Monday, 11 November 2013

The Benefits of Presenting: How it can help you and your library

I'm doing a couple of things this term that I feel are vital to ensuring that the value of the work I do in the library is recognised and appreciated.  I am going to do an annual report for our BOT and present it to them.  And last week I gave a 30 minute presentation at a staff meeting.

In the bustle of my work days I have time for neither of these activities.  During Labour weekend I made time to practise my presentation and all of the preparation was done at home, in the evenings and on weekends.  Was it nerve-wracking speaking in front of staff? YES!  Was it worth giving up my own time? Well, the feedback from staff has been fantastic.  An experienced teacher said she doubted one of my statistics (the UK's National Literacy Trust found that 48% of low achieving children have trouble finding things to read).  When she asked her class (of typical 10- and 11-year-olds) one-third of them admitted to finding it hard to choose their next book.  Then she followed another suggestion and once she'd returned the library books for her class she spread them out on the issues desk and invited her students to have a look at what others in the class were reading.  About half the books were re-issued.

I've had teachers get their students to write me a letter suggesting books to get for the library, others have talked to their students about the importance of reading for pleasure, and one class earned their first ever special award for having no overdues this week.  Many teachers have said that I have reminded them of the importance of the library.  How cool is that?  So YES, it was worth spending my personal time working on the presentation.  I have requested extra hours for next year, but who knows how that will turn out.  At least for now I know that teachers and management are thinking about the library and what I do in it.  They know I don't just cover books and tidy shelves because I've told them. They know what I can do to help their students improve their academic outcomes and increase their enjoyment of reading. I guarantee you they're not wondering if the library needs a librarian in it.

Here are my presentation slides:

Saturday, 27 July 2013

SLANZA Conference 2013

I have just typed up my notes from the School Library Association of New Zealand Aotearoa (SLANZA) conference in Wellington.  I have six pages of them but I have been inspired by the lovely Glenys Bichan from Cambridge High School, who told me that she prepares a report for her principal that includes five things she is going to do as a result of the conference.  I think this is a great idea as at the end of the day we want to show that something practical came about from attending the conference.  So, here is what I am going to do:

1.    Help children select books.  The National Literacy Trust (UK) found 48% of low achieving children have trouble finding things to read.  This was part of the keynote from Dr Cathy Wylie on "How reading matters to children's development".  She raised a number of issues but this is one I want to focus on.  Here is how I am going to start:
a.     Begin book talks with the senior school, making sure to include books suitable for struggling readers
b.     Include my Goodreads shelves on our library OPAC and publicise that to help parents choose books for their children.
c.     Introduce new shelf talkers based on this one I found on Pinterest.

2.    Watch YouTube videos to learn correct Maori pronunciation.  Sharon Holt ran the workshop “Make the most of te reo Maori resources”.  She suggested looking for the Maori alphabet song and Ahaka ma and singing along to those to get Maori pronunciation right.  I can do that!

3.    Write down my vision for the library, identify all the services I already provide and make a wish list of services I would like to add or develop.  Senga White’s workshop “Making a lasting connection with your school community” was overflowing with great ideas.  First on my list, though, is to actually take stock of what I’m currently doing in the library and what I want to see done in the future.  This is a basic step but I’ve been so busy doing everything I haven’t made time to get a good overview of it all.

4.    Megan Davidson ran a fantastic workshop – “3-minute PD: how to raise the library’s profile by offering mini how-to lessons at morning briefings or staff meetings”.  I think I could do this but would have to clear it with management first.  The problem with big PD sessions is that you get overwhelmed with information.  That is why little tips brought up on a regular basis are such a good idea.  Realistically I think Term 4 would be something to work towards – book talks first!

5.    Share critical literacy ideas.  Dr Susan Sandretto did a keynote – “(Re)considering information literacy through a critical literacy lens”.  She shared a great series of critical literacy questions found here.  In my school this is not something I am personally involved with, however I will try to share these questions with our DP because I loved the discussions that they prompted.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

How to Gamify your Library: Reflections on a presentation

Last week I presented at the School Library Association of New Zealand Aotearoa (SLANZA) conference in Wellington.  Having done no public speaking since they made me at college, there were times when I did wonder what on earth I was thinking when I volunteered.  However, I gave my presentation, got some good feedback and may even do it again one day.  I think there is a need for more primary school librarians to present at these conferences so if I can't persuade others (I did try) then I may be back.

