Light me up

This term, Stage 3 students are studying the Physical World in Science & Technology. In the unit, “Light me up”, activities concerning electricity will be done in classrooms and activities concerning the properties of light will be done in the school library.

To introduce the “light” concepts (including shadows, absorption, reflection, refraction, transparent/opaque/translucent, researching with secondary sources about reflection/refraction science understandings, discoveries and/or inventions, such as mirrors, magnifiers, spectacles and prisms, that directly affect people’s lives), here are some Youtube clips that may prove useful.


Shadow | The Dr Binocs Show | Educational videos for kids


Why do we have shadows?


Science – light – shadow – Advanced – English

Research projects: Progressing with Oliver and collecting evidence

At Penrith Public School, the transition to Oliver (from OASIS Library) and the students’ interface, Orbit, had to be delayed slightly due to long-service leave. It has been a very busy year: in addition to volunteering to be a Lighthouse School – demonstrating implementation and integration of Oliver through action research – we have been celebrating our school’s Sesquicentary celebrations. We have also been adapting from a complete Collaborative Planning, Programming and Teaching Program (CPPT) K-6 to the teacher-librarian providing one hour of Release-From-Face-to-Face (RFF) teaching for each class teacher.

Despite these hurdles, I am committed to continuing to involve most Stage 2 and Stage 3 students in the Guided Inquiry approach and collecting data on student learning with the tools of evidence-based practices.

Because the RFF program had to commence in Week 2 of Term 1, and it was not yet decided on just when the Oliver transition would occur, it was essential that I continue to collect quantitative and qualitative data using the SLIM tool kit survey forms (School Library Impact Measure, designed by Todd, Kuhlthau & Heinström, 2005). I highly recommend the collection of such data for all Guided Inquiry activities.

SLIMtoolkit
^ SLIM toolkit template (Todd, Kuhlthau & Heinström, 2005)

Surveys (as adapted for each unit from the template) are routinely filled out by students at pre-, mid- and post- intervals, even if not all data is tabulated immediately. I know that some teacher-librarians prefer to use an abbreviated survey (the so-called “Skinny” toolkit, as adapted by Lee FitzGerald and others), I do like to have all the data on hand simply because one often doesn’t know what evidence might be required/requested in the future.

For the two Guided Inquiry units started earlier this year – Stage 2: Built environments (science & technology) and Stage 3: Global connections (HSIE) – it became obvious, but too late, that the best way to integrate an introduction to Orbit would have been when locating relevant websites for research. By the time Oliver had arrived at Penrith PS, we unfortunately had already progressed past the Initiation and Selection stages of Guided Inquiry. (For the next time these units are taught, I need to ensure that all of the new and useful websites we found the hard way are represented in the new catalogue, so that students will achieve scaffolded success in their early searches).

For the purpose of today’s presentation, I am drawing my examples of a previously-taught Stage 3 unit, Endangered animals, for which a full set (pre-, mid- and post-) of survey responses is already available.

SLIM1
^ Question 1 responses (Click on the image to download)

SLIM2
^ Question 2 responses (Click on the image to download)

SLIM3
^ Question 3 responses (Click on the image to download)

SLIM4
^ Question 4 responses (Click on the image to download)

SLIM5
^ Question 5 responses (Click on the image to download)

Above extracts (pp 31-33) are as featured in McLEAN, Ian. ‘Research columns: Taking the plunge: Guided Inquiry, persuasion and the research river at Penrith Public School’ in Scan 30(4) Nov 2011, pp 26-35. (Stage 3 students used a weblog to showcase their learning journey in Guided Inquiry, and to share their persuasive multimedia slideshows on endangered animals with the extended school community – and beyond. This action research paper is peer reviewed.) Download the whole article as a PDF from HERE, courtesy of NSW DoE’s School Libraries & Information Literacy.

Todd, R.J., Kuhlthau, C.C. & Heinström, J.E. (2005). School Library Impact Measure: SLIM: a toolkit and handbook for tracking and assessing student learning outcomes of Guided Inquiry through the school library, Center for International Scholarship in School Libraries at Rutgers University (CISSL), New Brunswick, NJ.

* Banks PS teacher-librarian, Julie Grazotis, has a wonderful ClassMovie video clip about their Oliver journey HERE. Other links to local preliminary Lighthouse School Library System projects are HERE.

Federation in Australia: Stage 3’s political cartoons

Stop the presses!

Traditionally, a newspaper’s political cartoons are created close to deadline.

