Improvement with Action Research

Step 1—Selecting a Focus

What element(s) of our practice or what aspect of student learning do we wish to investigate?
The reading trends and practices of our school community.

Step 2—Clarifying Theories

Generate a set of personally meaningful research questions to guide the inquiry.
Does the RCHK community reflect similar trends in reading as those reported in the commonsense media report?
Are there profound differences (allowing for different questions being used?)

Step 4—Collecting Data

What tools will I use to collect data, will they be effective in collecting the data I want?
Using the survey is one form of data collection from a wide variety of people - is it reliable and valid? What other ways could I collect data on this subject?

Step 5—Analyzing Data

What is the story told by these data?
Why did the story play itself out this way?

Step 6—Reporting Results

How will we report the results of the research?

Step 7—Taking Informed Action

So what? What are we going to do about the information we collect from the data?

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

ATL Skills audit

Image from www.futureatlas.com 

The IB programs have a strong emphasis on Academic Honesty throughout the three programs, in particular the Diploma Program. The skill of referencing and citations are expected to be taught at appropriate times in a students life, and ideally when they reach the higher year levels, they will know how to do it without too much problem. Referencing and citation are assessable skills in some subjects through the subject criterion from year 7 (or 11 year olds), and are an integral part of the Approaches to Learning  skills (ATL).

If you are of my generation or even younger, you would not have been even exposed to referencing, bibliographies and in text citation until you hit University level, and even then it was a big shock to the system and created much stress. (Where does that comma go, what is italised??) After working in my current school for a little while I began to see a pattern of inconsistency regarding referencing and citing through no fault other than it is a big school, and that no one had actually taken the beast by the horns and tamed it.

Some subjects did not require a bibliography, other a list of websites or URL's was enough, other subjects insisted on manually written bibliographies and others encouraged the use of Easybib. Explicit teaching of this skill was happening but in ad hoc manner to varying degrees of success. In text citation was another area of concern where some subjects required year 7 to attempt in text citations. Imagine being a student trying to figure this out - who requires what and what is the standard expected?

Where to start? The MYP Co-ordinator and I knew some things were going on, but we were not sure what, where and by whom so we set about holding an audit of referencing in the school via a Google Form. Each year level had their own google form. The same questions were asked on each form for each year group.

The Head of Departments were briefed about the audit, and what we hope to achieve from it. They were requested to share the form with their departments and allocate different people to complete the form for each year group depending on who taught the year level.

After the allocated time, the results were viewed and then using the Google form Form menu "Show summary of responses" where it places all the data into lovely graphs. Below is the result of the year 7 survey ....

I then matched subjects from the results form to the answers and we came up with some data about what is happening where. I shared these results with the MYP co-ordinator and we hatched a plan as to the next step.  

The plan was that I would bring it all together in a report - text with visuals, and present it to the Head of Departments to then work on moving forward to standardise referencing across the secondary school.  I was also to create a draft scope and sequence for referencing and citation for year 7-13, keeping in mind the capacity or the different year groups. This draft would be presented to the HOD's for comment and for them to take the document back to their departments for comments and improvements. Ideally we will get a small working party together to finalise the scope and sequence to be implemented from the next academic year.

The overall goals are :
  • students to be required to submit a bibliography in all subjects and for all work that uses another person's ideas and information whether or not the subjects criterion explicitly specifies it. It would fall under the ATL category of Information Literacy Skills in this case.  
  • the skill of referencing and in text citation to be taught explicitly by each of the subjects that require it in the criterion, using the scope and sequence as a basis. 
  • teaching resources and exemplars will be created to assist in the teaching of these skills\
  • Teachers will be briefed and upskilled on the APA style for referencing and the use of Easybib.
  • The scope and sequence will be expanded into the PYP next year so the whole school is on the same page.
The documents were shared  with the HOD's and the response was positive and enthusiastic. 
The Draft Scope and Sequence is linked here and I would welcome any comments or suggestions. You can comment on the Google doc itself or in the comments on this blog. 

Monday, May 5, 2014

Internationally reading

Have you heard of Battle of the Books? (if not, Google it - you will find loads of links)

Battle of the Books in general is a program where multiple schools read the same books for an academic year, then compete to answer questions asked about the content. Questions are very specific, and sometimes quite difficult, but the program can be a lot of fun for the participants. There are different Battle of the Books programs going on all over the world. It is usually held where the schools are close enough to travel to each others schools for the competitions in person.

A friend and colleague in Hong Kong, Bryant McEntire has been working very hard over the past 12 months to set up International Battle of the Books, where BoB has no borders. Using reliable communication technology, schools compete remotely via text messaging, initially connected within continents to rise to the top, to then compete against other winning teams from other continents. It is big, it is brave, but WOW. What a great initiative!

It is still in its infancy, but Bryant is looking for some more schools to achieve the big picture. Ideally to start with, Bryant would like 6-12 schools in each section, from each continent to kick this baby off into a truly international inaugural event.  Several schools piloted and tested the framework this year with friendly battles around the world.

If you think this is something you may be interested in have a look at the website and if you are convinced you want to have a go fill out the form to enroll your school.

Bryant has just been given $1000USD to provide four lucky schools with a free set of books if they enter a drawing he is devising on the IBOB website.  Watch for a button there to enter.  All schools worldwide who share a desire to ramp up reading, who will commit to participate if chosen for next year, and who have an internet connection qualify but you must partner with another school to apply.  In typical Chinese tradition good things come in pairs so in one draw you and a partner school will receive book sets and support to participate no strings attached.  I suggest following Bryant on twitter or the hashtag #intlbob to know when this kicks off so you do not miss a good chance to win some nice titles.  

Monday, April 28, 2014

Knowledge Management

Image from Morgue File

Knowledge Management
  1. 1.
    capturing, developing, sharing, and effectively using organisational knowledge..

This past week I have been working on collecting, curating, updating, organising and sharing the information, policies and processes that help make our library tick over. Our current team leader will be leaving the facility at the end of this academic year, and with leaving she will take 8 years of knowledge and history with her. Seeing she was an integral part of the set of the library, being able to capture some of the reasons behind decisions, and also curate the documents and processes that are currently followed, will help those of us left behind and her replacement be able to move into the position being able to locate the information we need.

When the library was set up 8 years ago a wiki was created to keep track of the developments. This was a busy online place for a while, then the set up phase was over, more staff came in and learned the processes and procedures, and the staff have been there for a long while since. The wiki was not updated as much as it should have been probably due to having to have yet another address to bookmark and go to and everyone just got too busy to document what was going on.

We have been working on updating the information, and transferring it all across to a Google site, which will enable us to access it via our Google education apps suite (just one place to remember, and we should already be logged in). There are so many aspects of a library that need to be documented in a policy and procedure document that having it located in a dynamic format such as a Google site or wiki allows for on time updates, easy searching and painless editing by any of the library staff. These type of websites are only as good as the information they contain, and keeping the information current is an important part of this process. 

What to include in such a website? The Australian School Library Association created a document in 2007 "A manual for developing policies and procedures in Australian School Library Resource Centres" which is still timely and useful as a guide.. Select the hyperlink to download the document.

How do you manage your libraries knowledge?
Do other departments in your school have a policy & procedure site?