Author Archives: lawlerlot

ETL523: Digital Citizenship in Schools

My understanding of digital citizenship has been deepened during this subject. In a post to my blog earlier in this subject I explained that my understanding of digital citizenship as it related to primary school-aged students was limited to cyberbullying and its prevention (Lawler, 2014a). I now understand that digital citizenship encompasses so much more and includes the behaviours, rights and responsibilities when using technology, and particularly when in an online environment. In a wiki I collaboratively developed with two other students we compared being a new citizen of a nation to that of a digital citizen; and just as there are rights and responsibilities associated with national citizenship so too are there when you are a citizen of the digital nation (Lawler, Richardson & Henderson, 2014).

The completion of an environmental scan and subsequent report as a major assignment in this subject while challenging has been very helpful. Currently my school has very little in place in terms of any structure, policies or even direction as to where we are going with a digital learning environment (DLE) and the integration of digital citizenship. We need a strong vision and plan and I am hoping that in presenting this report to our leadership team it will go a long way in helping to develop this. I hope to impart through the report the need for the leadership team to step up and lead the school into new pedagogies and innovations in curriculum integration of ICT.

Throughout my degree I have been developing my personal learning network (PLN); developing a blog, creating a wiki, subscribing to other blogs, feeds and wikis, setting up a social bookmarking site, curating content and participating in social media on a needs basis or as prescribed by the subject being studied at the time. The significance and importance of this PLN has not really occurred to me until during this subject. Being connected to other professionals is powerful, particularly those professionals who participate in connected learning through content curation. Those professional are passionate, motivated and embracing of a future that utilises digital technologies to inquire, think critically, problem solve, communicate, collaborate and create. They are a wealth of knowledge and ideas and are willing to share these with other like-minded individuals. The potential for connections that can change the way I think and teach or that I may be able to affect positively is exciting to me.

On the topic of connections, through this subject I have become greatly interested in the concept of flattening classrooms; developing global connections and collaborations for my students that open the doors to deeper learning and understandings of other cultures and people. Living in a regional area as I do often means a more sheltered life for students with little day-to-day experience of a multicultural perspective. If being a digital citizen means being a citizen of the world then understanding and respecting other cultures and the differences between us must play a large part in this. I have taken some steps in this myself. In a post to my blog in April I mentioned that I would be exploring some ways to globally connect my students and I have started to do that (Lawler, 2014b). I have joined Skooville as a trial for the school and am exploring how I can utilise it to integrate a digital citizenship curriculum, to teach about social media and its uses and to connect my students. I have also signed up my class to an iEARN project about our carbon footprints and we have started research around the topic. I am so excited to see my students so keen and motivated already. Finally I am very much looking forward to attending the Flat Connections Conference in Sydney this June and learning about more ways that I can ‘flatten’ the walls of my classroom.

I will continue to develop my PLN and work to participate and contribute in more ways to it. I know that my current studies will allow me to be a valuable member of an ICT team in my school and I will work to help develop a vision and a plan for a DLE that will meet the learning needs of the school. I will continue to lead by example in globally connecting and making my classroom a vibrant and engaging place that students are excited about and look forward to learning in and that I enjoy teaching in every day.

References

Lawler, M. (2014a, March 14) Online persona [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://lawlerlot.wordpress.com/2014/03/14/online-persona/

Lawler, M. (2014b, April 3) Global connections [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://lawlerlot.wordpress.com/2014/04/03/global-connections/

Lawler, M., Richardson, D. & Henderson, S. (2014). Positive digital footprints [Wiki]. Retrieved from http://etl523-digitalcitizenship-14-1.wikispaces.com/-/Topic%202%20Digital%20Citizenship%20in%20the%20Curriculum/Group%202.3/Home?responseToken=06d8eee1c378c8f56f7d1b0a951c70d18

Global connections

Over the Christmas holidays my family had a wonderful month-long trip to the United States of America. We experienced a white Christmas in Boston, New Year’s sledding in Vermont, a stay with friends in Richmond, Virginia and a week of Legoland and Disneyland fun in California. We made many happy memories, learned about some of the differences between our cultures and established new friendships from another country.

