Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Women in Educational Leadership Conference. Australian International School Singapore. September 2015

I had the opportunity to be a late registration for the Sunday of this conference.

I really find Cheryl Doig to be a great conference facilitator, having encountered her before in her extensive facilitation of leadership training at AIS in 2011.
Cheryl facilitated the first workshop of the day on collaboration and networking. She highlighted strategies for enhancing the collaborative environment in schools, and referenced her experience in Christchurch.
In my roles as Head of Libraries, Upper Secondary Teacher  Librarian, and Teacher of Global Perspectives, I am a leader and member of several teams. Collaboration is central to success in all of these. As a TL, my roles in collection development and sequential development of information fluency in students in the Secondary School are very dependent on input and collaboration with teaching colleagues. Experience has taught me that successful collaboration is built on strong relationships. This was a point Cheryl emphasized.
In reflecting on this, I can see that my failed attempts to collaborate, to promote new library initiatives with faculties, could be the result of not developing strong professional relationships with those colleagues. I can see that stronger pathways to success in these initiatives could have been built by strategies to build relationships. Eg. Attending faculty/team meetings to establish connections; offering opportunity for input into initiative planning; requesting feedback during the planning stage; communicating strongly with the HOD to ensure they become co-drivers of the initiative. 
As leader of the library team, collaboration and interpersonal skills are also crucial. Team members need to feel valued and heard. Good communication is important and this is facilitated through regular meetings that allow sharing of information, consultation, inviting opinions and shared decision-making. This helps build teams, along with personal relationship-building – making the time for informal visits and encounters, touching base informally with all staff, acknowledging and engaging with each personally. Seeking opportunities to collaborate with staff 1-1 on particular library initiatives/ideas, even small things, is another successful strategy. These are skills I continue to develop.

Cheryl’s closing session looked forward to the future of education. She provoked us to confront the ever-changing dynamic of education, from ICT innovation to broader possibilities.
In order to thrive in an environment of rapid and uncertain change, we need to be adaptive, innovative, flexible. This, I try to be.
One takeaway was mention of the software program Trello.
This is a collaborative project planning tool. It would be great to use for the Year 10 GP Project teams. I intend to trial it with Year 9 next year. Set them a mini-project that will also prepare them for the major project in Year 10.

Appreciative inquiry was mentioned – nurture the positive; what you nurture grows; focus on the good things.
I personally reflected on this. There are challenges I face regarding the physical library space and the limitations this imposes on library services and my role. I have been employing strategies to remain positive about this and it was really good to hear this reiterated. I am not unique in my profession in facing challenges of this kind. We all face obstacles of one kind or another. Focus on what you CAN achieve, the good things about your role and circumstance. That’s what I’m trying to do.

The conference also provided lots of suggestions for our professional library (Teacher Reference) and I have ordered several titles mentioned. The day after the conference I created a display of those titles that were already in our collection. That was a good look! And well-received by staff who attended. It is in a prominent position in the library – on the way to the washrooms, so it got lots of attention!
Books we had:
The transforming leader: new approaches to leadership for the twenty-first century. C.Pearson ed.
Mindful leadership. M. Dickman
The speed of trust. S.Covey
Difficult conversations. D.Stone
Organisational Change: development and transformation. D.Waddell
Dancing on a shifting carpet: reinventing traditional schooling for the 21st century. L.Degenhardt
Good to great. Jim Collins
Books on order:
Appreciative inquiry:a positive revolution in change. D.Cooperrider.
Beyond measure: the big impact of small changes. M.Heffernan
Managing oneself. P.Drucker
How remarkable women lead. Barsh and Cranson
 Through the labyrinth: the truth about how women become leaders. Eagly and Carli

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Is ICT a waste of money?

This question , tongue in cheek, arises from an article I read on my ipad! in news media this morning:

Are iPads in schools a waste of money? OECD report says yes
Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/are-ipads-in-schools-a-waste-of-money-oecd-report-says-yes-20150914-gjmnqf.html#ixzz3lrfFopLi
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According to OECD findings, investment in learning technologies does not lead to better performance in literacy and numeracy. The report Students, computers and learning: making the connections is based on 2012 PISA findings.

Headlines such as these are bound to cause a stir and perhaps lead parents, education administrators and governments to question the considerable private and public investment in learning technologies.
The report found that there was no appreciable improvements in performance in mathematics, literacy and science in countries that invested heavily in technology for education. In fact students in South Korea and Shanghai, where only 42% and 38% of students were using computers in schools, were among the top performers in digital reading and computer-based mathematics tests.

The report notes the startling conclusion that
"Students who use computers moderately at school [once or twice a week] tend to have somewhat better learning outcomes than students who use computers rarely. But students who use computers very frequently at school do a lot worse in most learning outcomes."

