Ebook platforms investigated

For the past 12 months I have kept a close eye on the ebook market. So  much has been discussed about the various ebook platform providers such as Overdrive and Wheelers E-books. Much research and head scratching  has been endured.

The overwhelming consideration was to ensure we moved into the ebook sphere and provide such a service to the students and staff of OLMC – after all we are living in the technology-rich 21st Century. For us (the OLMC Library) to continue to forge our way into being a networked school community we need to ensure we offer a range of resources 24/7 to continue the vision of being a “library without walls”. The opportunity to offer students and staff literature and non-fiction books from the comfort of their homes directly to their iPad, e-reader, laptop or other device via our LMS was a must.

Cost was a major factor in our deliberations. We couldn’t justify at this point approx. $4000 (Au) for Overdrive. Wheelers Ebooks, a New Zealand company, was our chosen platform for the following reasons:

*  the ebooks we purchase are OWNED by the school even if we decided to go with another platform down the track. To my knowledge other ebook providers licence their ebooks rather than allow libraries to own titles.

*  cost. At just over $1000 (including GST) we were able to set up a platform that integrates into our library management system (V-Library) in the lending out of titles and it works with SCIS. There’s no annual spend on books and the annual cost of hosting is much cheaper.

*  the ebooks can be read on most devices, including iPads, laptops, tablets, most ebook readers, iPhones

*  we received a good amount of credit to get us started with the purchase of ebooks. There’s also many popular Project Gutenberg titles available too for free.

*  loans automatically expire after the loan period and returned in readiness for the next reader.

*  the ebooks contained DRM software designed for the Australian market.

*  there’s quite a bit of Australian content in both fiction and non-fiction titles.

It wasn’t an easy decision.  The journey is just beginning. We’re sorting through the ebook catalogue selecting titles in readiness to launch with our school community in the near future.  Stay tuned.

 

What have I been up to?

It has been a busy time as a teacher librarian (and now Head of Library) at OLMC. The library continues to be an important learning hub within the school and critical to enhancing learning and teaching programs at OLMC.

Here is a bit of a rundown of what we (my Teacher Librarian colleague Rachel and I) have been dong over the past few months.

Developing an information literacy matrix for Years 7-10 with the view to it being in the embedded in the curriculum. For this we are attempting to match up information literacy skills and attributes with units of work, assessment tasks and class activities. I hope to be able to share some of it soon.

We launched our OLMC Library blog – this is the place where we share news and reviews about books and reading with the school community. We welcome any comments too from students. I hope  overtime we can get more discussion happening via the comments to enable the blog to be a place for sharing and exchange of ideas about all things related to reading.

Ebooks – After much thought, reading, discussion, attending professional learning sessions and hearing other’s opinions on ebooks and schools, we have decided to use Wheelers Ebooks as our ebook platform. This deserves a blog post in itself and one is on its way.

Libguides – After listening to Joyce Valenza‘s  presentations in July 2011 in Melbourne, I was inspired to use Libguides not only as a place for our subject guides/pathfinder but also to be the platform for our library website. Our Libguides site is nearing launch date (stay tuned!) – I prefer to have good content prior to launching. We are slowly moving away from the wiki we had been using for 18 months as I, and my teacher librarian colleague, don’t wish to have multiple online sites (library website, wiki etc.) This definitely has a post coming on this one.

Student blogging has started at OLMC. My colleague Rachel and I have  just launched blogs with just over 400 students in Years 7 and 8 as part of their fortnightly wider reading lesson in the library. Using Global2 as our platform (which is an Edublogs Campus site and free to Government and Catholic schools in Victoria) we have created blogs for our students to share in the joy of reading and books with a global audience.

As you can see this is only a taste of what we have been doing – I haven’t even mentioned the pathfinders, the many young adult novels read, our reading classes, learning and using Understanding By Design
Yes, we have been busy little bees. I know that we are continuing the move and embracing change.
Image: Embracing Change by George Couros on Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/georgecouros/6171928113/

Experiment Google Custom Search Engine

Today I have been experimenting with Google Custom Search Engine. As a teacher librarian and educator I thought it was about time that I learnt to build a search engine that is customised with content, or a collection of sites/pages, on a particular topic(s) for a class/year level. What I liked is that the search engine can be shared by a a link or by embedding it onto a class blog or wiki.

