On the 15th March Auckland SLANZA met to celebrate the launch of David Riley's latest book in his sporting series; Powering up with Joseph Parker. We were very lucky that David could spend the time to be with us, as he is in high demand for his talks all over the country.
David is passionate about helping young people to engage with books and connect with their cultures. As a teacher and writer, he carefully chooses to write about sporting heroes with human qualities, in order to connect with his readers and encourage them to see the relevance of literacy in real life. He won't write a book unless he gets the go-ahead from his subject. We heard that Powering up with Joseph Parker took five years of research and a year to write. As someone who self-publishes (and relies on the income from one book to finance the next) David told us that he can lose as much as 40% if his books are sold via book suppliers rather than directly from his website readingwarrior.com. He encouraged everyone to buy from him directly and promised a speedy delivery.
David's talk prompted a plea for more books on the people and culture of Tuvalu who have a special problem as global warming refugees. Finally Karen Leahy thanked David very much for his time wishing him every success with his new book and calling him a treasure for the valuable work that he does in schools.
Susan Court (seen above on the right with Lisa Allcott, National Library Facilitator) has been a Reading Recovery Teacher since 1991, both in New Zealand and Australia, and is now a Reading Recovery Trainer and Tutor at the University of Auckland. Hot from speaking at the IBBY Congress, Susan addressed around 23 Teachers and Librarians on the last day of winter at The National Library in Parnell.
Learning to read is a very complicated cognitive journey and there is no one rule to fit all, as Susan Court says, “Reading, like thinking, is a complex process”. No one can explain why one child finds it easy to read and another finds it so hard. However, we all know the benefits of reading, and that even though it may take some students longer than others to acquire this skill, once learnt it will reap enormous rewards. As with the most competent of readers “the books we select to teach children to read should be ones they want to read and enjoy” (Clay, 2005).
In 1963 Marie Clay, a New Zealander, followed children in an observational survey of early literacy achievement for a year, and asked ‘Can we see the reading process going astray?’ As a result she came up with The Standardized Observation Survey of Early Literacy Achievement, which is a means of determining gaps in a six year-old students grasp of reading and writing, and a very useful tool for reading recovery. “All readers …need to find and use different kinds of information in print and combine the information which they find in print with what they carry in their head from their past experiences with language” (Clay, 2013:14).
Susan showed us examples of the Ready to Read series of books, which were first published in 1963. They are “student texts, for guided and shared reading distributed free to all New Zealand schools with junior classes.” (http://literacyonline.tki.org.nz/Literacy-Online/Planning-for-my-students-needs/Instructional-Series/Ready-to-Read) She then went on to clarify the difference between the two instructional approaches of shared and guided reading. Shared reading involves teachers using large books with their students so that they can enjoy, participate and respond to the story together. Once they have shared the stories many times, students can read smaller versions of the book independently. So guided reading texts are those introduced after the shared reading.
In order to demonstrate the elements of reading (and how confusing this can be) Susan put us in the place of students who are just beginning to learn how to read. She did this by showing us a page of symbols and challenging us to decipher them. Then she asked us to explain what techniques we had used to find any meaning. The next step was to look at a page of symbols with a picture and it was amazing what this added to the process. Finally we looked at some Ready to Read picture books and tried to spot the literacy challenges, and progression, across a variety of reading levels. As a group we found it a very interesting exercise and it even highlighted the reasons why some senior level readers find the repetition, and the familiar content of series, so compulsive.
Apart form gaining an insight into how children learn to read I think we all enjoyed the excuse of reading the Greedy Cat stories!
This term we are inviting all members (and non-members) to visit the fabulous bookstore 'Heroes for sale' on Wednesday March 23rd.
New friends made, old friends caught up with, highs & lows of the year shared, there was lots and lots of talk at our Auckland event. The food was amazing and the drinks were cold so the noise level increased accordingly.
