Research and the Internet – Are we getting smarter?

Human – business evolution

Reused from Flickr with Creative Commons License

I have just finished reading a thought-provoking article from the American Psychological Association regarding research into whether internet searching makes us feel smarter than we truly are.

It would seem that it does!  Apparently the research would suggest that we gain an inflated sense of our own knowledge, even when we don’t find the answer to what we’re looking for, after the physical act of searching the internet. However, it appears this is not the case when researchers provided the link to a website to enable subjects to answer specific questions.  It is the act of searching that makes us feel all-knowing.

Lead researcher Matthew Fisher suggests that as a result of the act of reading a book or talking with an expert we are more engaged in the research process than when we are searching the internet and so it becomes apparent to us when we have gaps in our knowledge.  This then leads us to investigate further to find the answer. “With the Internet, the lines become blurry between what you know and what you think you know.”

So what are the implications of this on education and our future generations? And will it become more obvious as our current crop of young people who seem surgically connected to their smart phones become adults?

My initial thoughts are that we need to be designing lessons that require a level of critical thinking that demands our students to engage with the material they find, and that we should not be too quick to physically or mentally throw out our non-fiction collections.

We also need to continue to engage in learning conversations with our students as well as encourage those conversations to take place between peers, and demand not only reasoned and cited answers to questions but that further questions need to be asked in the quest for new knowledge.

It could become a dangerous world indeed when decisions are being made by people who think they know everything, but in fact know very little at all.


Filed under Articles, Challenges, Critical Literacy, Critical Literacy, Research

Top 100 Tools for Learning 2014

Great to see this most current list of Top 100 Tools for Learning.

It’s an excellent way to discover new tools and see what tools other educators are finding useful.

If you click on the title of any tool you get:

  • a brief description of what the tool is or does
  • what it’s rankings have been since 2007
  • whether it is going up or down the list
  • whether it costs or not
  • comments from respondents to the survey who rated it in their top 10 tools

Jane Hart has done some analysis for us on the tools which is worth taking a look at but I thought I’d do my own analysis of which tools I’ve used and how they’re ranked as well as note which ones are new to me.

I was pleased to discover I have used or am using 39 of these tools, 18 of which are in the top 20.  12 are completely new to me. Here are three lists of my own selections.

My Top 5 professional tools are:

  1. OneNote
  2. Diigo
  3. Slideshare
  4. WordPress
  5. YouTube

My Top 5 teaching tools are:

  1. Livebinders
  2. Padlet
  3. Quizlet
  4. Evernote
  5. Dropbox

My Top 5 tools – new to me:  (I intend to play with these before the beginning of the next school year)

  1. Explain Everything – unique interactive whiteboard and screencasting app that lets you annotate, animate, narrate, import, and export almost anything to and from almost anywhere.
  2. Powtoon – online presentation software tool that allows you to create animated video explainers – for business or education.
  3. Near Pod – Present, quiz and report with this tool – synchronously with your students or make available on demand.
  4. Easy Generator – all-in-one elearning authoring app to create courses in the cloud.
  5. Kahoot – game-based classroom response system – for schools, universities and businesses.

So, what are your top tools and which ones are you doing to take a closer look at?

If you want to, you can purchase the 2014 Guidebook which gives you even more information about each of the tools.

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Filed under Web 2.0 Tools

My Favourite Place to Read

I have always loved to read – always!  As a child I lovingly and laboriously wrote my name in all my books. I shelved them in my bookcase by their author’s surname (already a budding librarian in the making!) My mum would buy me a new book every time we went to town. My favourites ranged from Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators to The Magic Faraway Tree to the Twins at St Clares to The Meg Mystery series.

WardrobeWhen I was about 10 years old my family moved into the house my parents still live in today.  I had a tiny but perfectly formed bedroom with very 70’s styled purple net curtains, room for my single bed, my upright piano and a small bookcase, and that was about it.  The only other piece of furniture in the room was a wardrobe.  It was a built-in wardrobe but not built in right up to the ceiling.  There was a  space between the top of the wardrobe and the ceiling which was just big enough for me. (This picture is the closest I could find to it.  Just imagine it without the top cupboards.)

Reading NookI loved nothing more than throwing my pillows and rug up there and, along with my book du jour and essentials such as something to quench my thirst and keep the tummy from rumbling, I would climb up there and burrow into my own personal reading nest.  I felt like it was my own wee world where I was hidden away and out of sight. Plus it had the added advantage of being out of my little sister’s reach! (she was only 6 and couldn’t climb!).  In my head this is what it looked like.  What little girl wouldn’t love a space like this?!


