Teaching Puppetry as a class…

I was very privileged to have the New South Wales Teachers Federation come to my school to interview me and my students about the puppetry class I teach to Year 8 students this year.

I teach the class once a week how to make and perform puppets, and for homework, the students research different puppet traditions from around the world.

I am so proud of the video the Teachers Federation made about my class, that I just had to share it here on my blog.

Here is a link to the fantastic article about my class that was published in the state-wide journal Education.


Miss H.

Creating a display celebrating Lord of the Rings

With the first part of The Hobbit in cinema’s recently, I wanted to create a library display related to JRR Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings. Since the trilogy of films came out, fans of the films and books have collected all the toys and merchandise related to the films especially figurines of all the different races of Middle Earth and of course the ‘One’ ring. I reached out to the whole school community asking for objects people were willing to display in the Library display cabinet.

 The school community really came to the party with beautifully detailed models of Weathertop and the Tomb of the Stewards, figurines of the key characters and a full Middle Earth Chess set complete with Orcs, Urukai, Elves and Hobbits!

 To go with the display, I transformed one of the mannequins I had made for my Olympic display in 2012 into the Witch King from the 3rd film in the trilogy- Return of the King. The costume was made using 10 metres of black fabric that was draped around the statue and pinned to created the drapes and folds that are in the costume. The crown/ helmet was made from a sheet of cardboard that was scored and folded to give the shape to the face. The cardboard was painted using black acrylic paint with the scored edges dry-brushed with silver paint to give definition to the shapes. Since the hands of the mannequins are mitten like with the fingers glued together, the spiked gloves were made from socks with black scales hot glued onto the socks where the fingers would be. The thumb was made by cutting up a sock and hot gluing the seam, covering one side with some cardboard scales and sliding the tube onto the mannequin’s hand.


Movember in the Library…

Well November has arrived and this means one thing- Movember! Movember raises funds for research into prostate cancer and men’s depression- learn more at www.au.movember.com I haven’t really done much for Movember in the past except make donations to the Movember participants. This year is different because I went to my favourite shop for things to decorate the library- Typo!

The shop was selling a large wooden moustache with hooks, big canvas prints called Moustache’s of the World, as well as calendars, sticky notes, pens etc. I bought the big stuff and got decorating.

Open Moustache

The big wooden moustache

The first thing I did was take all the extra key hooks off the wooden moustache and turned the hooks around so we can hang the library open/ closed sign off the big moustache.

The next item was setting up the Moustaches of the World Canvas print in a place where everyone could read the levels of difficulty and growing time needed for different styles of Mo’s.

The third item we created was bookmarks based on the Moustaches of the world 2012 Calendar. These have been extremely popular with students pulling the bookmarks off the bookmark tree or rifling through the box on the circulation desk to collect all the designs.

The ULTIMATE item I have made for Movember are the instant Mo’s. I use my robotic cutter to cut the shapes from the Moustache’s of the world print. (I drew them into my computer using Adobe Illustrator). I originally made the Mo’s to decorate the windows but students spotted them in the box and wanted them! Not wanting to disappoint, I asked the students for a small donation to Movember of 20cents and the Mo’s have been extremely popular especially with the girls! I now use the remaining paper from the cutting out to decorate the windows- Check out these pics

The instant mo's for those unable or unwilling to grow a mo in MovemberThe range of instant mo's available on display as part of the circulation desk.

Using the left over paper from the instant mo's to decorate the windows. This has given me an idea for the christmas display. Any guesses?


Looking at strategy as an element of vision planning…

It is now time to start looking at developing a 3 year vision or plan for both the school library I work in and my next university assignments. Perhaps I can blend them together eventually and save a lot of time and stress in the long run.

I am reading Davies & Davies The Strategic Dimensions of Leadership and on the first page it makes this interesting point:

Strategy… encompasses direction setting, broad aggregated agendas, a perspective to view the future and a template against which to evaluate current activities. (p.7)

This reading has resonannce with me as to plan for the future of the Library, I need to evaluate what the library offers now and look at what the library can offer going into the future. Do we need an e-platform? Do we need to increase the numbers of books students can borrow? The question I need answering is:

What does the school community need from the Information Resource Centre?