One of the many highlights for me was a visit to an elementary school with my eldest child. The friends we were visiting in Richmond organised for us to visit to the Kindergarten class of their child. Due to very cold weather the start to the school day was delayed by two hours (something we had never experienced before) and our arrival coincided with lunch break in the cafeteria. Here was one major difference for my child to experience – a cafeteria. There were many other differences but as we discovered there were many similarities too.

After lunch we headed into the classroom where I read the students “Possum Magic” by Australian author Mem Fox, and as the possum travelled around Australia eating different Australian foods we pointed out places on a map and explained what the foods were. We followed this with a YouTube clip of our national anthem, a chat about some Australian animals, a demonstration of our paper money and coins and a question time. My child fielded the questions with me and I was amazed at the maturity and thoughtfulness of the questions. The students wanted to know things like: if our houses were the same, if we ate the same foods, if it snowed where we lived and if our school was like theirs.

We finished off by giving the students all a taste of two of the foods mentioned in the book we read. We had made Vegemite bread squares and mini pavlovas with blueberries and cream. These were handed out to all students and they all had to wait until everyone had their food before they could start on the Vegemite. This is a memory that will stay with me for a long time! My own child and our Aussie friend were in stitches as we watched the facial expressions and listened to the reactions. Some children smelled the Vegemite bread and would go no further, others had the tiniest taste and declared it inedible but one brave boy had a big bite of his and instantly regretted it. The look of horror that came over his face was priceless and he proceeded to gag and retch as he worked on swallowing the disgusting morsel. How he didn’t vomit I still don’t know. Most of the class had to get a drink of water before they could tackle the pavlova, which most of them ate and loved. Suffice to say the two Aussie kids finished off the plate of Vegemite bread as no one else wanted anymore!

I made a connection that day with the classroom teacher and the school library media specialist; we exchanged emails and plan to connect several of our classes via social media. What struck me about this when I thought about it later is that although I made these connections via travel I didn’t actually have to travel in order to connect globally with another school or class in another country. I could have had the same experience, and given the same experience to that class while staying in my own classroom and in my own country and using social/educational media and networks (and possibly snail mail to send the Vegemite).

Children in the 21st century have opportunities for global connection like never before. We as educators have the opportunity to expand their horizons and deepen their learning and cultural awareness of the world in which they live. During the next few terms of this school year I will be exploring ways to globally connect my students using Skype in the classroom, Skooville and iEARN These are all tools that I have not explored with students before and I’m excited about learning with them, through them and from them.

The next global connections that I make will not require me to purchase a passport or board a plane – how fantastic!

Digital Content Curation

It is only in the last few years that I have undertaken my own curation of digital content. It began as a way to keep a track of the information and resources I was discovering through my study and then naturally gravitated into my professional and personal life. Now I am looking more closely into how I can use it with my students.

In the 21st century where it is very easy to suffer from information overload as an adult, imagine how overwhelming it must be at times to a child in primary school. We need to teach children how to filter information and how to organise the information they find that is useful to them in such a way that they can retrieve it easily. We should also be introducing them to: 1) the benefits of accessing information from other curators; 2) how they can collaborate with others as curators themselves and; 3) how being effective curators and sharers of information can be of benefit others.

Tolisano (2011), in her blog post Students becoming curators of information? identifies that quality curation requires the skills of higher level thinking, the ability to organise, categorise and tag the content and a responsibility towards the network relying on you. As such these are skills that will benefit students throughout their lives both in and out of formal learning situations and so should be taught from as early as possible. Valenza (2012) supports this when she states that curation skills are information life skills that can meet academic and personal information needs.

In my reading and research Scoop.it keeps popping up as an effective tool for real-time curation which may be suitable for primary school students. I have not utilised this as yet aside from being directed to an occasional article appearing on someone’s feed but I like the way it presents visually. A post by Leanna Johnson (2013), on TeachThought about using Scoop.it in the classroom and why students and educators like it raised a few positive points for me. She states:

Why Students Like Scoop.it

1. Inclusion of visual elements

2. Community networking

3. Immediate tap-in to a broad range of social media

4. Autonomy and expression in a collaborative environment

5. Ongoing, succinct conversation through commenting

6. Ownership of personal learning

7. Mobile Learning Potential

Why Educators like Scoop.it

1. It provides personal learning and deeper understanding of topics

2. Individual or cooperative work

3. Research using filters

4. Understanding of how keywords attract online readers

5. Activity similar to discussion boards, a necessary skill for online LMS environments

6. All levels of Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy, the low-order to high-order cognitives educators consider when choosing technology tools

7. Mobile Learning Potential

Leanna also notes the potential of protecting and monitoring younger children using Scoop.it by logging them in to a main account. I can see the benefits of this, particularly in the early stages of teaching about curation via a social platform.

