SLANZA 2015: Lots to Learn from our NZ Neighbours!

By Kay Oddone

In September, I was honoured to take part in the School Library Association of New Zealand’s biennial conference, in Christchurch. Presenting a workshop and keynote, I was delighted to meet many of the amazing professionals who do a wonderful job managing school libraries across the North and South Islands, many of whom go above and beyond to ensure that NZ students have access to contemporary, effective and high quality information and resourcing services.

The three days passed in a blur of conversations, author breakfasts, conference dinners, keynotes and workshops, and reading back through the three Storify collections I created which collated the huge number of tweets shared (we trended in both New Zealand and Australia on several occasions!), I was compelled to write this blog post to share with others the rich learning that took place.

Below you can access the three storify articles, but for those short on time, and who would like to dip their toes into the learning, I have also created a Haiku Deck slideshow that attempts to capture just some of the themes of the conference. Click on the image below to view the slides.

The keynotes were fascinating in that almost every one raised the pressing issue of workforce change, and how technology, automation and globalisation are rapidly bearing down on us. For educators, we are on the precipice- skills previously valued will no longer be of use, and students live in a world which requires new ways of information management, cognitive load management, higher-level and different types of communication skills as well as the ability to learn quickly, manage constant change and think creatively. Research such as the articles pinned on my Futures Pinterest board all point to the need for a re-think in what students learn, and how they learn it; as jobs are automated, outsourced or radically re-imagined.

The storify collections below contain fascinating reading; take some time to be inspired, to discover and to make connections with the School Librarians of New Zealand; and share your thoughts in the comments below!

storify day 1

storify day 2

storify day 3

Fake it till you make it – Some easy ways to make great quality media for the not so creative person.

  • by Ben van Trier

It’s a phrase that we have all heard and it is also a phrase that we all have a stance on.

flickr photo shared by built4love.hain under a Creative Commons ( BY ) license

Amy Cuddy shares a great TEDtalk  about body language and how ‘pretending’ to be one way might help us to become that way.

While the focus of this blog is not about body language and personal identity, it is about a few quick tips, tricks and tools to build engaging and dynamic media that will impress your audience.

It is important to note that if you are working within an educational context it is vital that you ensure the privacy of your subjects, particularly if you’re making media that includes identifiable images of others. Check with your leadership team or organisation for their policies and guidelines when it comes to photographing or filming within a school context.

When creating media, you also have a responsibility in relation the intellectual property of other creatives. The ResourceLink wiki created by Kay Oddone Copyright and Copyleft is an easy starting off point to learn about copyright and creative commons licencing.

Firstly great media isn’t about access to technology or possessing a high level of skill – it’s all about the story you are sharing! The Humans of New York story is a sensation that has captured the hearts and minds of many on the internet. It began as an artist small idea and grew to a worldwide phenomenon. The portraits are beautiful, nothing overly staged or digitally remastered, and why are they so engaging?
flickr photo shared by ForbesOste under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-ND ) license

You as an audience member read a story from the image. This is the most important question to consider when starting out building media, what is the story and why is it important to share.

Secondly, great media isn’t about access to technology or possessing a high level of skill – it is about following some simple rules. Photography Mad is a beautiful blog that has stacks of tips, tutorials and techniques. Whatever type of product you are making be it print, still photography or a film if you don’t capture your subject well the product will always look amateurish. Great composition will always mean that you have a quality end product.


flickr photo shared by blacktsuba under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license

Thirdly:  great media isn’t about access to technology or possessing a high level of skill – it is about putting all the pieces together in a simple and engaging way. If you have access to professional editing software, great!

If you don’t, here are my current favourite apps and web tools for making great media:

1. Replay is a simple high quality app for iPhone or iPad, edit together video and still images to make high quality videos. It’s free to download but you do need to pay for removal of watermarks and some theme packs.
2. PicLab and PicLab HD are photo editing apps for Apple and Andriod devices (PicLab HD is only available for Apple users), once you’ve mastered this user friendly app you’ll be making high quality images in the palm of your hand. It’s free to download and you can upgrade to PicLab HD for other features.
3. Video Scribe is an online tool by Sparkol for making whiteboard style animations. Once you master the user friendly web tool you’ll be making high quality and dynamic animations. There is a cost to subscribe but with a few different pricing options you can find a plan that best fits your needs.
4. Canva is an online tool and iPad app https://marketing.canva.com/ipad/ for creating highly quality graphic designs. Make fliers, posters, photo collages and more easily and quickly.