Davies & Davies (2005, p.9) describe that is critical that a leader creates a strategy with others and not dictate it. In the case of a school library team- it would allow discussion, debate, the suggestion of innovative ideas based on the ideas of others. Most importantly it would give the ‘team’ ownership of the vision and hopefully a willingness to fully commit to the implementation.

Davies & Davies cite Burgleman and Grove (1996) to describe that organisations reach key moments for strategic change ‘when it is possible to develop new visions, create new strategies and move in new directions.” (p.11) For the library I work in, I think that time has come as the school moves into its evaluation phase in preparation for the new 3 year plan.


Davies, B. J., & Davies, B. (2005). The dimensions of leadership : the strategic dimensions of leadership. In School leadership in the 21st century : developing a strategic approach (2nd ed.) (pp. 7-16). London : RoutledgeFalmer.

Working collaboratively via Skype on assignments…

I have just experienced my first group conference call on Skype to work on the proposal for the group work assignment. I am glad I bought the group conferencing ability because it meant that I could talk to all of the group at the same time and they could talk to each other. We had problems with the video in that 1 person could not get it working, 1 person’s video froze and the other member of the group worked just fine.

At times, I wished we had a virtual conch so that we know who was meant to be talking. Sometimes we had multiple people talking all at the same time. I kept having to try and elicit the opinions of a member of the group who kept on the fence of issues or agreed with the consensus of the majority of the group.

In 2 and a half hours we had the whole proposal written, sent to our lecturer and set due dates for completing the steps of the assignment.

I enjoyed my first Skype group call. It is a pity that it is not available at school so that we can work on the assignment during school time. I found it useful to use 2 laptops- 1 for Skype and the other to take notes in OneNote and the group wiki.

Miss H

Evaluating website evaluation criteria…

I have been reading about different methods for evaluating websites as useful sources of information for my first uni assignment this semester. It is my opinion that for a criteria to be an effective tool for students and teachers to use it must be easy to remember, age appropriate and have a pedagogical application (ie be able to be used in a secondary education context)

In general, what I have discovered is that most of the scholarly papers on the subject do not take into account the needs of children in their criteria and that their criterion require children to have a background knowledge of the topic they are researching to be able to recognise the reliability of the information. My response to that is- children may be finding out information on a topic for the very first time- how are they supposed to have background information?

Students can be provided with basic background information through quality teaching and quality marking criteria but if the student is encountering the topic for the first time- their background information will be limited.

Evaluating the Readings…

In all my reading, Robert Harris is consistently referred to and cited as an authority on Website evaluation criterion. Harris (2010) developed the criteria known as the CARS Checklist

Credibility- is the author an expert in the field? What are their credentials? What sort of organisation is hosting the site?

Accuracy- How recent is the information? ” event though a very credible writer said something was correct twenty years ago, it may not be correct today.” (paragraph 24)

Reasonableness- “examining the information for fairness, objectivity, moderateness, and consistency.” (paragraph 32)

Support- Is the same information found on other sites? Are there links to other credible sites of information? Has documentation been supplied to verify the information?

Evaluation of CARS for secondary educational use– CARS is very much a tertiary education evaluation tool as it requires users to have an understanding of the meaning of different kinds of credentials in order to make an informed judgement of the accuracy of the website. Harris (2010) did discuss the value of pre- evaluation of the reasons why the user needs to do web searching. Harris (2010) said “Take a minute to ask yourself what exactly are you looking for. Do you want facts, opinions, reasoned arguments, statistics, narratives, eyewitness reports, descriptions?” (paragraph 4) the CARS criteria is tool is not appropriate for most levels of secondary education but the pre evaluation step has value in the secondary classroom as it requires the student to stop and reflect before diving head first into the ocean of the Internet.

SPIDER- A strategy for Evaluating Websites

Johnson’s (2011) criteria for evaluating websites agrees with my original statement that website evaluation criterion need to be a simple strategy. His criteria is based on the acronym SPIDER.

Source- Who is the author of the information

Purpose- why was this website created for the world to see?

Information- is the information current

Domain- what type of website is the source?

Educational: is this information appropriate for the task and the ability of the students. This particular criteria is of use to teachers planning research tasks so that they have a criteria to evaluate the suitability of the site. Herring (2011) agrees with a need for this kind of criteria.

Reliability: is the same information available on other sites?

