Monday, 12 June 2017

Talking referencing and plagiarism with teachers. From school and beyond.

Talk to teachers about plagiarism and referencing and they begin to glaze over. Talk to them about the cut and paste culture or about taking photos from the internet and you begin to have a conversation.

Photo taken by Elizabeth Hutchinson
The photo above is one I took about a month ago and put it on Instagram. Am I proud of it? Yes, Do I want others to see it? yes. Does that mean that I would be happy for someone to take and use it without my permission? No. A teacher said to me recently that if anyone chose to share a picture online then they should not be surprised or upset if it was taken and used by someone else. This created a really interesting conversation but also highlighted that there is a problem. As teachers encourage their students to share more online the need for them to truly understand the issues of copyright and the need to reference becomes clearer.

Teachers get extremely frustrated when they know a child has not done the research for their project and just cut and pasted from one of the top three websites found on Google.  I then explain how I can help.
  • I  support and co-teach in their classroom. 
  • I demonstrate tools to up-skill themselves and their students.
  •  I save them time by finding quality resources for their students to use. 
This is when the conversation begins to get easier and interesting. Referencing is an essential building block to this which begins with quality resources.  Once your students have the right building blocks in place good quality research is then produced.

Collaborating with the school librarian enables you to start this journey. 

Teachers and librarians working together to make a difference 

School librarians can collaborate with teachers to enhanse research skills through :-

  1. Using the library catalogue to teach keyword searching. This is an important skill which will help students find good books and websites that have been curated by the librarian. (teachers do not need to spend hours looking for quality websites) 
  2. Demonstrating how to find the academic sources such as Britannica and History Reference Centre.
  3. Teaching how to give credit and reference using tools such as Easybib which is attached to Google Docs. 
  4. Teaching copyright and helping students find pictures that they can legally use for assignments. 

How does referencing help?

Teachers want good quality research from their students but unless they teach referencing they will never be able to check where the information comes from. Just having the right information regurgitated is not research and children as young as 5 can be taught to copy and paste so where is the skill in that.

One of the easiest skills to teach is knowing where to find the best sources quickly. This is an important part of independent learning skills. Just because they know where to go to find the information does not make them less independent it makes them more! Students need to be guided to choosing academic sources by being taught how to find and access them. Using the school library as a source of information is a great start too.

In order to encourage students to reference properly teachers need to learn the tricks to help make this quick and easy.

How do teachers ensure that their students are using these academic sources?
  • By learning the tools to make referencing quicker e.g. Easy Bib, and tools in Word,
  • By demonstrating best practice through citing their own sources when producing handouts or presentations.
  • By making sure that students know how to find good resources by working with the school librarian.
  • By making sure students know how to evaluate websites and use appropriate search engines. Take a look of this list of academic search engines to make research easier and faster.
  • By making sure students know how to reference - the school librarian can help here too. 
  • Checking references and awarding marks for good referencing. 
If students are never asked to reference anything how does the teacher know where the information came from?  I've had a teacher state that as they know the answer and their students have got it correct it doesn't matter where the information came from! My message to this teachers is that it's not your job to pass on the knowledge but the skills as well. Students need to understand that finding the information from a quality resource is important to the teacher too. If not why would they bother?

Another said - it takes too long to get students to reference and it spoils the fun of research! My response is this - What if this student produces a piece of work that you are so proud of that you want to share it as an example across the internet?  You are only showing your inability to teach and understand the importance of referencing. Nothing should be shared by your students without referencing, why, because it is illegal and you as a teacher are condoning it.

Beyond school, whether it is onto university or to work referencing is important.

Universities are beginning to notice the lack of ability of students coming from schools, especially those doing A'levels, realising that there is a real lack of research and information literacy skills.  Some universities, like Birmingham, are even running outreach programmes to teach these skills to students before they arrive at university. Although it is good that universities are trying to do something about this it does make me think that if teachers were working with school librarians these skills could and should be taught in school.

Even at work good research is important. Only the other day I was talking to a man who worked in IT support. He told me "my job is not knowing how to fix everything but knowing how to find the answer through research". This is where the world of work is going and we need to send our students out into the world with the right tools not just exam results.