Building a customised search engine was EASY.
1. You need to have a Google Account and sign in.
2. Go to the Google Custom Search Engine page and click “Create a Custom Search Engine”.
Google Custom Search  Engine start page

3. Set up your search engine with the name and description of your search engine. Add the specific websites/web pages you want to include on your search engine. Then choose the standard free edition (you can remove the ads in preferences because you’re an educator). Agree to the terms and click next.
Setting up a Google Custom Search Engine

4. Select and/or customise the look of your search engine and road-test it. You can make changes to the websites/web pages if you wish.
Road testing search engine

5. Get the code for embedding your custom search engine into your blog, wiki or other website.
Getting the code

6. Alternatively, you can get your customised search engine’s unique URL.
custom_search__unique_URL_screenshot_17

7. Go to your “My search engines” page, where you can click the control panel button to further customise your search engine. In particular by clicking on “control panel”, then clicking “business settings” and under the “preferences” heading there’s an option to turn off advertising by checking the box “do not show ads on results pages”.
Final custom search screenshot

Yes, it’s that easy. Below is my brief, experimental custom search engine on volcanoes that I have embedded. What I like is that you can always go back and tweak your work.

In addition, custom search engines can be collaborative. Inside the control panel you can click on the “collaboration” link, where you can send invites to those who you would like to collaborate with on the search engine. Custom search engines enable staff within a particular faculty to contribute to its own unique search engine where students access only pre-selected and evaluated sites. Importantly students will be searching a limited number of websites that are highly relevant. This is very important for all students, in particular younger students in your classrooms.

PD reflection: The 5 E’s

Apply_5e's

Participating with OLMC’s science PD on the 5 E’s provided me with the opportunity to learn a new framework (to  me) that encourages inquiry and application of knowledge. This constructivist learning model assists students to construct new ideas and information based on their prior knowledge and encourages them to explore concepts and make connections with the ‘real world’ through learning experiences structured by the teacher.

Each of the 5 E’s describes a phase of learning.

1. Engage – attempts to find out what students already know on the whole topic and elicit their prior knowledge and should assist students to become engaged in the concept, skill or process to be learned and raises questions.
Consider KWL Charts , concept maps or other graphic organisers, drawing pictures, open questions, discussions …

2. Explore – allows students have hands-on experience of the topic or skill and challenges students tackle the phenomenon and describe it in their own words.  Students can ask questions, test their ideas, investigate and attempt to solve problems.

3. Explain - this stage follows once students have explored the topic or skill being studied, the explanation follows the experience. The teacher allows students to demonstrate their current level of understanding with the teacher using  to confirm students’ explorations and explanations are formalised with scientific vocabulary.  

4. Elaborate- enables deeper learning to take place. Students extend their knowledge through student design investigations (SDIs) and importantly provides opportunities for them to consolidate their knowledge through applying it to different contexts and settings.

5. Evaluate- This phase encourages students to review and reflect upon their learning, new understanding and skills for the whole unit. Teacher also summatively assesses student understanding and skills against the standards.

 In summary, what I like about this learning strategy is that the teacher acts as a facilitator rather than an instructor or ‘giver’ of knowledge. As it is a constructivist approach it enables students to take an active role in their learning, rather than being passive and just as receivers of information. Importantly it promotes higher order thinking and the application of knowledge to real-life situation. “Be information extracting, not information giving” (Melitta Jones, Australian Catholic University, Ballarat, 2011).

Do any other educators or teacher librarians use the 5 E model of learning with their classes or in their schools? What do you think? 

Learning about about the 5 E’s and my knowledge and understanding of Web 2.0 tools is summed up in Brit Gow’s Slideshare where she links each phase of the 5 E’s to Web 2.0 tools.