Evaluation of SPIDER for secondary educational use- This acronym is a useful mnemonic to remembering the steps in the process for students. It has incorporated a step for evaluating a website from a pedagogical viewpoint. I think it might be a useful strategy for my assignment.

The Good, the bad & the ugly- strategy for Evaluating Websites

Beck’s  Evaluation Criteria from “The Good, The Bad & The Ugly: or, Why It’s a Good Idea to Evaluate Web Sources”. Beck’s (2009) criteria is based on 5 parts of Authority, Accuracy, Objectivity, Currency and Coverage. Like Harris (2010) this criteria is designed for use in a tertiary education context but the guiding questions of this model are succinct and expressed in terms that secondary students could understand with some support from the teacher. This particular criteria would work in a secondary context if the guiding questions were used in conjunction with a model such as SPIDER to develop student’s critical evaluation skills and deepen their knowledge.

The criteria developed by Beck (2009) also provides a number of websites in which to practise applying the criteria to. This would be a useful way of training staff and students in using a website evaluation criteria once one is developed for my particular school.

A purpose designed, Secondary School criteria for Evaluating Websites

My reading of  Johnson and Lamb (2007) has brought me to a website evaluation criteria that is designed for the secondary school environment. Designed by the University of California, Berkeley, this set of criteria has a one page checklist that focuses on guiding the students through a simple series of higher order thinking questions. It even comes with a 1 page pdf checklist for students to use.

The criteria is broken down into the following steps

Looking at the URL- what type of site is it?

Establishing the credentials of the author

What do other people say about the page

Purpose of the site?

The language used in the Berkeley (2011) criteria guide sheet is suitable for high school students with minor scaffolding required by the teacher and it also explains how to use tools like Google to perform checks using directories and meta-data. I think I am going to use this criteria to evaluate the websites set for the assignment.


Beck, S. E. (2009, April 27). Evaluation Criteria from “The Good, The Bad & The Ugly: or, Why It’s a Good Idea to Evaluate Web Sources”. New Mexico State University Library. Retrieved July 16, 2011, from http://lib.nmsu.edu/instruction/evalcrit.html

Evaluating Web Pages: Techniques to Apply & Questions to Ask. (2011, May 25). The Library-University of California, Berkeley. Retrieved July 17, 2011, from http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/TeachingLib

Harris, R. (2010, November 22). Evaluating Internet Research Sources. Retrieved from http://www.virtualsalt.com/evalu8it.htm

Herring, J. E. (2011). Improving students’ web use and information literacy: a guide for teachers and teacher librarians. London: Facet.

Johnson, L., & Lamb, A. (2007). Evaluating Internet Resources. eduScapes: A Site for Life-long Learners. Retrieved July 17, 2011, from http://eduscapes.com/tap/topic32 

Johnson, T. (2011). S.P.I.D.E.R. A Strategy for Evaluating Websites. Library Media Connection, 29(6), 58-59. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Web Page Evaluation Checklist. (2011, May 25). The Library-University of California, Berkeley. Retrieved July 17, 2011, from http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/TeachingLib/Guides/Internet/EvalForm_General.pdf

Cookies in the Library

Another discussion in the Winzenried (2010) book was the golden rule about no food in libraries even though bookshops are dedicating valuable floor space to coffee shops.

I then thought about this youtube clip about Cookie Monster visiting a Library and asking for a box of cookies. It occurs to me- how come the Librarian wasn’t trying to meet the needs of Cookie? He was not asking any probing questions, just repeating the line- we don’t have any cookies! is not meeting the information needs of this ‘client’.

I don’t allow food in my Library because it is school policy not to allow eating in teaching and learning spaces. I personally love to read with a hot cup of tea beside me and it is a mark of a good book if the tea goes cold because I am so absorbed in my reading.

so… the Librarian in the clip needs to consider how is he meeting the needs of his clients and that he should allow cookies in the library otherwise, what reason has Cookie Monster got for coming back to the Library in the future if his information needs are not being met?

What will Libraries in the 24th Century look like?

I have just finished reading the introduction to Arthur Winzenried’s book Visionary Leaders for Information. What struck me most was his discussion on the five keys to surviving and thriving into the future as a school library.  The five keys suggested by Winzenried (2010) are:

key_lock-animated 1. What is the moral purpose of the Library?