Finally, if you really like my photo and you have read this far you may share it. With credit of course :)

Monday, 29 May 2017

Librarians and a teacher presenting at the British Isles Google Summit rocking Edtech and collaboration

Last weekend Angela Etheredge, Stony Evans and myself presented at the British Isles Google Summit held in Guernsey. Two librarians and a teacher working together. Why is this worth blogging about?

This was primarily a teachers event, it was about how to use all things Google from Docs to slides and Forms to Classroom so where did a school librarian fit into this? I have been using Google tools for a while now and personally wanted to know more about Google classroom.  More importantly though it was important for me, as a librarian, to attend this teachers conference as it would help me highlight the teaching side of my role. I have written about this in previous posts.

After applying for a place a  few weeks later I recieved an email from Lucy Witham arrived saying that there was only one local speaker signed up and if you felt you had something to share then you should apply for a speakers place. I realised once again that I had a chance to talk to teachers about what school librarians do so I decided to apply. Deciding what I would share was easy.

Which Google product have I used within a classroom setting in collaboration with a teacher?

This was easy! A year ago I helped Angela Etheredge, a teacher at St Annes in Alderney, connect her students via Google hangouts with students in Arkansas. We played mystery hangout with their students and were amazed at the impact that it had on everyone. I also had something else up my sleeve. About 6 months ago, Stony Evan, the librarian in Arkansas, asked me if I would be willing to join him via hangout at a conference he was presenting. I agreed and I joined his session to talk about our collaboration via hangout, so it was time for him to return the favour.  I submitted my idea and was accepted.

How did Angela join in?

At this point it was just Stony and myself until I went to run the inset training at St Anne's. During the day I shared a little about the hangout with Arkansas with all the teachers and as I talked Angela joined in.  I realised that to have a teacher join me in my session at the Google Summit would practically demonstrate how important and necessary teacher librarian collaboration is. So we had our team.

Creating our presentation.

As Stony was in Arkansas, Angela was in Alderney and I was in Guernsey there was no way we were going to be able to sit in the same room and talk about our presentation so we decided to create a Google Slide and work on it collaboratively, we also talked by Google hangout too. I did not realise it at the time but by using a shared Google slide and hangout we were actually doing what they were going to tell us about at the conference.

At the conference

We were not presenting until Saturday afternoon due to the time difference between Arkansas and the UK so we were not able to get this out of the way quickly. After sitting through some brilliant workshops by Ben Rouse, Matt Smith, Bogdan Copil and Jon Neale I was beginning to worry that our presentation was so different that it may not be good enough. Every other workshop was full of ideas and we were planning to share only one. Angela was very calm which helped but I still wasn't sure. I wanted to check out the technical side of our presentation but was unable to do this until just before our slot and that worried me too.

Our session

Time for worrying was over. A quick connection to Stony was tested and we were ready to go. We had a small group of teachers and I would have been happy to present to them but as we started talking more arrived which was great.  The presentation can be found here.

After all my worrying our presentation went really well with one attendee tweeting that it was the best session of the day! Funnily enough I had not realised that as we started Anglea got really worried when she saw who was arriving.  They were IT specialists from the College of Further Education and she did not think that we could show them something that they did not already know. However, that was not the case and our icing on the cake was our demonstration of how easy it was to connect with Stony in America. Having him in the room with us really went down well. People liked the practical application of our session, admitting that we were novices at this but were prepared to try it inspired our attendees to try it themselves.  By giving a clear demonstration of how it worked for us, even though we were clearly not experts, was well received.

Angela and I were on such a high after our session. It worked! We demonstrated something that not everyone is using and we were also able to show how the collaboration between the librarian and the teacher can lead to greater student learning. One local teacher came up and said he was really jealous  of us, when we asked why he said, because we had been brave enough to put ourselves forward to present and he wished he had taken the opportunity too.

Why is it important that you put yourself forward? 

In order for schools and teachers to understand what librarians do we must  talk to them about it. Whether that is in the school staff room or presenting at a teacher training day or even being brave enough to present at a conference. Unless we talk and demonstrate how we can support student learning, some teachers and schools will never know what they are missing out on.

Finally, one teacher asked me how we could help him to connect his students. If this is all we achieved that day this was enough. Helping one teacher to understand the impact that working with the school library can have on his students then we did a good job. You never know where this may lead. 

Monday, 24 April 2017

Inset training - How librarians can support teaching and learning.

