HI I am Elizabeth Hutchinson and I am head of Schools Library Service.
One of the roles of Schools’ LIbrary service is to offer professional librarian support to all the schools in the Bailiwick of Guernsey which includes the Islands of Alderney, Herm and Sark just off the coast of France although we are part of the UK.
As librarians we all know that we support reading for pleasure and we have found that this is an easy way to collaborate with teachers especially in primary schools. Most teachers know and understand that schools libraries encouraging reading and links with literacy. We run book groups, reading competitions and book awards, we read stories and create impressive book displays and I am sure that this all sounds very familiar to all of you.
Teaching information literacy however is so different. Not all teachers understand the role of the school librarian in teaching research skills out of the library and in the classroom and you may be surprised to hear that I find collaboration with teachers really hard. A few years back I would have stood here and said that this was all the fault of the teachers. However, for my masters dissertation I looked into the barriers of collaboration and was surprised to find that the lack of collaboration was the school librarians fault too - in not making sure teachers knew and understood what we were offering as a librarian. I had wrongly assumed that every teacher knew what they should get from and how to work with their school librarian. I also came to learn that teachers were never meant to teach alone, there is a huge support network out there from peer to peer support, mentoring from more experienced teachers and also many outside support agencies are there for them - and that librarians should be part of that.
With so much research out there that shows collaboration with the school librarian increases academic attainment I realised that we had to find a way to make sure we were not only helping teachers to understand our role but find a way into the classroom to support teaching information literacy. Especially in classes where the teachers were not engaged with the school library.
I began by presenting at teachers conferences with two aims. Firstly to raise awareness of school libraries within the teaching profession but also to find out what the teachers were learning about.
The first thing I learnt is that teachers are not that scary after all, really! They are just humans trying to do the best job they can… but more than that and my lightbulb moment was finding out about the digital tools that teachers were being encouraged to use and realising that this could be the hook we needed to collaborate.
Having worked across several schools, the issues are always the same. The technology is great but if teachers do not have the time to learn how to use it, it stays unused. I decided that If I could encourage my librarians to learn how to use some of these online tools we could then create lessons that linked with the curriculum and we could offer these to teachers. Now I am not saying that every teacher needed our support this way but even the most confident teacher did not always have the time to organise international collaborations. If we could get our teachers interested this way then maybe we could get into the classroom to teach research skills too.
Before I go on I just want to say that I do understand that technology changes and the lessons I am about to talk about are not based around the tools but how we can use them to engage enquiry based learning so the tool may change but the learning does not.
The three tools I want to talk about today are Google Hangout/Skype, Flipgrid and Padlet. All three tools can be used collaboratively both within the classroom and beyond. I am going to show you how we used them but also talk about how this lead to our librarians teaching information literacy in the classroom.
One of the first tools we started using was Flipgrid. It came to my attention when teachers started talking about it on twitter, my number one place to learn about what is happening in education. It is an online tool to collaborate and share ideas through recording a short video. We decided to play it safe and approach our English departments. What we were interested in was whether the hook of technology would enable the librarian to work with the teacher more in the classroom.
What we found was that by purely adding our offer of support to use technology to enhance teaching we were invited to take part in more than just the lesson to use the tool.
For instance we suggested that we could use a book that they were planning to read to connect with students on the other side of the word reading the same book. They loved the idea not only was it ticking the technology box but it was also an exciting way to engage their students.
We kept it very simple. Using a book called Wonder we set up a connection with a school in Arkansas. We challenged them to read the book and ask a question in order to get our students to respond.
We were invited to talk to the students about Flipgrid which also allowed us to talk about how to behave online, the importance of watching it back before they share (we had some children pulling faces behind the child’s back as they recorded and they didn’t notice, also teacher shouting for everyone to be quiet the only really obvious noise in the classroom) and e-safety.
Show the video but if you can’t say this...
Abbie and Abigale asked the question “If you were to describe Wonder in 5 words what would they be’ The answer from some of our students in Guernsey were Surprising, exciting, traumatic, interesting, and touching.
Now I know that this seems like a simple task but the students responding needed to plan what words they were going to use, decide how they were going to present it and then use the technology to respond. They were very engaged and were happy to work independently because they knew they had a real audience. The teacher was delighted by the results and even had evidence of engagement too.
We have also used it in our training session. Here are our NQT’s having a go and learning how to use it themselves. .
We have worked with teachers in careers lessons to encourage students to talking through their plans for their Careers and to get feedback from teachers after a training session.