2. Do I have a clear plan for the Library?

3. Am I being responsive to the needs of my users?

4. Am I developing a working relationship with my users?

5. Have I developed a stronger product focus? Is there a reason for the user to come and use the Library again? (Pages 8-10)

Having been very unwell this past week and needing to ‘rest’ I decided to watch some Star Trek episodes. It has been years since I watched Star Trek Voyager- so I pulled season1 DVD off the shelf. Lo and behold- the episode titled “Prime Factors” the crew wanted to exchange the entire Federation Library of stories for technology to get them home. The some total of thousands of  alien races’ stories were stored on a few sticks of plastic that were downloaded from a database! No libraries here! This got me thinking- does the future envisioned by Star Trek have a place for a physical Library- how does this affect the planning I am doing now for the next three years of the library I manage?

I know that Libraries have featured in some Star Trek Episodes. I decided to ask my Professional Learning Network to see if they could list them- and this is what happened

Star Trek: Original Series “All Our Yesterdays” and the Librarian was called Mr Atoz (A to Z)

Star Trek: Original Series “The Lights of Zetar” the sum total of the Federation’s Knowledge stored in a facility called Memory Alpha

Star Trek: Innsurrection: Riker and Troi in the Ship’s Library (In the outtakes on the DVD- a female matronly Librarian is Shushhing them when they start to flirt)

There were also discussions about all the books that have appeared in Star Trek Episodes, the role of Shakespeare in the stories of Star Trek. The discussion then moved into how Libraries are represented in Science Fiction and then we were off again! People mentioned a Librarian in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones, the very scary Library in Dr Who season 4 episode 8 “Silence in the Library” and its conclusion in episode 9 “Forest of the Dead”

Another of my colleages gave me this link to an article on Libraries in Science Fiction: http://www2.ku.edu/~sfcenter/library.htm

To top it all off- check out this video (and my first attempt at embedding things)!

Being a miracle worker in the Library

At the end of this week, I am being called a miracle worker by a particular faculty. Here is how I achieved that title…

I recently (12 weeks ago) learnt how to use the antiquated DOS- based system we have in my school library for managing the school library collection. I have found that the hands on and comprehensive nature of the workshop very empowering that I decided to tackle the large number of overdue items in our weekly loan report. You need to understand dear reader, that some items have been on our overdue report for years…

The first step was to use the overdue report to physically check the collection in case any overdue materials slipped back in without being returned properly- we found 3 overdue items this way- making progress!

The second step was to check to see if the students who had extremly overdue books were still enrolled at the school. In many cases, the student left years ago- so I had to artifically return the item, then mark it as missing in the status report. That dealt with a significant number of very overdue items (some items were more that 600 days overdue). Again- making progress!

The third step was to put the overdue slips into the roll call folders every 2 weeks. This helped to deal with any remaining students who had left the school as well as return a few items as well as a few enquiries-


How can I help you today?

I got this in roll call today

(taking slip) yes- do you have this textbook?

No, I returned it last year.

Are you sure?

Yes Miss

Why not have a really good look around at home especially under the things on the floor…

After 6 weeks of sending out slips every fornight, and once students had recieved 3 warnings- it was time to send out letters home to parents explaining how overdue the book was and how much it costs to replace. Most of those letters were for a textbook the Library manages on behalf of another faculty.

And now the miracle. After those letters went out, 6 very overdue textbooks came back into our returns chute in one day but to top it all off the same student came back with text book in hand…

Wow- you found it!

Yes Miss

Was it hiding under something on the floor?

Yes Miss

Thanks so much for bringing it back.

I took the pile of textbooks back to the faculty where they gave me the title of miracle worker since they have been trying for 2 terms to get the textbooks back and these textbooks are no longer in print.

I can’t wait to check the returns chute on Monday because I have a feeling that many of the students are cleaning their room this weekend when their parent’s saw how much the books cost to replace.

Reflecting on the role of the Teacher Librarian

Purcell (2010) and Williams (2011) made the excellent point that the classroom teachers of today don’t really know what a Teacher Librarian does. As a former classroom teacher and subject specialist, I didn’t truly understand or appreciate the role a Teacher Librarian plays within a secondary school when I decided to retrain. All I saw of the role of the Teacher Librarian was a teacher who borrowed books out, returned books in, helped students to find books and information for an assignment and showed me how to use the Library photocopier/ printer. I also had no idea that the Teacher Librarian was available to collaborate with me to develop my lessons and incorporate information literacy skills.

