A poverty of resources

As part of the first assignment on collection management I need to do an analysis of resources on a curriculum area that is lacking. After much hand wringing and procrastinating I have finally decided that I’d look at the PE/Sport section in the LC. Why did I select this area? Well I knew from gut instinct that it was pretty awful. The PE teacher had also approached me at the end of last term, before I started the role, and had asked me about developing resources, so he had identified a need and thirdly after getting the children to fill in the online survey I realised how interested many of them were in football, rugby and other sporting activities.  Well now I am totally embarrassed by the lack of stimulating and motivating reading material we have about sport.

Last night after school I went through the section (796 to 797)  one book at a time. I examined each book carefully. Was it in good repair?  Would I want to read it? How many of the same sport did we have? Did it reflect our children’s interest in sporting activities in and outside school? I counted the number of books we had. The answer was 42 books on sport. (Remember we have 720 children.)  This is taking into account all of them including the repeats, the torn, mouldy, water damaged, books with pages missing and the plain tired. It was not pleasant viewing. I then looked at the publication dates! Eeek, it wasn’t getting any better. The oldest book dated back to 1988, so is almost as old as our PE teacher who was an 80s baby. The newest was I’m pleased to say 2009 and had recently hit the shelves. The average was 1998. Now to some one of my age that doesn’t seem too long ago. after all I’d had children and was enjoying life in England. we just bought our second home and were ‘settling down’. However if you start to count back that is 12 years ago. None of the children in our school were even born and the majority were not even twinkles in mum or dad’s eyes. Scary. Not one was written in an any other language than English and only 3 present day sporting heroes were represented.

So what to do? Panic, run for the hills and forget the assignment, well I’d like to but with a situation this dire I need to enlist some help. Tomorrow I’m sitting down with the PE teacher and working out what his needs for the curriculum are. Then I’ll take a closer look at the survey to see what sports the children are really interested in. (I mean we didn’t even have one book about rugby and rugby is HUGE here.) Then I can start with all those data bases and lists that I’ve been meaning to getting around to looking at. There must be some good digital resources we could purchase so our PE teacher and children could access them from home or for lessons. The assignment asks us to list 10 resources but somehow, although I’ll only be listing 10, I think we may be purchasing a whole lot more. Thank goodness for that ample budget.

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Who should select?

Consider how the teacher librarian might effectively collaborate with the school community in the selection of resources in your school or in a school with which you are familiar. Who should have the final say on what is included? Why?

I think I have been lucky as collaboration has already started and is shaping up quite nicely. Obviously not everyone is on board but most are and the majority are seeing the Info Lit lessons as a positive move forward. In terms of collection management I’ve already sent a couple of lists and web links out and have asked for opinions. Although I know the curriculum quite well and use the over view extensively I’m not an expert on every unit or area of the curriculum. As an individual I can’t possibly understand every units needs and how it is developed within each class.  However if I ask for opinions, including those of the students,  I am more likely to be able manage a collection that reflects the needs and wants of our school community.

I can see problems arising though. If someone really wants an item that I feel is of a poor quality or does not reflect our school mission statement then friction could occur.  This is when you need to be able to have open and honest discussions about the quality and content of materials and also have a collection management policy to back up decisions. Without a policy document of this kind it simply turns into an argument about personal preferences and covert censorship which is not what the collection should be about.  It is about servicing our Information Literate School Community with the materials and tools necessary to push learning and thinking forward.

Ross Todd and the Hands on Literacy Conference.

Wow what a pleasure! Ross Todd in Singapore, and I got to his 2 lectures and his key-note address. Oh lucky me! It was a pleasure to listen to him. Not only was he very enthusiastic but so knowledgeable and very clear in his expectations. So many people I meet seem to think that an inquiry based curriculum does not have standards. They need to listen to Dr. Todd speak. He is very clear that we should be challenging children to think and striving for deep learning rather than putting out not some of the mediocre stuff that is offered up as inquiry.  He argued that we should be aiming to teach children how to transform knowledge rather than transport it. So many children are great at copying and pasting and changing it so it’s in “their own words”. Where is the thinking here? Is this deep knowledge? Are they evaluating? Synthesizing? Creating? I think not.

Children need to be engaged in critical thinking. They need the opportunity to compare different view points and conflicting information. How can they ever make considered decisions if we don’t provide them with authentic engagements that make them consider other opinions?

Whatever task we set the children, regardless of the web tool being used we need to ask these questions.  What are they learning? Does it promote critical thinking? Does it encourage and facilitate authentic learning?  Does it gather evidence of learning and if so how does this inform our teaching?

Dr Todd argues that whatever engagement, activity, lesson, experience we offer the children we need to ensure that it is offering intellectual engagement. yes it’s great that we are using blogs or Wordle or wikis but what critical thinking or deep learning is happening? are we using these tools as superficial but fancy engagements or are we using them to motivate and inspire? To teach and to challenge? To question and to deepen knowledge and understanding?

If you are interested in more of what he had to say and are looking for ideas on how to challenge your students thinking I suggest you take a look at his presentations on the Hands On Literacy site. I for one will be returning again and again to try and make the most of his experiences and expertise.

On thing I really liked was his link to 38 ways to use Wordle.  Take a look if you need new ideas for the classroom.

Keeping records

Eeek now I’m in a tizz! I’ve just had some e-mails through OZL-NET concerning keeping a log. My initial reaction was when am I going to fit that into my day but after reading Di McKenzie’s mails and blog I might be about to change my mind.  If it acts  reflection tool and enables me to look at my time management it could be worthwhile. Also how difficult is it to add it to this blog? If I’m writing about my experiences it can’t be that much more can it?  Talking of blogs I’m feeling very pleased with myself as I’ve set up both a blog and a forum for the Bob kids. Numbers are growing and we have nearly 40 children. Next year I think I’ll run it differently so we can entice even more into the fold. Pushing it with staff so they read some of the books to the children to get them hooked and having some available on the shelves for anyone to take. At the moment it feels a little exclusive and I’m not keen on telling children they can’t borrow particular titles.

Looking forward to Saturday when I’ll be in Singapore at the HandsonLit conference. Ross Todd is the key-note speaker so it should be great. Hopefully I’ll come back with more ideas and jobs to do.