Literacy and ESL reading strategies and resources PD

Earlier this year (March 24) I attended a professional development session organised by the Catholic Library Association of the Northern Sector (CLANS) on the topic of improving reading and literacy levels (especially with ESL students in mind). The guest speaker was CRC St Albans Literacy Coordinator, Hanya Senjov, who outlined her school’s approach to its literacy program and reading intervention strategies relating to oral comphrension strategies, ESL and the association literacy professional development encountered by staff.

What was impressive about Senjov’s presentation from a teacher librarian’s perspective  was the high-interest, low-reading level resources. In geographical areas where literacy rates are low it is vital that school libraries cater for these students needs. This is where the high-interest, low-reading level resources play a vital part. Senjov highlighted the importance that the whole school’s teaching community to banded together and worked together toward a common goal – to improve students literacy and reading levels. Collaboration  with all teachers and library team was a critical component of the school’s vision.

High-Interest, Low reading level resources

Borrowing recommendations
Languages and Multicultural Education Resource Centre (LMERC) – is great for borrowing ESL/multicultural resources

Melbourne store specializing in these texts http://www.teslbooks.com/
Purchase recommendations

  • Fast Forward – (Nelson, CENGAGE) developed for middle-years students (ESL backgrounds, learning difficulties, disengaged/disinterested readers) who maybe struggling with literacy. Fast Forward aims to engage and increase reading ability and confidence by appealing to the student’s interest level and reading level.
  • Gr8 Reads Series – Titles such as “Coma”, “The Chain” and “Alien” - dark-looking covers, published by Barrington Stoke.
  • Orca
  • Blake Education
  • Graphic novels
  • DK Graphic Readers
  • Verse novels – great for wider reading or a booklisted novel at Years 9-10. E.g. Australian author Steven Herrick
  • Macmillan – Fast Zone series is a remedial reading program with attractive layout, font, easy-reading and interesting topics.
  • Hawker Brownlow – Comprehensive Assessment of Reading Strategies (CARS)
  • Scholastic FX books – Phonics Fluency for Older Readers. A collection of 24 high-interest, age-appropriate texts for struggling readers and English-language learners in middle and high school who need to practice and review essential phonics concepts.
  • Direct Library Supplies
  • Fast Track Classics – abridged versions of classic novels with CD.
  • Extreme Sports series by Lerner Publishing
  • Amazing Athletes by Lerner Publishing – readable biographies on popular sports champions
  • The Life and Times of … series by Heinemann Library
  • Surf To Success and the Winners basketball series by Hawker Brownlow

reading images

Tech Talk Tuesdays Webinar co-presentation on GTA experiences

Image courtesy: Cartoon Motivators

Image courtesy: Cartoon Motivators

Every now and then you do something that makes you step right out of your comfort zone and continue that journey of life-long learning and discovery. Recently I had the privilege co-present with Tania Sheko a webinar via Elluminate for Tech Talk Tuesdays relating to our Google Teacher Academy (GTA) experiences. While I had attended Elluminate webinars previously, I had NEVER presented at one. Anne Mirtschin asked Tania and myself to share our experiences of the GTA in terms of the application and selection process, the agenda and the flow of the day-and-a-half, the philosophy of Google and its headquarters and talk about some of the Google tools that really appealed to us.  It certainly was not a blow-by-blow account of all the Google tools and applications we covered at the GTA.

It’s a very different experience presenting at a webinar.  While I was a little nervous to begin I felt at times I was trying to do many things at the one time, for example, trying to keep an eye on the chat box for questions and think off the top of my head, while not blabbering on too much. Thankfully Anne Mirtchin was hosting the show and with her webinar-presenting experience kept a closer eye on the chat box than I could. Presenting at an online webinar could perhaps be thought of as more of a conversation rather than a direct presentation where you are up on show the the whole time. Next time, if the opportunity arises to present online again, I’ll have to try and be a little more relaxed and just go with the flow of the session. I hope down the track when I’ve had a chance to further develop my own skills and implementing many of these Google tools and applications at OLMC that I will have an opportunity to share my progress in making a difference to learning and teaching and improving students’ and teachers’ skills in ICT. I work towards Without a doubt this was a professionally rewarding experience. Thanks Tania too for being a great co-presenter.

