Tuesday, March 23, 2010

SLAV Meeting March 17 2010

I hadn't been to a SLAV regional meeting for some time, because they're usually held at Landmark in Essendon and it's simply not possible to get there in time from my current campus of Sunshine College. They happen about once a term and are usually worth attending.

However, this time the meeting was going to be at Overnewtyn College, a wealthy private school out in the middle of nowhere and the decision has been made for future meetings to happen at schools in the region. This is a good idea, because some time I can offer my own school.

Meanwhile, I had to get a lift and Penny Geoghan, head of the network, organised one for me with Marion Treiber, a lady who works at a deaf school in North Sunshine.

It's always good to catch up with other library staff, something I don't have much chance to do. It was interesting to hear everyone's stories and I learned that other schools are worse off than mine, including one private Catholic school where the library was run by a technician, who has no offsider and looks after 500 students. "Lunchtime? What's that?" she quipped. Schools are really, really going cheap these days, despite their loud declarations about the importance of literacy. Bring on the Federal investigation into school libraries!

Meanwhile, I made sure I was there because the topic of the meeting was supposed to be blogs. I was hoping that my questions would be answered, because last year I attended a conference where I learned about Global Teacher, that lets you do a library blog or a classroom blog. I'd had a go, but was having problems.

Unfortunately, the subject was not brought up till well into the meeting and then mainly to talk about the SLAV blog.I'm sure it will be useful and will certainly take a look, but that wasn't what I'd gone to the meeting to do. I must have misunderstood the theme advertised and am very glad that I didn't bring along one of our English staff as I'd planned to do.

I did ask if anyone was using Global Teacher and would like to talk about it, but it was late in the meeting and Mary Manning suggested that it might be best to take on the on-line course SLAV is offering. If I do, it won't be for the blogging section, because I already have one, I just want to find out why some aspects aren't working for me. I will email around and see if anyone can discuss it.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Latest Reflective Blog Entry: on the Ultranet in Victorian schools

Recently, we had a PD session on the subject of the Ultranet, which is about to make its appearance in Victorian state schools. The enthusiastic presenter showed us all the fabulous things you could do with the new system. "And just think," he added. "If you give them homework where they have to look up something on the Net and they tell you they couldn't do it, you can check to see if they were on-line last night!"

At this point, somebody asked what happens if the kids don't have the Internet at home, as about half of ours don't (No more than 51 % of all our students have access to the Internet at home)? The presenter seemed taken aback and muttered that if there was enough will, somehow this problem could be gotten around.

Meanwhile, we should check out iGoogle, which we can show the kids. So, in a spirit of good will, I did. I had fun adding all sorts of useful widgets to my personal Google page. And that was fine on the staff computer. Just to test it, I tried it out on the student computers, which, alas, are set up to delete anything saved to the hard drive during a work session, because otherwise the kids bring games from home and we end up with viruses. This happened a lot last year.

I added a widget or two to the Google page, then re-booted and went back. Sorry. No widgets. So, until they can think of a way around it, no point in instructing students on the joys of iGoogle.

I am also using our Pathways classes - homeroom activities - to show the students some of the good stuff they actually CAN get out of the Internet and the library catalogue. This is mostly because I can't persuade most of the other staff to let me do likewise for their own classes. We subscribe to Echo, a newspaper index which does a whole lot of other stuff, but the only response I got from discussing it at meetings was "That's too hard for our kids." No doubt it's too hard for some of them, but that's why you do it a bit at a time. And they will need it at VCE level. Year 11 and 12 will involve a lot of newspaper research.

However, at least mine will leave Year 8 knowing some of it, if not all - there is only so much you can do at Year 8 level.

Last Friday I tried it. Some of them got it right away. Others wasted time and had to be kept in after school, if only for a few minutes. At least some of them know.

I will have to try it during a morning class some time.