Some of our children used Flipgrid to share their pictures from Dot day which is all about making your mark and seeing where it takes you. We had shared the story and again we talked about how they had to be careful what they shared.
We have also had children share information about their hobbies in a collaborative research project with an Indian school. This allowed us to work with the class on researching hobbies of Indian children and then seeing if what they found matched up with what the students shared with us.
A quick Google search can give you loads of ideas how to use Flipgrid in the classroom. Other ideas I found that I liked were:- 1. read an article and instead of getting them to make notes ask them to respond to a question and comment on each others responses 2. End of year reflection 3.Advice to next year's class 4. Share what they know about a topic 5. 30 second book talk challenge
And I am sure if I looked again I would find more.
The basic link to the curriculum for this tool is digital literacy and e-safety because your students learn how to use the tool and it can also be used to talk to your students about how to behave online. Add in a topic element allows you to teach content whilst including the librarian provides opportunities for added support for the research element, time saving collaboration opportunities as well as the support in the classroom.
Padlet led us to using this tool for both reading for pleasure and enquiry based learning.
Padlet is an online post it board that allows you to upload links, videos or documents. It enables comments too so a very useful tool.
We wanted to work with the teachers who were supporting the extended essay project and used Padlet to entice them in. We don’t always know how the tool will work for the subject but we find that after talking to the teachers it becomes obvious which tool we can use and how we can help. After suggesting we could help them use padlet we discovered that they were struggling to teach them about annotated bibliographies, not easy!
Working together with the teacher we discovered that actually the evaluation of the resources they were finding was part of the problem so we agreed to run a website evaluation lesson. We were delighted as this was the first time any teacher had understood that we could actually support and teach this type of lesson. We then used Padlet to see how much they had learnt. We asked them to find a reliable website from the criteria we gave them and asked them to post it on the padlet and comment on why it would be useful for the project they were doing. It gave the teacher and myself an opportunity to see what their understanding of a quality website looked like. This also allows us to pinpoint students who needed more support.
We have also used padlet for website evaluation in younger groups too. After having a conversation with a teacher about using Padlet we found that they too wanted something similar about evaluation of websites. However we use this as an opportunity to talk about the online resources we have that younger students should be using before going onto the internet. This led to a couple of lessons on using the library catalogue and another on our online resources. We found ourselves in a third lesson doing website evaluation for them too. We challenged them to find a good website and post it on the Padlet for homework. We then used this platform to run a peer review lesson where we check and decide if all the websites on the padlet are credible. What we end up with is a board with a few good websites that everyone can use for this project.
We have also used this for literacy projects where we talk to authors about their book. Once the students have read the book questions can be either posted and we wait for the response or can happen real time like it did for my session with Caroline Lawrence. The questions asked from this session when it was live with the author was amazing. One boy who really did not show much interest in the book asked my favourite question “If your characters were emotions what would they be?”. I am sure that this session brought out the best in them.
Using Hangout has taught me so much about my own teaching.
For those of you that don’t know what a hangout is, it is like facetime or skype just through Google. I approached one of our primary school teachers and offered to arrange a hangout for their Indian topic. I offered to find an Indian lady (my daughter in law! I always believe in making it easy if you can). To give a small talk about India and to answer the children’s questions.
The teacher was delighted with the idea but that was not the collaborative teaching I was after. I suggested that we work together on the research skills leading up to the hangout and we planned a lesson on ‘how to create a good question’. We planned these lessons around keywords, using Britannica online, Q-Files and using the online library catalogue and yes we even looked at some books, all ticking the research and digital literacy part of the curriculum. This meant that when we ran the hangout our students were ready with their questions from the research that they had already done.
You can see her here on Google hangout answering our students questions about their Indian topic and I was there to the day to ensure the technology worked. Not that I have a magic wand or anything but it makes teachers feel more confident in trying these things if someone else is around. Even I can’t magically fix a broken connection unfortunately.
If I am honest the research lessons were not a problem, that is what I do. The technology side was a little different and a learning curve but I just thought that this was my foot in the door. What I had not considered was the impact of putting a live audience in front of the students and the difference that this would make to their learning. In front of my eyes I could see engagement and a willingness to make the most of this opportunity. We had some brilliant questions asked as the session progressed. They were listening to what she was telling them and asking questions about that. A real learning conversation. One boy really was not engaged in this topic and asked the question about sport. He expected to hear her talk about football and cricket but she chose to tell him about Kabaddi. For those of you who don’t know this sport here is a very poor explanation and I apologies if anyone is an expert here. To play Kabaddi...He was so excited about this that his whole Indian topic was now based on this and it was brilliant.