What surprised me was the worldwide participants attending this webinar. Not only were there Australians but we were accompanied by educators from New Zealand, Malaysia and the United States.

Thanks to Tania Sheko here is the slide presentation and the archived Tech Talk Tuesdays recording can be listened to here.

Google Teachers Academy debrief & webinar

This week will be a big week for some Google Certified Teachers (GCTs) from Victoria. It will be there opportunity to hear from some newly-graduated GCTs who attended the Google Teachers Academy (GTA), Sydney on April 20 and 21 as they ‘debrief’ and pass on their experiences and some newly-acquired knowledge.

Why not join Jess McCulloch, Tania Sheko, Tony Richards and myself (plus any other GCTs are most welcome) as we informally chat about our experiences and impressions of the GTA, the agenda, the GTA cohort and their backgrounds, our Action Plans, the Google Sydney headquarters and answer plenty of your questions.  We stress this is an informal chat and not a grandiose presentation.

When: Saturday May 14, 2-4.30 pm.

Where: Mill Park Library. 394 Plenty Road, Mill Park, Melbourne.

Courtesy Judith Way

Courtesy Judith Way

This is a FREE event and is open to all interested educators. There is only room for 30 people, so the first 30 to register on the Google Doc. If you miss out, add your name to the ‘waiting list’ section. Tea and coffee will be available.

If you are a Google Certified Teacher and would also like to present along with us, please add your details to the document.

WEBINAR – Tech Talk Tuesday

For those of you who can’t attend the May 14 debrief in person, then why not drop by Elluminate on Tuesday May 10 (4-5pm Australian Eastern Time) to Tech Talk Tuesdays where  Tania Sheko and myself will co-present and talk about the GTA and our experiences of this event, you can learn all about GTA and how we plan to share our new knowledge of Google Tools with other educators. Tech Talk Tuesdays is a webinar that uses Elluminate for online presentations and discussions. You can join this session by following the link here.

google-certified-teacher

I’ve Been Googled: GTASYD reflection

GTA banner

Google is much, much more than just a search engine!

This statement encapsulates my learnings from the recent Google Teachers Academy (GTA). Intensive, comprehensive, fast-paced, mind-blowing, full-on …  are just a few of the many words one could use to describe the GTA, which was held in Sydney on April 20 and 21, 2011. I was fortunate to be one of 54 educators from 6 countries (Australia, NZ, USA, France, Japan, Russia) chosen to be part of this amazing professional development opportunity. For the record, there are now 29 newly-crowned Google Certified Teachers (GCTs) from Australia, 12 of whom are from Victoria.  This GTA event was only the second to be held outside the USA. The GTA was led by innovative “lead learners” including Dr Mark Wagner, Lisa Thumann, Kern Kelley, Wendy Gorton, Danny Silva and Dana Nguyen who each displayed a passion and enthusiasm for education and using Google tools (but not exclusively Google tools though) to enhance student learning and classroom practice.

So what is the GTA?

In short, it provides educators the opportunity to gain experience and knowledge with Google’s free tools and technologies with the aim of leveraging the tools to enhance student learning by encouraging them to be collaborators and creators of knowledge. But the GTA was much more than that! It was the experience of meeting, networking, collaborating and sharing ideas  and resources from participants from across the world from vast educational roles. It was the experience of connecting with and learning from other educators that was invaluable  - and you can’t buy that experience. A highlight of the day was our tour of ‘Googleland’ and the opportunity to dabble with Google’s CR-48 Chrome netboook, which is a web browser only and is not released yet, and the Android Motorola Xoom.

I cannot in this post go into great depth and detail about every aspect of GTA, but I will provide an overview and how it is pertinent to me as an educator and importantly my role as a TL.  After one-and-a-half days I certainly don’t consider myself a Google tools expert (oh, hell NOOOO), but I have been reminded of its existence and gained a much greater knowledge of how they can be used to extend student learning, creativity and collaboration. Future posts will delve into greater depth into the tools as I unpack them and gain a better understanding of them.