Joanne Drayton was a dynamic speaker who kept us well entertained as she told us of how she came to write her book on Anne Perry. Joanne’s research process; interview style, and her insights into the teenager Juliet Hulme and the woman & writer, now Anne Perry was at times hilarious and definitely thought provoking.
We also celebrated the presentation of a Life Membership award to our friend and colleague Kaaren Hirst (St Mary's College, Ponsonby).
Christine Hurst, Library Manager, Macleans College, Howick, Auckland.
We’d discussed sharing a taxi on the Librarians email list and once the flight arrived, and there was no sight of the person we were supposed to meet, I realised quite a major flaw in my plan - we hadn't exchanged phone numbers. The taxi pulled into the main driveway at St. Andrews School, and I'm sure the driver thought we were going to do a runner because he repeated several time "The school is closed. School holidays.”
I found our accommodation in the hostel, which was a pleasant surprise, and then went to the meet and greet. I spoke to several people I know, and met several more whose names I recognised from the Listserv. After a long chat with the ladies at Access-It (l'm a huge fan) I did the rounds of supplier exhibits and grabbed a few pens. A few of us from the hostel were ready for dinner so we set off across the field and down the main drag towards the shops. The first place we came across was Thai, so we dived in to a selection of dishes. Back at the hostel a pre-bed cup of tea and I was ready for bed. The daylight savings change that morning meant it was only really 7pm, but it felt like 10pm. A long read of a good book (The Girl on the Train, in case you're wondering. An excellent read). All in all a good first day.
After trying not to fall out of the single bed all night, I headed off to breakfast. The dining room manager was a humorous man, which helped to start the day on the right note.
The first keynote speaker, Roger Dennis, was interesting (technical issues aside). He talked about how the world was changing rapidly and the growing technology curve showed an increase in tech over a short period of time. He talked about the pace of change going faster and faster, and to keep up he recommended buying Wired magazine, and also checking out Scanadoo, Tell Spec, and Thingiverse. He also reckoned that reverse mentoring is all the rage these days; find a digital superhero kid who knows what changes are coming up. I shall be on the lookout! When asked if we should be teaching our kids coding he said no, get kids to learn the logic that computers use, but not coding. When asked about e-books and print books, he said that print offers a serendipity that you don't get with digital; you don't know what's coming next in print.
My first workshop of the day was on e-books and e-literacy. Apparently research shows that we are reading more than ever before, just differently. Some read digitally, and some by print, and others a mixture of both. Setting up for e-books in your school can be tricky, and having to think about all the different technology can be challenging.
Next I went to find out about the librarian's toolbox. I got so much out of this session! The presenter had a website full of links to some really cool ideas, and I walked away from her session thinking that my year 9 orientation sessions next year are going to be transformed.
Mark Osborne from CORE Education was our second keynote speaker who delved into the modern learning environment. He challenged us to think of the library as no longer a storehouse, but as makerspaces/hackerspaces. We heard about, and saw, some amazing collaboration spaces.
The last workshop of the day was on how libraries are the new relevancy. The presenter talked about the many ways she has changed the library space at her school, in particular bringing the library staff out from the back room to be ‘front of house’ and interacting with the students more. The vacated space was then used by IT. I love the idea that the IT Department is more accessible to students.
The SLANZA awards and happy hour was next. A full, exhausting day.
Keynote, Janelle Riki, was an amazing speaker. I loved hearing about her family, and her journey. Hers was another message about change, and Janelle’s Seek slide showing the demand for certain industries, and lack of demand for others, was an eye opener. She helped me view my students from a different perspective, and my library (and me) will be better for it.
My first workshop of the day was on e-books with the Access-It ladies. I gleaned some great ideas for using the new OPAC. My second workshop was about using customisable quizzes to engage students. We did some Dewey quizzes while learning about how Kahoot and Socrative works (I wasn’t the fastest, but was pleased to see I know my Dewey!). Oh what fun! This built on the session from day 1, and I was starting to see how my student librarians training sessions might be transformed.
The final workshop was Creative Commons. I thought I had a good grasp of this topic, but I was educated further. I came away with a plan to make sure my school is licensed.
