Monday, January 31, 2011

[headdesk!], then blushes and says Thank You!

Better late than never...

Thank you for whoever nominated (and voted for) Skerricks in the 2010 Edublog Awards!

Very kind of you, and most appreciated.  To be selected for the shortlist in such august (international) company (go read that list for some fabulous library/librarian blogs!) is a great honour.  That page will link you to the winners and the nomination list (Dopey Dora here didn't realise until, like, now, like, when it's all over and finalised!! - although mid-December last year, the end of term and the school year, was a tad busy...).



App of the Week: RedLaser

Having recently acquired (?succumbed to?) an iPhone, I've been exploring the possibilities of apps.  Probably haven't done much more than dip my toe in the water since there are thousands of them...

Anyhoo, thought I might share some of the apps I've found which have been useful for school, one way or another, so if you have or come to acquire a smartphone with app potential you might have some places to start or new apps to explore.
So there I am, out and about in the hols, in a bookshop far from my usual haunts, and they happen to have some good teenlit titles I didn't have in our library.  Sure, I could have snapped photos of the covers, or photos of front and back; but with RedLaser I could get the barcode, some bibliographic info and a thumbnail of the cover, so when I was at my usual local bookseller for school, I had all the info to find it fast (scans are saved until you choose to delete them).

The US version of this seems to have greater functionality than the Australian one as yet - a number of the reviews comment on the gaps in Australian sources/sites/pricing for goods.  You can scan pretty much any barcode and if the app finds a match, it will show details of that product and sources for it (but given the limited Australian functionality I'd be checking prices at other known suppliers rather than relying on the app).  Books probably have a better hit rate than some other goods, as they are generally internationally available.

Still, it has served a useful libraryish purpose over the hols, and I'm sure I'll find more ways to use it.  Be nice if those price check machines in stores worked as efficiently and quickly...



A dozen ways to teach ethical and safe technology use

Read this excellent blog post from Doug Johnson's Blue Skunk blog.



Sunday, January 30, 2011

Blog headers

This weekend, I retired this blog header:

which features our fabbobananas purple word wall, and installed a new blog header, because, well, I've clearly been influenced by waaay too many refurb shows.  Or maybe I just felt like a change.

You remember this photo, taken with the iPhone app Hipstamatic (Kodot film, John S lens) last week?

Foofing it through the iPhone app TiltShift, then cropping and adding some text with a photo editor, arrived at this:

which I rather like because it includes some of the important things about the library - Keep Calm, Welcome, heart, colour, inspiration.  And I like the lairy colours.

Just like it's good to keep your library refreshed (what will you do this week?), it's good to keep your blog refreshed too.  As well as playing with some new toys.  Now to see how I can use these apps to make stuff for school...

Do you like it?



Saturday, January 29, 2011

Libday 3, Wednesday

On Wednesday, it was the Australia Day public holiday.

Also, as forecast, very hot. 42deg Celsius.

So on such a hot day, and at the point in the summer hols when there are some nonkiddyfare new releases in (air-conditioned) cinemas, a shot of (air-conditioned) culture seemed like a great plan.

It was. True Grit was good, Black Swan angsty, Unstoppable sheer popcorn fun.

And the air-conditioning was just the ticket.



- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, January 28, 2011

Effective study: ethnicity vs good habits

There is, wandering about in the education world, an assumption by some that the success of some ethnic groups is related to their ethnicity.  A recent SMH article, reporting on a  DET NSW forum, debunks this.  Chinese students top the tests out of habit, not ethnicity, study shows, by Anna Patty was published on 29 December 2010.  (nb: sometimes the SMH only leaves articles up free for a couple of weeks, and then you have to pay - try the link, but apologies if it doesn't work).

