“Fake News”, social media and critical thinking


BBC iReporter

This is a fantastic online resource created by the BBC which puts players in the heart of the newsroom to explore sources and make journalistic decisions and attempt to discover what is real and what is fake news.

You are a new reporter for the BBC social media team, and you have to meet your bulletin deadlines through the course of a day.

I tested this out this morning and was impressed by the very slick format full of interactive technology and immediate results.  Players gain points for accuracy, impact, and speed – all of which are crucial in any real news setting.

Links to the New Zealand Curriculum:

This activity meets all elements of the key competencies – the capabilities for living and lifelong learning (which is what we’re all about in the school library business!)

  • Thinking – critically, creatively, and metacognitively thinking while making sense of information, experiences, and ideas to become active seekers, users, and creators of knowledge
  • Using language, symbols, and texts – understanding visual, oral, aural and written language cues to make swift decisions
  • Managing self – being resourceful and resilient while employing strategies to meet challenges under time constraints
  • Relating to others – interacting effectively online while coming up with new ways of thinking and becoming informed decision makers
  • Participating and contributing – in a digital, global environment while understanding the balance between rights, roles, and responsibilities to contributing to online communities

It also contributes to digital citizenship, information and digital literacy skills programmes, and is particularly relevant to Social Studies, English and Media studies teachers

BBC i-reporter

A big thank you to UK teacher and editor of UKEd Magazine, Martin Burrett for posting about this excellent, interactive tool, with potential to have high student engagement.

The Epic BYOD Toolchest (51 Tools You Can Use Now) | Edutopia

Great list of apps to consider using in your BYOD classroom

Edutopia blogger Vicki Davis shares a wealth of apps and platforms that can facilitate teaching and maximize learning within a BYOD classroom and school environment. She counts 51, and these are just her favorites!

Source: The Epic BYOD Toolchest (51 Tools You Can Use Now) | Edutopia

Google Timer

Every now and again you come across something so simple that you wondered why you never knew about it before!


Google timer is just that for me.  I thought I was a pretty savvy user of Google.  I can use it as a calculator and as a converter but this is perfect for using in many classroom situations.

Just google – timer – and the amount of time you want to count down.


Select full screen and project it onto your whiteboard. Voilà! Countdown for assessments, group work, discussions, debates and anything else you can think of!

Big thanks to HOD English at John McGlashan College, David Schaumann for sharing this on the TKI Secondary English listserve.  It’s another great example of why sharing is so important, even if you think it is obvious or widely known.  It just might not be!  You can read more about what I think about this: What’s Obvious To Me is Amazing To You

So, do you have any simple but amazing little tips or tricks you could share with others? Yes? Use the comments field below.

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.

Curating Content with Digital Tools

I’ve just arrived back at school this morning after a fantastic weekend in Wellington.  The highlight of this weekend was getting to hang out with the fantastic group of librarians and educators who came along to support the SLANZA Wellington weekend school.  I got to catch up with some very dear colleagues and I enjoyed meeting so many new people, all of them passionate about school libraries. (My next blog post will be about one particularly amazing primary school librarian I met who is a total inspiration!)

I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to present a workshop on using curation tools for professional development as well as teaching and learning and after a quick overview from me on some of the hows and whys and a quick look my top curation tools, it was about rolling our sleeves up, getting our fingers tapping those keyboards and doing it for ourselves.

The buzz in the room was amazing as everyone shared and discussed and asked questions about whatever tool they were interested in using, and thanks to Wellington Girls College IT guy Steve, the computers and the internet played the game and didn’t cause us any hiccups. Also a big thanks to the Wellington SLANZA committee for inviting me to be part of their workshop and to Lynne from Wellington Girls College for hosting us.  It’s an amazing school library and it’s going to be an awesome hub for next year’s SLANZA conference.  Remember people – Wellington, July 2013 is where it’s going to be happening!
As you can see from my presentation, my top two tools currently are Diigo and Livebinders.  I’d love to hear what your top tools are and how you use them.  As an example, here’s a great blog posting by Librarians Are Go blog author and librarian from Sydney.
Before SLANZA conference in Wellington last year I really didn’t know a huge amount about any of these curation tools and and certainly hadn’t thought about how I could use them in my professional practice.  Between Judy O’Connell and Joyce Valenza I was overwhelmed by the possibilities and my brain was racing at a million miles an hour with ideas of how I might just be able to do some of this stuff!  Experience has taught me to do a brain dump of all my thoughts and ideas and then go about organising and prioritising them according to how much time do I need or have, what skills or tools do I need, how big is the project and how sustainable is it.  You should see my To Do list!! 🙂
And finally, just hot off the press, an article in School Library Monthly by Joyce on Curation.  It’s a must-read if you want to know why you can’t ignore it.