I am going to begin by exploring Scoop.it myself and creating an account and then next Term when I am facilitating Year 5 in their research on rainforests I will introduce them to collaborative curation of digital resources. We will become curators in the information jungles.

Resources

Johnson , L. (2013). Why Scoop.it is becoming an indespensible learning tool [Blog post]. TeachThought Blog. Retrieved from http://www.teachthought.com/technology/why-scoopit-is-becoming-an-indispensable-learning-tool/

Tolisano, S. (2011, June 12). Students become creators of information [Blog post]. Langwitches Blog. Retrieved from http://langwitches.org/blog/2011/06/12/students-becoming-curators-of-information/

Valenza, J. (2012). Curation. School Library Monthly, 29(1), 20-23.

Online Persona

Up until this point I have thought of a digital citizen as one who behaves appropriately online and when relating that to the teaching of primary school-aged children I have basically associated digital citizenship with cyber bullying and prevention of such. I now realise how much broader the concept of digital citizenship is.

This week I have been reading, watching and listening to a lot of information regarding an online presence. It has got me thinking…

What sort of an online presence do I have? Who am I online?

Since beginning my Masters of Education in Teacher Librarianship my online presence has increased dramatically but I realise that as a teacher and a professional it has not increased enough. I have a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Diigo, Wikispaces, Pearltrees, some professional networks and this blog site but I would certainly not call myself an active participant. Some of those accounts I set up, “played with” for a while and have barely touched since. Some, like this blog I have utilised as required for my studies and rarely at any other time. When searched for my online presence is basically non-existent. I have made myself a persona non grata.

My digital footprint is very small and I used to think that was a great thing because I had nothing online that could be used against me, no digital “skeletons in my closet”. I now realise that having little to no digital footprint can be a negative thing in itself. As a professional and an example to the children I teach I have some work to do. I need to be an example not just of a digital footprint but of a positive digital footprint. Who am I online? What have I done and am doing with my life? What am I passionate about? What have I contributed to the world?

Alan Levine (2012) makes a valid point when he questions the validity today of “going online” carrying the connotation of going to a different place. In the 21st century is there a clear line between our online and offline personas? When potential employers use our online persona as a source of information about us, when a prospective mate searches our online persona for clues as to our identity, when a competitor in the marketplace uses our online persona to gain an edge over us then I think the answer is clear.

In educating students and professionally developing staff I need to present a digital footprint as a positive thing that can be used to further our development as a person and as a professional. Having said that, as a digital citizen it needs to be addressed that the digital presence we create is with us forever, like a tattoo. As Adina Sullivan (2013), states in her presentation, we can and should take charge of our digital tattoo.

As a teacher librarian, leader and digital citizen I need to develop my online persona in such a way as to be a more active digital participant and to be a positive example of the type of footprint my children, students and fellow staff should be aiming to create.

References

Levine, A. (2012). We, Our Digital Selves, and Us. Retrieved March 13, 2014 from http://flatconnectionsglobalproject.net/video/we-our-digital-selves-and-us

Sullivan , A. (2013). Design your digital tattoo. Helping students design their digital image. Retrieved March 13, 2104 from  http://www.slideshare.net/adinasullivan/iste-2013-d-igital-tattoo-061613-w-o-movie-24148830%20

Pathfinder creation: A critical reflection

For ETL501’s Assignment 2 I created a pathfinder on the topic “Gold rush in Australia” for a Year 5 grade. The template created is something that I will use and continue to refine over time in developing more pathfinders. The use of a pathfinder to address the teaching of information literacy skills, to showcase the resources available to students and staff and to advocate for the role of the teacher librarian (TL) is invaluable.