Congratulations to our Stage 3 students, who rose to a unique occasion. Following our intensive investigation into Democracy and Federation in Australia (HSIE unit), I challenged them to break into pairs and, armed with just a black felt pen, a piece of paper and heads full of concepts and ideas, to create a political cartoon in just 20 minutes. No pencils or erasers permitted.

Federation political cartoon

Our complete Flickr slideshow is HERE.

Building and bridges for Stage 2

Our Stage 2 students are about to commence a Guided Inquiry science & technology unit on “Buildings and bridges” (Built environments strand). It’s part of a two-year cycle, so the first thing I did was go back through the blog to see what online resources I used last time.

Although I was responsible for developing field knowledge last time, the emphasis was on HSIE (Human society & its environment), but some of the Youtube clips on Introducing British colonisation will be very useful.

Some excellent footage of the Queen Victoria Building in Sydney’s CBD:


Queen Victoria Building, Sydney

Interesting to see an outsider’s view of the Sydney Opera House:


Sydney Opera House – Great Attractions (Sydney, Australia)

Supplementing this material will be the Flickr slideshow I created of local bridges two (or three?) cycles ago. How time flies!

Sydney Harbour Bridge
Sydney Harbour Bridge and other bridges

As with last year’s Guided Inquiry units, the brief clips will be discussed and consolidated after considering the students’ “Plus, minus, interesting” matrices, which will encourage/develop some note-taking skills.

Back to Antarctica

Antarctica icebergs

Stage 3 students will be undertaking a Guided Inquiry exercise this term on the topic of Antarctica. For most classes, the science & technology aspects will be part of the work taught by Ms Stockton, the RFF (Release-from-Face-to-Face) teacher, so the library sessions will emphasise the achievement of HSIE (Human society & its environment) outcomes, and will complement the field knowledge being developed in S&T.

The following useful resources were invaluable the last time the curriculum cycle visited “Antarctica”.

Antarctica (Flickr slideshow), images courtesy of Mrs Coote’s brother

Introducing Antarctica (Youtube clips)


Mawson 100421 around station

Antarctica: Being there (TaLe)

As with last year’s Guided Inquiry units, the brief clips and links will be discussed and consolidated after considering the students’ “Plus, minus, interesting” matrices, which will continue to develop the students’ note-taking skills.

More, more, more!

Here are some more Guided Inquiry Endangered animals (Stage 3 science & technology); three more of the students’ digital slideshows have now been uploaded to the world.


by Monica, Jacob & Caleb


by Zain, Will & Rhianna


by Jayde J., Madilyne & Ben

Enjoy! Share! And please feel free to comment. More slideshows will appear as the term comes to a close.

As mentioned previously, just a few points to consider with Photo Peach: Use it as judiciously as you would a series of Youtube clips. Don’t permit students to do open browsing; Photo Peach is a Web 2.0 facility that is open to anyone, and the slideshows are “unrated”. Also, if you notice that new comments have been added to a slideshow you’ve made, please preview the slideshow again before using it with students so you can monitor (and moderate/remove) unwanted comments. (Or close off comments altogether.) Consider a subscription to Photo Peach, which enables you to add your own or Creative Commons music, a wider range of transitions, and the capacity to download slideshows to your hard drive, web space or a CD.

Guided Inquiry – ongoing thoughts

On nswtl listserv this week, some teacher librarians raised the question of “Creative Commons” sections of photo gallery sites, such as Flickr and Google Images, and how they are usually blocked to our students by the DEC firewall because there’s simply no way to police the images and ensure that students won’t be exposed to unsavoury images during a lesson. I’d already been milling some ideas in my head and thought I’d transfer them to here as well.

It’s important to keep child protection in mind with ICT. Parents will not tolerate students discovering inappropriate digital images during lesson time, and an open search through Creative Commons may well bring that situation to a head. And too often. My interpretation of “responsible downloading” of images in the K-6 environment is: I use Flickr and Google Image sites with K-6 students to model the search on the IWB, or to a small group clustered around a monitor screen, and we search under my teacher-level username and password. Preferably, I test the searches beforehand.

Even then, I once had a class of Stage 1s discover, during an innocent (and pre-tested) image search on “cats”, an unexpected photograph of a startled cat pencil-sharper, with a pencil in its bottom. It caused great hilarity on the day, but it was a reminder that even a well-rehearsed search can go wrong – because new images are added to Flickr and Google Images every minute of the day. And my search-gone-wrong could have been so much worse.