At times during GTA I was challenged to keep up with the pace of the day and had to work hard to remain focused. The day operated on a very tight schedule and pumped us with a copious amount of information between 8.30 and 6.30pm. The day reinforced to me that my school has only touched the surface in terms of giving students access, or should I say demonstrating and encouraging the use, to the enormous suite of Google tools and applications.

Prior to the GTA I thought I knew a reasonable amount about Google tools. To be honest I never really knew much at all. I now have a good toolbox of Google tools (that I need to further read up upon and road-test) that I can take back to OLMC and share the wealth of information and knowledge with the students and teachers.

During the welcoming session by Mark Wagner I was impressed to hear Google’s mission: “To organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” and the GTA’s mission: “Improving teaching and learning by leveraging innovative tools”.  As a Teacher Librarian (TL) these statements resonate strongly with me because it aligns very much with what I believe a 21st Century TL should be able to provide – to make information in a variety of formats accessible and useful for students and teachers and to use tools to enhance learning and teaching.  Therefore hearing Google’s and GTA’s missions reinforced to me the importance for me, as a TL, to have a solid understanding and knowledge of a suite tools and applications and continue to develop my role as a technology leader in my school. Despite my ‘digital toolbox’ now containing a wealth of Google tools and applications, I believe the strength of my role as a TL lies in being knowledgeable and skilled in both Google and non-Google products and tools to ensure that I am able to deliver enhanced student learning, engagement, collaboration , collaboration and teaching practices. Google tools, like any other technology or tool used for learning, needs to be used for the right purpose and not used for the sake of it.

WHAT DID I LEARN? TOOLS of significance

1. Google Search & Research tools

As a TL the sessions relating to Google Search and Research tools transpired the most with me. Assisting and guiding students toward using effective research strategies and tools is a core role performed on a daily basis. Upon reflection many of these tools are not ‘new’ to me but were reinforced and I was reminded of their existence during the research process. For me, these sessions on Google search and research tools provided man “Ahha” moments during the GTA. Finding and locating the information you, or your students/teachers, are seeking in the most efficient amount of time and using the Google search engine more effectively were key points made during these sessions. My intention in future is to write blog posts about many of these search tools (in particular the new ones to me), but only after I have had space in this blog to my exploration and experimentation of these search tools.

  • ** New to me**    Google Squared (labs) – helps you quickly build a collection of facts on any specified topic from the Web in the form of squares.
  • **New to me**    Google Search Curriculum – lessons designed by Google Certified Teachers (GCTs) to help develop students’ web searching skills.
  • **New to me**    Google News’ Archive search – search and explore historical archives, especially newspapers.
  • Google Readability –  sort search results by readability – basic, intermediate or advanced. When undertaking a search, click on the “More search tools”  on the left sidebar. Then click “Reading Level.”
  • Google Wonder Wheel – visually organises and breaks down concepts into related subtopics. Click on “More search tools” on the left sidebar, then “Wonder Wheel” if it hasn’t appared.
  • Related searches – find related search items when undertaking a search. Click on the “More search tools” on the left sidebar, then “Related Searches” if it hasn’t appeared.
  • *New to me**    Realtime search – “lets you see up-to-the-second social updates, news articles and blog posts about hot topics around the world.”
  • Google Advanced Search
  • Google Custom search – build your own search tool for your students based on the topic/s to be studied.
  • Google Books
  • Google Scholar
  • Google Timeline
  • Google News Timeline
  • Google News
  • **New to me**    Alerts – receive email updates of the latest relevant Google results (web, news, etc.) based on your topic choice. For example, monitoring news stories on a topic or event.
  • Google Blog Search
  • Google Images
  • **New to me**    Google Image Swirl (labs) – “organizes image search results based on their visual and semantic similarities and presents them in an intuitive exploratory interface.”
  • **New to me**    Google Similar Images – “similar images allows you to search for images using pictures rather than words.”
  • **New to me**    Life Photo Archive hosted by Google – search through millions of photographs from the LIFE photo archive, dating from the 1750s to today. Many of which were never published.