Finally great media isn’t about access to technology or possessing a high level of skill- it is about sharing the story with your audience in a safe and responsible manner. As mentioned earlier, if you are working within an educational context, it is vital that you ensure the privacy of your subjects if you’re making media that includes identifiable images of others. Check with your leadership team or organisation for their policies and guidelines when it comes to photographing or filming within a school context.

With the ability to build media so fast and so easily, it is also vital to remember that you have a responsibility in relation the intellectual property of other creatives. Don’t forget to check out the ResourceLink wiki created by Kay Oddone Copyright and Copyleft is an easy starting off point to learn about copyright and creative commons licensing.


flickr photo shared by mrsdkrebs under a Creative Commons ( BY ) license

So there you have it – a few simple tips that will help you ‘fake it till you make it‘ as a producer of high quality media! Making your own media is a bit like DIY home renovations – sometimes it’s best to bring in a qualified and experienced expert to ensure the products success.

Celebrate Australia Day – It’s Great to be an Aussie!

With the news being filled with tragic and terrible stories of terrorism and violence, it is sometimes difficult to remember that living in Australia we are truly blessed. Why not take time on Australia Day this year to reflect on all of the positive aspects of being an Australian! Use any of the resource ideas below to share with students the ‘good news’ about our young and vibrant country.

What are the facts?

Did you know that for the 3rd year in a row, Australia has been ranked the happiest of 36 industrialised nations in this OECD survey? Click the image below for a fascinating infographic which compares the Australian way of life with others.australia_day

Ideas for students:

READ a great Australian book – choose from this list, or even better, have the students create their own list – compile it on Pinterest or GoodReads and share it with the world!

2015-01-13_1122

COOK a fantastic Aussie feast – we have all of the cuisines of the world to choose from, and we also have our own local delicacies – bring a plate to share, or pool your favourite Aussie recipes and create an enviable recipe book!

damper

SING (or sing along!) to a playlist of great Aussie songs; choose traditional tunes or groove to the JJJ Hottest 100 – an Australia Day tradition. Why not run your own music quiz similar to Spicks and Specks? (This Wikipedia article gives a great explanation for some of the games from the show).

waltzing

WATCH an Australian film or documentary – AustralianScreen has 1065 short clips with teachers’ notes, suitable for students of all ages. Divided into categories such as History, Film and Media, Identity and Culture and more, these clips give insight into many aspects of Australian life. Perhaps your students will be inspired to create their own great Aussie documentary?

aust_screen

TRAVEL around Australia – with the internet, you don’t have to leave the classroom to tour our amazing country. Why not plan a virtual Australian trip visiting key historic or geographic sites, or use Are we There Yet? by Alison Lester to inspire Australian travel discussions and activities.

are-we-there_cover_largeCELEBRATE!
Whatever you do, celebrate Australia Day! We have an amazing country, filled with fascinating people, nature and culture – share below in the comments how you plan to spend Australia Day in your classroom!

Resourcing the contemporary curriculum.

The Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians places great emphasis on the work of education to be realistic and responsive to new local, regional and global demands (MEETYA, 2008).  This emphasis is at the heart of Brisbane Catholic Education’s Learning and Teaching Framework (site accessible only to Brisbane Catholic Education Employees).

“As a Catholic Christian community, we educate all to live the gospel of Jesus Christ as successful, creative and confident, active and informed learners; empowered to shape and enrich our world.”
Learning and Teaching Framework,
Brisbane Catholic Education, 2012

The Religious Education Curriculum continues to deepen the call of educators to be responsive to the contemporary demands of education so to;

“…form students who are challenged to live the gospel of Jesus Christ and who are literate in the Catholic and broader Christian tradition so that they might participate critically and authentically in faith contexts and wider society.”
Religious Education Archdiocese of Brisbane,
Brisbane Catholic Education, 2013

The classroom teacher of Religious Education must draw on these contextual understandings to access, curate, engage, innovate and collaborate to resource both Religious Education and the Religious Life of the School so students learning experiences are rich, dynamic, engaging and contemporary.

ACCESS

ResourceLink is Brisbane Catholic Education’s contemporary resourcing and information centre, providing staff from Brisbane Catholic Education and Religious Institute schools, the Brisbane Catholic Education Office and other Archdiocesan groups with access to a diverse range of high quality resources to support their work.

Our work is driven by the need to ensure that our physical resources such as DVDs, print texts, puppets, posters, Indigenous Australian realia, interactive kits, music scores, music CDs, prayer and spirituality kits and religious realia as well as our online resources such as eBooks and Audio books (only available to Brisbane Catholic Education staff and students), curated online content, blog and films are easily accessible and user friendly.