We were then bussed to Cashmere High School followed by Upper Riccarton Community Library. I had a great nosy around, took loads of photos and came away buzzing with ideas.
Browsed the trade tables and got pens.
That night was the conference dinner. The food served at the Ilex Centre was delicious (I don’t think I will ever taste better than Canterbury beef!), and the entertainment was…well, it was entertaining.
The last day of conference, and the keynote speaker first up was Kay Oddone talking about Makerspaces. This is definitely the buzzword of the conference, and Kay showed many ways that our libraries can become makerspaces. This talk also focussed on the changing world and how the job landscape for our young people will look very different in the next 2-5 years. Much food for thought.
I did a final round at the sponsor’s stands and made sure I had spoken to all of them. Got more pens.
The last workshop was how to Zhoosh up your Book Club. Is it telling that out of all the workshops this one solicited the most note-taking from me? I came away with squillions of ideas and can’t wait to implement them in my book club.
Workshops I wish I could have gone to:
●Engaging readers with engaging book talks
●Spicing up summer: summer reading programmes
●Don’t panic: a hitch-hikers guide to book week
●Why don't they just behave?
●Developing info-savvy students
●Digital footprints: you are what you click
●Tertiary prep programme
●BYOD: One school library’s journey
My overall focus on this conference was eBooks and digital libraries, as this is an area that we are currently looking at in my school. But I chose some workshops at the expense of missing out on others that I desperately wanted to go to. Luckily for me, a colleague was able to plan her workshops so that we didn’t go on the same ones, and we were able to have an in depth debrief following the conference. This is a strategy I recommend to anyone who has a buddy or colleague going to conference.
So with a focus of eBooks, I listened to how schools were implementing their programmes, how they’d gauged the comprehension of eBooks vs print, and how successful (or not) e-books are in their schools. My conclusion is that while they add a dimension to the collection, they are not the holy grail of library services.
There was much talk of makerspaces, or hackerspaces. I watched and listened, fascinated at how this new philosophy (dare I call it a craze?) was being adopted in school libraries. And while I had moments of excitement, I know deep down that this is not something that will work in my school. At this time. In the meantime, I will be taking all the wonderful things that I have learnt and adapt them to my school community. Which is the way it should be, don’t you think?
What did I learn from the conference?
●Librarians are an amazing bunch of people
●The amount of collective knowledge within the SLANZA membership is far-reaching
●There is no substitute for meeting your peers in person
●You can discuss library things over a glass of wine much easier than an email list
●SLANZA rocks! (thank you SLANZA for my conference ticket)
●I will never run my library orientation sessions the same again
●You can never have enough pens
So in conclusion, did I love my first SLANZA conference? Hell yes! Will I go to another one? Hell yes! Try and keep me away!
EPIC Databases training with Paula Banks
Student expectations are high. As librarians working in a digital environment we are expected to empower our students and school community with tools which will enable them to search, evaluate and retrieve information that they can understand and use in the right context for their inquiry learning.
EPIC - Electronic Purchasing in Collaboration - is the national e-licensing initiative that provides access to electronic databases free to all New Zealand school libraries, funded by the Ministry of Education. On Saturday the 29th August over 40 school librarians, and teachers, met together at the National Library building in Parnell, Auckland, to be updated on EPIC database usage by Paula Banks, the EPIC manager. Participants came from all parts of Auckland, as well as Hamilton, Thames and Christchurch.
Paula's presentation was excellent, she captured our attention and enabled an easy flow of questions and answers between us all. She introduced us to many new features now available from EPIC including how to use EZproxy URL's and search widgets (search boxes that can be embedded on any web page that allow users to conduct a search directly).
Ruth, from Thames High School, said "that usually if I can take one thing away from a workshop it is good, but today I will take away a lot more".
A PDF copy of Paula's presentation can be found here and she is presenting at the upcoming SLANZA National Conference in September. We highly recommend her workshop.