This blog was written as part of the #futureReadyLibs #blogchallenge which can be found here. I agreed to write about professional development and hopefully have demonstrated how we did this by providing training for our teachers in their inset day. Enhancing their skills through using the school library and its online resources and demonstrating how information literacy linked with the curriculum.                                                                                                                                                                                    #FutureReadyLibs #bloggingchallenge
10-week #FutureReadyLibs #blog challenge, where librarians are invited to reflect upon the different cogs of the Future Ready Librarians Framework. Please join in on the conversations by posting your own blog responses and by joining the Future Ready Librarians Facebook group, where a new weekly blog .

Making changes

St Anne's school library in Alderney has undergone some big changes in the last few months. Schools’ Library Service (SLS) supports this school from a distance as we are in Guernsey which is a short flight away. This means that we only visit twice a term. On one of our visits, last year, we discussed how we could support the school library and help create a space that was well used by both students and teachers. We agreed to weed and renew the resources and gave them some ideas to move the library around to suit the needs of the school. It was lovely to go back a few months later and see how they had been empowered to change it again.

Creating opportunities

This led to conversations about the importance of information literacy and how it can support and encourage students to use the school library to become independent learners. Exciting discussions have been had about embedding information literacy into the curriculum, meaning that the school library, its staff, SLS and teachers will become a hub of teaching and learning for the students of St Anne’s.

Will you run our inset day?

Early last month Martin Winward, headteacher at St Anne's, and I were chatting about how we could ensure the changes in their school library could continue to have an impact on students and teachers. We both agreed that after the initial excitement and interest in the changes, it was important that we found a way to continue engagement. Martin asked me if I was willing to run an inset training day about information literacy and the school library because it was apparent that unless we had teachers on board, who understood what we were trying to do, nothing was going to change. We needed to share out vision.  I jumped at the chance, how often does the librarian get the opportunity to demonstrate the importance of the school library and librarians to teaching and learning. This was especially important as the new Guernsey curriculum is due to be implemented in September.  It is very much skills based curriculum and this is what information literacy is all about. it was perfect opportunity to talk to teachers about how we can support them and have an impact on student learning.

Martin sent me an outline of the areas he wanted us to cover. Improvements in the school library, Information literacy and the framework, resources and tools to support learning and examples of best practice. We also wanted to demonstrate how this all fitted in with Educations ‘big picture’. After a couple of conference calls I started to create my presentation and shared it with Martin and Wendy, deputy head.  Luckily for me, Wales is currently creating a new curriculum and have decided to incorporate information literacy into it so I was able to incorporate their slides into my presentation. It was important for me to make sure that the day was full of information but hands on too so I made sure it  included :-

  • Innovative games/ideas that they could use in their own lessons
  • Google Hangouts
  • How social media can have an impact

Inset training day

I felt It was important to start the day by demonstrate that this training and message was not just coming from me. That schools all across the world are using their school libraries successfully alongside the internet and that the two can and should work together, it is not about one or the other, it is both. It was also important for me to show that there are many school librarians out there doing inspiring things and working with teachers so I started with a demonstration of how social media was important to me and my own personal learning. I explained that I had sent a message out to my followers on twitter asking the following:-

I had some wonderful responses which I shared with the teachers but the one that I finished with was this one. A brilliant message!

I then moved onto information literacy and how the framework SLS are currently using links and supports the new Guernsey curriculum. We were able to show how the framework and SLS staff can support students to becoming independent learners through using the school library. We demonstrated how we could support and train teachers to use the school library in an innovative way, opening their eyes to the countless possibilities of using resources that were already in their school and just waiting to be used. All at no extra cost to the school and with full support and training included.


We played Kahoot an online quiz that you can create yourself. We wanted to demonstrate how easy it was to create a quiz but also use it for our own purposes. Our quiz made sure teachers knew about the support available from SLS and how to use the school library. It caused some great discussions especially around the thorny issue of using pictures without credit. We will be following up with some guidelines on this for teachers.

We had planned to play breakoutEdu after break but we began to realise that we needed to help the teachers understand what was available from the school library and how to access it otherwise they would not be able to play the game so we spent some time showing them how to find their way around the resources that we provide, how to access and use their ebook collection and their school library catalogue. We explained that they needed this information to play the next game.