 I now have a better idea of what a Teacher Librarian is, Purcell (2010) described the role as leader, program administrator, information specialist, instructional partner and teacher but I would also add from my own experience, the roles of interior designer, technology designer and help desk, functions manager, and recreational activities facilitator to name just a few. In order to highlight these roles to the whole school community, Williams (2011) described in an online forum comment that a 21st century Teacher Librarian must be “active in self promotion of him/herself as well as the library”.

 The area that has most shaped my expanded view of the role of the TL in my school has been using the power of evidence based practice and collaboration with the community of schools that my school is part of, to affect change in the schools’ learning goals (Todd , 2002). I had no idea that a Teacher Librarian could make such a large impact not only in one school but through collaboration the impact would be felt in three schools. Our community of schools identified the need to develop a common metalanguage and iconography of information literacy across the primary school and the high school to help with the transition of information literacy skills from primary school to high school. It was my role as the Teacher Librarian to develop the common iconography and resources for use in both the Primary schools and the high school.

 Another demanding aspect to my role of Teacher Librarian in a combined selective/ comprehensive school has been the process of challenging the assumptions of teachers regarding the role that information literacy plays in the whole school not just half of the school. The assumption is that these students, because they have been identified as ‘gifted’ already know the information literacy process. Dr Liz Lamb, in an article on Information Literacy and Gifted Students (2003) discussed whether the explicit teaching of the NSW model of Information Literacy had a positive impact on the education of gifted students. The result of that research showed that the gifted student’s ability to analyse their task, use a broader range of sources as well as evaluating the information they were using all improved after explicit and extended instruction in information literacy skills. To this end, the common resources I developed for the information literacy program all have higher order thinking questions built in to challenge the gifted and talented students as well as the comprehensive students of my school. 

 Purcell (2010) described the role of the Teacher Librarian/ Media Specialist as “constantly changing and they must be able to accept new tasks in order to perform their duties successfully” nothing makes this clearer than as summed up by Wundersitz (2011). As described by Wundersitz, today’s definition of the role of the Teacher Librarian is a photograph of how our libraries meet the needs of our learning community and our role in our schools today, but the role the Teacher Librarian and the school library will be completely different within a few years’ time as the way information is processed and accessed, the role technology will play in everyday small tasks and the way that pedagogy are all in a constant state of evolution. If the Teacher Librarian does not adapt to this evolution, then the role of the Teacher Librarian plays now will become irrelevant and extinct.

So- what do I do now? My first step is to lead the teaching staff of my school through professional learning on the role of the Teacher Librarian so that they know what the role of Teacher Librarian means. I need to demonstrate to the teaching staff that “Teacher Librarians have a vital role in helping teachers find their way through the rich and complex online environment and meeting students’ information needs” (Karen Bonanno quoted in Australian Educator 2011 p. 25). My second step is to work with the Teacher Mentor and the practicum coordinator so that there are ongoing sessions for new staff, early career teachers and practicum teachers (Southern Cross University Library, 2011) on what is a Teacher Librarian and developing ongoing professional learning on integrating Information Literacy into the curriculum.


Lamb, L. (2003). Information Literacy and Gifted Students. Scan, 22(2), 29-34. Retrieved from: http://search.informit.com.au.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/fullText;dn=127444;res=AEIPT

Purcell, M. (2010). All librarians do is check out books right? A look at the roles of the school library media specialist. Library Media Connection 29(3), 30-33. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Rance, C. (2011). Brought to Book. Australian Educator, Autumn(69), 24-25.

Southern Cross University Library (Producer). (2011). How all public libraries can help you [YouTube]. Australia: Independent Productions. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HY1Z8ukzkzM&feature=player_profilepage

Todd, R. (2002). Evidence based practice II: getting into the action. Scan, 21(2). Retrieved from

Williams, J. (2011, March 9). My ever-changing thoughts on the role of a TL [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from http://forums.csu.edu.au/perl/forums.pl?forum_id=ETL401_201130_W_D_Sub2_forum&task=frameset

Wundersitz, E. (2011, March 8). Initial thoughts on Purcell reading [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from http: http://forums.csu.edu.au/perl/forums.pl?forum_id=ETL401_201130_W_D_Sub2_forum&task=frameset