Students and many staff are not effective searchers of information and tend to rely on search engines, and Google in particular, as their only source of information for research. My overarching aims for the pathfinder then were; a) to expose students and teachers to a variety of sources of information; b) to broaden their horizons in terms of where else they can seek information and; c) to alert them to the fact that other search engines exist besides Google. In addition to this I focussed on the ICT general capability of the Australian curriculum as I wanted to address several issues that lie in this capability (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA), 2013).

The issue of copyright, plagiarism and the use of a bibliography is something my school does not have a policy on for students and therefore teachers do not teach or implement it. This is a major issue and so I wanted to ‘plant the seed’ as a way of introducing this issue and addressing it across the school in the near future (Herring, 2007, p.34). In addition to this I wanted students to be guided in the selection of resources appropriate for their research needs from a range of mediated resources presented on the pathfinder. Finally I wanted to guide students in the organisation of their ideas by directing them to the use of concept mapping as a key information literacy skill (Herring, 2011).

In developing this pathfinder I encountered a few obstacles that I was able to overcome with time. The first was with the website creator I used which was Weebly (Weebly, Inc. 2013). While Weebly is a very user-friendly platform and would be fantastic for use with students, after a short time I found it almost too simplified for my purposes. I was getting frustrated that I couldn’t be more exacting in where I placed things and how the page looked. Having said that, once I adjusted to the limitations I was able to work with and around them and develop something I was happy with. In the future I will explore other tools such as wikis to create my pathfinders.

The other issue I encountered was in the selection of locally-produced resources for the pathfinder that were both age appropriate and covered a range of reading abilities. I had no trouble discovering resources on the topic but the great majority of them were either aimed at teachers or were of a reading level that was beyond the age group. Many hours of refining searches, using various search engines and applying readability tools as well as my own professional judgement resulted in a range of resources that met my criteria.

After having difficulty with selecting appropriate resources I approached the embedding of information literacy in a different way than I had planned. I had initially planned to select the skills I wanted to embed and then choose resources that facilitated the development of these skills. After striking difficulties I changed tack and allowed the resources I’d chosen to dictate to a certain extent the information literacy skills I would embed. This turned out to make better sense anyway as the very skills I had looked at were more than likely the ones that students would require as they worked with the particular resources I’d chosen. The information literacy skills will now be more relevant and will have a better chance of being retained and transferred across curriculum (Herring & Bush, 2011, p.130 & Eisenberg, 2008, p.40).

During this process I have been constantly thinking about how this pathfinder will benefit both the students and staff but also about how it can benefit me in my role as a TL down the road. As an information specialist and resource support person a pathfinder showcases the skills of a TL allowing others to see that you are great at selecting quality resources to support the curriculum needs of students and staff. As a curriculum designer the collaborative teaching of a unit of work that uses a pathfinder allows for the implementation of a scope and sequence of digital literacies across the school. The wow factor that comes from showing the pathfinder to staff and allowing them to hear feedback from teachers and students about its implementation is an advocating tool that can’t be overlooked.

While the development of this first pathfinder has been very time consuming, the energy that I have put into this template will reap great benefits in the future as I get faster at developing them. I have thoroughly enjoyed this process and I eagerly await the feedback from the classes I am giving this to next week. While I am not currently working as a TL (we don’t have one in my school) this pathfinder will be advocating for the benefits of having one and the need for one in the future.

References

Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA). (2013). General capabilities in the Australian curriculum. Retrieved September 28, 2013 from http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/GeneralCapabilities/Overview/General-capabilities-in-the-Australian-Curriculum

Eisenberg, M. (2008). Information literacy: Essential skills for the information age. DESIDOC Journal of Library & Information Technology, 28(2), 39-47.

Herring, J. (2007). Teacher librarians and the school library. In S. Ferguson (Ed.) Libraries in the twenty-first century : charting new directions in information (pp. 27-42). Wagga Wagga, NSW: Centre for Information Studies, Charles Sturt University.

Herring, J. & Bush, S. (2011). Information literacy and transfer in schools: implications for teacher librarians. The Australian Library Journal, 60(2), 123-132.

Herring, J. (2011). Year seven students, concept mapping and the issues of transfer. School Libraries Worldwide, 17(1), 11-23.

