Peace Crane Project – A Great Project for School Libraries

This is the third year I have been involved in the Peace Crane Project but the first year at my new school.

Our school Teacher Librarian was happy for it to be run in the library and for the last couple of weeks students have been busy making peace cranes to send to Ms Kurashige (@mjurashige) and the students at Mid Pacific Institute in Hawaii, USA. I am so grateful that they were willing to spend their lunchtimes creating these beautiful cranes. Some students learned a new skill while others were willing to share theirs.

Happy Peace Day for Monday and I hope you will consider joining us next year.

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WA and the USA connect through Edmodo

Another global classroom success organised through the power of Twitter and connected through the simplicity of Edmodo!

It has been our privilege to connect this term grade one and two students from  Dalkeith Primary School in Perth and Windsor Primary School in Arlington Heights, Chicago. As our American friends school year draws to a close, I thought I would share a snapshot from an activity we did and wish them a fabulous summer break.

The students and I have learned so much about life at both schools. We have enjoyed learning through shared mini movies, pdf’s and comments made by the children and teachers at both schools.  We have also shared pictures and movies about life at our school.

Today we read Stand Tall, Molly Lou Mellon by Patty Lovell and David Catrow. We chose this story because it is an American book. Molly Lou Melon is also an awesome character and her story is one that everyone should read.
Windsor School are reading books by Australian author, Mem Fox. We know how fabulous those stories are because we have them in our library at school.
Both schools did story corners and you can see an small selection of ours below

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Reading aloud to students. Sharing my choices.

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I get to spend about 30-40 minutes in the library with the students from Pre Primary to Year 7. In this time I promote books, help students to select books, issue and return books but my absolute favourite part of the time we spend together is when I get to read out loud to them.

The PP’s and Year 1’s get read picture books and I will show some of my favourites another time as I wanted to share the books I’m reading to the other grades.

Year 2 The Magic Finger by Roald Dahl.
I haven’t read a novel to Year 2 before as I wasn’t sure they would be able to hold onto the plot over a week but emboldened by last year’s success of “The One and Only Ivan” by Katharine Applegate (which I read to the Year 3’s during ICT/library) I decided to give it a go. They loved “The Magic Finger” and when we finished it this afternoon they requested “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”.

Year 3 Charlie Burr and the Three Stolen Dollars by Sally Morgan
Great Australian novel and perfect for this age group. Fun to read out loud and a little bit naughty.
I’m hoping this will lead to the other books in the series being requested.

Year 4 Bartlett and the Ice Voyage by Odo Hirsch.
An oldie but a goodie, full of rich vocabulary. This starts off a but slowly but with good voice acting is an interesting read.

Year 5 Cairo Jim and The Sacred Alabastron of Chronos by Geoffrey McSkimming
Also an oldie but with links to Ancient Greek mythology. Percy Jackson isn’t the only character dealing with mythical characters. A book that requires courage to read out loud as a macaw is one of the main characters. Lots of ‘Raark’

Year 6 Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
I was really looking forward to this but as a read out loud it is not as successful as I’d like. I find the conversation a bit clumsy, however, the students are still happy to listen. One student couldn’t wait to find out and bought the books.

Year 7 The False Prince by Jennifer Neilsen
This absolute gem was brought to my attention by my Teacher Librarian friends on Twitter. I’m really enjoying this read as the dialogue reads well and the characters are nicely drawn by the author. One student has held off from reading the sequel. Seeing him intently listening is a great reward.

I wonder how many other Teacher Librarians get to read novels to their students? Reading to a child is such a joy and provides many learning opportunities that add to their literacy.

How do you promote the books in your library?

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We have a beautiful library in our school which I have featured in a previous post about flexible learning spaces.

Recently though I was a little concerned that many of the books on our shelves weren’t being read. I love promoting books to the children and do it as often as I can, however, I am not always with them when they change their books and I am always trying to find ways to bring books and students together. (Cue picture of A Perfect Date)

One way I thought that I could get the students to choose new books was to focus on promoting genres and with ANZAC day approaching I started with Historical Fiction. This genre would not normally leap out at the kids as a genre to read so I set up the books near the door to catch their attention as they entered the library using a mobile shelf and a pinup board. This space is not normally used and I don’t have a huge amount of display space.

I was happy to see some children try new books off the shelf and others recommending some of them. I put my two cents in as well. I also heard teachers speaking to their students about different books they had read. Anything that encourages conversation about books has to be good, right?

A bonus was being able to use the other side to display ANZAC day related non-fiction and some background information.

Next genre is Adventure Stories and whilst finding the books for the display I came across some new reads for me too!