Julia created our breakout game for this inset day. Breakout is based on a gameshow in America where contestants had to break out of a locked room. As it is not appropriate to lock students into a room this game has been adapted by school libraries, especially in America, to challenge students to unlock a box, using clues.   Ours was set up to ensure that teachers used the school library in order to work out the clues but teachers can use this game for their own subjects too.  They had to work as a team in order to get into the box in under 30 mins. It was great to see how fully engaged all the teachers were.

The box is in the middle of the teachers!

They managed to breakout in 23 mins...

Photo's by Martin Winward
Google Hangouts

I am very lucky to had made some very strong connections with librarians from twitter, so we decided to invite a couple to our inset day through Google hangouts. It was important to demonstrate how easy it was to connect with others around the world but also to help them understand how other school librarians support teachers in their schools. We invited Stony Evans a library Media Specialist at Lakeside High School in Hot Springs, Arkansas and Caroline Roche , a school librarian at Eltham College, South East London to give a 15 min presentation about how they collaborated with their teachers. Both gave really interesting presentations and shared lots of idea with us. We were very grateful for their time and enthusiasm in sharing their best practice with us.

Stony, talking to us at 7am in the morning!  

Photo by Stony Evans


The day ended by giving teachers the opportunity to feedback on what we had covered during our inset day and to decide how they would include any of this in next term's lessons. Several teachers commented on trying to use the Kahoot and Hangout within a lesson. There was also a lot of feedback on using the SLS website more and asking for support.

“I feel more confident to take a more immersive approach to topic work. I will utilise the SLS website and will liaise more closely with them.”

"Loved the cross curricular approach / opportunities…. MORE / MORE / MORE PLEASE" 

We look forward to supporting St Anne's more in the future. We are very grateful for this opportunity and for your enthusiasm throughout the day.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Librarians and teachers - How to make an information literacy framework work for you.

What is an information literacy framework and why do schools need one?

An information literacy framework is the building block of skills that every student needs to become competent in todays world of information overload. It is the set of skills that ensures that every student becomes independent learners and critical thinkers. So why do we not already have one in every school? Is it a lack of understanding of what information literacy is? Is it because we think that Google can answer everything? Is it because we believe that all students can already do this? I truly have no idea, but over the last few years it has become apparent that although students are very competent at using technology their ability to research has not changed from the time that we only had books and if anything it has become worse.

Many school librarians are asked to run research lessons for various classes across many schools. This tends to look very similar whether it is a junior class or secondary class. We help them to think of keywords and to use the library catalogue to find books and curated websites. Depending on their age we may continue to show them how to use the other online resources that are available. This lesson seems to tick the box for many teachers, however, I would suspect that after this lesson the chances of students using the library catalogue or online resources in a lesson again is very slim.

In some schools that I have worked in I have been asked to show students as young as 7 and 8  to evaluate websites. This unrealistic expectation of what primary students should be able to do is difficult. The pressure teachers are under to ensure their students become independent is huge and the two seem to be linked. Many teachers seem to be under the impression that a research project is not good enough if their students only use the library and online resources and not the internet.  This is why an information literacy framework is so important.

SLS Guernsey use one that we call CWICER (Connect, Wonder, Investigate, Construct, Express, Reflect), it was adapted from Empire States Information Fluency Continuum, New York by  Darry Toerien and with his help we have adapted to work for us here in Guernsey. What it has allowed us to do is have sensible conversation with teachers who ask for unrealistic research lessons. We are able to show them what their students should be able to do by the time they are that age and if they are not capable of that we can also show them the building blocks to get there.

As a librarian I am very happy to co-teach these lessons but like many school librarians it is not possible for me to be in every class that is doing a research project. I work towards up skilling teachers and students so that I can support other classes whilst they embed what I taught. A framework will ensure that this is happening. If it is embedded into the school curriculum headteachers will be aware of it and expect to see it being taught in lessons once they know I have been in a class.

It is also important in secondary schools that teachers know when these skills are being taught and allow students to use them in their lessons too. For instance, if a Geography teacher has worked with the librarian to use Brittanica in yr 7 then every subject that is running a research lesson across the school should be making sure their students are practicing using this resource within their lessons too. This is only possible if all the teachers know that this is happening and that teachers have an understanding of the resources themselves.

How to use an information literacy framework when it is not embedded in the curriculum 

Find an information literacy framework that you are comfortable with. Find time to know what it is all about, the more you talk about it the more confident you become in using it. Once you are happy that you understand what you are offering start using it with teachers who are already working with you.