Borrowers can access the ResourceLink library catalogue via the Brisbane Catholic Education public page  or via the Brisbane Catholic Education portal or K-web.  Browsing can be done via multiple ways but first a simple key word search will (in most cases) draw suitable results.

If signed in borrowers can book the resource then and there for a time which is suitable for the planning of learning and teaching within the Religious Education classroom.

Whilst the ResourceLink catalogue is one possible way of accessing high quality resources for Religious Education there are many other sources that can be accessed to locate appropriate resources for learning and teaching:

Some of ResourceLink’s favourites are:

The Trove website states that Trove is an exciting, revolutionary and free search service.  With millions of items, Trove is an unrivalled repository of Australian material.  Trove is for all Australians.  Whether you are tracing your family history, doing professional research, reading for pleasure, teaching or studying.

AustralianScreen is a promotional and educational resource providing worldwide online access to information about the Australian film and television industry and is operated by the National Film and Sound Archive.

Scootle is a repository of quality digital resources to support the Australian Curriculum which can be used directly by students and by teachers to learn, teach and collaborate.

CURATE

The term curator, from its Latin roots means to “take care”.  As educators we often are curating much content, making decisions about the quality and value of resources, text, technology and other learning activities. Sometimes a great resource is located, but when it comes to teach that topic again, it can’t be located again.  With the advent of social bookmarking and other online curation platforms, educators have powerful tools to curate quality digital content.  You can learn more about content curation and online curation strategies and tools at these links.

Kay Oddone (Librarian ResourceLink) and Susanna Di Mauro (Education Officer Information and Systems ResourceLink) promote the idea that anyone can locate resources but it is what an individual does after they locate such a resource that is really exciting.  In their roles with ResourceLink this team of curators work through a specific process to identify and curate quality resources and content.

Firstly it is important to review the resource or content and ask critical questions of it:

  1. What is the focus and scope of the learning?
  2. Who is the target audience for the resource?
  3. Is this resource or content appropriate for our particular context and need?
  4. Is this the best type of resource for this context and need?
  5. Who is the author or creator and are they a reputable authority?
  6. What is the content and is it accurate, current and valuable?
  7. How should users access the resource or content in keeping with appropriate protocols?

Secondly it is important to discern the best way to curate the resources or content for access by students by asking a range of questions:

  • What is the literacy and numeracy levels of the audience?
  • Are there any permissions or security needed to access these resources?
  • What are the logistical implications for users in accessing these resources?
  • How user friendly is the curation tool and is it suitable for the target audience?
  • Is the curation approach in keeping with appropriate copyright and creative commons licencing?

After the content is reviewed and the curation platform has been chosen, teachers and students should be able to access diverse resources or content in a variety of ways given the technological and connected environment of learning today.

There are multitudes of curation tools available for use. Here are some of our favourites:

Pinterest is a really easy to use app, which is very appealing because it is highly visual. Unfortunately recent changes to Pinterest have resulted the need for users to have an account before they can easily view the ‘boards’ or curated items. As account holders must be aged 13 or above, this limits its use with younger students. While it may still be a very useful tool for teachers and older students, we encourage the use of other tools such as Blendspace or Sitehoover for sharing resources with students.

Suitable for secondary students and teaching teams. This online tool will catalogue your texts for you.  Users can then add appropriate ‘tags’ for searching reviews or creating book lists.  These can then be shared with students, colleagues, parents or the wider educational community.

Suitable for primary students, this online tool collates useful websites in one location and is accessible from any computer.

Is suitable for all students. Users can collect, publish, and share curated web content.

Suitable for high school students and educators, users can build engaged audiences through publishing by curation. This is a highly visual tool, with the capacity to add detailed reflections on each ‘scooped’ item.

Suitable for all students to access. Users can organise, explore and share online content by creating content ‘pearls’, which can be displayed in a mindmap style.

Please note that many social media and curation tools require users to be aged 13 and above before creating their own accounts. For younger students, it is suggested that the teacher creates a class account which is co-curated by students, or teachers share their curated lists with students.

 

ENGAGE

A question that we often ask at ResourceLink is how might a resource be used as a way of unpacking multiple ideas or learning within a classroom.  There are so many great texts, resources, DVDs, online content or web tools available that we are often spoilt for choice.  Given this, the old adage “that less is more is something to hold on to.”  Often one resource can open up different learning pathways.  Taking for example Shaun Tan’s picture book The Lost Thing*, secondary or primary teachers can use this picture book as a starting point for study in Religious Education, English, History or Visual Arts.
* The book and video of which are available for loan to ResourceLink borrowers.