I am also planning on displaying book covers and QR codes that lead to book trailers or book reports (by the end of the year their will be ones that the students have produced in ICT lessons).
Here is one school Librarian using them in her library.

How do others promote their books? I would love to see other libraries and their displays.

ICT/Library lessons so far

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Nearly half way through my semester! I am attempting to spend more time reflecting on my learning/teaching, so here goes.

As part of the Global Classrooms project – Save Our Rhinos,  we have been learning about Rhinos but also thinking about Awareness Campaigns. Last year I had a successful project focussing on basic economics that lead to the students planning and running a stall. This year, I wanted to try an alternative and the concept of raising awareness rather than raising money appealed.

We considered awareness campaigns we had come across in different media and we thought about the audiences they were aimed at. Finally, we considered the kind of persuasive language we might use. A rubric for the topic that I provided in my last lesson actually resulted in them trying a little harder to reach the skilled section.

To plan our campaigns we modified the Problem- Action Steps- Outcomes
model I had found at

http://cdn.icivics.org/sites/default/files/uploads/Students%20Engage.pdf

The students are now creating their Awareness presentations. I have introduced Movie Maker to the classes as another way we could present our information.

To tie in with this project, I have used Africa as a learning focus with the younger kids. Although my major focus for the Pre Primary class is learning to log on independently and the Year 1’s are learning to save their work correctly on the network, we have been reading picture books such as

The Princess and the Pea by Rachel Isadora

The Hunter by Paul Geraghty

Natemba by Annette Lodge

Why the Giraffe has a long neck – Tinga Tinga tales

Just Right by Nigel Gray and Deborah Brown

And using websites such as

www.perthzoo.wa.gov.au

www.sciencekids.co.nz/sciencefacts/animals

Africa Song for kids – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VoYp2_MxkMI

 

I have also shown the kids WWF Together App using Apple TV in our lab.

The Year 1 class are developing skills in Publisher as they learn to insert Word Art, images and clip art as well as developing their keyboard skills writing about different African animals. Whilst looking at Matt Gomez’s great kinderchat blog I realised that I could develop their language skills a bit more and have now focussed on them writing their sentences instead of inserting the missing word. Next week I will have a bank of words for them to use on display.

Next blog post I will outline my upper primary classes.

The History of Surfing for Year 6

Ancient China – Year 7

 

Creating a flexible learning space

I was inspired and wrote about Paul Williams’presentation about learning spaces in a previous post. It was my goal to somehow develop a more flexible learning space for our library. With the development of mobile devices, the library becomes a wonderful alternative to the classroom for lesson delivery and ownership of the library becomes more universal, rather than ‘my room’ as teacher librarian.
I wanted to add some different kinds of seating other than the tables and chairs we have in the library. I wanted to create a space that was colourful, flexible and fun. Fortunately, my principal was behind me and there was some money in the budget. The following photographs outline the start of this transformation. We cannot remove the table and chairs at the moment as our Indonesian Language Classes are held in here once a week and this routine is well established. But changes are afoot!
The new ottomans and rehomed bean bags are well used and I have received positive comments from students and staff alike. The space is now well used during library times and I have heard a teacher comment recently that she is going to use the ottomans as tiered seating with the mat soon.
My next goal is to ask the staff and students what they would like to see next in the library and investigate how the library could be used more effectively in 2013.

What Book Fair Taught Me

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At the end of a very busy week I felt that if I didn’t reflect on the week that has just gone I would miss a wonderful opportunity to learn something.

Positives.

1. Special events at school add excitement

a. Competitions

I held 3 competitions during the week and they did generate interest but the most successful one was the ‘estimate how many lollies are in the jar and win it for your class’ competition. It was quick and everyone could enter.

b. Special events

The Book, Bear and Blanket Family Reading Night was held on the Wednesday night and involved the children coming to the library at night time in their pyjamas with their parents and listening to some stories read by me then sitting together as a family and reading. The kids were very excited and I received lots of positive feedback.

c. Promoting using kids work

In a discussion with Audrey Nay about our book fair it was suggested I run an art competition. Great idea! I added to this by using the entrants as promotion for our fair and special event.

2. The library is a wonderful place to be outside of class time.

a. Lunchtime opening

I had the most amazing experience. The children were waiting at the library doors and actually cheered when I came to open the library. I felt like a celebrity. They loved the display and having the opportunity to sit on the bean bags and play some of the games.

3. Students love teachers being a bit wacky

I wore my Book Fair hat when I was ‘working’ the fair and they loved that I was wearing my pj’s too at the special event.

Things to improve.

4. Delegate or die!

a. I really need to learn to delegate.