2. Google Sites

  • Google’s version of a wiki. It’s free easy to  use (so I believe, I’ll get back to you on that one) tool for educators and/or students to create customised webpages with content with the ability to embed different media.
  • Prior to GTASYD I had not really considered the use of Google Sites as the platform for class websites, as I have been quite fixed with using Wikispaces and blogs. I considered Sites as more of a website-creation tool rather than a wiki. Oops, I was wrong!
  • Since GTASYD I am going to reinvent OLMC’s library webpage using Google Sites over the next few months. Upgrading the OLMC library webpage will be a great way to demonstrate to teachers and students at OLMC (and wider educational sphere) what Google Sites can do and look like and become my own exemplar website.
  • But until then check out GoneGoogle, created using Google Sites, to find out how you can use this tool in your classroom or within your school.

3. Google Docs

  • Before GTASYD I had totally underestimated the power and usefulness of Google Docs within the classroom and what the suite contained. The Google Docs suite of apps allows students and teachers to create, store, share and collaborate on documents, spreadsheets and presentations. I had only heard of Google Forms (an application within Google Docs) but knew nothing of what it could do. I wished that I had more time devoted to this facet of Google Docs. Rest assured the next survey, questionnaire or quiz I create, or will help classroom teachers to create, will be devised using Google Forms.  But in the meantime, Google Forms requires  more learning and experimenting from my part.

4. Google Earth & Maps

  • The potential uses of Google Earth and Google Maps in the classroom are HUGE. I am particularly excited at the prospect of learning more about how I can use the satellite imagery, maps, 3D terrain and 3D buildings to create a realistic virtual tours relating to areas of the OLMC curriclum. For example, I want to explore how to integrate Google Earth into English and Literature classrooms. I have enlisted the help of three keen Year 7 students and will be undertaking a Google Lit Trip with one of the Year 7 English novels. (I won’t say what novel or author just yet, as I know this novel hasn’t been shared via the Jerome Burg’s Google Lit Trip site. Future blog posts will elaborate on the success of this project. For Geography, Science, History and LOTE (French, Italian, Japanese) classes I can envisage integrating Google Earth in units of study relating to natural disasters, astronomy and space exploration and creating virtual tours of Ancient Egypt and of the three countries as part of our OLMC’s LOTE program.

5. Google Apps for Education

  • Quite a bit of time was spent discussing Google Apps Education Edition (GAEE). Prior to GTASYD I had only a rudimentary understanding of GAEE through brief discussions with the Head of ICT at OLMC.  For those of you who don’t know GAEE is an ad-free suite of Google web applications that includes email, website creation, video, word processing, spreadsheets, forms for surveys, group communication, IM chat, calendar sharing and collaboration that can be ‘switched on or off’ by the school adminstrators. The HUGE advantage of GAEE: only ONE LOGIN is required.  This certainly requires a lot more exploration first.

Other tools the participants encountered during GTASYD were GMail, Google Mobile, Google Talk, Google Sketchup, Google Calendar, Google Groups and Blogger. For an extensive list of Google Tools from A-Z check out this site.

Where to now post GTASYD?

  • Devising an Action Plan which is a project that shares with other educators ways to use Google tools for learning by students and teachers.  My thinking at this stage is to concentrate on Google Search and Research tools because helping students and teachers become more effective and better researchers is a crucial role of being a teacher librarian (in addition to the myriad of TL roles). I am planning to create a series of short screencasts demonstrating the use of these Google tools within the classroom with the intended audience being classroom teachers and teacher librarians.  These will be uploaded to YouTube. What do you think of this Action Plan? Remember this is my early planning and is far from developed – a blog post about this coming.
  • Professional devleopment both at OLMC and wider through face-to-face workshops, presentations, webinars and unconferences. Peer coaching at OLMC (and possibly elsewhere) in the use of Google tools.