This conclusion is moderated by Keysborough College Principal John Baston, who makes the point that technology can support good teaching practice but not replace it. Ipads used in a classroom with twentieth century teaching practices will not advance quality student learning.It is good pedagogy that leads to good learning outcomes. So are the higher performing countries in this study using better pedagogy? Or are the PISA tests cited not telling the whole story? 
Laptops are useful tools for practise, but they can't teach literacy and numeracy. Teachers do. So rather than holding technology to account for bad test scores, we need to examine pedagogy and other issues like the crowded curriculum that take teaching time away from literacy, numeracy and science.

What does learning technology enable? When used well, it helps teachers differentiate, allows students to learn and present their learning in different formats. It helps students develop 21st century skills like collaborative problem solving. It will be very interesting to see the results of the new 2015 PISA tests results for that. Standardised tests measure only a few of the skills we hope students will learn. The development of this test is a step in the right direction.
Pisa 2015 Draft Frameworks

Here is Jonathan Martin's blog post about assessing collaborative problem solving.

And here's another good blog post by Judy Salpeter in Tech and Learning in particular, a response to the Learning for the 21st Century report. One of the key points of the report is the narrow definition of essential skills such as literacy, and the need to broaden these for the 21st century context, along with new assessment tools to measure them.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Shared reading. big kids with little kids.

Last week for our Book Week celebrations in the Secondary School, our Year 9 students read aloud to students in Lower Elementary.
This activity was fun from start to finish. Teachers were so enthusiastic and supportive of the idea. And all the students loved it!
Our Year 9s were assigned to a Lower Elementary class and a timetable created. They chose a picture book to read, practised it and planned an interesting way to introduce it.
This was such a simple, successful activity, we will definitely repeat it.
Here is the link to our video of the activity.
We shared this video with students in Secondary School assembly, and it was part of the whole-school Book Week video we shared with all staff at our Friday Briefing.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Supporting digital literacy and 21st century learning through the school library


The School Library Association of Victoria conference “It’s a digital world,” held recently in Melbourne, was a good opportunity to reflect on the digital environment that is shaping our personal, work and social lives and to ask, What are the implications for us as educators? What are the imperatives for new literacies, including digital literacy and 21st century skills? How can international frameworks can guide the development of digital literacy in our schools? And how can digital devices and tools enrich the learning environment to support the development of skills, attitudes and understandings students need to be successful, effective citizens of the 21st century?

 I had the opportunity to attend this conference and present the keynote address. The conference was opened by Hon. James Merlino,  Victorian Minister for Education and Deputy Premier. It was fascinating to hear of the Minister’s vision for education and innovation in Victoria.

This was followed by a presentation by Mr Marco DiCesare, Principal of Caroline Chisholm Catholic College and SLAV School Leader of the Year 2014. Marco demonstrated his strong belief in the value school libraries and talked about his role in the revitalization of libraries in two schools he has led. Both speakers were inspirational and set a great tone for the conference, asserting the important place of school libraries in education.

My presentation was “Digital literacy, 21st century skills and information fluency.” My goal was to provide an overview of current international research, documentation and trends regarding digital literacy, and offer some insight into our practice at AIS.
I began with a look at our students today, the characteristics, attitudes and understandings of the digital generation, and international studies that add to our own observations.
A key point was the imperatives this drives for the development of digital literacy and 21st century skills in our schools.
I referenced some international frameworks for 21st century learning and digital literacy.
I then spoke about the AIS libraries initiative - framework for 21st century skills and information fluency. There was also some discussion of the Student Research Guide that accompanies the framework, and a look at some digital tools that can support 21st century learning. I closed with some consideration of further implications, including assessment and reporting of digital literacy, and the broader implications for our (teacher librarian) profession.
I also had the opportunity to lead a workshop, “Supporting inquiry and digital literacy through the library.” This was intended as a guide to participants who wish to develop a (online) resource for their school/library which supports the inquiry process and digital literacy of their students. It focused on the process, and I provided a lot of online support material that participants could use: clarifying purpose; considering framework/structure; platform options; tools for students; advocacy. During the workshop there was a lot of time provided to talk, and to look and suggested resources online.

There was opportunity for me to learn from other practitioners in two other concurrent workshop sessions. I heard about Joy Burlak’s evidence-based project to teach digital literacy to Year 7 at Sunbury Downs Secondary College. Later Wilma Kurvink showed the renovation of library spaces at Wesley College to meet the needs of 21st century learners: zones for collaborating, storytelling, sharing, creating, reflecting and learning.

The closing library design panel reinforced many of the ideas presented by Wilma, each panelist giving their particular context for library renewal.

This was a stimulating and exciting conference. The digital environment we now work in has redefined the role of the teacher librarian. It calls for a new skillset and expertise. How does it shape the way we work with teachers, students, curriculum leaders? This dialogue is taking place in school library associations around the world, and it’s a continuing conversation we need to have.