INNOVATE

Some people think that innovation it is outside of their particular experience or skill base.  Everyone can innovate in some way, be it in the manner in which they access or share resources or perhaps through the creation of a resource for learning experiences using mobile technology.

 

The Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians calls educators to be responsive to the contemporary landscape within which they teach (MEETYA 2008).  Educators are challenged to innovate, not only in the approach taken to resourcing but also the approach taken to technology and pedagogy as well.  Ruben R. Puentedura’s model of Substitution, Augmentation, Modification and Redefinition or SAMR, whilst focused on mobile technology, provides a lens to approach resourcing. Quality resources not only enhance student learning, can transform it.  Read more about Puentedura’s model and mobile learning here.

How might you innovate the way you resource for learning and teaching?  Firstly go shopping.  Not to buy anything, but to see how retailers or cafes or restaurants are developing spaces and experiences to engage consumers.  Education, it can be argued, is similar to that experience as educators seek to engage students, and encourage ‘buy-in’. Importantly a significant amount of time should be spent understanding the context of the audience.  Firstly, identify the demands of the curriculum, content areas and achievement standards.  What is required? How is this already taking place?  Is there a need to innovate?  If so why?  Armed with this reflection it is then necessary to consider further the context of the class.   Who are the learners?  What are the individual learning needs?  What are the challenges and opportunities within the school in terms of access to technology?  What are the needs of the school community?

Being responsive to this context, you might substitute a DVD for a reader kit or augment a book with an eBook or modify a learning experience that moves from a re-enactment to a re-development and design and redefine the way students are learning by using technology and resources in a way not done before.

 

COLLABORATE

Teaching isn’t done in isolation.  Quality educators are collaborative. Once more the Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians challenge educators to develop stronger partnerships (MEETYA 2008).  This is certainly an important part of quality contemporary resourcing.  The value of collaborative partnerships is vital in the delivery of an exciting dynamic learning environment.  Each member of the community has a contribution to make to the dialogue of student achievement within a school – especially the students.

Who might you turn to collaborate with?

  • Assistant Principal Religious Education or Religious Education Coordinator.
  • Teacher Librarian or School Librarian.
  • Colleagues beyond the subject area.
  • Students, parents and family members.
  • The wider community
    • The local parish
    • Local interest groups
    • Other schools
  • The world.

See how other educators are collaborating in a beyond their schools here.  If you are interested in this global collaborative approach to education, learn more from the work of Julie Lindsay at Flat Connections.

 

 

Resourcing contemporary learning and teaching requires a renewed approach. If educators are to work towards the goals as outlined in the Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australian then now is the time to take stock, to reimagine and to see how they can access, curate, engage, innovate and collaborate to work towards supporting student achievement within a contemporary context.

“If school systems are to be able to bring more students than ever before to higher levels of accomplishment than ever before, they will need to do some different things and do them in different ways…”

(Levin, 2007, p 230)

Co-Authors:

Susanna di Mauro (Education Officer Information and Systems ResourceLink)

Kay Oddone (Librarian ResourceLink)

Benjamin van Trier (Education Officer ResourceLink)

References:

Brisbane Catholic Education (2011) Learning and Teaching Framework, Brisbane, Brisbane Catholic Education.

Brisbane Catholic Education (2013) Religious Education Archdiocese of Brisbane, Brisbane, Brisbane Catholic Education.

Levin, B. (2008). How to change 5000 schools: a practical and positive approach for leading change at every level. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Education Press.

MCEETYA. (2008). Melbourne declaration on educational goals for young Australians. Melbourne: Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs.

Running a Maker Faire: Good Hard Fun at St Joachim’s

After being inspired by our fantastic day working with Gary Stager and Sylvia Martinez at the Invent to Learn day hosted by Brisbane Catholic Education (which you can read about in the earlier post, Resourcing the Maker Movement, my colleagues and I decided to run a Maker Faire at one of our schools. Being based at ResourceLink, I began creating kits of resources and equipment that we could use to run the Maker Faire, and which could then be borrowed by schools who wish to investigate using this style of hands on learning.

Running the Maker Faire

The plan was to run the Maker Faire at St Joachim’s, Holland Park West, where we could work with the Teacher Librarian who had also attended the Invent to Learn day, to introduce the Year 5,6 & 7 students to a range of hands on activities based on the ideas in Invent to Learn.