Perfect chair

Now, as an adult I still have that hankering for a special reading place, one where I can be in my own wee world again, surrounded by the things that make me happy.  I would settle for a special chair – I’m envisaging an oversized wing-backed chair with a seat you can sink into and lots of soft cushions with room to curl up in.  So I began an on-line hunt in search of a picture of that perfect chair.  I think this one would be the closest I’ve come across to date, though I’d want bigger arms and maybe a wider seat and I would want it in rich warm colours and textures.

And then of course the space where it would live would have to be just right.  Adult reading nookThis picture just about has it right.

Rugs and cushions – check

Footstool – check

Table for books, drinks, nibbles, notepad – check

Lamp for good reading lighting – check

Bookcases within handy reach – check

Even has an open fire next to it which would be a bonus!

I still hope that one day I can have my special reading nook.  My current home doesn’t have the luxury of enough space for this (though I do have my working/writing space the way I want it, so that’s a good start) but I feel confident it’ll happen one day.

So what about you? Do you have your own reading nook or a favourite place to read? What are your key elements crucial to creating that space? I’d love to know if you also had a special reading place as a child and if that impacted on your love of reading.

I’ve created a Pinterest page called Reading Nook with other examples of some great spaces.


Filed under Reading, Reading Spaces

A Librarian’s Take on the Future of Learning

NZCER’s 40th anniversary special edition of SET is now available on line and will be hitting school staff rooms from next week.


The theme of this special edition is the future of education and I can’t wait to read the articles published, especially:

“The problem with the future is that it keeps turning into the present”: Preparing your students for their critically multiliterate future today byKwok-Wing Lai

Future-oriented pedagogies should focus on supporting students to be creative, innovative, and capable of creating knowledge, both individually and collaboratively, at the community level. This article discusses how a group of teachers have come to understand and use the knowledge-building model developed by Scardamalia and Bereiter (2006) to support secondary students to develop as knowledge creators of the 21st century. Findings from knowledge-building research conducted in New Zealand classes are used to illustrate how the knowledge-building model can be implemented. The PROGRESS practice model is introduced to guide teachers to implement the knowledge-building approach in their classes. and

Transforming New Zealand schools as knowledge-building communities: From theory to practice by Susan Sandretto and Jane Tilson

We can no longer predict knowledge needed for the future, which has significant implications for contemporary literacy programmes. In this article we argue that reconceptualising current literacy approaches will support teachers to develop future-focused literacy teaching. We suggest that a critical multiliteracies lens can provide rationale for a future-focused literacy programme (the “why”), and that the four resources model (Luke & Freebody, 1999) can provide a way to enact such a programme (the “how”). Drawing on our research using this approach with teachers, we provide a mapping template and reflective questions as a springboard to initiate reflective discussion.

I’m also very excited to have a ‘think-piece’ published! 

A Librarian’s take on the future of learning 

Now is an exciting time to be involved in educating our next generation. The way we think about education and our approach to teaching is continually evolving, and our libraries are also undertaking a parallel evolution. They are no longer dusty, silent spaces where the main function is to store and catalogue books. Today’s libraries are becoming vibrant spaces for information seeking, sharing, creating, and communicating new learning. They encompass the best traditions of our old-world libraries while embracing multiple pathways to supporting, connecting and collaborating in our new educational environments. Twenty-first century librarians like me are still there with the right book for the right reader at the right time, but we are also enthusiastic mavens, passionate knowledge-seekers, and committed communicators in this burgeoning landscape.

It has been an amazing experience to work through the process from submitting the abstract and having it accepted to finally seeing it in print.  It was certainly a much harder and more robust process that I had anticipated, but I am so grateful for the experience and I now hope to write more about how librarians fit into the education landscape today and into the future.  This is something I feel very passionate about and believe my knowledge in this area is growing as my role at Southland Boys’ High School continues to develop and I get more opportunities to work with staff and students in a range of ways.

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Filed under Articles, Future of school libraries, News, Research, SET magazine

Hope you didn’t experience an “Arbuckle Junction” moment, Sally!

I have been following Sally Pewhairangi’s 100 Days of Creativity project with great interest and yesterday was posting 100 of 100!

So Sally …….



What an amazing effort and commitment! I thoroughly enjoyed reading your little vignettes.