Here are some things I learnt about presenting:

  • It takes much longer than you think to prepare.  Particularly if you enjoy researching, there is lots of information out there, and you want to read it all!
  • The process of pulling together information, and organising it in a coherent way so that you can present it, helps give you a stronger and deeper focus on your topic.
  • There is lots of great information on how to present, and people who will help you if you ask.  Here are my favourite slides on presenting from Ned Potter .  I also had lovely support and advice from @MatthewWinner and @jenniferlagarde, who are American librarians and experts on gamification.  How cool is that?!  All I had to do was ask.
  • Think carefully about what to put in your abstract.  Although my abstract said my workshop was about how to use game elements to bring fun into the library, I met a few librarians who had obviously seen the title "How to gamify your library" and decided that it meant bringing video games into the library.
I'm going to embed my slides, although they are quite simple and had a lot of verbal explanations to accompany them.  I did also make a library gamification website that has a lot of the articles and videos I used in researching gamification.

I had a ball at the conference and am still writing up my notes.  I hope to post again shortly and talk about the keynotes and workshops I attended.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Confessions of an Info-holic

I love reading blogs, listservs, Twitter and a variety of information from other sources.  But I could stop at any time.  If I really needed to.  

As I sit here, procrastinating by sharing my addiction with you, I have this problem:

So, 55 unread messages - 22 from my work email, 33 from home.  But it's actually worse than that.  I have 260 messages in my work inbox and 282 in my home inbox.  

And then there's the small matter of the 95 blog posts I haven't read yet.  I popped into Google Reader, while it's still operating, to see how many blogs I subscribe to.  Turns out it's 40, but I also discovered these stats:

And OK, now that's starting to look like I might be a bit out of control.  It's just that so many people have really interesting things to say, and I don't want to miss out on any of it.  It's a librarian thing.  But my iPad has beeped three times since I started this and instead of feeling that warm happy glow from incoming mail I have a feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach.

So, time for ACTION!  I need a way to balance my love of information with having time to actually implement some of the great ideas I am reading about.

Here's what I am going to do - I am going to get rid of at least half of the blogs I subscribe to. Ouch.  Choosing what to remove is going to be hard.  Especially since I just remembered another blog I was recommended in the weekend that I was going to subscribe to...

I seem to manage Twitter better than my RSS subscriptions.  I don't have notifications for Twitter so I don't feel the burden I do when I see that stupid red circle with a giant number in it telling me how many blog posts I have yet to read.

Next up, email.  My two main sources of incoming emails are from the school library listserv and the Virtual  Learning Network (vln).  Both are awesome sources of knowledge.  However, in the interests of my sanity I am going to turn off email notifications for the groups I belong to on the vln. I can still go in and check out the great discussions happening there but I won't get an email every time someone posts something in any of the seven groups I belong to.  

Don't ask me to give up the library listserv because I WON'T!  I'd probably get withdrawal symptoms or something.

Wish me luck, information addiction is a hard one to overcome, I just hope I have the willpower to get me through.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Unconferences, Twitter and ANZ 23 Mobile Things


On Saturday I am responsible for a 60 minute "unconference" run as part of the SLANZA (School Library Association of New Zealand) Waikato/BoP AGM.  I am basing it on the "smackdown" part of the educamps I have been to.  I have been to several educamps (unconferences run by teachers) and have enjoyed them immensely.  To have the opportunity for free p.d. about a variety of great ideas and funky new tools...what can I say, I'm addicted.  

I hope that things go smoothly in this first try of an unconference for librarians.


I was thinking about what I should share at the unconference and my love of Twitter was my first choice.  Two years ago I attended a SLANZA conference and two of the keynote speakers, from Australia and the U.S., both raved about Twitter.  Up to that point I had considered Twitter to be for people who really wanted to know what Lady Gaga had for breakfast.

So, I decided to give it a go and I have never looked back.  Twitter is an amazing opportunity to tap into the wisdom of librarians and educators from around the world.  You can follow amazing, professional people you may otherwise not have access to.  I think of the people I follow as being my personal curators.  They are all sharing links to the best articles and videos they come across, in additional to adding their own thoughts and ideas.