Here's an example of how to use it. 

A year 3 teacher asks me to do a research lesson with their students and they really want an internet lesson. I would firstly show them the lessons that we offer, based on our framework, for year 3. You can find our primary lessons here. We have added learning objectives (LO) and success criteria (SC) so teachers can see how it fits into what they are teaching anyway.  Our main research lesson for year 3 looks like this :-

Lesson 2
Recognises that ‘I wonder’ questions can be answered by finding information
Selects and uses appropriate sources with guidance including books, on-line encyclopaedias and recommended on-line resources.
Students can give more than one example of somewhere they could find information to answer a question.
Students can select a useful source of information from the options given.
Students can, with guidance, find the answer to their question using their selected resource.

I would explain to the teacher that a lesson like this would support their students journey onto the internet as using quality resources is essential for good research. If students can learn to select these resources first before going to the internet their research will be much stronger.

By sharing and using your information literacy framework before it is embedded in the curriculum is really important. It will help you become confident in what you teach and how your framework works. Our students deserve the right to be taught how to do this properly and now is the time to show schools, headteachers and administrators how a school librarians skills set can be used effectively.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

How teacher - librarian collaboration can lead to 'higher order thinking' and 'growth mindset' in students.

Every day I hear teachers talk about about new teaching theories. The two that I want to talk about today are 'growth mindset' and 'higher order thinking' as they link perfectly with information literacy.
Teachers are constantly dealing with changes in the curriculum and I regularly hear it being said that some of these new ideas are not new they are just packaged under a different name. If teachers have been doing this for year the pressure to produce something amazing is high. However this does not always mean that it needs to be all singing all dancing, sometimes just doing it right and understand the link yourselves can be enough. I thought I would use this blog post to remind teachers how librarians can help with both of these theories through looking at a senario that many teachers come across regularly.

Example: Research topic on the Tudors.

Version 1 - teacher works alone - little potential for 'higher order thinking' or 'growth mindset'

  • Teacher has found some useful books which are shared within the classroom. Most of these are the teachers own resources, some have been taken from the school library. 
  • Teacher spends hours looking for appropriate websites which are shared and given to the students via a file or on j2e (a new platform for getting the 'to the learning quicker')
  • Students are told they are doing a project on Tudors and have to produce a powerpoint, poster or leaflet. They are also expected to present what they find. 
  • Teacher books the laptops for a research lesson.
  • Students research Tudors through the linked file of websites. 
  • Students make notes by copying directly from the books or websites. Although, they are told not to copy and to write in their own words.
  • Students are then allowed to search the internet to find more information. More copying is then done.
  • The powerpoint has all the information on each slide so during the presentation they read every word from each slide.  There is no referencing. 
  • The poster allows a little more presentation skills as it is harder to read from but still every word is read out and again no referencing. 
  • The leaflet is also unreferenced and is put on the classroom wall. 
Learning outcomes

Students find out more about the Tudors through copying from resources provided by teacher. Can cut and paste pictures from Google and can produce a powerpoint, poster or leaflet.

The teacher is unable to check where the information came from due to no referencing. A real problem if a good piece of work is handed in and the teacher now wants to share it on social media. No higher order thinking has been done as all the informant has been given to them. No evaluation of websites has been done as no referencing is needed.

Version 2 teacher collaborates with librarian with higher order thinking and growth mindset. 

  • Teacher and librarian plan topic together. 
  • Librarian makes sure there are good books in the school library and searches for websites to add to the library catalogue saving the teacher time. 
  • Teacher shares the websites that he/she has already found and they too are added to the library catalogue. 
  • Students are told they are doing a project on Tudors and have to produce a powerpoint, poster or leaflet. They are also expected to present what they find. 
  • Librarian and teachers co-teach the importance of keywords and research questions. 
  • Librarian demonstrates how students can find books and websites from the library catalogue.
  • Students use these skills to find books and useful websites. (higher order thinking)
  • Students are expected to read - no note taking is allowed at this stage. 
  • librarian demonstrates other online academic resources available such as Britannica online.
  • Librarian supports a lesson on note taking and referencing. 
  • Librarian and teacher demonstrate how powerpoint is used in a presentations (importance of pictures and information in the notes and not on the slides) including a lesson on presentation skills. 
  • Reminder that referencing is expected.
  • presentations are given peer feedback and references are checked. 
  • students - how can I improve next time? (growth mindset)
  • Here is a case study of such a lesson
Learning outcomes
  • Growth mindset
  • higher order thinking
Students independently find out more about the Tudors. They are able to independently find information which is age appropriate and focused on answering the question rather than a broad topic. All academic resources are used and referenced. All written in the students own words, no copy and pasting.