We used it to allow students in Guernsey to share their favourite stories with children in America.
I then ran a mystery hangout (both sets of students don’t know where the other is) with a group of students in Arkansas and Alderney - This picture here...Explain about this group of students -not engaged or working with each other...social problems and truenting
The idea is to use Geography skills to find each other by asking questions that can only give a yes or no answer. My plan was to work with the teacher using research skills with the Geography teacher. Even planning a practice session in my head but after sending the message out to all our secondary schools the only one to engage was Alderney which is a 15 mins flight away making the collaboration so much harder. Luckily for me the teacher was amazing and got on with all my suggested ideas for researching and practicing for this event. Again my learning curve was not what I expected, I was surprised to see how difficult it was for our students to answer the other schools questions, students like quick answers and this game does not allow for that. I enjoyed watching them learn to find the answers. It was fascinating. Also linking these students had a profound effect on the Alderney students when they talked to each other afterwards. These students really thought they had nothing to share. They live on an Island 3 miles by 1 mile in the Channel. With a population of 1500. The school they were talking to had that many students in their school. The turning point was when they started talking about sea swimming and going to the beach after school. The Arkansas students were amazed because they are land locked and is about 400 miles away from the nearest beach. It was lovely to see the transformation and learning happening that day.
If it works show this video. If not move onto next slide
If it works show this video. If not move onto next slide
The students themselves organised to send presents to each other via snail mail. They were to find items that linked to where they lived and then then arranged another hangout to watch each other opening the boxes. I could not get to Alderney that day but I did watch via hangout. Here are a couple of extra pictures from that exchange sessions
Picture on the right is an Arkansas student holding a one pound note and the other is a Alderney student with a American baseball cap and a jar of Baby corn. If you look really closely you can see me at the bottom of the screen listening in.
Since then we have done collaborations about :- Weather, holidays and cultural exchange. - Netherlands, India and Mexico. We have also connected with Canada but the time difference made this more difficult and we now use Padlet or Flipgrid for any collaboration where the time difference does not work. India - we found a school in India to connect and share cultural differences, so my daughter-in-law was lt of the hook Explorers - we found an Expedition leader Specialist in Roman artifacts - We did want the British Library to connect but it did not quite work out and Caroline Lawrence an author of the roman mysteries stepped in to help. Business experts - Media expert from London (My brother) He talked about the power of advertising and ended with the advert he enjoyed being involved with the most. Do any of you remember the Cadbury Gorilla advert to Phil Collins music? All you could hear at the end of this session was gasp of ‘cool’ as they all found it on youtube. Again all about making this real… (I have added the link at the end of this presentation so there is no need to look now.
More recently we have brought holocaust survivors into the classroom via Skype and have plans to try and organise a talk to an astronaut in space…
We have seen engagement from yr 1 through to yr 10 so all year groups can get something out of it and in order for these sessions to be successful planning with the teacher is essential.
What I learnt from this and subsequent sessions is that not all teachers have the knowledge about the online resources we have available and so through these lessons I am able to give them access to some great resources that they did not know about. My sessions also reinforce the message that teachers are putting out there too.
What we found was that once one or two teachers had heard that this was on offer more of them wanted it. They began to appreciate that we had more to offer than they had previously understood. In conversations with Headteachers we were being invited to talk in staff meetings about what we could do and on one occasion we were invited to run a whole school inset day on using the school library across the curriculum.
A couple of things to finish
School Librarians often find themselves very isolated. Finding that hook begins the conversation with teachers begins to give you a voice. I’ve talked about 3 specific tools but you might know of others that you think you could use, become the expert and don’t be afraid to start talking about what you can do and gather support amongst the teaching staff. No-one else is going to do it for you in your school.
We are often we are asked how we find our connections. All I can say is that we are very active on social media and have linked with many librarians and experts across the world. We often find that if we can’t find the person we need someone else knows someone else who will help. There is no need to do this job on your own.
Thank you for listening and do you have any questions?
By Barry Mangham [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], from Wikimedia Commons
School librarian and teacher collaboration - Hutchinson
School Librarian and teacher collaboration:
Finding the hook to engage teachers with
information literacy and talk yourself into the
Presenter: Elizabeth Hutchinson
Head of Schools’ Library Service, Guernsey
Chartered Librarian and Fellow of CILIP
Information literacy definition
Photo by Kevin Delvecchio on Unsplash
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_n9z-TtfIfw Cadbury Gorilla Phil Collins advert