Key points:
  • The place where children do their homework - whether at a desk or in front of the television - may play a big role in how well they do at school
  • ''Successful students see homework as a daily routine,'' Mr Coutts-Trotter said. ''They have a desk of their own and a school and family that help them develop scholarly routines.
  • "Visiting libraries regularly is another thing successful students do.''
  • Children do better sitting at a desk than on a bed; implies a different attitude
  • From primary school, some groups establish better habits - study each day, and for longer.  In the year 3 group studied, the children of Chinese background spent about an hour every night of the week, compared with children of Pacific Islander background - 10 minutes for two to three nights a week - and Anglo Australian children - about 20 minutes on only some nights during the week.
  • Socio-economic background wasn't necessarily a factor in success/failure - good habits helped at any level
I'm interested in this because I'm working on a study skills program for Year 11 which will be running in term 1 this year.  This sort of information demonstrates that students can choose how successful they are; one theme running through the program will be the small choices that add up to greater achievement.  Time.  A desk.  Habits.

I've been bookmarking some resources for this program over in my Delicious Diigo; I'll likely highlight some here, but if you want to toddle over there for a squizz, you're very welcome (there is a preview of the most recent ones over on the right).  If you have ideas/bookmarks you'd like to share in return, please do leave a comment.



    Thursday, January 27, 2011

    How to learn? from mistakes (Diana Laufenberg)

    To start the new school year*, an inspirational TED talk about teaching

    Her three key points (and please do watch the video, don't just clock these and click on in your travels - it's a great ten minutes) are:
    • experiental learning
    • student voice
    • embracing failure
    Page URL if the video doesn't work for you:



    *Yes, the Australian school year follows the calendar - we've just finished our summer holidays and are back for a new school year.

    Wednesday, January 26, 2011

    Glimpsing possibilities

    Sydney is hilly.  The CBD, too.  Sure, some bits are flat, but the edges slope down to the harbour.  I love it when you get off at Wynyard or Martin Place stations - or you're just walking down towards Circular Quay - and you get, through the office blocks and Victorian sandstone, a glimpse of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

    Yes, it's there.  Right in the middle of the picture, below the overhanging balcony on the right, past the curved building on the left.  (I'm besotted with the Hipstamatic camera app on my iPhone at present, which accounts for the look of this photo).  The Sydney Opera House is nice, but I love the bridge. 

    This photo is kinda like some of these holidays.  I'm working on a study skills program for Year 11 in Term 1, to be delivered weekly.  It's a reshaping of content I've already developed, and a reworking of other content, and a complete reprogramming of timetable/delivery.  It's been a long process of thinking, seeing things gradually coming into focus, getting glimpses of the bridges it can build and the habits/mindsets it can help establish with our new senior students.

    I took this photo on a fabulous day in town going to photographic exhibitions.  Annie Leibovitz at the MCAWildlife Photographer of the Year at the Australian Museum and Beach, Bush & Battlers: photographs by Jeff Carter at the State Library of NSW

    This image (source) is The Drover's Wife by Jeff Carter (it was my favourite).  Here's what the SLNSW says about this exhibition:

    The Jeff Carter photographs in Beach, Bush + Battlers have been selected from his remarkable, historically significant archive of over 50,000 works celebrating the lives of everyday Australians in rural, outback, urban and coastal communities dating from the late 1940s through to today.
    Curator Sandra Byron, the leading expert on Carter's work, says about the exhibition: 'Carter's iconic images are a testament to his respect for ordinary people and his commitment to the Australian landscape and environment.'

    It was a wonderful exhibition.  Worth seeing - it closes 20 Feb.  The other two close in March.  If you can get to Sydney on Australia Day, there are a bunch of other things on in the city too (program here) and one of my favourites is the vintage bus service - a chance to ride through the city on a vintage double-decker bus (for only a gold coin donation).  Just slip slop slap; the weather forecast for Wednesday is for a very hot one.

    Why not pass on info about these exhibitions to your Visual Arts/Photography teachers?  And I'm going to be pointing my History and English teachers at the Jeff Carter photos too.  If the Vis Arts people are doing an excursion to Art Express, they could add in one or more of these too.



    Tuesday, January 25, 2011

    Library Day in the Life, Round 6, Tuesday

    During the summer holidays (and with an iPhone handy) I've been in the habit of checking my Twitter stream each morning and emailing interesting tweets for later investigation on my laptop (bigger screen...).