If a good piece of work has been handed in it can be shared on social media because the correct referencing has been done. A great example of best practice.

The reason this is important

The benefits to working with the librarian is that the students are able to start higher order thinking. They begin to understand that research is not a quick process but if it is done well it can be really interesting and they will learn something. They learn and understand the importance of referencing and giving credit.

Teacher also benefit from this process as they are now skilled in how to use the school library catalogue, academic resources and they too understand how and why referencing is important for future lessons.

If you want to read more I wrote a previous blog on digital literacy that link with this. 

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Teachers: How important is academic honesty? Essential for digital literacy.

Teachers, do you use information ethically when creating resources for teaching? Do you know when it is ok to take pictures from the internet? Do you know if you are breaking copyright laws? Copyright is a complex subject and here is a guide to what you can and can't do within a school setting. Just because it is ok to use resources for educational purposes, it is an individuals right not a shared right of the school and it is time to understand that as teachers you should be demonstrating best practice at all times. Do you reference all your sources whenever you produce something for school? If not where can this lead and why is this a problem? 

Primary and secondary school students do not create original work. Writing it in their own words is not original.  

Many teachers talk to their students about the importance of giving credit for where they find their information but never expect a reference list. This is a real lack of understanding about information and where is comes from. The information we find has been written by someone else and is not original. This is especially true if you are expecting your students to find the answer to a question or to write a piece of research. This is what research is. Finding the answer and referencing where you got it from. No student is going to write something original when researching because this is not what you are asking them to do. Part of the learning process is understanding that we must give credit for what we find. 

If we don't expect a reference how can you, as teachers, work out where the information is coming from? Why do we need to worry about this? As a teacher if you know they have found the correct answer does it matter where they got it from? Yes it does! Most students go to one website. They may very well get the right answer each time without thinking about the source they are using because they want their homework done quickly. Fake News is huge at the moment and without asking for a reference how do you know if they have chosen a good source?  At least if they had a list of sources teachers would be able to have a conversation about the websites used. Teachers are currently working blind and seem to be happy as long as the right answer is given. It is not something that is a concern but it should be. 

Sharing students work beyond school without references.

In todays world it is common to share students work on our school websites or on social media.  If nothing is referenced we are breaking copyright laws and here is where the problems lie. 

Imagine this. One of your students has produced a wonderful piece of work and you want to use it as a wonderful example of learning outcomes. It is well written, got some great pictures and all the information is correct. You decide to share it on the school newsletter and on twitter as an example of best practice. If none of it is referenced then this is not best practice this is embedding that it is alright to break copyright laws.

Research skills are really important in todays world. It's not just about finding the right information but also about making sure it is true, if there is a bias and knowing who wrote it. If teachers insist on allowing their students to use Google as a research tool they must understand the importance of ensuring that their students give credit for what they find and use. Academic honesty and teaching for integrity is going to become more important with the advancement of digital literacies and teachers need to understand their role in ensuring that our students are taught this correctly. 

It is not alright to take pictures and information and not say where they got it from just because their work is only going to hang on the wall of the classroom. there are so many tools today that make this easy. Free pictures like the ones on this blog are available from places like so there is no need to just take from Google images. It is a case of teaching it the right way. Just as it would not be alright for anyone of your students to steal someone's sweets, just because no-one will find out does not make it right. As digital competencies become part of the curriculum it is essential that teachers understand why this is important and know how to teach it. We are giving our students skills for life not just for one assignment. It is important that our students learn about the subject that is being taught but it is just as important to make sure they are given the skills and understand the ethical way to do this too. Many people are writing about this, however, I recently read a blog post by Alison Miller on Developing digital learners which also talks about the importance of digital competencies and gives some great idea of how to use it in the classroom which is worth reading. 

Are you confident about teaching referencing? Your school librarian can help.