Our AIS framework, research guide, and other resources, can be found at http://libguides.ais.com.sg/research

Presentations and workshop notes will be accessible on the SLAV website

Monday, December 1, 2014

Teacher inquiry - action research in our library and classroom

Our school has a program of collaborative inquiry teams for professional learning: teacher inquiry groups. Proposals are submitted by teachers who would like to lead an inquiry and teachers sign up for their preference.

TIGs are inspired by the action research model of teacher inquiry and their intention is to sharpen focus on an aspect of teaching in order to improve classroom practice.

image from the Santarosa Professional Development Centre, https://www.santarosa.k12.fl.us/pdc/inservice/followup/ar.aspx

This year, I led an action research inquiry into ebooks. Our common focus was reading, although we each took a slightly different line of inquiry, investigating the impact of one instructional intervention on student learning in our library/classroom. My line of inquiry related to ebooks and reading promotion; another investigated ebooks as learning resources; another looked at ebooks and improved reading outcomes; and another investigated a range of reading promotion activities.

The libguide for establishing this inquiry can be accessed here.

The report for our inquiry group and my inquiry into ebooks and reading promotion is available in the video below:

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Literary lunchtimes

Last term Denise Tan, proprietor of Closetful of books, a local children's bookseller, contacted us with the offer of an author visit to our school. We weren't able to accommodate any more "grand visits" for whole year level groups in our curriculum, but our Primary Librarian and I thought it would be nice to have a short "meet the author" at lunchtime.
Our Central Library is very busy at lunchtimes, being a shared space catering for both Primary and Middle School, so we decided to host the event in the Senior Library.

Both the students and our visiting author Sheryl Gwyther loved the venue and informality of these visits. Our younger students were thrilled to be visiting the Senior Library.

I have held lunchtime sessions before, but not as stand alone sessions. I plan to have lots more of these next year. Denise was also thrilled with how well these went and is now keen to send all her visiting authors my way.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Librarians' Knowledge Sharing Workshop Brunei February 2014

Last week I was fortunate in attending the second annual Librarians’ Knowledge Sharing Workshop at JIS in Brunei with my colleague Meg Johnson from our Lower Secondary library. It was a great opportunity to network and work with Teacher Librarians from all over Asia. The smaller size of the event enabled delegates to get to know each other well and extend our Personal Learning Networks for future contact.
 In fact it was networking through Twitter that brought Lyn Hay to the event as keynote speaker. In her presentation Anatomy of an iCentre, Lyn challenged the group to consider new modes of working and new learning space designs for libraries. Inspired by the Apple store model for service and expert support , Lyn proposed the iCentre as a model for collaboration, Library, ICT and classroom teachers working together towards common goals in a shared space.
21C learning in a digital environment

Developing students as connected learners

Partnerships not buildings

            An innovative approach to programming was the use of two “slam” sessions with short 5 minute presentations on a theme followed by group discussion: Virtual library spaces and What’s hot? Technology for libraries. These proved to be highly engaging and interactive sessions. Other presentations included Library design/the physical space; Engaging readers; Library management systems. All very valuable and informative.

Lyn’s plenary session Guided inquiry- an instructional framework for inquiry learning resonated greatly with me and I made many connections with my own presentation.
                My own presentation was on our process for developing information literacy resources  for the Australian International School: Information Literacy Skills Scope and Sequence Preschool-5; Literature Skills Scope and Sequence Preschool-5 for the Elementary School in 2012; and 21C skills @ AIS – An Information  Fluency Framework for secondary students in 2013. These documents are supported by a library website and can be accessed at http://libguides.ais.com.sg/research
          Takeaways – action plan. PD like this is always a shot-in-the-arm for me, a boost to enthusiasm, a raising of awareness of how we can work differently and strive to be better.
 Seeing a presentation of a graphic interface for one library’s databases website has me planning to do more with our list.

·                  Imovies on ipads – lend the ipad. We have a library itunes account working well for mp3 audiobooks lent to students on ipod shuffle. Movies are a natural extension of that – who wants to buy dvds? (our new Macbook Air don’t have a dvd player). Now for the library sets of ipads…..
·         Extend our audiobook collection to the Red Dot Books.
·         Meg and I talked about undertaking an evidence-based project for our Teacher Inquiry Group focus this year. There was an enthusiastic response from the others in our library teaching team when we shared that idea yesterday. What better way to demonstrate the impact of the libraries on student learning.

Conference organisers Karli Downey and Angela Mann of JIW, with support from Barb Reid (Alice Smith School Kuala Lumpur) are to be congratulated for a stimulating and rewarding 2 days. It was a privilege and a pleasure to participate.