Setting up, filling orders, packing up and being open before, during and after school meant that it was a very busy 10 days and I’m still working on it. I’m sure with a bit of delegation I wouldn’t be feeling so tired and others would get to feel the joy too.

b.Reading night

As much as I enjoyed being the storyteller on the night, I could have involved other readers. Next year I will ask our Principal!

5. Check the calendar

I thought I had checked the school calendar and chosen a quiet week. What I hadn’t anticipated was a another school event that ended up inspiring the students to buy yoyos. These things happen.

All in all it was a great week and I am already looking forward to next year’s bigger and better event.

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Catholic Primary Curriculum Conference 2012

Conferences can be exciting, challenging and tiring. The Catholic Primary Curriculum Conference :Architecture of Learning (Dignity, Diversity, Design) held at the Perth Convention Centre over the last two days was no exception. Networking with colleagues and being challenged by new ideas are why I enjoy them. The difficult part is then taking all the information and making it part of my professional development. So why it is fresh in my mind I am going to identify the key concepts that resonated with me and think of ways I can act on them.

1. Stop then think

Give thinking time/practise, looking at options before choosing answer.

On Monday it was stated by keynote speaker Prof. Martin Westwell that teachers generally wait 0.8 seconds before answering a question themselves or stating a new one. 0.8! By counting to 5 it dramatically increases the responses. I can do that!

2. Schools should not teach more Maths but be more mathematical.

Tuesday’s keynote, Prof. Mike Askew demonstrated how rich mathematical tasks could be if we focused more on creating opportunities for students to engage with other students doing tasks that were harder than they could do on their own.

I will look at my ICT tasks to see if they are challenging and collaborative with a diversity of learners in groups . (What group members have I got working together?)

3. iPads Beyond Substitution: using iPads to transform thinking

Jenny Jongste provided us with apps that would allow for students to share data and create new ways of demonstrating their understanding.

I will make sure to reflect on Edmodo and how it has modified my teaching as I have 1 iPad at present. Our school is in the process of deciding how we will go forward with mobile devices and I will keep in mind the power they have to transform learning.(Future blog post here)

4. The design of the digital classroom by Paul Williams

How can our learning spaces be transformed? As I watched the students from year 6 at St Lawrence’s Balcatta working,using their iPads and shifting the furniture around to create spaces that allowed for individual and paired work, quiet spaces and open spaces, it reinforced the presentation by Paul Williams. Teachers need to be proactive in creating classrooms that allow for these kind of activities to take place. Why do our classrooms still look like factories rather than inviting spaces to learn such as the Skype Office in the image below from The Cool Hunter.

My challenge as a TL will be to try and create in our library the kind of space that is about creativity. That nook could become a movie editing suite or a sound booth. The bean bags shouldn’t be the only soft furnishing. Can teachers come here and relax? I will keep a photo record of small changes that I think have transformed the space and post them on here.

I’m not sure the presenters would be blown away by these small steps but I hope they take consolation from the thought that I did hear and I am changed because of them and hopefully these small changes will benefit my students.

Why do I plan in terms?

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Primary school teachers in many schools still plan per term and as a specialist teacher I often found this stressful and constraining. Ten weeks to complete a program of work in a crowded curriculum could in many cases end up being eight weeks due to incursions, sporting events and special days at school. At the beginning of this year I decided to act on a thought I’d had for some time, to plan a semester unit of work. I know, hardly earth shattering but it has rocked my world.

My year five class were given the task of playing the Lemonade Game record their data and decisions in Excel, create charts and produce a PowerPoint to reflect their understanding of basic economics. Fairly standard stuff. The aha moment was the reflection that I should now ‘Bring it to the real world’ The students had to form groups and decide on a food stall to run. The kids blew me away with their enthusiasm, their organisational skills (I truly believe a ten year old girl could run the country if only given the chance ) and their creativity. They calculated quantities, checked prices, made order forms, discussed economics with their parents and ran the stalls on their day. With fabulous parent support, the kids got a real taste for business as some groups made a profit whilst others just broke even. One parent told me that their son knew they weren’t going to make much profit but that was ok because it meant he had something to say in the Thinking Hats reflection form. The profit they made was put towards their school camp later this year.

If I had limited myself to just the ten weeks I probably would have stopped at the online version but I am so glad I didn’t as the real learning happened in those last 5 weeks.

Why write a blog?

As a wearer of a few hats in the Catholic Education system (ICT Coordinator, Professional Learning Coordinator and Teacher Librarian) I felt that it would stretch me an an educator as well as provide an opportunity to reflect and share my learning journey.

Why call it DemystifICT?

I am always trying to demystify ICT so that I can understand it and then use it or vice versa depending on what happens.

All opinions are my own and do not necessarily reflect my employer.