I try to follow a range of people from the education sector - librarians, teachers, principals, I.T. experts.  I also follow people in the U.S., U.K. and Australia as well as NZ.  It broadens my horizons and exposes me to lots of new ideas.

I was thinking of examples of what I have gained from Twitter and I'd have to say that it is all Twitter's fault that I am nervously anticipating Saturday's unconference.  All of the educamps/unconferences I have been to I heard about on Twitter.  Here are two more examples:

  1. At morning tea today I had a chat with the assistant principal at our school.  We were discussing TED talks and I was able to discuss a talk she mentioned because it had been tweeted about a few weeks ago.  Felt good too!
  2. A few of the NZ educators I follow have been discussing timelapse on Twitter and showing examples of what they've been filming.  Because of this I am now working on a timelapse of the library at lunchtime to use to promote the library on the school website.  

If I've inspired anyone to have a look at Twitter, here are a few people to follow to get you started (I've limited myself to ten librarians and ten educators):

@MSimmsNZ - Me!

@anniemurphypaul (a journalist not an educator, but she writes about how we learn)

If you actually need a few tips about getting started in Twitter, that leads me nicely to my last topic today...

ANZ 23 Mobile Things

This sounds a bit like a bank app...but it's not.  It's the Australian/New Zealand collaboration of 23 Mobile Things, which is a "self directed online program to learn more about mobile technologies that are changing the way people, society and libraries access information and communicate with each other".  I'm really keen to follow this, if I can fit it in.  But all you really need to know that is that Week 1 deals with...Twitter!  I love the slides by Ned Potter about why you should use Twitter.  If I haven't convinced you then check him out, he says it better that I do.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Free eBooks for Primary School Kids

I finally had a bit of time to compile this livebinder of free eBooks for primary school kids.  It includes fiction, non-fiction, audio books, plays, create your own stories and eBook research  I was able to build on suggestions from the NZ library listserv, which is a wonderful resource for librarians.

Some public libraries also allow you to borrow eBooks or use eBook sites they have subscribed to.  Hamilton City Libraries, for example, allows you to access Tumblebooks, an interactive eBook site.  They also lend out eBooks, including some picture books and fiction for children.

If you know of any more sites I would love to hear about them.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Cool New Tool - ThingLink

I had a go at ThingLink and my principal emailed it to the Board of Trustees because he loved it.  And it really wasn't that hard!  If you want something with that wow factor that won't take forever to learn then this is it.  

So basically ThingLink enables you to add music, video, text, images etc to any image you like.  I wanted parents to be able to find out what class their children were in and then immediately be able to learn about the teacher in that class.  A video of them would have been great but I made do with their staff profiles on our website.

The site you want is  Here is a video tutorial to get you started.  

I ended up changing my school site map to make the classrooms slightly bigger to fit the links in.  Even after I had made them as small as possible they were too large for my original map.  So have a think about how much room you have and where you will put your links.  

You also don't want a lot of links close to each other.  Our admin team have their own profiles but I chose to have one link to the whole team so there weren't a whole bunch of links crowded together.

If you want some ideas of ways to use ThingLink you can look at some of the examples on the site.  If you want to use it in the classroom (or library) then have a look at the suggestions here.

All in all I had a blast trying ThingLink and would recommend it to everyone.  Go on, have a go!

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Help me...I'm doing another one!

To clarify, that's another MOOC - Massive Open Online Course.  I started last year with my gamification course, managed to fit in the Google Power Searching course near the end and then moved on to a creative commons offering which proved too hard to fit in right around Christmas.  This year I decided I should take it easy and work on all the other projects I have planned, but I was tempted into joining #etmooc.  This is an educational technology & media mooc that has over 1200 participants from 67 countries.  The international organisers are professors and other gurus from the educational technology field.  How could I resist?!  If you're interested in finding out more about it then check here.  They hold blackboard collaborate sessions and are on twitter and have a Google+ community.

My orientation week activity was to create an introductory video about myself.  I joined Google+ to see what everyone else was doing and decided to have a go with Animoto, which has the advantage of being very short (30 secs max on free version). 

Try our slideshow maker at Animoto.

I am very keen to continue with this mooc and meet like-minded people from around the world.  As I say in the video I do love to learn new things.  The trick will be fitting it in with everything else.  Any time management tips would be much appreciated!