    So, as a snapshot of what I found this morning that I thought might be useful to my work as a teacher librarian - for me, or my colleagues, or the kids - here's what I emailed for future investigation.  It's a lucky dip depending on what others are tweeting and retweeting, and filtered by the people I follow (my Twitter @ruth_skerricks is my professional Twitter stream, where I follow people tweeting about education, technology, libraries, books...).  The motivational quotes are ideas for the senior study skills program I'm working on, some of the other links may or may not be useful, but it's all a great professional development resource.  I can't access Twitter at work (social networking sites are generally blocked) so if I email myself the links I can investigate them and if they prove useful/relevant to others, email them on to colleagues.

    NY Public Library (@nypl)
    25/01/11 9:49 AM
    From our Tumblr: "We can’t behave like people in novels, though, can we?"

    Josh Stumpenhorst (@stumpteacher)
    25/01/11 9:49 AM
    My video tutorial page:  #edchat #edtech
    Fiona Jones (@fionareadersrr)
    25/01/11 9:37 AM
    RT @Infoventurer: Kathryn Greenhill Daily  ▸ stories today @curtinuni @camcd @fionareadersrr @libsmatter @jeanburgess

    Motivational Quotes (@motivatquotes)
    25/01/11 9:27 AM
    Our attitude towards others determines their attitude towards us. ~ E. Nightingale

    Shannon Miller (@shannonmmiller)
    24/01/11 10:20 PM
    RT @pgreensoup Quizlet Flashcards Now Embeddable  #vanmeter

    Buffy Hamilton (@buffyjhamilton)
    24/01/11 10:22 PM
    Seth's Blog: Three ways to help people get things done:

    Shannon Miller (@shannonmmiller)
    24/01/11 10:23 PM
    Joliprint ...Print friendly & PDF your blogs and websites

    Glenda Morris (@jasmont1)
    24/01/11 10:42 PM
    “@glendagregory: Top 10 sites for Creating Digital Magazines and Newspapers by David Kapuler (cont) 

    Guardian Books (@GuardianBooks)
    24/01/11 11:15 PM
    Here's a primer on tonight's TS Eliot Prize, with poems from all the contenders  #books

    Will Richardson (@willrich45)
    24/01/11 11:31 PM
    Reading: A project on the future of education  Interesting vision

    Josh Stumpenhorst (@stumpteacher)
    24/01/11 11:46 PM
    Watching and discussing this with my team today: TED talk about engaging boys in EDU  #edchat

    Judy O'Connell (@heyjudeonline)
    24/01/11 11:58 PM
    The simplybooks Daily is out!  ▸ Top stories today by @booksin140 @sydneyunipress @thereadingzone @readingtub

    Josh Stumpenhorst (@stumpteacher)
    25/01/11 12:08 AM
    What is innovation? Be innovative this week!  #edchat #ntchat

    Publishers Weekly (@PublishersWkly)
    25/01/11 12:06 AM
    Our First Year With Amazon Kindle as an Independent Publisher

    Publishers Weekly (@PublishersWkly)
    25/01/11 12:16 AM
    From FutureBook: what book publishers can learn from the gaming world.

    Phillippa Cleaves (@pipcleaves)
    25/01/11 7:26 AM
    Imagine if our own students made a social network like these :-) RT @ITJil: 20 Social Networks for Lifelong Learners
    Judy O'Connell (@heyjudeonline)
    25/01/11 8:27 AM
    A New Culture of Learning: some thoughts.

    Tehani Wessely (@editormum75)
    25/01/11 7:59 AM
    The Shaun Tan cover art of Australis Imaginarium is eligible for nomination to the Chronos Awards!