The excuses that this takes too long or that it will spoil the enjoyment,  just do not add up. Maybe teachers are not confident at teaching or checking references or maybe they are remembering when they had to reference when they were at university and it did take forever. This is just not the case now. Both Word and Google doc have a built in reference generator which is easy and simple to use. 

Your school librarian will be happy to help teach this but here is an easy guide to how it works on Google docs:-

  • Find the Easybib add on. 

  • Click on EasyBib Bibliography Creator and this box will appear to the right of you document.

  • As you find sources you add them to the generator to the right and it creates the Bibliography. From books to websites they are all there. Once the document is finished click on the red box 'add bibliography to doc and it appears at the bottom of the page. 

This does not take long to learn and is essential for our students to understand academic honesty and teachers need to expect it. It should not make any difference whether our headteachers or policy makers are not asking for this. We all know what is right, this is simple to do and teach and teachers should be leading by example.

Monday, 23 January 2017

Advocacy for school librarians - Training and Personal Learning Networks PLN

Helping teachers set up their own Personal Learning Network (PLN)

As a librarian I am never sure what I am going to be asked to do next. My own skill set is broad and this being the case I am able to do many things which includes training. Recently, after a conversation with a teacher about Personal Learning Neworks (PLN) I realised that my own skills in setting up my  PLN enabled me to support this teacher and potentially support him to train other teachers in his school.  Is this an important part of my job? Absolutely, teaching and sharing my own best practice,  enabling and inspiring teachers to find the information they need themselves is essential. If  I can work alongside teachers to enhance their learning it allows me to talk to them about their students learning too. Raising my profile and skills set helps me to raise awareness for the school library. I can't be in every classroom but I can teach and up skill the teachers which is very definitely my role.

My own personal learning journey. 

It started in 2009,  I had qualified as a librarian in 2003 and after chartering in 2008 it was time to take responsibility for my own development and learning rather than having to do it because I was studying. My own reading, at the time, started and stopped with the CILIP Update magazine but I needed more and really had no idea where to look.

My decision to use social media for personal learning was for two main reasons. Firstly, I had children who were wanting to use Facebook and twitter and at the time I felt that I did not know enough about these resources. Rather than saying no you can't because they scare me, I realised it would be better to find out about social media and how it worked. Secondly, I was aware of the potential for using social media for more than following your favourite pop star and was interested in finding out if I could use them for work. I was particularly keen to know enough about social media so that I would be able to talk to students about it.

In the beginning I decided to use Facebook for friends and family and twitter for work only. This has changed overtime and my Facebook has expanded to special interest groups to share knowledge too. Twitter has enabled me to learn more and connect with people around the world that I would never have been able to otherwise. Some of the most exciting things that I have done in the last year has been because of Twitter. Trips to Toulouse to present about using school libraries across the curriculum, talking to librarians in Arkansas via Google Hangouts and  requests for articles all have come from my PLN on twitter.

So how did I start? I set up an account, worked out how to follow a few librarians and teachers and then I lurked. I read the threads that came through and have to admit that not much of it made any sense. Hashtags and @ and bad English was what it seemed to be all about. I was not sure how this would help me but then I became aware that some of the people I followed were sharing articles that were very useful and because of this I began to read more.  The idea that other professional have read something and thinks it is worth sharing is very powerful. I then became braver and began to retweet and share articles that I found interesting. Finally I took the plunge and sent out my first tweet. It makes me smile when I read it now as I can't stand anyone who writes about that they are about to do.  I do think there may have been a little sarcasm in my first tweet. I had to start somewhere and this was what I chose to write:-

I used the discover twitter to find this. I admit I did get a little distracted by putting in some of my twitter friends in and laughing at their first tweets. Nearly all are as bad as mine :)

I slowly  began to understand how powerful this tool was. I began focusing on the group of librarians and teachers I was following and started making decisions about unfollowing those who were tweeting rubbish. I did not have time to waste so my focus has always been quality. If someone is not useful to my goal I unfollow. This leaves me with a quality group of people who I have learnt so much from. They share their best practice with me, answer questions that I could not answer myself and through this I began to grow in confidence. It gives me a place to share my ideas and enables me to learn about new teaching practices and help me grow as a professional. My PLN is essential to my role as a librarian which enables me to learn and discover more every day.

Where can I start?

If you are looking where to start here are a few suggestions from my social media friends.

PLN on Pinterest

Twitter tools

Twitter for teachers

Education chats on twitter

Educational hashtags