It was remiss of me not to mention that this week, I’m holiday in New Zealand- so no TL stuff. My wife and I are staying in Tauranga which is in the north island of NZ, with my sister and brother in law. There is a library connection here as my sister has just retired as librarian of the public library at Mount Maunganui – and the village of Mount Maunganui has a superb beach as well as the Mount itself which is a good climb. Where we’re staying is by the bay and the tide comes in and goes out each day, so there’s always much to see. So trying to relax and do some walking, sightseeing and drinking some excellent New Zealand wine.
Archive for September, 2008
On the radio this morning here in Australia, there was an interview about Google’s new web browser which is called Chrome. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s thinking “Why do we need a new web browser when we have Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari?”. The other question to ask is “Is this another example of Google trying to manage everything we do electronically?” Well, the answer could be “we don’t” to the 1st and “yes” to the 2nd but the web is constantly changing, so we need to evaluate potentially useful tools and Chrome may be one of them – it’s hard to say as yet. It looks fast, is simple to use and is an open source product, so Google are being, on the face of it, generous.
Recently, my wife went with some friends to Kakadu National Park and they went on an amazing boat trip on the Yellow River where they saw a great range of birds and some fierce looking crocodiles. There are many photos on our friend and excellent photographer Pauline Moore’s Flickr site but Pauline kindly sent me the one below, which is not on Flickr. The colours are outstanding.
Visual search engines such as Kartoo have been around for a while now. Other visual search engines such as SearchMe are being tried out by teacher librarians. There’s a good comparative article on the excellent Listio website, which looks at 4 different visual search engines. There are number of interesting features in SearchMe, including the ability to stack i.e. you can drag the thumbnails of your selected sites into a stack (which you create) and then you can save them, like your favourites, or email them to someone else. In a world where Google is always the first port of call – and I’m as guilty as everyone else – allowing our students to see search engines such as SearchMe gives them an oportunity to think more about how they search and how they can use what they find.
On Sunday I was involved in the organisation of the Wagga Wagga Lake to Lagoon event – a 9.5K run, wlak or cycle. This is a free event which attracted over 2000 entrants. Now Wagga Wagga has a population of about 60,000 people and this means that, apart from a few people who visit from outside Wagga Wagga, 3.3% of the population took part. There is a run in Sydney called City to Surf which attracts 65,000+ people. We (the Lake to Lagoon committee) reckon that, given Sydney’s population and Wagga Wagga’s, that City to Surf would attract 130,000 runners and walkers if it matched Wagga Wagga proportions. So, onya rural Australia. Picture below of the winner’s trophy and L2L stalwart Paul Gooden.
Thanks to David for sending a comment on the previous posting. This raises the issue of whether we as the teacher librarian community can persuade our school managers to allow access to Web 2.0 tools such as Flickr or YouTube - or at least to particular parts of these sites. There’s a good introduction to Web 2.0 in a PowerPoint by Ken Price in which he mentions the problems of potentially educational uses of Web 2.0 being thwarted by administrators. In some ways, this is understandable as schools have to be wary of extremists in their community who tend to see evil lurking in technologies which students use themselves outside school. A better approach might be to try to ask an administrator to provide access to a particular set of photos on Flickr or a particular YouTube video and if the world doesn’t come to a sudden end when students view this, then perhaps this might lead to further access. Give it a try.
As I’ve noted before, walking along the Murrumbidgee River in Wagga Wagga is one of life’s great pleasures and going after work when the sun is low in the sky and the gum trees show off their complex colours, is particularly soothing. There are also a range of bird species – like the one below – some of which flit noiselessly from tree to tree while others, like the cockatoos, scream at each other. The heron in the picture is an epitomy of calm. So a Herring watching a Heron waiting for fish.
Today I was visiting Whitefriars College in Melbourne and, in particular, Rhonda Powling the teacher librarian. Rhonda and her team have taken Web 2.0 tools and used them in wide range of curricular contexts e.g. students using photos from Flickr to incorporate in assignments or students creating video presentations when reviewing books (fiction and non-fiction) and incorporating aspects of the English and Art curricula. As Rhonda says, we need to move on in our use of Web 2.0 tools and think more widely e.g. students can use mobile phones to photograph an object or a whiteboard slide to study later. But if the school doesn’t let students bring their phones in…. Rhonda’s blog has lots of examples – check it out.
I’m writing this in the State Library of Victoria - which has wireless access for members but also visitors – a great service. It’s also a magnificent building and you’d need a week to get round all of it – art exhibitions, early Melbourne manuscripts, sport and war – you can come in here and do no real work at all if you feel so inclined
Reading the latest issue of Jamie McKenzie’s From Now On - there’s an article by JM himself entitled Beyond Cut and Paste. The article discusses the fact that students often cut and paste because of the poor quality of the assignments which are set for them. McKenzie suggests having a meeting of all teachers and coming to an agreement that lazy assignments – e.g. find out all you know about Captain Cook and write 750 words – be abandoned and replaced with assignments which challenge the students e.g. asking them to compare Captain Cook with other famous sea captains. Questions have been McKenzie’s focus for a good number of year now – teachers posing challenging questions and students developing their own questions – but it’s good to be reminded of this.
One of the delights of being back in Wagga Wagga is the gum trees which can be found around the campus and elsewhere. Gum trees are, of course, eucalypts and there are many different kinds. One feature of some of the gums is that they shed their bark and have wonderfully smooth trunks which glisten in the Australian sunshine. You do have to be careful if you have the urge to feel just how smooth the trunks are, as there are often long trails of ants scurrying up and down the trunks. The picture below is of some gums just near my office on the campus.
In my last post, I referred to the articleby Ann Dutton Ewbank and Judi Moreillon, entitled Is there a teacher-librarian world view? This we believe.. I’ve been thinking more about this and, if I was writing that article, I would cite information literacy as the first element in the discussion. The logic for this is that, unless students have the requisite IL skills to access and make sense of the information resources in the library and accessible by the library, having access may not, in itself, be all that valuable. The other aspect of the article that is interesting from a world point of view, is that it focuses on democracies. As we know, not all countries in the world are democracies but it surely does not follow that, because a school library exists in a non-democratic country, the role of the TL is somehow diminished. So we do have to be careful of taking a Western style democratic view of issues like the role of the TL and the information literate person – who again might not be a democrat (note the small “d”).
Having friends round for a meal the other night, I discovered that the term “fish pie” means something different in Australia than it does in the UK (and possibly other cold (?) countries. They expected a pie to have pastry on it. The recipe I use (adapted from a few I’ve found) has a base of sweated leeks (chopped small) and broccoli (steamed and chopped), then a layer of fish and prawns poached in milk – the milk has butter in it and is used as the liquid to make a parsley sauce i.e. milk and butter liquid from fish and prawns combined with fresh finely chopped parsley and thickened with cornflour. You leave this layer to cool. Meanwhile, boil some potatoes and sweet potato and mash these together with some butter (or alternative). Add a layer of potato on top of the existing 2 layers, line with a fork so it resembles a ploughed field and bake in the oven for about 30 minutes at 190 degrees centigrade or until it is bubbling. The fish I used here in Wagga Wagga was barramundi. In the UK, I’d use a mixture of haddock and smoked haddock. If you are a ‘pastry pie’ person, try this alternative. I used a square dish and one of my guests asked why I didn’t use a round dish. The answer, of course, is that, in Scotland, all Pi R Squared.