    Motivational Quotes (@motivatquotes)
    25/01/11 7:44 AM
    You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself. ~ Jim Rohn

    tripwire magazine (@tripwiremag)
    25/01/11 5:21 AM
    40+ Fresh and Amazing Free Fonts to Download

    Phillippa Cleaves (@pipcleaves)
    25/01/11 7:52 AM
    RT @RoshOR: “@willrich45:"A Tilt in Thought" from a principal. Good stuff.” lets stop whining and just get on with it. 
    Bobbi Newman (@librarianbyday)
    25/01/11 8:53 AM
    Top Ten Links 2.3 – All About Ebooks
    Librarian by Day



    Monday, January 24, 2011

    Library Day in the Life, Round 6, Monday

    No, you didn't miss rounds 1 to 5 on this blog; this is the first time I've played.  You can read all about a myriad of librarian lives at the wiki here.

    But, you say, it's not term time yet; we aren't back till Friday...

    The foyer waiting for its new start-of-year display

    ...ah yes, but it's handy to come in and get a few jobs done while it's quiet.  Collect some paperwork and save some documents I want to work on between now and then. 

    It's dark and quiet and soon won't be either!

    Sniff the air, remember the roads to school, past the orchards and horses.... say howdy to the folks here (some teaching colleagues, my lovely cleaning lady, the maintenance boys)...

    I made some chocolate brownies to take in for the cleaners and maintenance boys.  Went down a treat!

    ...and then flit off to have a tad more holidaying before the summer's done.

    Thinking over the day so far, I started library work before leaving home, when I checked my Twitter stream and saved some links to follow up.  Been doing that all holidays - so many good things have come up. 



    Saturday, January 22, 2011

    Support the Flood Relief Appeal

    If you would like to support the flood relief appeal and acquire something beautiful and craft-made, toddle on over to the Etsy shop which is bursting with items supplied by generous craftworkers who are donating the proceeds to help those affected by the floods.  Lookee here.

    You can also find more goodies here.




    Thursday, January 13, 2011

    Library Disaster Recovery Resources

    ASLA has a page with a bunch of useful links - ways to contribute, affected schools, dealing with sodden books.

    A number of creative people are setting up auctions of handmade items with the proceeds going to the flood relief fund.  Find out more here (and read the comments for more, as well as the blog entry):

    Cheers (and best wishes to all those affected by flood and fire this January)


    Sunday, January 2, 2011

    Save your Delicious bookmarks before they vanish!

    We interrupt holiday silence for a brief announcement...

    Assorted news reports and tweets and so forth indicate that Yahoo is planning to sell Delicious, and mentioned is the ominous word 'sunset'.  Hmmm.  I've been a happy user of Delicious and certainly don't want to lose my bookmarks.  I also want to keep using an online bookmarking site for its convenience - my bookmarks available from any computer.  Social bookmarking is a handy beast.

    I exported my Delicious bookmarks to a saved file on my computer, so I have them as they stand (login to your Delicious account, and exporting is an option in the Tools menu).  Next, I was going to import them into Google Bookmarks (there are literally dozens of possibilities, as I found reading said articles/tweets) but hey, the Google instructions assumed you have or can install the Google toolbar and Firefox.  I'm on a DET laptop right now, and can't do either.  So instead I toddled over to Diigo and it was easy as pie to set up an account and import that saved file.

    So now if you look over on the right you'll see a list of my latest Diigo bookmarks.  I'm not alone; millions of Delicious bookmarks are apparently being exported/imported elsewhere as we speak.  It's not a bad idea, anyway, to export one's bookmark file and save it to a computer from time to time, just in case...



    PS. Another section of my presentation on Personal Learning Networks that I'll have to revise...

    Until Australia Day...

    Until Australia Day (26 January) we are all on summer holidays, with time to notice stained glass on wooden floors, and other such things to restore the soul and engage the eye.  Time to read, and create, and think.  If you're in Oz too, I hope you're enjoying your break.  The happy life of teacher librarians includes holidays, hurrah!

    I'll show you the 2010 Christmas pictures I promised, but towards the end of this year, in time to give you some fresh ideas.

    New stuff coming in late January! (I'm planning a Year 11 study skills program, among other things).

    Happy New Year, and all the best to you and yours.