We organised the students into groups of 8, and timetabled them to spend about one hour on each of the activities, which they would rotate through throughout the day. cardboard alley

One space, ‘Cardboard Alley’ was open for the students to visit at any stage during the day, and offered the students the opportunity to use Makedo and Rolobox equipment with a huge assortment of cardboard boxes of all shapes and sizes. This was an important option, as it provided students a place to go and recharge if they completed an activity early, or if they just needed a ‘brain break’ from the more challenging activities.

During the Maker Faire, the students had fun with:

Lego WeDo – an introduction to Lego engineering and robotics, Lego WeDo allows students from Year 3 and up to build and program simple models such as cranes, cars and ferris wheels. Using either the Lego WeDo software, or the free programming app Scratch, students can experiment and develop skills in  language and literacy, math and technology, as well as enhance their creativity, communication and design skills.

lego

Arduino – Arduino is an open-source electronics  platform based on flexible, easy-to-use hardware and software. Using Arduino, students can write simple programs using  Arduino open source software to create projects using motors, gearboxes, speakers, LEDs, switches, cases and many other electronic parts.Projects can be as simple or as complex as you wish, suiting users from Year 5 and up.

arduino

Makey Makey – allows students to turn everyday objects into touchpads and combine them with the internet. Simply use the supplied wires or alligator clips to connect any type of everyday item (such as fruit, plants, coins, play dough etc) to the Makey Makey board, and then plug the board into the computer, and you are able to interact with the computer by way of the attached objects. Students love playing computer games using fruit as the controllers!

makey

Squishy Circuits– by combining conductive and non-conductive dough with a battery pack, leds, small motors and buzzers, students are able to create innovative simple circuits of any shape. A fascinating way to learn about circuitry and basic electronics.

squishy

Interactive Cardcraft– students were able to make light up greeting cards by using conductive paint and copper tape along with led lights and small batteries to create simple circuits on the cards. The challenge was to apply their understanding of circuits and switches to the real-life application of the greeting card.

paper

Interactive Wearables – Using ideas from this wonderful soft circuits booklet, students created brooches and arm-bands that lit up by sewing circuits using conductive thread, copper tape, batteries and led lights. While the sewing was challenging, so too was the application of their understanding of simple circuits to another practical challenge.

wearables

During the day, the students had so much fun. Their smiles, their engagement and the question ‘is this really school work?’ was evidence that the Maker Faire was a big success. However, not only did the students have fun; they also learnt so much about circuitry, programming, robotics and simple electronics, as well as developing their creativity, their problem-solving strategies and their ability to collaborate and work together. We encouraged the students to ask each other for help, and to share their successes and failures throughout the day. Listen to the conversations the students are having during this short video:

Constructing the Invent to Learn kits: advice for libraries wishing to resource Maker Spaces

When creating the kits for the Maker Faire, I purchased equipment from a range of different outlets. As a library, ResourceLink cannot supply the consumable equipment required for these kits, and so I created detailed lists of what was included and what the user needed to supply in order to run the activity successfully. This information is included in each kit on a laminated card (copies of which you can download below). I also included where possible printable information and instruction cards, which you can download also from the links below. Being based in Brisbane Australia, please note that some of the suppliers are locally based, however some of the online retailers ship all over the world.

Cardboard Construction:

Click on the image to download a printable pdf version.

Click on the image to download a printable pdf version.

Click on the image to download a printable pdf version.

Click on the image to download a printable pdf version.

Squishy Circuits:

Click on the image to download a printable pdf version.

Click on the image to download a printable pdf version.

Makey Makey:

Click on the image to download a printable pdf version.

Click on the image to download a printable pdf version.

Arduino:2013-10-30_1217_001Lego Engineering:2013-10-30_1217_002Interactive Papercraft:2013-10-30_1217_003

Links to all of the resources you could possibly need to learn more about Maker Faires and creating maker spaces in a library are available on the ResourceLink Pinterest Board, Makerspaces and STEAM in Libraries or Anywhere, and also curated on this Pearltrees site.

For those who want to try running their own Maker Faire, I can only say: Go for it! The learning, the enjoyment and engagement is well worth the organisation, and the equipment is really not as costly as you would imagine. Start small, and build up. You may be surprised at what your school already owns, once you start investigating! For those in Brisbane Catholic Education, borrow these pre-made kits as a ‘try before you buy’ – contact ResourceLink find out how you can borrow these new resources today!