Weebly, Inc. (2013) Weebly. Retrieved September 3, 1023 from http://www.weebly.com

Teacher Librarian as Leader

At the beginning of this year I started my studies in the Masters of Education in Teacher Librarianship and will admit to be completely naïve about what was actually required in the role of teacher librarian (TL). When asked, in the first few weeks of the course, to list what a TL does I could only list four things: catalogue, shelve, resource and teach (The Adventuring Librarian, 2013a)! Looking at this list now makes me laugh out loud at how little I knew and how far I have come in my learning in under a year.

Perhaps one of the most important roles of the TL is as leader. TLs need to be leaders in many different ways. They need to lead staff in policy development, curriculum knowledge and implementation, resourcing, professional development and teaching and learning. They need to lead by example in keeping up-to-date with and informing others about pedagogical initiatives, best practice, latest technology innovations and their own personal and professional development. They need to have a clear vision for the library and be able to communicate this to the community in a way that inspires innovation and change, motivates and empowers others. They need to build positive relationships with all staff, students and the school community so as to work collaboratively and effectively with all. They need to advocate for the library in word and deed via marketing and promotion of the services, functions and happenings in the library.

Just a small list, really …

In this subject, ETL504 TL as Leader I have been able to think deeply about the different types of leadership for different purposes as well as about the qualities that make an effective leader. In my blog post, Critical reflection on leadership (The Adventuring Librarian, 2013b) I reflected on leaders I have worked with in the past and the traits (both positive and negative) that they possessed that made them effective or ineffective. I noted the strengths of one particular leader in building relationships and acknowledging and empowering others, strengths that I hope to emulate in my role as a TL. I also noted the weaknesses of another leader in not sharing the leadership and utilising the expertise of others when facilitating change in the school.

A librarian needs to be a leader of innovation who can help to facilitate change in the school. Perhaps the most powerful learning I have embarked on in this subject has been in the creation of a vision and strategic plan for the library over the next three years. A vision by its definition means an instance of great perception, esp. of future developments (dictionary.com). As innovators and change agents TLs need to keep abreast of the latest innovations in technology and teaching in order to create a vision that can inspire and motivate. In order to work towards this vision there will need to be changes in the school. Many people are resistant to change which can make the job very difficult. An inspiring vision that can be communicated to staff can go a long way to motivating change.

I have had to critically look at myself and the skills I possess and those that I lack in order to ascertain the kind of leader I would like to be when facilitating change. How I can communicate the vision in a way that includes, inspires and motivates all involved so that they too wish to embrace change in order to work towards the vision not as followers but as equal participants. In the blog post, Innovation and change (The Adventuring Librarian, 2013c) I focussed on the work of Schifter (2008) as he discusses the management of change in schools. I drew on an example of ineffective change management and will keep this in the forefront of my thinking as I work to lead change in the school.

I ranted about evaluation and assessment in my university experiences in a blog post from semester one (The Adventuring Librarian, 2013d) and asked why we couldn’t be given assessments that were practical and useful in our professional lives. I’m very happy that this assessment has been one that has been interesting, motivating and quite enjoyable because it is something that I will actually take to the principal and hopefully use in my school.

References

Schifter, C. (2008). Chapter 14. Effecting Change in the Classroom Through Professional Development.  Infusing technology into the classroom: continuous practice improvement (pp. 250 – 279). Hershey: Information Science Pub.

The Adventuring Librarian. (2013a, May 26). A critical reflection on how my view of the role of the teacher librarian has changed during this subject [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://lawlerlot.wordpress.com/2013/05/26/a-critical-reflection-on-how-my-view-of-the-role-of-the-teacher-librarian-has-changed-during-this-subject-etl401/

The Adventuring Librarian. (2013b, August 19). Critical reflection on leadership [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://lawlerlot.wordpress.com/2013/08/19/critical-reflection-on-leadership-2/

The Adventuring Librarian. (2013c, August 5). Innovation and change [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://lawlerlot.wordpress.com/2013/08/05/innovation-and-change/

The Adventuring Librarian. (2013d, May 3). Rant about evaluation and assessment in my university experiences [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://lawlerlot.wordpress.com/2013/05/03/rant-about-evaluation-and-assessment-in-my-university-experiences/