I totally love Sally’s concept for using Afterliff: The New Dictionary of Things There Should Be Words for by John Lloyd and Jon Canter to inspire creative writing.  As a result of Sally sharing her idea I have purchased a copy of this dictionary for the school library and have shared the concept with our HOF English in the hope this might be a technique the English Department employs in engaging and encouraging boys to think creatively about words and language.



I think there are a number of ways this book could be used:

  • Word of the Week 1 – choose a different word each week, display it in the library and invite students to come up with a meaning for it.
  • Word of the Week 2 – alternatively, choose a word, display it with its meaning and invite students to write the funniest, cleverest, or most imaginative sentence.
  • Library Week – either of these could work as a “word for the day” competition during library week celebrations.
  • Class activityMatching game: Select 50-60 words and type them on playing card-size cards.  Then type the corresponding meanings on another set of cards and put them into sets of 10.  When you have a class booked into the library, you could suggest teachers might like to group their class into teams of 3 or 4, give them a set of cards and challenge them to match the word with the meaning.  If it’s an English class or a junior school class their teacher could then have them write a 100 word short story using one of the words, just like Sally did – 100 times!

I reckon there’s probably other ideas as well.  If you think of one, why not add to this list in the comments below?

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Filed under Classroom ideas, Competitions, Creative Ideas, Library Usage, Library Week

Who Else is Going To Do It??!

I have had my head down, slaving away on many different work fronts in recent weeks/months.  Today I made time for a little bit of Professional Learning and I’m SO glad I did!  I was reading a posting on website Resource Link  about attribution of images with Creative Commons License through Flickr and decided to explore their site for other gems.  Boy, did I find a nugget of gold!

You need to watch this TedX Talk by Pam Sandlian-Smith on What to Expect From Libraries in the 21st Century

This short 11 minute talk is completely inspiring and almost brought me to tears.

If you have been wondering “why on earth do I bother?” ….. watch this.

If you have been wondering “do I make a difference?” ….. watch this.

If you have been thinking “what can I do to make a difference?” ….. watch this.

If you are sick of fending questions along the lines of “why do we need libraries?” ….. watch this.

If you have been wondering how to inspire your staff ….. watch this.

Do you want to remember what it is you love about the possibilities of being in our profession? ….. watch this.

I challenge you to remain unmoved, unchallenged or uninspired!

Now, if you have read to the end of this posting and haven’t yet watched this clip ….. Watch it Now!


Filed under Advocacy, Future of school libraries, Inspirations, Leadership

Never Let a Chance Go By ……..

I’ve had two very different opportunities in the past two weeks.

The first was to work closely with a Year 13 student who sought help from me with understanding the essay questions for his English novel study.  His class is studying Bulibasha and after some discussion around setting, theme, character and plot I confirmed what I had suspected, he hadn’t actually read the text!  I confessed to him that I also hadn’t read this novel and so I struck a contract with him – if he read the book, I would also read the book and we’d meet weekly to discuss it in relation to his essay questions.  Reading the first 50 pages was like chewing cardboard.  I had no stomach for it. But we had agreed to read the first 100 pages before our next get-together so I persevered.  As I neared the 100 page mark I began to find I had become invested in the outcome for these characters. I wanted to discover the end of their story so I kept going and finished the entire novel the next day.  As a result, the student and myself (he had read our agreed-to 100 pages) had an in-depth discussion which has helped him focus on a clearer approach.  An unexpected result was the gratitude from his Year 13 teacher that I would “go the extra mile” to help and the acknowledgement of being an extra professional as part of the team.  All because of a conversation with a student who asked me a question.

The second opportunity came during one of the lessons I taught today – a Year 10 Social Studies class who need to write a Time Magazine article about an important event in the 20th Century.  Today’s focus was on gathering information in a format that will help them use it to write their article. (More about this is a future post about note-taking).  The teacher who was in charge of this class today was relieving for their regular teacher, however he is also a full-time member of staff.  Once the session was finished and we’d set the boys to working he began to talk to me about his Year 11 History class which is due to begin a new research assignment next term.

After a great discussion and exchange of ideas I will now be working with this group for several consecutive lessons with a focus on research skills:  note-taking, searching techniques and using the History in Context Resource Centre through EPIC.  This is a successful, if somewhat serendipitous outcome which allows me to work in depth with a new group of students.  All because one teacher was relieving another teacher’s class in the library.

I encourage you to snatch, grasp, grab, pluck and seize every potential opportunity and then turn it into a successful collaborative working opportunity with your teachers and students.


Filed under Collaboration, Reflective practice