Teacher-Librarians are Learning Gems!

My very first post on this blog highlighted the need for teacher-librarians to stop being the invisible quiet achievers in schools.  It is my view that we are too often ‘overlooked’ because other teachers, parents and leaders aren’t always aware of the vital contributions we make during all stages of the learning process.  We provide ideas, advice, troubleshooting, resources, information and enthusiasm (to name a few).  Moreover, these are often based on our unique perspective of the whole school curriculum; a perspective that gives us valuable insights into teaching and learning processes and educational programs within the school.

Teacher-librarians, as lifelong learners, stay up-to-date with emerging trends and are often first to hear about new learning tools, educational shifts and exciting texts.  It is also a vital part of our role to pass this information on to others.  Which brings me to the point of this blog post …

I pass on a lot of material to staff and I’m still trying to work out whether the following incident is a good or bad development.  I started passing around a teacher magazine with a lot of valuable material in it. Before I started at the school this particular magazine was simply fodder for the recycling bins.  No-one ever picked it up or read it!   At first I only passed on copies to teachers I thought might do something with it, (that is, read it!).  Recently I received extra copies and started passing it on to every teacher. 

Well, today someone cut out an interesting article about libraries and ICT from this magazine and pigeonholed me (no name attached) No doubt this person believes they have helped me out by passing on a crucial piece of ’library’ information.  What they don’t know and will probably never know is that I was the person who passed this information on to them in the first place!  Also, the article, which I had read, was about an Australian teacher-librarian, Judy O’Connell, a wonderful blogger whose blog, Hey Jude I also read regularly! (We also recently became friends on Second Life!)

Is this a positive sign?  It means that teachers are finally starting to read and learn from this valuable resource.  Essentially, I achieved my goal.  OR… is it a negative sign?  Teachers continue to be unaware of how these valuable learning gems reach them and I remain invisible (and perhaps another teacher-librarian position disappears somewhere in the world?)

Visiting Authors are Gems!

What a journey!  Twitter, Voicethreads, Diigo, del.icio.us, YouTube, Second Life…the list goes on (and on!)  I’ve been so busy exploring the learning potential of these tools that I almost forgot the relatively simple pleasure and excitement generated by a visiting author.

I recently invited popular author, Archie Fusillo, (The Dons, On the Mat, Bruises…) to work with students in Years 9 and 10.  His writing workshops were a huge success and the air was abuzz with that ‘learning vibe’ or hum that teachers everywhere recognise.   The students loved him.  They laughed a lot but were also challenged to examine the writing process and reflect on the ‘sound’ of good writing. 

Archie is funny, down-to-earth and a natural storyteller.   His visit provided a positive learning experience and a timely reminder for me…’Learning Gems’ take many forms and it’s important to find a balance between face-to-face interaction and the wonders of Web 2.0!

The Power of Twitter…

Last year I looked at Twitter and didn’t understand what all the fuss was about. I eventually deleted my account. Recently I signed up again, this time with some understanding of its potential. Now I’m hooked!

Twitter allows for the short and sharp sharing of information, something I believe suits educators perfectly. We always seem to be rushing somewhere, operating on the edge of chaos, planning on the run or snatching quick snippets of professional dialogue with colleagues on the way to class etc. Twitter can operate within that environment because tweets are limited to 140 characters and only take a few minutes to write or reply to. You can tweet throughout the day!

The educators I have ‘met’ on Twitter happily share links, ideas and professional knowledge as well as personal snippets about themselves. I love it. I feel like I’ve stumbled onto the global virtual staffroom…a place abuzz with activity, ideas and energy (and coffee, of course!). My global colleagues are generous with their knowledge, tech-savvy and passionate about education.

Twitter is a Learning Gem with huge appeal and potential.

Animoto: a very cool educational tool!

Discovered Animoto yesterday…signed up, uploaded images of book covers and created a very cool video clip in less than 10 minutes. I can imagine it being used for all sorts of learning activities. Some that immediately spring to mind are:

  • A visual reflection on a text’s themes (particularly useful for musical and visual learners)
  • A pictorial essay
  • Creative ‘writing’ (digital storytelling, poetry)
  • Student Presentations (great for advertising projects etc)
  • Adding ‘cred’ to teacher presentations.

I get very excited when I discover a ‘learning gem’ with so much classroom potential. Let’s face it, anything with the potential to engage and revive ‘sluggish’ students is worth a look.