Guided Inquiry (ie. Ross J Todd & Carol Kuhlthau) would say that any assignment which leaves students no option but to breach copyright is a poorly developed assignment in the first place. Not too much deep knowledge will be evident in a student’s supposedly-original production that features only cut ‘n’ paste text from websites and/or stolen, uncredited images from Google. The situation really isn’t that different since hideous “projects on cardboard” were invented way back in the 60s? (Earlier?) In those days, students used to cut images out of the school’s encyclopedias – and then photocopiers were invented and suddenly students were able to colour over b/w images they stole and somehow make it all better.

If the research question is designed correctly, it can’t be answered by stock text and images. The researched material also needs to be marked and approved by the teacher before final products are created, by which time any plagiarism opportunities should have been eliminated or made redundant (or avoided in the first place).

The students who tend to use the Internet responsibly aren’t likely to plagiarise unless their assignments stymie them into doing so. I’m deep into Guided Inquiry with Stages 2 and 3 at the moment and, as their storyboards and oral presentations take shape, there won’t be anyone feeling the need to steal other people’s information. If anyone does decide they need a particular existing image, then we’ll do a modelled search and find the right one in Creative Commons – under my username and password.

It’s hard going, but it’s working! Guided Inquiry Endangered animals (Stage 3 science & technology).

What bonus?

It’s been announced that the Federal Government intend to pay bonuses for “the best teachers”. An article has appeared on the ABC website.

When Julia Gillard first floated the idea of new bonuses for teachers of students who’d performed well in NAPLAN, we sort of imagined it would be the school as a whole that benefited, not individual teachers. Our school has worked really hard on literacy and numeracy in recent years; according to NAPLAN, our Year 5 students started low in Year 3 and didn’t necessarily finish high in Year 5, but their improvement from Year 3 to Year 5 was phenomenal. But… who did the “value-adding” of these students anyway? Was it the Year 5 teachers in the first few months of last year, the Year 4 teachers between tests in 2009, or the Year 3 teachers in the last semester of 2008? Who gets paid if a (totally theoretical) teacher was on long service leave, or extended sick leave for the duration of the lead-up to the second NAPLAN test? The talented casual who has long since gone?

What if it was actually our incredibly hardworking STLD, ESL, and Reading Recovery teachers? Or do we, instead, salute our Principal’s leadership? The class teacher who set up a new literacy program and ended up seconded to a DET, now DEC, Priority Schools Program position? The assistant principal who set up a database to track students? The assistant principal who ran the student welfare program? Or our team of “early intervention” parent volunteers and Aboriginal community liaison, who spend hours with little magnetic letters on baking trays, working 1:1 with needy K-3 students? Or our hardworking but very modest teacher-librarian?

Maybe – gasp! – it was all of us: K-6 teachers, support staff, school executive, P&C, volunteers, canteen assistants, general assistant, clerical staff, cleaning staff…, all working together like a sometimes-well-oiled team?

It seems that some of that team is destined to miss out big time. Especially since the new bonus scheme is supposedly three years away. Equity in education?

Animals of the rainforest (and beyond)

Our school’s Stage 3 students are about to commence a Guided Inquiry HSIE/S&T unit on endangered animals that goes beyond their in-class work on rainforests, and I’ve been searching for WebQuests that we can adapt to suit our first attempt at Guided Inquiry. Yesterday, I set up a new Edublogs site, in which the five classes will share their findings.

So far, in my quest to find a suitable WebQuest, I’m more impressed with the one at Zunal.com, although I need to get some additional “deep thinking” potential into it. However, the site has already led me to some interesting and probably very useful Youtube video clips:


Rainforest animals


Wildlife of the Amazon rainforest (Britannica.com)


Rainforest animals and plant life in the rainforest

This one, “The *original* rainforest rap“, does not permit embedding.

These clips should also be useful:


The rain forest song


Save the rainforests

Destination 2011: Guided inquiry

I’m off tomorrow to a teacher-librarians’ seminar on “Guided Inquiry”, presented by Dr Ross J Todd!

Teacher-librarian Lee FitzGerald, a former editor of “Scan”, is also presenting and last time I heard of her experiences trialling “Guided Inquiry” under Ross’s guidance, I went back to my school and made a point of recording more often student pre-test and post-test results and tracking the emotional side of my students’ self-evaluations, thus gaining very solid statements of the students’ analyses of their learning, in their own words.

Powerful stuff! The Kinder students who were part of a wiki project in 2007 still talk about those experiences to this day, and the Stage 3 students who did a bushrangers WebQuest in 2008, and recorded their learning on a blog, are being represented in a text book very soon!

Both of those successes occurred without the benefit of now seemingly-indispensable elements such as IWBs and the Connected Classroom. Looking forward to tackling the next stage!

Update:

Ross Todd
Ross J Todd presents the election speeches of
Obama and Cheney… as Wordles
!