Changing education paradigms


RSA Animate – Changing Education Paradigms

This very clever animation was adapted from a talk given at the Rhetoric Society of America (RSA) Institute by Sir Ken Robinson, world-renowned education and creativity expert and recipient of the RSA’s Benjamin Franklin award. For more information on Sir Ken’s work visit: www.sirkenrobinson.com.

Thanks Sue Warren for the heads-up.

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
!

Wikis made simple

I’m often asked to explain what a wiki is, and I usually liken it to an electronic communal scrapbook.

I’ve seen the following snappy little video a few times now, but I’d forgotten all about it until I was re-investigating the preliminary “how to” pages over on PBworks, in preparation for my sessions on wikis at Saturday’s TESOL conference at the University of Technology Sydney (Broadway).


“Wikis in plain English”

When one displays a Common Craft video on a site, creator Lee LeFever asks for a link back to be provided to the Common Craft web site. Free versions of Common Craft’s videos are for “non-commercial” use. (This means that commercial organisations can’t display the videos without their express permission. For example, if you owned a podcasting company, you could not display “In plain English” series videos internally or externally, without permission.)

Advocacy: part of our role?

From 1991 to 2002 I was an active committee member of the Australian Library & Information Association (ALIA) – and gladly gave up many hours of personal time to attend School Libraries Section (NSW Group) meetings, ALIA NSW Branch meetings and national ALIA Renewal meetings – only leaving when I returned to classroom teaching in 2003. (Sadly for the local School Libraries Section, it did not survive the “renewal” program of ALIA, or the retirements of many of its committee. Try as we did, we couldn’t tempt too many new/young TLs to commit to advocacy from a professional association stance.)

What other strategies can TLs can use now, to make sure that we do have the ongoing/evolving support of “politicians, unions, and professional associations”? Yes, of course every student in Australia deserves equity, but has recent Australian research demonstrated that it really is the “services of a professional qualified teacher librarian” in NSW that increases student achievement of outcomes? What else can NSW TLs and their professional associations do to convince other states’ powers-that-be that they need trained teacher-librarians in every interstate school?

As I said a previous post, NSW TLs can (and do) at least send messages via our actions in schools to the people making the decisions about NSW schools. Furthermore, we can make presentations at annual NSW DET and ASLA NSW conferences, (as I have been doing these past three years since returning to teacher-librarianship – so far no interstate invitations, but I’m willing to travel). The whole point of evidence-based practice is so we can actually prove that TLs make value-added contributions to our students’ educations. Then, hopefully, we find ways to bring those successes to the attention of the other states’ stakeholders, demonstrating that they are missing out on a crucial human resource: a trained TL.

Something very dramatic does need to happen to alter the current state of play. If the advocacy load should not be on the already-overburdened NSW TL, how will the politicians and unions suddenly be convinced to take up advocacy on our behalf, especially if we decide we are simply too over-burdened to do it ourselves?

We can blow a lot of hot air their way, sure, and write lots of letters and blog entries – and the other states can gnash their teeth in jealous misery – but it is solid action research that is going to provide the evidence for change. We have a prime minister bequeathing grants for new BER school libraries – all over NSW – over the next two years. Isn’t that a strong sign of someone noticing the work of NSW TLs? (Why wasn’t the money shunted into other types of buildings?)

NSW TLs do need to commit ourselves to proving that these promising, current efforts are going to be worthwhile. Unfortunately, that’s more advocacy work for us. A lot more.

Identifying strategies, initiatives and support

I’ve just placed a new response over on the School Libraries 21C site.

This is the section I’ve put off answering because, really, I find it quite daunting. We, as educational practitioners in school libraries, can spout off about how we should be listened to until we are blue in the face, but helping to provide the necessary statistics as evidence for change – in an organised way, that can be trusted and accurately interpreted – is so difficult.

When governments do attempt to initiate national testing of students, to gather that hard evidence of the value being added to learning, we look at their motives with great suspicion – and rightly so, when we all know how statistics can become such a powerful weapon for cost-cutting and false advertising. After all, teacher-librarians spend a lot of time teaching students how to analyse data and texts to detect their authority, validity and reliability.

Ross mentioned that “one of the critical challenges in terms of continuous improvement and personal capacity building is keeping up to date with the vast body of research”.

Having just attended the two-day NSW DET Connected Learning 2009 conference (and presenting in a session last Wednesday), I’m internalising a lot more than just “research and carefully looking at how this can be interpreted and translated into daily professional practice”. This year’s conference was subtitled “Transforming Learning and Teaching” (even the order of “learning” and “teaching” in the title was examined!) and it made me think back to this blog site on more than several occasions.