Improvements to GTA

  • More time for play and reflection. I wish there was more time to delve deeper, explore and be more hands-on with the range of Google tools in order to determine how we, as educational leaders, could use these tools in our schools and share how they could be used to enhance student learning and engagement.
  • Too little time devoted to the pedagogical uses of the tools. There was a huge focus, I believe, on the tools (and this was no doubt due to time restrictions) rather than on the pedagogy.

In summary, I am very fortunate to be part of GTASYD and I now join a global network of more than 600 Google Certified Teachers (GCTs) who will collaborate and connect online. Let the learning begin!

Tony Richards, aka @itmadesimple, my fellow GTASYD graduate, has produced a podcast (as part of the regular Ed Tech Crew podcast series) containing interviews and reflections from many GTA participants.  Have a listen to Ed Tech Crew 158 Google Teachers Academy Sydney 2011. Enjoy!

m at gta2

Google Teacher Academy 2011 Sydney

Google logo
I write this post on my ipad2 while waiting at Melbourne Airport for my flight to Sydney to attend the Google Teacher Academy (GTA). Excitement to say the least is starting to build and I can’t wait until tomorrow to meet and network 50 other educators, plus the trainers, from around the world.

I still can’t believe that I have been selected to be part of GTASYD. To be considered worthy that I have the experience and skills to be part of the GTA community and to join other innovative educators is really something – I guess I’m still struggling to find the words. I can’t wait for the learning experience to begin.

As a Teacher Librarian being part of GTASYD is another step to continuing my life-long learning journey. I love learning new things and being inspired to be an innovative educator. No doubt GTASYD will help me be a better educator. I hope to inspire many of the teachers and students I work with at OLMC and other educators who I will encounter in leading professional development in using Google tools in the classroom.

So what do I expect from this amazing professional development opportunity? I anticipate this will be a mind-blowing experience. I know I will learn heaps, probably more than I can anticipate. The agenda includes:
* Google Apps: Ed edition
* Google Docs
* Google Calendar
* Google Sites
* Google research tools
* Google Earth
* Google Maps
* Google Mobile
* Google Talk & Gmail

No doubt when I reflect on this experience there will be many more tools and applications that I will learn about.

Let the learning begin!

Young Adult Fiction Book Reviews

One of my Teacher Librarian goals in 2011 is to have some of my writing published. I have some ideas for professional Teacher Librarian journals, but it just comes down to time in actually getting these done.

To incorporate my love of reading Young Adult (YA) fiction I have recently been fiction writing reviews for Fiction Focus, a reading/curriculum journal from Perth, Western Australia. Fiction Focus is all about reading, with reading strategies incorporated as well as reviews of YA novels, graphic novels and teacher reference material … for secondary school students. While I have had three reviews published, see below for the online link to them, I found this experience to be quite rewarding. It actually is a great way to ensure that I am reading YA fiction that is relevant to my school library collection. the books I request for review are those that are relevant to my school library collection – an all-girls secondary school.  I encourage other teacher librarians to write reviews of books relevant to their school library collections. It gives you an insight into what is recently published and the students are very interested in your writing and are willing to engage in discussion about the books you have reviewed.

For teacher librarians in Australia who don’t subscribe to Fiction Focus you simply must do so. Published 4 times a year Fiction Focus is essential reading for me because the reviews provide me with invaluable information to select YA fiction for the students at my school. If you happen to be in a primary school the relevant publication is Primary Focus where there are reviews of fiction books suitable for primary school students.

Fiction Focus also publishes many of its reviews online.

So now to my three reviews so far. Click on the link below to read my review.

Plain Truth – Jodi Picoult

plain truth cover

The Blood Countess (Bk 1: Pandora English series) – Tara Moss

the blood countess

No Safe Place – Deborah Ellis

no safe place

Have you read any of the books I reviewed for Fiction Focus? What do you think?

My favourite book out of these three is The Blood Countess by Tara Moss. I simply can’t wait until the second book The Spider Goddess, which is due to be published later in 2011. I loved The Blood Countess so much that I almost like it as much as Twilight by Stephanie Meyer. Once I read Book 2 in the Pandora English series I will tell you if I think the book is better than Twilight. That is certainly a big statement by me. So stay tuned.

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