Do you want to have a conversation with your principal about iPads?

Then here is the one article you should share with them.  The Essential iPad Guide for Principals is a concise, practical guide to simple steps principals or any other member of your School Leadership Team, who are interested in getting the best out of their iPads can use.  There seems to be the notion that iPads are great “toys” – which they are!! – but the educational purposes are less obvious.  If we want those who make the budget decisions to see just how great a tool for themselves and other educators then we need to show them.

This article is written by Justin Baeder, and appears on the eduleadership.org website. He is a public elementary school principal in Seattle and a doctoral student at the University of Washington.

In this article he limits himself to just a few apps that he finds most useful.  They are all great, but I particularly like Evernote  which Justin describes as his filecabinet and i-annotate, a specialised app that allows you to annotate your PDF’s.

I had a conversation with my principal just last week about iPads and how I was suffering from “iPad envy”.  I told him I would be requesting one in my 2013 Library budget.  His response was that he hoped I could justify how I was going to use it educationally with students.  No worries about that, I replied!  I’ll provide plenty of examples of how it can be used for education!

Guess what he received in his email inbox from me this morning!  I challenge you to share this with your principal this week and then be prepared to back it up with a conversation with them about it.

What if you could put Slideshare and YouTube together?

This is exactly what is on offer from a new Web 2.o tool I came across yesterday through one of the people I follow on Twitter.  They had shared a link to The Next Web blog about Present.Me.

Present.Me allows you to take your slide presentation or document and add then add your presentation to it.  There’s a short and concise 1 minute tour that explains it simply and clearly.

I can see a wide variety of uses:

  • Explaining how to use a new tool
  • Recording tutorials for students
  • Practicing presentations for Conference.  This would allow you to critically evaluate your style of delivery
  • Sharing your presentation after the Conference
  • Students presenting a combination of power-points and persuasive or explanatory speeches

I can also see potential in using Pesent.Me for ways of delivering professional development within our schools, regions or even nationally and internationally.

There is a free trial package but if schools decided it was a useful teaching tool, it could be worthwhile exploring purchasing one of their packages.  It’s relatively cost effective so individuals may choose to have their own package.

Web 2.0 Tools #1

Here are my favourite tools for you to have a look at or play with this week:

  • Free New Zealand Photos

Free New Zealand Photos  –  As the title suggests, this website gives you access to photos you can legally use for free.  This would be a great site to share with teaching colleagues or to use in your classes.  I’m thinking there are a great range of uses but the first one that springs to mind for my teachers would be to support the tourism department.  This was shared by Creative Commons NZ.  If you’d like to know more about how to download and use digital content legally then watch this great little video, created here in NZ.

  • Mindmapping: How Students Make Meaning

This blog post by CrazyTeacherLady is all about Mindmapping and how students can make meaning through using them.  It has some very good tips for using them in classes.

  • Web 2.0 Tool for Recording Learning

10 Web 2.0 Tools for Recording Learning is a site with some great tools collected together by a school teacher for other teachers to use.

  • Plagiarism Game

Well done to the team at Snowden Library, Lycoming College in Williamsport, Pennsylvania for creating this great plagiarism game teaching students about verifying sources by eliminating the goblin threat.  Entertaining as well as educational.  Try it out yourself and see how you go.

  • Using Posterous for Education

Posterous is an online sharing and collaborative space which you can use with groups with the option of making them either public or private.  This link outlines a range of ways in which Posterous can be used in education.  I’m considering this as a way of working with my Tertiary Prep groups next term.