Some of the points raised by the keynote speakers were so important, thought-provoking and challenging. The presentations by Mark Treadwell and Peter Blassina, particularly, were quite mind-blowing. If you haven’t seen the TED talk on “The Sixth Sense” by Pattie Maes (MIT Media Lab), as discussed by Peter Blassina at the conference, it’s a must-see:
http://www.ted.com/talks/pattie_maes_demos_the_sixth_sense.html

After that video, we were all feeling more than a little inadequate, and yet incredibly excited by the possibilities. As I mentioned in one of my earlier posts, here I was thinking my iPhone was pretty clever, and a harbinger of how students of the future would still be needing the help of teacher-librarians to plough through our information world. If “The Sixth Sense” becomes a commercial reality, the learning curve starts anew before the current one is even finished. Are any of us ready for the next paradigm shift?

Ross also mentions how “often teacher librarians claim that much research is so remote and disconnected from their professional practice. This is an important challenge. In order for research and practice to be more intricately connected, how can this be done? What would you like to see?”

Colleen Foley and I were pleased we had plenty of school principals at our session! But there was so much information to convey in a 50 minute session of a two-day conference – at which all attendees were giving up two days of their vacation. Thus “strategies / initiatives / support at the practitioner level” depend upon practitioners giving up their own leisure time to keep pace. Which is hardly ideal. How else can we ensure that principals are empowered to act in the most effective ways? And will every teacher-librarian be comfortable and capable of providing the local research data being asked of them, and then interpreting it, and internalising the research from further afield, and making it relevant to their day-to-day educational encounters?

At my school, I’m probably very fortunate that we are part of the Priority Schools Program (PSP). In order to keep getting our funding, compiling statistics of our evidence-based practice is embedded. As teacher-librarian, I made sure I was part of the PSP committee, but I can see that setting up something similar – regular, planned pre-testing, post-testing and evaluating – is not easy in non PSP schools.

The time (and funding) needed to analyse results, particularly, and prepare reports that convince all stakeholders that certain changed practices are achieving, or not achieving, outcomes is substantial.

Essential “Strategies / initiatives / support”: Hasn’t it always been about this, and don’t we always complain there’s never enough planning, reflection, money, time and training?

You must be joking!

#49
A selection of work by cartoonist, children’s book illustrator
and director, Greg Holfeld, whose graphic novel, “Captain Congo”
has been nominated for the Children’s Book Council Awards this
year!

I was thrilled to meet the talented and friendly Greg Holfeld this weekend, at Supanova Convention, at Olympic Park, Sydney, Australia. I was able to tell him how popular “Captain Congo and the crocodile king” is proving to be with the students at my school, and he autographed some copies of his previous picture book, “You must be joking!” (It was only later that I realised that the boy hero’s pet in that book is a super-powered Jack Russell terrier – not unlike mine!!)

We enjoyed a laugh together about the bizarre prevalence of giant purple gorillas in classic comic books (and at least two of his own works.)

Greg also threw into my package of purchases a copy of “Monkey, Bug, Rabbit & Goose have lunch and save the planet“, issue #1 of a unique reader, in comic book style, which he created for for fledgling “comicophiles” at his children’s school.

Thanks so much Greg.

Collaboration!

Today Emma Quay, illustrator, and Lisa Shanahan, author, launched their exciting, new children’s picture book, “Bear and Chook by the sea”, at our very successful teacher-librarians’ professional development day.

#24

I can’t wait for Term 4, when Jenny Scheffers and I coordinate a book rap based on their two “Bear and Chook” titles.

Wikis for learning support

This afternoon, I’m being whisked off to Leichhardt to speak about wikis to educators in the Professional Association for Learning Support.

Main points will include: what is a wiki?; setting one up; and uses in the classroom.

I’m hoping to impart: enthusiasm; the importance of being a practitioner in Web 2.0 (to become familiar and confident with its facilities); and tips for embeding ICT (information communication technologies) into pedagogy.

Much of what I will speak about can be found online at:
http://penrithpslibrary.pbworks.com/Conference+notes.

Weaving a wiki on the Central Coast

Today I had a relaxing break from the daily school library grind, travelling by two express service trains to Gosford, on the NSW Central Coast, to speak about wikis and blogs (eg. this one!) to teacher-librarians of schools in the Brisbane Waters group.

I kept wondering why I wasn’t feeling too nervous about the presentation itself, but I guess I knew my topic and audience fairly well. As I warned them, I can talk all day (be warned!) but it was great to be given a sizable chunk (about 90 minutes) of their quarterly professional development session to share the learning journey and achievements of my students (and teaching colleagues) in the area of Web 2.0.

Much of what I spoke about can be found online at:
http://penrithpslibrary.pbworks.com/Conference+notes.

Many thanks to Pam Howes and Christine Harpur for your wonderful hospitality!

In the picture

Shellharbour

The ISLA group of teacher librarians has posted some photos of the professional development day I was asked to speak at in Shellharbour last October. I was particularly chuffed by this line on their blog site:

“Many Illawarra teacher librarians are now busy planning and creating wikis thanks to the inspirational Ian McLean.”

I look forward to seeing what they get up to!

Shellharbour1
Ian draws the winning raffle (er, guessing competition) ticket. Also pictured, from left, are ISLA committee members, Margaret Cooper and Celia Owen. Click photo to see a larger version.